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picking up where we last left off

Recipe: chicken kebabs

I can still spy snow on the ground across the valley, but the sun has been doing her work in these parts. We have one giant snow bank left in the shadow of our garage. The rest of the yard has thawed and dried, much to Kaweah’s exploratory delight. It’s beautiful, really. While I was feeling like hell over the weekend, Jeremy cracked a window overnight to let some cool air in. Although my taste is boned from the chemo, my sense of smell is heightened and in my delirious state, the smell of that mountain air calmed me. I love being outside, sleeping in the dirt, smelling the pine forests, walking the hills. It smelled like camping, because we always camp in the mountains – but we live here. Hell yeah.


front yard first blooms: dragon’s blood



I can tell when I’m on the rebound from a chemo when I start thinking about what to cook next without wanting to hurl. That and I can finally clean out all of the penis-enlargement spam from my in-box…

I’m ready for spring now – or perhaps you’d call it sprummer since spring is more of a concept than a season here. I’m ready! Okay, I *am* holding out for one last storm to blow through here in a week or so if the atmospheric modeler, whose blog I read and worship, is correct (usually is). Haven’t put the tele boots away just yet, but I wore shorts yesterday and dusted off my trail runners. Can’t wait for the trees in Boulder to start pushing their blossoms out. The forsythia have already begun in earnest. Love to hear the bird songs around our house and watch gem-colored hummingbirds dogfight for territory from our deck. Did I mention the wildflowers? I’ll take those understated beauties over a royal botanical garden any day. I look forward to the cleansing effect of our afternoon thunderstorms and the feel of moist ground underfoot that solidifies before sunset each day. There’s nothing so soothing as waking before dawn and having that softly lit world all to yourself… unless you were up late admiring the August night sky and the Perseids shower. I’ve got drupes, berries, herbs, greens, seafood, iced teas, fruity girl cocktails, and grilling on the brain. Oh the grilling… I may be a ski whore, but there is something to love about every season – and I do.


let’s begin with some chicken: i like thigh meat



My attitude toward grilling is pretty straightforward: make the food taste Good. There is some crazy notion that men can grill because they are men. I’ve witnessed far too many men grill as if on a mission to char every ounce of protein within a two foot radius of the fire. [Is this somehow connected to the way men feel compelled to press the call-elevator button again and again, giving me that reassuring "I'll take care of it, Missy" grin when I'm standing there waiting patiently for the elevator I had already called?]

pour in fresh lemon juice



Of course, men who DO know how to cook/grill/bake – well… that’s about as hot as a man who can tele like silk in my book ;) Anyway, I think my southern childhood of summer barbecues with leathery, dry chicken breasts off the grill at countless gatherings has turned me off to grilling chicken breasts. I prefer chicken thigh meat and that’s what I tend to use for kebabs.

add salt and freshly ground pepper



My first true introduction to Middle Eastern food was at Wahib’s… Wahib’s Middle East Restaurant in Alhambra, California. It got the seal of approval from NASA officials and Jordanian nationals alike (i.e. my old boss). I can’t even list all of the foods I fell in love with there, but when we departed for the East Coast to start grad school, I knew I’d have to find my own way without Wahib.

onto the skewers they go



The recipe is uber simple, which is good because I equate grilling with simple. Chicken, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Dump it in a bag or bowl and marinate. Skewer those babies and grill.

baste and turn



The chicken is great served with a traditional side like saffron rice, but it’s also fantastic with grilled vegetables, salads, whatever floats your boat. That’s the beauty of the grill… it’s all good – just like the seasons.

serve immediately off the grill



Chicken Kebabs
[print recipe]
modified from Middle Eastern Cooking by Christine Osborne

6 tbsps olive oil
6 tbsps lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt
pepper
2 lbs. chicken, cut into good-sized cubes (I prefer thigh meat)
saffron or 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp butter, melted

Place the first six ingredients together in a ziploc bag. I prefer to let it marinate for a whole day (that’s 24 hours), but if you are short on time, the minimum is probably closer to 4 hours. When you are ready to grill the chicken, skewer the pieces, but not too tightly packed (if you use bamboo skewers, be sure to soak them in water for 30 minutes beforehand). Mix the saffron or turmeric into the butter. Grill the chicken on high heat and brush with the butter mixture. I usually forget the butter part and the chicken still tastes fantastic. Remove the chicken from the grill when it is done (cook time will depend on the size of the chicken pieces, but generally it takes us 10-15 minutes). Serve immediately.

24 nibbles at “picking up where we last left off”

  1. Rachael says:

    Gorgeous and simple. I wish I had the grilling skillz, but alas, I inherited my father’s (a chef, btw) nature for over-charring. My mom likes to call it color. I like to call it burnt. Either way, I really want to illegally break out the hibachi in my apartment complex now and get some char goin on.

