Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Last night I caught an excellent movie on AMC at like 3 in the morning. It is called Duel.
You may recognize the director. I think Duel was his first major film at the age of 23. It is about a guy, who I think is a bit of a pushover, who gets into it with a trucker.
It is set in what looks like rural Nevada. He passes a truck and then the truck messes with him the rest of the day.
It starts with the truck tailgating. Then the truck passes him and slows way down.
Eventually the trucker starts doing ever more aggressive things like bumping him at highway speeds, pushing him into the path of an oncoming train etc.
Finally the truck tries to push him off of a cliff. He jumps out of the car and the truck goes over.
It wasn't flashy like films of today but it was an awesome movie. It was very suspenseful. If I were you I would watch for it to come on AMC or rent it if you can find it.
Saturday, April 16, 2005
How to Make a Fajita Meal
I am on nightfloat right now. What that means is that I work 7AM Sunday until 7AM Monday. All other days I work from 6:00 PM until 6:30 AM. I have Friday and Saturday off.
I have to say I kind of like working at night. I have done a lot of trauma and I occasionally pick up a couple of elective cases. It is a big change to go from doing 30 to 35 cases a week to doing half a dozen though.
I think I have the secret to nightfloat. You absolutely have to stay up all night so that you can sleep during the day and make the transition. I usually stay up until 4:30 AM and then catch a couple winks until signout. If you stay up all night and plan on becoming a vampire, nightfloat is no problem.
The only thing that is a little wired is the weekends. This Friday I had to take my car to the shop because an EPC light kept coming on. It turns out my catalytic converter went bad. The good news is it is covered by my warranty. Anyway I only got about 5 hours during the day on Friday. I went to bed at 9:30 but I woke up at midnight and stayed up until 4. I slept Saturday until 11AM, which was a little weird for my wife. I absolutely NEVER sleep past 7 under normal circumstances. I have to get up and get some coffee. I hate wasting the morning.
So I mowed the lawn on Saturday. 3:00 rolls around and my friend wants to have a BBQ. The only problem was I wasn't hungry for burgers and brats. So I decided to have a fajita meal on the grill.
History of Fajitas
Way back in Olden Times, Texas ranchers used to hire lots of cowboys. Some of those cowboys were from Mexico. Mostly the cowboys just road their horses around, sang songs and shot their pistols into the air. It was a pretty good time. The ranchers knew that being a cowboy was a lot of fun so they didn't really want to pay the cowboys very much. One thing they would do was give each cowboy a calf now and again so that they could start their own herds. Another thing the ranchers would do is pay the cowboys in beef. The ranchers didn't want to give away filet mignons. In fact, they didn't even want to give away sirloin. So the cowboys got pretty crappy cuts of meat.
Probably the worst cut of meat on a cow is the flank steak. It is tough and full of connective tissue. What cut do you think the ranchers gave the cowboys?
Cowboys rapidly got sick of eating grilled flank steak and beans. One day a Mexican had a couple of limes. He marinated his flank steak with lime juice for an hour or so while he was cutting up his onions and peppers. He also had a couple tortilla shells on hand. He grilled the marinated flank steak over mesquite wood along with the onions and peppers. When combined with the tortillas, fajitas were born.
What this means to you and me is that flank steak is now extremely expensive relative to other cuts of meat. The same thing happened to chicken wings when Buffalo wings took off. To be frank, I can't afford the crappiest cut of meat on a cow anymore.
Here is how I make fajitas.
1 pound sirloin, pounded flat
juice of 2 limes
a few dashes of salt
fresh ground pepper
a little garlic salt
Marinate the meat in the above ingredients for about an hour. Don't cut the meat into strips yet. It will be too hard to handle on the grill. Just keep it in a nice flat steak. Grill for a minute or two on a charcoal grill. Flip once. Just before you throw the meat on, add some mesquite chips. Remove from grill and wrap in aluminum foil while the vegies are cooking.
Grill up some onions, green pepper (seeded and sliced in half), red pepper (seeded and sliced in half), and green onions. Before you throw them on the grill brush them with olive oil. When the vegies finish cover them with aluminum foil while you finish setting up the rest of the meal.
I would highly recommend throwing your tortillas on the grill for a few seconds on each side to heat them up. I have a cheap plastic tortilla warmer that I put them into after I grill them. The warmer will keep the tortillas nice and warm and moist until they are eaten.
To serve your fajita feast, slice the peppers and meat into strips. I layed mine out on a platter. You should serve it with lots of fixings. I included my recipes below.
My Pico de Gayo Recipe
2 tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 small serano chili, seeded and diced
a little bit of salt
a little bit of pepper
some fresh cilantro
juice of 1 lime
Combine everything and refrigerate until ready to use.
Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa
1 32 oz can tomatillos
1 chipotle pepper (canned in adobe sauce)
a little salt
a little pepper
Combine all of the above in a blender and blend until smooth.
You can find my wife's guacamole recipe elsewhere on this blog.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Serious Beef Stroganoff
Tonight I made one of my all time favorite dishes - Beef Stroganoff. Beef Stroganoff was the prize-winning recipe created for a cooking competition held in the 1890s in St. Petersburg, Russia. The chef who devised the recipe worked for the Russian diplomat Count Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov, a member of one of Russia's grandest noble families. The guy was real old and probably had to gum his food, so the chef made him a dish that he could eat. Most of the fancier recipes for beef stroganoff call for beef tenderloin. I have three very good recipes for beef stroganoff. The first (shown immediately below) I got from the New York Times many years ago. The author of the article claimed that it came from the 1954 edition of "The Soviet Cookbook."
