Jillian R.
It's only two days till we leave for vacation! Destination; the beautiful island of Georgetown, Penang (Malaysia) or rather; my home.

Before we go on vacation, I always take it upon myself to use up the food in the refrigerator - leftovers need to be eaten,  and everything that would spoil within the duration of our absence need to be thrown out or well... eaten!

Today, out of the things in the refrigerator, I made this;

(Eric's Special Pesto and Cheddar Stuffed Chicken with white sauce)

How I Made It:
(Recipe Serves 2)
2 chicken breasts
1-2 tbsp store bought or homemade pesto
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or any cheese of your choice)
2-3 tbsp all-purpose flour (for coating chicken)
Olive oil for pan frying chicken

For the sauce (optional):
1/4 cup butter
Italian Seasoning
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk

1. Butterfly the chicken breasts and lay a sheet of plastic wrap over each half. Pound to about 1/4 inch thick with a mallet. I don't have a mallet so I used my wooden rolling pin. Works just as well - I think.

2. Spread a thin layer of pesto over the chicken. Followed by some shredded cheese. Then, starting from the wider side of the breast half, roll them up carefully. Coat each chicken roll in  flour.

3. Heat olive oil in a skillet (I wouldn't use a non-stick pan for this because I found that in previous attempts, the pan does not get hot enough therefore under-cooking will occur). Pan fry each chicken until meat is no longer pink. Lay out on paper towels to absorb access oil.

4. Meanwhile, for the sauce, melt butter in a saucepan, stir in Italian seasoning. Once butter is melted and seasoning releases its aroma, whisk in flour, making sure the lumps are smoothed out. Once you have a smooth mixture, whisk in the milk. Keep whisking until thicken (or until sauce coats the back of a spoon). Season well with salt and pepper.

5. Lay out chicken rolls on dinner plates and spoon white sauce over them.

This would probably count as my first time writing out a recipe which I had just thrown together in the kitchen. Hope this works out for you.

Happy cooking!
Jillian R.
Many may not know that I love to cook. In fact, I went to college to learn cooking techniques and may have picked up a few recipes along the way, like the very hearty mushroom soup which I never get tired of making.

Anyway, living with my parents for the first few years after graduating made it difficult to experiment with different cuisines. One reason being my dad has hopelessly-Chinese-taste buds and would only eat Asian food. His most "daring" venture into a non-Asian dish is any kind of pasta in a tomato based sauce - WITHOUT the Parmesan (or any kind of cheese). Once, Eric made my parents some spaghetti and meatballs and my dad drizzled soy sauce all over his pasta. Eric's eyes almost popped out of their sockets. And the other reason? Well, my mom usually cooks whatever suits the family (meaning my dad), so I grew up eating my mom's Asian dishes at home and whenever I crave the occasional pizza, or anything other than home-cooked Chinese food, I ate out.

Oh, my mother has a broken full size oven that was never fixed for about 15 years (and counting). So I sometimes baked batches of cookies at my parents' house with a toaster oven which was never used for years until my sister found it nesting among all the other unused electrical items in our storeroom - no one knew how it got there or who had bought it. 

My passion for cooking really started when I got married and moved to Korea. However, there was only one major problem; Koreans don't bake (in general) therefore stove tops don't come with an oven attached. They do sell ovens separately but these were so overpriced it made it completely senseless buying one since we never intended to live in Korea permanently nor have any room in our tiny apartment's kitchen.

If you don't feel like clicking the link above, here's a picture of Eric standing in the said kitchen;

Yeah, there was NO way to fit a full size oven in there, was there? So I made do with a little toaster oven that we picked up from one of our trips to New York.

(I could see what a weird angle this is...but trust me, the toaster is rectangular)

Yes, the toaster was little, but it was the little toaster that COULD! I made countless recipes in it. Yes, I had to half the recipes and often had to bake in several small batches, but everything came out just fine. I loved that oven. I would still use it as a toaster now if only it didn't need a step-down transformer to function (it uses 110 V while the voltage here is 220 V). The transformer takes up as much room as the toaster. So I tucked it away.

So here we are; from my parents' Chinese kitchen to my little toaster oven in Korea AND Oman, we arrive in Abu Dhabi where I finally have a working full size oven. I now plan to share some of My Kitchen Adventures with you.

Stay tuned for more of these;

(Pictures of dishes I've made over the years. Visit my Facebook page For more details on the name(s) of each dish.)
Jillian R.
It seems that a day cannot go by without a dog-related incident.

It was 4.30pm. A time of day where construction workers gather along street corners to catch up on how many bricks they laid that day or to compare who has had the most street-corner-gatherings that day; we would never know, would we?

Anyway, at 4.30pm today I took the doggies out for their late afternoon potty-time. There was an atypically small gathering by their usual spot. So I decided not to walk further. While Jester was circling, a group of three construction workers approached; one of them whistled to get the dogs' attention. 