    We have no spring here in NC either. It’s lovely right this second, but in about a week, it will be unbearable. Especially if it keeps raining.

    Love the blog!

    ~Rachael~

  2. Wendy says:

    Next time I have to argue that I as a woman am just as capable of handling a BBQ as any bloke (and there will be a “next time” unfortunately) I am just going to show them that last picture. :)
    Hope you’re feeling better.

  3. Graeme says:

    Fowl. Absolutely fowl and obscene. Clucking perfect, Jen.

    Chicken jokes, eh? Seriously though; So simple, but it’s the before-bit that makes all of that soft/crispy interplay possible. We know, and we love it!

  4. Graeme says:

    Sorry, I had to comment twice – And I apologise for the curse word I’m about to use.

    You’re so right about elevator/crossing buttons.
    “I already pressed it! You saw me press it! Don’t FUCKING press it again! It won’t get here any faster because you keep pressing it! “

  5. peabody says:

    This would require me to own a grill. :) I think we are going to break down and buy one.
    Where would the world be with out penis enlargement or blonde sluts barely legal SPAM to make the day a little brighter. :P

  6. Mrs Ergul says:

    Oops! Seems like I’m more manly then dainty for I press on the lift button more than once on a usual day because I’m one impatient freak! hehe

  7. White On Rice Couple says:

    Oh, you got one of those penis enlargement spams too? Ours was over 1,000 spams long? Can your penis beat that?
    Those kebabs look awesome! Why is it that you guys in snowy Colorado are BBQ-ing more than us sunny Californians? What wrong with this picture?

  8. diva@theSugarBar says:

    men just look taking charge of the bbq. to them, the ultimate outdoor chilled-out image is really standing in front of the bbq with a pint of beer in flip flops. although that’s pretty sexy to me, women do it great too. i take charge of a bbq wicked.
    anyway, great pictures. this got me glued to the computer for ages just admiring them. x

  9. kathryn says:

    Hi! So glad you are feeling better!! We are in love with a lebanese restaurant that just opened up by our apartment here in Oslo! I love middle eastern food! I will try that marinade…lemony goodness!
    I hope you get one more day of ‘shredding’ in before sprummer officially sprums…

  10. Woolly says:

    glad to see your back! Can’t say I am sorry to hear that the snow is melting… I could barely wait for it melt! Now I get to sit out on the deck with my dog and try to defend against the million black flies that are tring to eat me. I think I am gonna be using some of your recipes for the up coming BBQ season. I have been looking and you have some killer ones I want to try! THANKS! Hope your feeling better and can get out and enjoy the spring!

  11. manggy says:

    Yay you’re back!! And with a great post!! AND you just revealed I’m as hot as a man who can tele like silk!! :P (oh come on, Jen, you can’t make me like you any more than I already do, no need to pander, lol) :p

    I’m a thigh man, myself– but you can also produce okay grilled chicken breasts by brining them for half an hour, then grilling over high heat for half the time and low heat for the rest. Of course that’s much more work, haha :) And of course, your kebabs look beautiful :)

  12. Lori says:

    Glad to “hear” you are bouncing back. And with chicken… hmmmm. I need to learn how to work our grill. Personally I prefer charcoal but it is cumbersome.

    And what the heck is it with all the “penis enlargement” crap. Oy – hate that spam!

  13. Christina says:

    Glad to see you’re back! I don’t ski, I run, so I’m pretty excited that all the snow has melted. That, and I got a slight injury due to running on the snow, though it was mostly my own fault. Still. :)

    The pictures just emphasize everything you said about grilling meat: straightforward and GOOD. I concur about the thigh meat, too. Sometimes chicken breast can be tender, mostly it isn’t.

  14. Tartelette says:

    Yeah for chemo being done! I am thigh meat girl too :) I’ll have to give this one a try as it looks wonderful now that I am staring at my dinner for one (the boy is out playing on his trombone….that’s what I call sexy!).

  15. Kevin says:

    TH dragon’s blood look nice and the chicken kebabs sound tasty.

  16. cindy says:

    Yeah, that smell. Glad it worked it’s way into your brain. We don’t have that mountain smell here (we have to travel a little for that), but our summer has a dry, , sagey, eucalyptus smell. I didn’t realize how much I love it or how much it feels like home until I lived away for several years. What do city folks smell at night? Poor things.

    Is that your last chemo round? Any chance Katie and I can lure you and Jeremy out to Alta next year for a blogger gal ski meet-up? The trip Husband and I have promised ourselves then is what’s allowing us to hold on. I worry that she would kick my increasingly middle-aged butt, but I’d love to see both of you in the snow.

