Today I am doing a post to mark a momentous occasion: my human Hsin-Yi cooked something and it actually turned out OK!!!!!
Well, actually, although I often tell you that Hsin-Yi is a terrible cook – she isn’t that bad really. She is more of a “hit-and-miss” cook (except that she misses more often than she hits – hee! hee! ) – sometimes she can cook really well and make really yummy things but that sort of happens only once in a long time (like the solar eclipse). And it’s a good thing that Paul likes cereal ‘coz he eats a lot of that for dinner some times!
But don’t worry - Hsin-Yi has managed to learn to cook a small group of things pretty well and so she mostly just rotates through those dishes when she’s making meals – and Paul is usually safe! – but the problem comes when she tries something new!!
See, Hsin-Yi is very lazy and naughty and she never follows recipes properly. She just wants to get it done quickly and in the easiest way; and she also hates having to buy 1 thing just for one recipe which she only uses one time – she thinks it’s such a waste! – so she often tries to ‘substitute’ things in the recipes herself, rather than making the effort to get them… …
“Fresh lime? I’m not going to the supermarket just to get that…um… oh, I’m sure lemon juice is fine instead…Cayene pepper? where am I going to find that? Oh forget it…I’ll just use paprika…it’s sort of the same colour…Blend in food processor? What a pain! I’ll have to dig it out of the cupboard and then wash it all up afterwards…hmm…maybe I’ll just mix it by hand…oh, er…it’s gone weirdly lumpy…Six ounces of sugar? hmm…I don’t have a scale – how do I measure that? Oh, I’ll just guess – I’m sure it will be OK…”
…hmm…and you wonder why the things that Hsin-Yi cooks tastes funny!!
But this time, she was really good and actually made the effort to get all the right ingredients – even sumac, a kind of Arabic spice, which she had to go to 3 different shops to find!
What do you think she was making?
This is a kind of Lebanese chicken kebab – her daddy (who died 2yrs ago) used to love this and Hsin-Yi used to eat this with her family on weekends, back when she was still living in Dubai. It’s very yummy and – this is the best part for Hsin-Yi – really easy to make!
First, you cut the chicken breast up into little chunks and then you put them in a ‘marinade’ made of lemon juice, yoghurt, cumin, olive oil, black pepper, tomato paste, paprika, salt and of course, sumac! (if you can’t find sumac, some recipes use allspice – but sumac gives it the real Arabic taste! )
Then you cover it and put it in the fridge and leave it all night, until the next day, so that the chicken absorbs all those yummy flavours.
Then the next evening – with the resident Dane helping, of course – you just take the chicken out and put it on the special barbecue sticks called ‘skewers’, with some pretty, crispy vegetables like green & red peppers (capsicums) or courgettes (zucchini)…
They looked so yummy, I wanted to gobble them up immediately! But Hsin-Yi said, No, they had to go under the grill in the oven first…
I tried to get a sneaky lick in but Hsin-Yi caught me! Humph!
How long do we have to wait?
I could smell them smoking & sizzling under the grill…ooh! Delicious!
Actually – as usual! Sigh. – Hsin-Yi forgot to check the time when she put them in and so after a while, she didn’t know how long they had been cooking for and didn’t know when they should be ready!
And she was worried that they wouldn’t be cooked in the middle so she left them in the oven a bit too long…so the chicken ended up a bit overcooked and a bit dry…
But that’s OK – they were still really yummy!
Hsin-Yi had made her special Arabic rice (basmati rice cooked in chicken stock, with fried red onions, toasted almonds & raisins) to go with the shish taouk. And usually, for Arabic food, she would also make tabouleh, which is a special kind of yummy Arabic salad but she was too lazy to spend hours chopping parsley so she decided to just do a Cheat’s Salad of cucumber & mint, tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and black pepper - very yummy & refreshing!
This is one night that Paul didn’t go hungry – or eat cereal – hee! hee!
Oh, and I did get a small taste although my humans only gave me a small piece of chicken to try ‘coz they said it had too many spices and things and might be too much, even for my iron tummy! Humph! So unfair! After all the time I spent helping Hsin-Yi with the cooking!!
If you’d like to try making shish taouk too, here are some recipes: (and you don’t have to cook fancy rice to go with it – you can just have it with pita bread)
And now, Hsin-Yi would like to say some words (well, OK, lots of words!):
My Dragon NatuallySpeaking software has finally arrived from Amazon and I’m getting to grips with how to use it. I did actually try out Version 10 a few years ago and found it so frustrating that I just gave up at the time. But I’d heard from various blog friends that the latest version (Version 11) is much improved and that it can work very well, if I just take the time to ‘train it’. A few years ago, I didn’t really need to use it but now with my RSI, I really need to make this work – so I’m really making the effort this time be patient and try my best to use it and train it…
It is still very frustrating at times – everything takes twice as long to do because it still often can’t understand me or mis-recognises a word and I have to keep stopping to correct the mistakes. And you can’t just type over the mistakes because the software won’t learn that way – you have to verbally tell the software to select the wrong word, verbally ask it to correct it and then verbally choose the correction from a list or spell it out (+ say the word for the software to hear, so that it recognises how YOU say that word)…so that this can all be logged in the software database and stored for future use. Of course, this all takes 3 times as much time as if you just corrected the mistakes yourself by typing! But I know I must do this sort of “correction process” to train the software. I think it doesn’t help that I have a “funny” accent – in that it’s not a straightforward British or American one but a mixed-up bit of everything.
Anyway, so I just wanted to say that I’ve started visiting your blogs and using DNS to comment but it’s extremely slow going! Sometimes I just want to go AAAAARRRRRGGGHHHH!!! and grab the keyboard – but I’m trying to persist with it. So please be patient with us. And please excuse any funny grammar or strange spellings that I might miss. (I know it’s not the end of the world but I’m really fussy about things like grammar & spelling!) DNS seems to struggle the most with similar sounding words: “there” Vs. “their” and “two/to/too” – I was mortified the other day after I submitted a comment to find that it had somehow typed, “it’s great for dogs to burn everything” instead of “it’s great for dogs to earn everything”!! :D Plus any emotive words are a real struggle – words like “wow”, “whew!”, “Oh” and “ewww”…yesterday, I nearly burst a blood vessel yelling at the software, “Awww!” – when it kept typing “Bold”, “All”, “Old”, “Oar”…anything except what I wanted!!! Yes, I did add “awww” as a special word into the Vocabulary and I said it for the software to hear – but I guess it’s hard to say those emotive words the same way every time – the way you say them changes depending on the context and computers just can’t recognise all the subtle nuances…
But overall, I feel that it is still a good solution – since I’ve installed the software, I haven’t had any pain in my arms for the first time in weeks! – so I’ve just got to persist with it.
So I just wanted to let you all know what was happening, in case you’re wondering why we’re so slow to visit and sound a bit funny in our comments or emails! But I guess this is better than not being able to visit & comment at all! For the posts, I’m still typing them the old-fashioned way because they involve much slower typing & lots of pauses to compose, so they never seem to trigger my RSI as badly. Thank goodness for that!