The dogs (and I) ignored it at first, but the worker kept whistling and then started snapping his dirty fingers. So, Jester and Ginger, being dogs, responded - they approached the whistling, finger snapping man. I didn't do much to stop them because whatever it was, the worker must have had it coming, right?


The worker got startled that a dog came as he whistled and snapped his fingers. Yes! So his reaction was to bend his foot as if he was getting ready to kick Jester in the face.

(Like this, see. Except Jester isn't so small. And the other dog on the right is Ginger. She just stood there watching as all of this was happening)

So I snapped.

I started yelling "YOU KICKED MY DOG? YOU CALLED THEM, THEN YOU KICKED MY DOG?" as he ran away. Yes, the coward ran away as Jester started barking and growling at him thinking that I might have been in danger. All the gathered workers started paying attention to the scene that was being created. One of the stupid worker's friends ran after him while the third one stayed behind and tried to control the yelling woman - me. I kept yelling that I was going to call the police. The third worker then backed away too.

So, I don't get it. WHY? Why call a dog if you are afraid of it even coming near you? WHY?!

Anyway, Jester was so riled up after that that he couldn't get on with his business, so I had to walk them further. Which brings us to the second idiot of the day. On the way back, we encountered another construction worker who just stood by the street corner and stared at me - which is another thing I don't get. Okay, so you find a (wo)man attractive, so you look, not stare and creep him/her out. And again, Jester being my little hero, turned around and started barking at the man. I know this his behavior isn't one that should be praised, but in my heart I smiled a happy smile - Jester, my little hero.
Jillian R.
Here's today's short story.

I was taking the babies to go potty outside. When the elevator doors opened, a father was inside carrying his (maybe 2 year old) daughter. I immediately said "Go ahead, we will take another one" - like I always do, but his immediate reaction was to hit the ">l<" (close) button while saying repeatedly "No, no, no.no, no..."

I guess by now I don't have to say the nationality of the father-daughter pair.

Anyway, right outside the apartment building, there they were again; father and daughter  standing in the car park, the father was just watching the little girl stare at the street. Cute little girl actually. As soon as they saw us, the father picked up the girl and get this - STARTED FOLLOWING US DOWN THE STREET.

I really wouldn't mind it as much if the father is not also making (and teaching) barking sounds. I get it, maybe they don't see dogs much and he wanted to teach the girl animal sounds, but this guy followed us across the street and watched the doggies pee!! All the while barking and making mock growls. I tried my very best to ignore them.

As soon as both of them finished their business, I turned to the man, who had by then been standing only 2 feet away from us (you'd think he was afraid of dogs) and had the following friendly conversation with the man;

Me: You really shouldn't be teaching your daughter to bark at dogs. Some dogs would jump at her and hurt her. She's only a little girl

Man: Oh ok, but they are nice huh?

Me: Yes, but other dogs, I don't know *smile*

Man: Ok, thank you

So, it sounds like I have done my part in educating someone today - even though the lesson will surely be forgotten the next time the man sees a dog.
Jillian R.
My two little doggies; they're like two little children. Here's why.

Of late we've noticed that Ginger seems to be idolizing Jester. Like a younger sister who copies whatever her older brother does, she follows him from room to room, tries to play with his toys (which Jester doesn't allow) and cries when Jester takes her toys away from her.

And of course, Jester is the grouchy older brother who loves his sister dearly but would not admit it and would protect her with his life. Every time we walk them, Jester is always on the alert for street cats, cars, motorcycles, and garbage pickers who might harm his little sister; who's a little bit of a scaredy cat - which is ironic, because Ginger is bigger and stronger than Jester.

Anyway, Ginger is dubbed the "Bottomless Pit" because she would gobble up all the food in sight within a few seconds during their meals while Jester slowly and regally chews his food. Generally, unlike most dogs, food is not a major issue with Jester. Before Ginger was adopted, Jester would often skip meals altogether. With her around, he would usually eat 3/4 of the food in his bowl and leaves her some (because in his mind, his parents are mean and don't feed his sister enough, that's why she's hungry all the time). It took weeks, but we finally taught her to finish her food, then sit and wait for Jester to finish eating, then walk away from his bowl before she dives into his food.

The past two days however, I've noticed that Ginger is doing something so cute that I want to shriek and hug her so tight that I might choke her. Like I said before, she likes to copy whatever Jester does; she had been leaving a few bits of food in her bowl too (remember, she's a Bottomless Pit!)!! So she leaves the food, backs away from it, sits and waits for Jester to finish his 3/4 bowl. Then after he finishes, she gobbles up whatever they both left!

I can't honestly say that I love anything more in my life right now than these little babies.

 (Ginger laying on the green blanket that is now torn to shreds and Jester snuggling on her) 
Jillian R.
I had to tell off a maid who is working in our building today. Yes HAD to. I'm not proud of it but I would be lying if I said I didn't draw some satisfaction from giving her an earful.

Here's why.

