Wednesday, February 27, 2008

So, I'm the Noisy Neighbor?

On a daily basis, I hear my upstairs neighbors going about the business of their daily life. I hear them dropping things, slamming doors, and seemingly tapping on the floor for no particular reason. On a few occasions, I've heard what sounds like someone tripping and falling like a dead weight onto the floor. Strangely though, I never hear any tenant's television, radio or telephone, so clearly only percussive sounds carry through the floor.

Part of living in a less than perfectly sound-proofed apartment is that these things are going to happen. I don't get mad at my neighbors or try to get them to quiet down. I also don't run off and complain to the landlord about it, though I have had to complain about former neighbors who threw dirty water onto their balcony and let it drip down onto my clean laundry that was hanging out to dry. Please note that I live in a 6-unit building (3 on top, 3 on the bottom) and I've only ever had Japanese neighbors. I know they're Japanese because it's the custom for new tenants to introduce themselves to nearby tenants in the same building upon moving in.

At any rate, I put up with daily thumping and banging and I don't moan or whine about it. About a month ago, between 9:00-9:30 pm, I was preparing dinner. On this particular occasion, I was making a chicken dish which required me to pound chicken breasts flat with a mallet. It probably takes about a minute to get each one to the desired thinness. Shortly after I started beating on the third breast, my neighbors started aggressively beating on the floor to let me know how bothersome I was being to them with my noise-making.

The implement of my evil noise-making, a rubber mallet, was actually a gag gift from a former co-worker who told me I could use it to beat some of my coworkers when I was frustrated. Little did he know I had more legal (thought certainly not more pragmatic) applications for his gift.

Not having much of a choice, I continued with dinner preparations and was treated to another round of listening to my annoyed neighbors beating on the floor. While I understand that it was probably no fun for them to endure 4 (separate) minutes of me pounding on something, keep in mind they weren't sitting in my living room (and it wasn't late at night). They are above me so there's a floor and some distance between us. Also, this was the pot calling the kettle black. I don't know what is up with their tapping, but it happens at least once a week for prolonged periods of time. It's like they're hanging hundreds of tiny picture frames on their walls one at a time.

This incident reminded me of something I've mentioned to my husband on more than one occasion while listening to my neighbors do routine things which cause us to hear lots of banging and thumping. I'm glad we're on the first floor. If my using that mallet bunched their tighty-whities, I can only imagine what walking around, dropping stuff accidentally and closing sliding doors would do to them.


The chicken dish that I made is probably one of which many folks have a version, but I'm going to give my recipe for it nonetheless. It's very good fresh because the bacon gets a bit crispy, but is also good as leftovers. Note that my husband and I make it with American bacon which is saltier and smokier than Japanese bacon. My husband picks up about a four or so 1-lb. packages of Farmer John brand American bacon when he goes to Costco and they last us about 3-4 months. It can probably be made with Japanese bacon, but the taste will be a bit different.

This dish is one of the few things I can make with chicken breast meat which my husband likes. Not only can you never go wrong with anything which is wrapped in bacon, but beating on it to flatten it out makes the chicken nice and tender. I will not be held responsible though if your neighbors complain when you make it. ;-)

Bacon-wrapped Chicken Breasts:
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 pound/227 grams bacon (about 8 pieces) cut in half
  • ~4 oz./113 grams mild cheese (I used Gouda or Mozzarella) cut into small chunks (about 1/2 inch or 1.27 cm)
  • 8 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

The breast on the upper right was the first one. Notice how nice and smooth it looks. They are placed in counter-clockwise order and you can see that my work got shoddier as I progressed. The last one is a mangled lump.

Grease a baking dish and set aside. Sandwich a chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound with a mallet until about 1/4 inch/.6 cm thick. Try not to beat it until it tears. Leave it a little thicker rather than thinner if necessary. Mix the flour and spices together in a large, shallow bowl. Rinse one chicken piece at a time and thoroughly shake off the excess water. Dredge a damp breast on both sides in the flour shaking off the excess. Place a piece of cheese in the center and fold the short side in first then the long side. Try to enclose the cheese entirely in the breast. This should form a ball that is closed on the bottom. If it doesn't hold together, secure the ends with toothpicks though be very careful to remove them before eating. Place each completed breast in the baking dish.

Place the half strips of bacon over the tops of the chicken to cover. Covering it will keep the breasts moist through the baking process. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour (or more). Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F./175 degrees C. Bake the chicken (uncovered) for 50-60 minutes or until juices run clear and chicken is cooked through. This makes 6-8 servings depending on your appetite.

For my husband and I, half of one of these along with about 4 oz. (125 gr.) of rice and a vegetable makes a very nice meal, so it's not quite as evil as it may seem from a fat point of view. Half of one is about 2.5 oz. (70 g.) of chicken, 1 slice of bacon and .5 oz. (14 g.) of cheese. Most of the fat will cook out of the bacon and pool at the bottom of the baking dish so I recommend removing the breasts immediately rather than waiting until they get cold.


badmoodmike said...

