Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Summer Recipes: Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Mediterranean Couscous Salad

I haven't posted much about food before, so you may not know (if you're one of the 2 readers who isn't my mom) how obsessed I am with food.  But I am.  And I am in a vaguely instinctual way, without putting much stock in recipes, or having a real plan before I start out.  More often, I have a craving for a particular flavour, a particular texture, or even an "idea" of food in a looser sense (like, I really want to eat something that reminds me of Spain, or sunshine, or being snuggled in an alpine cabin when it's warm outside...just me?).  The other day, I was really in the mood for something I could serve with grilled lemons (something I am now obsessed with from the Food Network.  Plain old lemons drizzled over food are good, but grilled lemons drizzled over food are even better.)

The result: delicious spice-rubbed lamb kebabs paired with a salad of Israeli couscous, cherry tomatoes, feta, and fresh herbs.  I thought I would take some pictures, and share the recipe of this easy, fairly healthy, and majorly delish meal with you.

To prepare the kebabs:

  • Cut whatever meat you are using (we used lamb, but you could just have easily used chicken, beef, shrimp, or even pork [although I find it REALLY dry most of the time]) into roughly 2" pieces.  If you're using chicken breast, cut it into strips which you can fold back over onto the kebab.
  • Place it in a ziploc bag, or a casserole dish you like to use for marinating, and add:
    • a splash of olive oil
    • 1 tbsp ground cumin
    • 1tbsp ground coriander
    • a dash of chili flakes, if you like things spicy
    • salt and pepper
  • Let it sit for a while (in the case of lamb or beef, as long as possible) while you chop veggies for the kebabs.  We used zucchini and red onions because that was what we had on hand.  You could easily add tomatoes, eggplant, or mushrooms (try and choose something with enough heft that it wont overcook - asparagus, not so great, for example.  Even though I love asparagus.)
  • Thread the meat and vegetables onto skewers (if you're using bamboo like we did, you can soak them so they don't burn).  The skewers could be cooked one of several ways:  in a barbecue, if you're lucky enough to own one, in your oven on the broiler setting, or in your grill pan on the stove, like us.  Cooking times will vary based on what you're using, but our took about 10 minutes on the grill pan, on high.
For the couscous, which is easy to throw together while the kebabs are cooking:
  • Bring a medium saucepan 2/3 full of water to boil, like you would do for pasta.
  • Dice a red onion, and saute over medium low heat with some olive oil for a few minutes, until the onions begin to brown at the edges.  Then add a few cloves chopped garlic and continue to cook for a 3 more minutes, or until the garlic is golden brown.  Remove the onion from the heat at this point, and add them to the serving bowl for the couscous.
  • While the onions are browning, cook the Israeli couscous by adding it to the boiling water, and boil for approximately 6 minutes (test some to make sure its done, I like mine chewy.)
  • Drain the couscous and add to the bowl with the onions.  In addition, chop up some cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta, and add fresh chopped oregano and thyme.  Stir the couscous to mix and a dash of olive oil and a generous amount of red wine vinegar, as well as some salt and ground pepper.
To serve:
  • When the meat has about 1 minute left, slice a lemon into halves, cutting the round end off each half, and grill with the meat.
  • Place one or two kebabs onto a plate along with a spoonful of couscous salad and a lemon half, and serve with your favorite refreshing summer beverage.

Let me know if you try this out!  My official taste tester gave me the thumbs up, so I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

This is what it looks like when a Dalmatian wants you to wake up.

Last week, I babysat for my boss' dog.

5:30 AM.  I am not at my best.
 He is a slightly neurotic animal, to put it mildly.  Dalmatians have all kinds of quirks from centuries of inbreeding, so it is only partly his fault.  He is a cute little guy, and it is obvious his owners lavish him with care and attention, because they love him a whole lot.

What this means for those of us who aren't his loving parents, however, is that we have a big empty shoe to fill.  When he was giving me the instructions, my boss mentioned that he wasn't sure where the dog would choose to sleep, as he typically sleeps in the master bed but might prefer to sleep with me rather than in his customary location.  When I went up to bed the first night I was there, there was no question:  the dog was in bed before me, just waiting.  I have never had a dog who not only wanted to sleep in bed with me, but wanted to sleep in a location as if he was another person, up against my back

Oh and also, super cute, he wanted to get up at 5:30.  Charming.

The second night, Brandon came to help me, because he had a day off the next day and could afford the extra  travel time in the morning.  We walked the dog, we went to whole foods and bought fresh scallops to sear for a salad (with fresh greens courtesy of my boss' garden), we made dinner, and we snuggle up on the sofa.  The dog of course snuggled right up next to us - apparently, snuggling on the sofa is something he does.  The real trouble came when we decided it was bedtime.

We walk up the stairs to the guest bedroom, and once again, the dog is in bed before I can get there.  Only this time, there were two of us looking to sleep in the bed with the dog, and we are talking about a guest futon, a decently hefty lady, a 6'1 dude with real shoulders, and a 70lb Dalmatian.  Not to mention, he did not want to sleep at the foot of the bed, at our feet, he literally wanted pride of place in the bed.  This did not work out well, as you can imagine.  I think Brandon and I got 3 hours of sleep total that night, together.