First of all, I don't get why a large number of people think that elevators would arrive sooner if they hit both the "Up" and "Down" buttons at the same time. Yes, the elevator would come sooner, but then it would take you the wrong direction, so why do that? Just hit the right button and wait! Anyway, both buttons were already hit when the doggies and I came into the apartment lobby yesterday.

We were going up, so when the doors to the elevator which was going down opened, we continued waiting. Then, out of nowhere (well, from outside really), the maid ran into the lobby, pushed past us, and took the elevator (which was going up) that just arrived. And because she pushed past us and startled the dogs a little, Ginger got close enough to sniff her clothes as she was brushing past us. She gave me a look with the utmost annoyance as the elevator doors closed. I get it, she didn't want to be in the elevator with the dogs (and hates dogs - and therefore hates humans), but;
a) she has to wait her turn and
b) I would have let her have it first if she hadn't pushed past us

I was not happy.

I'm not being petty. We treat everyone in the building with respect, be it they are residents or their help. I personally do not agree with the way some of the domestic helpers are being treated here and I want to do my part in treating people like human beings. Both Eric and I have held doors opened for this particular maid even though she has never said Thank You. Many times after we held the building doors open for her, she would march past us and straight into an elevator. I've even smiled at her several times but only gotten either blank expressions or scowls back.

I would look past the rudeness (she probably never had a proper upbringing) if not for the pushing.

I saw her again this morning as I was heading into the lobby.

Me: Hey, listen, I didn't like it when you RAN in from outside and PUSH past us and RAN into the elevator yesterday. They're shared elevators, you can't just run in and push past people, you have to wait. What is wrong with you?

The Maid: *indignant lookI didn't run

Me: Ok, then you can't just WALK in from outside and PUSH past people and WALK into the elevator like that. We were here first, you have to wait your turn.

The Maid: *continues staring at me*

Me: You better not do that again, I don't like that

She didn't answer.

I think I was being very polite about it. I didn't even call her a b*tch. I only did that in my head.

How else should I have handled this? I shouldn't get pushed aside by a domestic helper!
Jillian R.
You know how if there's a fire, the fire alarm goes off and everyone runs out of the building and gather at an empty space nearby until further instructions?

Well here in the Middle East, that might not always be the case.

There was a fire in our building last Tuesday and we didn't even know about it. At about 6.15pm, as usual, the doggies were hanging out in Eric's study where there's a sofa/bed near the window; which happens to be their favorite spot to sit (or rather, stand on the hind legs) and look out the window. As their "mom", I would usually join them and ask "What are you looking at? What are the workers doing?". They usually lose interest after a while, get off, run around a bit and then jump back up for another look. That day they were staring out the window for a really long time. So, I got curious and went to look too.

That's when I saw about two firetrucks (and a little station wagon) lined up across the street. Then a few moments later a third one pulled up.

(Fire trucks across the street from our building)

(The third fire truck)

But what struck me as strange was that the firemen (and street spectators) were just standing there, staring up at our building.

 (Firemen starting to leave the scene. Moments ago, they were all staring up at our building)

(This is a favorite "hang out" spot for construction workers, the fire surely provided some entertainment. Oh, this is also Jester and Ginger's favorite pee-pee-doo-doo spot. Hmm...)

No one was spraying any water and of course, no ringing fire alarm. I immediately thought maybe someone fell off the building or committed suicide. Wouldn't you think that? It's the only logical explanation! So I grabbed Eric and we both headed downstairs to ask the watchmen what was going on.

Then, we were greeted by smoke in the hallway;

Okay, the smoke was faint and it doesn't really show in this picture. There was however a strong burned smell. The elevators seemed to be working and we are on the 1st Floor so we hopped into one.

When we got down to the lobby, there were firemen (just) standing around; chatting with each other. We asked the first one we saw if there was a fire, he said "Yes, but only small one, no problem". Really? There was a fire in the building - an apartment building and no one was evacuated? Great!

We went out to the streets and joined a few of our neighbors, it turned out that the fire was on the 10th floor, it was indeed a small one and it had been put out. No one was hurt.

However, what concerns me is that;
a) there was a fire in the building and we didn't know about it
b) no one hit the fire alarm - what if the fire grew and we only knew about it when we saw smoke in the apartment and it was too late?
c) if it was really just small fire, why were there at least 20-30 firemen and three firetrucks (and a small station wagon)?

Anyway, we spoke to the watchmen later that night and were told that;
a) the fire alarm never went off because they turned it off
b) why? Because people were smoking in the hallways and fire escapes and it could trigger the fire alarm all the time
c) they would turn on the fire alarm the next morning
d) no one should smoke in the hallways and fire escapes and people should not even burn incense in their own apartments because the fire alarm system is VERY sensitive and somehow smoke will seep out from under closed doors and trigger it

I've since then burned a huge amount of incense in the house and it hasn't triggered the fire alarm - YET.

Oh, it seemed that a news crew came that day after the fire was put out, but since we don't watch local TV, we'll never know if we were on the news.

(Another station wagon - belonging to the news crew)

Thus ends another unexplained story from the Middle East. Enjoy!
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