Chicken Shishtaouk

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

So if you follow my insta-feed (btw instagram is my fave...lots of awesome pics with a reduction in click-bait...and lots of links to cool articles and blogs), you might have noticed I have posted some pics with reference to the Perkins household's favourite new chicken dish: Chicken Shishtaouk.

So (no surprise here) I am not an expert on Mediterranean and Lebanese cuisine.  I sincerely apologize if I mess this up....

One day I was looking for a recipe for skewered chicken and googled chicken 'shish kabob marinade' or similar....after searching for a bit, I came across a recipe for Chicken Shishtaouk.  (it is often spelled in other ways e.g. Shishtawook).

While this particular version of the recipe has many different elements (some you might have to plan a bit of time, ahead) its flavours are seriously complex and absolutely delicious!!




I honestly am about to regurgitate a recipe I found online from www.allrecipes.com.  I have no idea if it's authentic, but damn, it's good.  (So good that Andrew insisted I call this blog post "Dope AF chicken". Sorry sweetie...maybe next time.)

First things first....

You must soak your skewers (if you are using crappy wooden ones, like I do) for at least an hour...ideally a couple of hours.  Realistically....in our house....the skewers end up soaking for about 20 minutes prior to being used...but whatevs.  Soaking the skewers prevent the cheaply made ones from instantly charring and burning up....instead, soaking them holds off the charring and burning up for approximately 2 minutes. Excellent.  Maybe you have the fancy metal ones....in which case...hook a girl up...



Anyhoo.

Next up...ingredients!  Gather the following:

- 3/4 cup of plain greek yogurt (I use 2%..you can use the crappy 0%, if you really want)
- 1/4 cup of lemon juice (Don't be a skeet...make it fresh squeezed)
- 1/4 cup of olive or canola oil (this is important...it helps the chicken from sticking to the grill)
- 4 (at minimum) cloves of garlic (minced or pressed)
- 2 tsp of tomato paste (damnit...you gotta open a full can of paste for two tsps...I keep the rest in the fridge in a tupperware container)
- 1 tsp of oregano (dried or fresh)
- 1/2 tsp - 1 tsp of salt (I use 1/2 tsp)
- 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp of ground allspice
- 1/4 tsp of black pepper (fresh cracked, yo)
- 1/8 tsp of ground cardamom (I prefer to use a mortar and pestle to grind the cardamom cuz it's waaaay better fresh...it's lemony in flavour and makes the chicken taste unique)

Combine/Whisk the above ingredients in a small bowl.  It should look like a pink spicy yogurt.  If it does...you are doing it right. Trust me.


I take 6-8 chicken breasts and cut them into bite size pieces. Place them in a big bowl and pour the marinade over the chicken.  Mix around with a spatula...cover and put in a fridge for an hour (or 20 mins if it's after work..I use this time to prepare side dishes).



Next up...cooking.

I usually make this chicken with skewered veggies.  The veggies could be peppers, onions, tomatoes, zuchinni...whatever you got. Always (Read: ALWAYS) skewer your veggies separately from your meat.  Chicken and veggies have completely different cooking length times. The chicken needs to go on the grill quite a bit before the veggies do.  While you can frig around with the spices etc in this recipe...nobody wants a case of salmonella from undercooked chicken and overcooked veggies.

Right?




(for you Simpson lovers...I just heard a rendition of Apu singing about salmonella)

Grill your chicken skewers until it has nice grill marks on all sides of the chicken and the yogurt marinade is "cooked".  You shouldn't see a lot of yogurt marinade on it, essentially.

I like to serve this chicken with roasted spiced potatoes, the grilled veggies and tzatziki on the side.  It also pairs well, with rice or salad.  Essentially...it's been on the regular menu here at least once a week.

I usually make a ton and then I have leftovers.  Again...if you have insta...you might have seen that I made Shishtaouk chicken nachos with pita bread chips (just sliced pita bread), chopped veggies and chopped chicken and topped with cheese. Super tasty lunch! Feels like a treat on a weekday!

You can follow me on Instagram, here!

I later added a quarter of the tub of tzatziki...this amount is just for pictures, to show self-restraint

Enjoy :)

K.






Hidden Costs of Building a Home

Sunday, 7 May 2017

So I have had a few people approach me to talk about building a home.  I wanted to do a post for those that might interested in the things you don't know about building a home.  If this isn't something you are interested in by all means; thanks for checking in!!  I will give you a token of my appreciation for clicking on the link by including some pictures :)

Finally getting some of our artwork hung! 

Pretty Gloomy, Lazy Sunday Morning Vibes (and yes I admit I do not reliably make beds)



So..that home building thing!

There are definitely some hidden costs when it comes to building a home: ones that I didn't think of at all!!  No, I am not talking about when you chose hardwood over laminate over ceramic. I am not talking about the hidden costs behind all the decor and the finishes you choose....I am talking about costs, that you don't think about, when you go to a contractor and get a quote.