These look absolutely delicious! I will have to try them since I eat mostly chicken anyhow. I'm not a big red-meat eater since I recovered from cancer.

This is very similar to a recipe for Chicken Kiev. You pound the chicken flat, then wrap it into a roll around some butter and wrap it in bacon.

The mallet reminded me of a gag gift a friend of mine got the president of our radio club. She's known for busting heads when necessary...and sometimes not. It's an extra large, novelty, solid hardwood judges gavel. It's huge! LOL!

It is kind of a pain living in an apartment. I'm sure that you have it better than some of the places here in the states. After my mother divorced, she and I moved into an apartment not far from where we live now. Unfortunately, the construction of the apartments are quite lousy and we could hear everything going on in the apartment below. The guy beat his kids every evening, his wife every night and could, unfortunately, hear them en coitus. :(

Thank God my mamaw lived near by and I could stay with her on the weekends!

Cutetwirler said...

but... how do you oven bake it in Japan?! Don't tell me you've actually found the only oven in Japan?! I have (literally) one hob and one microwave. I'm dying without an oven...

Shari said...

Mike: My husband and I aren't big red meat eaters either. Mainly, we eat chicken for protein (and because it's cheap!).

I've tried chicken kiev before, but I did a pretty sad job of it with the bacon. Of course, you can see how I can mangle a piece of chicken from those pictures!

Your old apartment sounded awful (esp. the kid beating and the, er, extracurricular activities). I do marvel that we hear no talking or television through the walls. I'm guessing that is actually better than a lot of places, though maybe my neighbors are all really big into reading!

cutetwirler: You can buys ovens here which are combination microwave ovens and real ovens, but it is a "lifestyle investment" which most folks don't make unless they plan on being here for awhile.

They're actually a lot cheaper now than they once were, fortunately. The one I have now is relatively new. If you're interested, I posted about it here:

I couldn't live without one now, especially since I prefer to make my own baked goods.

Thanks to both of you for your comments!

CMUwriter said...

Those chicken things look epic. Could you put some veggies in the chicken to go with the cheese?

On the subject of noisy neighbors, my downstairs neighbors have hardwood floors and for the longest time I could hear his children, in what sounded like Olympic training, doing laps around the dining room. They claim they cannot hear me, which is no stretch of the imagination, considering they have about fifty people living downstairs. I, on the other hand, am just a single guy with a couple of birds.

I know my other upstairs neighbor can hear me play guitar, and sometimes I feel bad playing it at night, because I know he must hear it. He says it lulls him to sleep like angels on his windowsill. I don't know about that, but he insists that he doesn't mind and actually likes listening to it.

Shari said...

cmuwriter: I think you could put vegetables in it, but they'd have to be precooked and it may have some sort of impact on cooking time and possibly on how tender the cavity meat is and the consistency of the cheese. It'd also have to be really flat vegetables (like spinach) because there isn't much space in a folded up chicken breast, even when pounded out. My husband and I just have the vegetables on the side since that allows for greater control of the cooking times and for less trouble in stuffing the chicken.

I think I'd have trouble living under a lot of kids or hearing them run on hard wood floors like you did. I know kids will be kids, but my husband and I work "teacher's hours" that are skewed later and kids go to school. I imagine stomping around waking us up at 6:30 or so when we've only been asleep for 5 hours.

Your neighbor who says he likes your guitar player sounds understanding...though he may be coming on to you. ;-) You won't have to worry though unless he starts asking you to serenade him in person. ;-)

Thanks for commenting!

Kanagawa G said...

We live on the first floor which is a good thing because Li'l KG seems to be practicing for an Olympic triathalon. Couch diving is a sport these days, isn't it?

Our upstairs neighbors have two young boys who make quite a racket, but we don't mind a bit. I'm sure that they hear us (especially me strumming my ukulele at odd hours), but they haven't complained- yet.

Our neighbors call down to apologize every now and then, but we tell them that we don't mind it at all. It is good that their sons are happy and playful. That is what childhood is about!

EdieS said...

What a delicious and luxurious looking dish! An ddon't worry too much about your neighbors- noise and neighbors in apartments go together, no matter how much soundproofing there is !

Shari said...

Thanks, Edie, and thanks for commenting! I'm giving your blog a look around now. :-)

CMUwriter said...

Yeah considering all the women be brings home all the time, and the fact that sound travels both ways through the wall, I don't think I would have him coming onto me as a problem in the near future.

Katy said...

That looks good! I think I will make that one of these days.
I have a recipe from a Korean cookbook that requires thinly pounded chicken and I use an item like this one. I wonder if it would take even less time with the little metal bumps? PS I just found your blog today, google reader recommended it to me because I read anything about Japan! hehe

Emsk said...

Oh, neighbours! I've also experienced the banging on the floor syndrome. Admittedly it was very late at night, but my crime had been... walking across my sitting room!

I now have neighbours who start blasting R&B at 8.00 on Saturday morning. While I wouldn't complain, plus it's about the time I have to get up on a Saturday anyway, I have wondered why they have to play it so loudly at that time of the day.