Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Apricot Chicken

Here is another chicken recipe I tried out and really liked, but didn't write down.  I didn't even measure amounts, so there's no way I can replicate it exactly, but I assure you it was delicious. 

- 1 chicken breast, cubed
- ~1/4 cup of white wine
- salt + pepper, to taste (to me this is a few shakes of salt, and a couple turns of the pepper mill)
- ~1/4-1/3 cup apple juice
- 4-5 dried apricots
- small handful of dried cranberries
- onion (minced) and/or sweet pepper (chopped)
- garlic powder
- dried parsley

Marinate the chicken in wine, salt, and pepper. Chop the apricots into thirds; heat apricots and cranberries in apple juice until it simmers. If using onion, add them at this point. Add chicken (don't pour in the wine) and garlic powder. When chicken is mostly cooked, add the pepper and parsley.  Cook until the juice is almost all evaporated, and everything looks nummy.  Make some cheesy parmesan toast for starch.  Eat! 

On the craft front, I finished a cotton scarf in a knitted lace pattern a while ago, but I've been getting confused on what makes a good blocking pin.  I picked up some pins today from my favourite yarn shop, yay!  So I'll be blocking that tonight... probably on the sofa, which is currently the only free surface, as the desk has my sewing machine and iron, and our "dining table" is covered in fabric from various projects (not just mine, though!).  But we'll see how well that goes.  Currently, my only decent spray bottle is outside in my bucket, underneath a bag of potting soil.  Hmm...

Monday, April 12, 2010

From the desk of Sandra Ewing

Whenever anybody asks me for my last name, I spell it out for them--I don't even bother saying it.  If I'm in a store, and they want to look up my name to see if I'm in their database, I just hand over the debit card I'm going to pay with--they can read it for themselves, and hang on to the card to charge me.

I'm not exactly sure when I started doing this, but I suspect it was in high school, when I was discussing a volunteer opportunity over the phone, and the lady asked for my name. "Sandra Yuen," I replied, oblivious to the aural turmoil it created on the other end. "Could you say that again?" she asked, and I obliged.  "Sandra Yuen."  When I reported to the volunteer office later that day, I noticed that she had written on a piece of paper, "Sandra Ewing?"

Saying it letter for letter doesn't always fix the problem, either: I say, "Y, U, E, N," and I see them writing down "Why" and then stop.  And then they realize they made a mistake, and they change it to "Wuen."  I have had to make clerks stop and really look at what was written, and still they thought they had it right.  "No no," I would say, "It's Y-U, not W-U." "Yeah, that's what I wrote, I don't understand the problem." "You've written W-U-E-N."  "No I haven't--OH."

Many people who read my last name, but have no idea how to say it, eventually come up with their closest guess, with "yen," "yoo-wen," and "y'wen" being the most common mispronunciations.  Plus two for effort and creativity, but sorry, no dice.  "Yoo-wen" might be the closest, except that's two syllables, and the name is meant to have only one.  Think of the name "Ewen."  A "Ewen Yuen" would be teased mercilessly, growing up.

My mother and I have had discussions before where we figure that "Yune" or "Yoon" would have been better romanizations, as they would provide far less confusion when reading it aloud.  Neither of those are particularly attractive spellings, however, and they don't exactly apply the nuances that exist in the pronunciation of my last name.  It might be better if I could write it out as "Sandra Yue," but it might be difficult to indicate that on the census form. Or any form.

"Yuen" isn't a common last name compared to many others in China, but it isn't rare, either.  In Mandarin, it would be "Ruan," and in Vietnamese, it's the surname "Nguyen."  Some interesting information on the character, 阮, can be found on this page. If you know how to read proper romanizations of Asian languages, the Cantonese section is relevant for my last name.