Sigh.  He is a cute little guy though.

What?  Why wont you just play with me?

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Happy Birthday Hubs-Elect!

Today, my honey bunny turns 27.  27!  When I met him, he was 12.  And looked something like this:

But at least he has excellent posture, right?
I have spent more than 50% of my years knowing this man.  And I couldn't be happier.

Happy birthday honey.  Hope you had a great day :)

Monday, 13 June 2011


I cannot resist the random setting.  I am mesmerized by these colours.

We spend a good portion of Sunday at hubs-elects family house, going through old photos.  I want to make a little "story of us" scrapbook photo album to use as a guestbook, and I was hoping his mom might have some old gems for us in her taken-with-actual-film archive.

This led to several hours sitting over the kitchen table, laughing at how we used to look.  Or in my case, going back and forth between pleased, and cringing (how did I not know that bikini was way too small???).  But it was pretty awesome, and I feel like I have some good dirt on my new brothers, or would if they had much shame.

It also made me really think about how much impact we can have, unknowing, on the lives of whole families based on interaction with one member.  I have been with Brandon since we were just kids really, to dumb to know better, but my actions have had permanent outcome.  Take Tigger here, for example.

Tigger is the result of my desperate wish for a pet of my own.  But because I didn't have the means to just go out and adopt a cat I'd actually have to pay for (and if I had, I would've gotten a dog), I decided to suggest to Brandon that for his mom's birthday, wouldn't it be nice if we got her another cat? She loves cats! Let's go to the animal shelter TODAY and pick one out please?  And faced with that kind of logic and my best puppy eyes, both Brandon and his dad caved.  I mean, she does love her cats.  And she loves Tigger.  But what right did I have to even make that kind of suggestion?  One could argue that I was old enough then to know better, and I am definitely not making excuses for myself - what I did was wrong, and the fact that the outcome worked out fine does not make up for that. But.  Just look at that face?!

Brandon and I used to refer to the TigPig as "our child," and Brandon's dad used to joke that we'd better take him when we moved out.  And Brandon's mom would just smile, hug her kitty (who absolutely hates it) and say, "Over my dead body."  So at least there's that. 

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Fun with my Vignette Demo app

A sprinkling of photos from my lazy Sunday.  My new fave part about this app is the "random" effect setting.

The watch I got Brandon for his birthday.  Shiny.

I promise I might eventually have something to say.  Right now, I am trying to focus on not letting all of it overwhelm me.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Add "Having my closet detach from the wall" to the list of things I wasn't expecting to happen this weekend.

I have been neglecting the blog again, its true.  And its going to  get worse before it gets better.

We have a deadline approaching at work, which could vary in awfulness from minorly disruptive to three weeks of torture, sleep depravation, and mind numbing piles of redlines.  I am betting closer to the latter, but at least then the office will pay for my food.

The workload really picked up during last week, topped off by a delightful Saturday spent in the office, from 8 to 5, with a 3 hour pause in the middle to attend a small get-together/baby shower.  Which was very nice.  But I had to miss bookclub, which was not so nice.  But thanks to Lauren, I remembered I have a friend (Brandon's groomsman's wife's sister) who makes these on Etsy, and I had to order one for both of my pregnant friends because they are SO cute and also I like knowing I am supporting someone brave enough to start their own line on Etsy.

from BabeeStitches on Etsy.  How freakin' cute!

Add to the mix that I am house/dog sitting for my boss' boss this week, and I am a little bit stressed.  The good news is, it can only last 3 weeks maximum.  And then I will take my life back (and resume work on the logo Christine I promise.  I have been thinking about it!)

In a mad and probably in vain attempt to get organized, Brandon and I visited my favorite place in the world (or so it seems sometimes....), Target.  We bought all kinds of storage things for the closet, to go above the clothes rail (or lack thereof, but another complaint for another time.)  We got home, and I tried to catch up on over a month's worth of bills (eek!) while Brandon put the things together.  Altogether, they weigh considerably less than what was stores on the shelves in a jumble before.  But wouldn't you just know, no sooner does he empty the shelf and pop the little cubical things up there than the whole shelf detaches from the wall, and we realize what shoddy shoddy work was done installing this closet.  Elfa, people!  Its the only way to do this properly!

So a couple of trips to Home Depot later, we managed to reattach our closet to the wall, and put our clothes back on it.  By which point it was about 9pm, and like the good little housewife-to-be I am, I thought, hey maybe I should start dinner?  Ugh.

I did have posts from the week before this one that just never got written, but if I ever get home on time again, I will get the photos off my camera and start posting for real again.  For now, because I can and I finally like it again*, I leave you with a photo of my butt, in exercise pants:

Taken by my talented friend Vicky.  Shes starting up a photo blog here.

* Lies.  Even when I was more chubby than this, I always liked my butt.  I might not have been willing to show you a photo of it, but its true.  Even when it makes life very difficult to buy pants.