Let's get started:

1) House plans: We were lucky...a friend that is an architect did our house plans.  Obviously...I can't speak to how much it costs to typically have a draftsperson complete their plans....but I am guessing it's not a bargain.  We had looked at house plans online but we would have had to pay someone to alter them to what we were looking for, anyway.  In addition, the house plans online drastically underquote how much it would cost to build them (don't trust the internet!)

2) Land: We purchased our land about a year and a half before we started the build on it.  What we didn't know at the time is that before you can have a mortgage on a house that you are building...you need to pay off the balance of the loan, for the piece of land.  In other words...the land price needs to be paid in full before you can start getting money for the mortgage and apply to your contractor bills.

First) In order for you not to have to pay a ton of cash, the bank has to assess the value of your house + the value of the land.  What you have to hope is the value is around the same amount that it is costing you to build (i.e. the cost of your land plus the price that the contractor is charging you).  For example:  If you paid 50,000 for the land and your contractor wants to charge you 200,000 for the house build, you better make sure that the assessed value is 250,000 plus hst.  Otherwise you will be paying any extra out of pocket.

This is not something to worry about in a large centre like Vancouver or Toronto.  It's a challenge when you live in a more rural area.  The banks need to know that if you walk away from the house, they will be able to sell your property for at least the balance of your mortgage.  Thankfully, for us, the assessed value came close to the actual price of the land + the house.  We had to pay about 9,000 + our downpayment out of pocket. (I should also mention that the bank also requires you to have at least 12 months of house payments, on top of your downpayment, in assets..in case the bank has to liquidate them.)

Second) For us, we had paid a chunk in cash on the land (the bank requires a good downpayment on "raw land"); however, we still had quite a balance to pay on it.

When you are building a house you typically get money from the bank in 4 installments (First is after foundation and things like the well and driveway is completed, second is what's known as "water tight" which basically means the framing and the exterior.  The third is your electrical and plumbing rough-ins, insulation, drywall, and the fourth is your finishes (flooring, kitchen etc).

Well...for most people...since they don't usually have their land paid off in full....their first installment usually goes first to paying off the balance of the land.  This can leave your contractor and subcontractors (like your foundation dudes) waiting a bit of time, to be paid in full.  Hopefully, you have some money left from the first installment monies, to tide them over a bit. We also paid our downpayment (5% down) after the first installment to help with some of the costs that were left uncovered, by the paying off the land. It helps at this point and time to have a patient contractor with a large line of credit (did I mention I worked with Graham Construction?)

3) Surveyors: the bank wanted a clear definition of the size of the land and the markings.  So we hired a local surveyor to do that. We also had to ensure that it clearly marked where crown land started (i.e. where the road begins) so that our house could meet certain by-laws (the house has to be so many feet from the road).

4) Engineers:  The municipal safety inspector wanted an engineer to sign off on the design of the house. Blahh...more money.

5) CMHC fees:  I will be honest.  Even this one is still hard to wrap my head around it.  Basically, when you get a mortgage with a bank, they add this one big giant fee (read: pain in the ass).  It is a percentage of the final mortgage and provides insurance on the mortgage.  The more you put on in a down payment, the lower the fee. If your downpayment is 20%, there is no CMHC fee.  But...20%.

6) Taxes.  Big ouchie.  15% on a 10 dollar pizza isn't much....but it's a lot on a couple hundred thousand dollars! (You can apply to get a certain amount of your taxes back....but unless your house that you built is your first house...it's not that impressive, and if the value of your home is over $450,000, you aren't getting anything back, if you live in Nova Scotia)

7) Water testing: to make sure you don't have E.coli  and shit in your water...literally.

8) Your Lawyer fees.  It's definitely a different structure than when you buy an existing home.  Since your lawyer is the one that the bank releases the money to, you have to pay the lawyer in installments, as well.

9) Appliances.  This one is not very hidden.  But you kinda forget about it.  You can include the cost of your appliances in your mortgage.  I don't recommend this.  If your mortgage amortization is 25 years...chances are, you will need to replace your appliances before the 25 years are up.  If you do, and your appliances get replaced...you technically are still paying for your old one, while you are also paying for your new one :/ No thanks.

10) I feel like I need to find a 10th item to round out the discussion....I will chip in a water softener and sediment filter....as it was an afterthought for us.  I am a water princess that has lived on municipal water in my small Newfoundland town and on Brunswick street, all my life. When I realized that hard water, with lots of sediment, meant not washing clothes and sand in your bathtub...it was a race to talk to a plumber, to have that installed.

Well, I hope that was all clear as mud!  Please msg me if you have any questions!  I am not an expert, but certainly feel like I have some handle now, in the forgotten pieces of information, when you are bright eyed and bushy tailed, and picking out your hardwood floors and tile!  Seriously, home building was an amazing and privileged experience for us. We are super thankful to have had the opportunity.

Have a good Sunday!

K.