  17. Laura @ HungryAndFrozen says:

    Nice to see you back :) gorgeous shots of the dragons blood (what an amazing name) and good grief, you are possibly the only person I’ve ever seen make raw chicken photogenic… I’m definitely a thigh gal myself. The marinade sounds and looks simple and delicious. Hope you stay feeling not-nauseous :)

  18. Hillary says:

    Great idea to make kabobs – next time I’m at the grill, I might just copy you!

  19. jenyu says:

    Rachael – I remember the days of apartment living… with the illegal grills :) Everyone had them. I seem to recall fleeting spring in SE VA. It was lovely while it lasted.

    Wendy – You do it, woman!! Thanks, I’m slowly recovering :)

    Graeme – *gasp* you swore AND made chicken jokes?!? I love it when you swear, my dear. It just makes the point that much more :)

    Peabody – I can’t believe you guys don’t have a grill?! I sort of imagined you as a grilling type!

    Mrs. Ergul – ha ha. As long as you don’t do it to impress the ladies.

    WoRC – yeah, why IS it that we’re grilling more than you two? You’re slacking off! Before you know it, they’re going to revoke your So Cal license :)

    Diva – hehe, I find the food being grilled to be the sexy part ;)

    Kathryn – thank you, sweetie! Mmm, I wish we had a good Lebanese restaurant nearby. Well, at least one of us does! I think sprummer may have sprum on me ;)

    Woolly – thanks! Oooh, black flies :( Those are nasty little buggers, aren’t they? Well I hope you and pup have a great summer of grilling and enjoying the weather before winter returns!

    Mark – ahhh, I *knew* you’d latch onto that! :) Yup, it’s quite impressive when a guy can cook – as long as he isn’t an asshole (yes, unfortunately, there are those among the ranks). See? I can appreciate MANY talents in the lesser sex ;) As for chicken breasts… yeah – I know you can brine and do stuff, but… it’s more expensive AND I don’t like it, so I don’t bother unless I’m forced to. See, when we BBQ together, we’ll be in complete agreement :)

    Lori – thank you :) I too like charcoal, but that’s not happening here at the moment.

    Christina – if you *did* ski, you’d have something to do all year! :) When the snow isn’t skiable, we switch to spring mountaineering and then hiking and biking and then…

    Tartelette – well, almost done! Just one more to go… I didn’t know he plays trombone! How cool is that?

    Kevin – thank you :)

    Cindy – I know that sagey smell well, having lived in So Cal for 10 years. I quite love it (although I have to admit that I prefer the mountain smell over the sagey smell). Nope, I have one more in 2 weeks’ time. F’ing chemo. But I will be freaking glad when it’s done. Ohhh, Alta ;) We are cheap bastards, you know. That’s one of the reasons we moved to Colorado. We pay in total $1500 for seasons passes to our local hill and 5 of the big mountains (Breck, A-basin, Keystone, Vail, and Beaver Creek). And that’s about all we can afford for our nasty little habit. A weekend away would easily double that ski budget :( But hey – if you guys are up for skiing Colorado… we can accommodate :)

    Laura – thanks! yeah, I love the name of that plant (it’s a ground cover of sorts that can actually survive up here!).

    Hillary – awesome :)

  20. Christine says:

    Jen – your spring grilling is continuing to make me green with envy :) I love the simplicity of this recipe and I’m sure they were delicious. We have two, lonely daffodils in our front yard but they’re hanging in there with our hot/windy/cold bipolar weather. I forgot to mention how beautiful your photos of the cherry blossoms were – just lovely.

  21. jenyu says:

    Christine – aren’t you guys grilling yet?! Has spring sprung in AA??

  22. Christine says:

    Jen – we’re major wimps. major. Grilling might not happen until summer for us. The weather is up and down lately and when it’s down, it’s freakin’ too windy that starting our charcoal grill makes me very foul-mouthed. But I can still vicariously enjoy the grillin’ here (as I do with everything else you make!)

  23. Electric Smoker says:

    I love me some chicken! Thanks for sharing that recipe. Here’s a quick tip for when you’re in a hurry and you need grilled chicken fast. First of all, you need to buy the pre-cooked grilled chicken packages at Sam’s Club. They are in the frozen section. They’re mesquite flavored…and quite tasty. So anyway, when you’re in a pinch, just pop these babies in the microwave (about 5 minutes for two), and they come out hot & ready to eat. You can cut them up into strips to use in a salad, eat them as is, or make a sandwich out of them.

  24. jenyu says:

    ES – I don’t generally buy pre-flavored meats, but thanks for the tip.

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