From the 1954 edition The Soviet Cookbook
1 pound beef (Sliced thin)
3 T butter
¾ cup sour cream
Saute everything in butter except sour cream and tobasco. Then add flour, cook 2-3 minutes. Add sour cream and tobasco and cook for another minute or two. Serve with fried potatoes.
I suppose they were having a shortage of noodles in Russia at that time but there were plenty of potatoes around. You simply must serve beef stroganoff with fried potatoes. I thought it sounded a little weird when I read it, but I tried it and I cannot think of a more perfect combination. If you actually were in Russia, you would of course have a shot of vodka. The Russians I know always put a little peppercorn in the bottom of the shotglass and let it sit for a minute. They say the peppercorn absorbs the fusil oils that tend to give people hangovers.
Another recipe for beef stroganoff comes from The Professional Chef. It calls for tenderloin, beef broth and other standard stroganoff ingredients. It doesn't use onions but it adds Dijon mustard. There is also a recipe for stroganoff in The Gourmet Cookbook. That cookbook is made from all the best recipes from Gourmet Magazine over the years. The Gourmet stroganoff recipe again calls for Dijon but also adds dill. They make the sauce for the stroganoff by first making a roux.
My recipe for stroganoff is a mixture of all three. I can't afford tenderloin but I want nice tender meat. What I do is slow cook the meat for about an hour so that it is nice and tender. I use a roux for the sauce and I also add dried dill weed. I like the added flavor that a few dashes of Tobasco adds.
Koko's Beef Stroganoff
Cut 1 pound of beef into chunks and brown in 1 T butter combined with 1 T olive oil.
Next dice 2 onions and add to the beef, along with 1 14 oz can beef broth. Add a few dashes of Tobasco. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt and some fresh ground pepper. Bring to a simmer and cover. Cook 45 minutes covered, then add a healthy amount of sliced mushrooms and cook covered for 15 more minutes.
To make the sauce, melt 1 T butter in a saucepan. Mix in 1 T flour to make a roux. Next pour 1 cup of the sauce from the meat into the roux and bring to a simmer. Cook it until the sauce has thickened a bit but not too much.
Meanwhile remove the cover from the meat pan and turn up the heat. Reduce the remaining liquid in the meat pan. Add 1 T Dijon mustard. Add 1/2 t dill weed. Add 3/4 cups sour cream and stir well to combine. Add the roux sauce and cook until heated through - about 1 minute.
Serve over fried potatoes.
"If they move, kill 'em!"
I just finished watching one of my favorite movies The Wild Bunch.
It is a 1969 Western directed by Sam Peckinpah. A gang known as 'The Wild Bunch' holds up a bank in the beginning of the movie.
The only problem with the hold up is that there is another group of men (more like vultures) waiting in ambush for them.
The bank robbery was a set up and all they get out of it for loot is 2 bags of washers. In the getaway, a temperance parade gets caught in the crossfire and shot up. Pike (played by William Holden) leads the Wild Bunch south into Mexico. Other Wild Bunch members were Dutch (played by Ernest Borgnine), Angel (Jaime Sanchez), and Lyle and Tector Gorch (Warren Oates and Ben Johnson). They are pursued by another gang lead by Deke Thornton (Robert Ryan).
When they get to Mexico they encounter a general who has a plan to steal guns from the American Army. They steal the guns and in the process of getting the money one of the Wild Bunch is taken prisoner and tortured. The Wild Bunch then goes back into the town for a showdown and a tremendous gun battle ensues.
It is a Western set in changing times. It is supposed to take place in 1913, right at the tail end of cowboys, outlaws, train robberies and such. Sam Peckinpah was quoted as saying that he wanted to make a movie about "bad men in changing times."
It is one of my favorite movies and I would highly recommend it. It is also a very historically important movie. Remember that in 1969 we were in the thick of the Vietnam War. The violence in this movie is graphic and some people hated it. Other people said that it just reflected the times in which they were living. In fact this movie and Bonnie and Clyde (both by Peckinpah) are pretty much the reason that there are ratings on films today. If you get a chance, even if you don't like Westerns, rent this movie and watch it with an open mind. This is not your father's Western. I haven't seen many films that can clear the room of women like this one can.
Some of my favorite quotes from the movie:
"If they move, kill 'em!" - Pike
"Ten thousand in gold cuts and awful lot of family ties." - Pike
"We're not associated with anybody." - Dutch
"Let's go." - Pike
"You bastards make one more mistake and I'm going to walk off and let you prairie scum die!" - Deke Thornton
"You just hush now." - Crazy Lee
"How would you like to kiss my sister's butt kid's ass?" - Crazy Lee
Here is a photo of Crazy Lee (Bo Hopkins)
"This is better than a hog killin'!" - Prairie Scum
"You'll learn to live with it, or we'll leave you here." - Pike
"You give your word to a man and you stick by it, and if you can't do that. Your no better than an animal!" - Pike
"What's in Augu Verti?" "Mexicans, what else?"
"We've got to start thinking beyond our guns...those days are closing fast." - Pike
"We are after men, and I wish to God I was with them." - Deke Thornton
and finally, the last line in the movie:
"It ain't like it used to be, but it'll do." - Sykes
Saturday, April 09, 2005
I just got back from Chattanooga. It was my last plastic surgery interview. I had a great time. In the airport on the way back I think I discovered a new kind of mullet.
Ordinarily when a bald or balding man has a mullet it is called a skullet. I found a guy with a skullet but it has other features. During the 1980's there was a very popular style of mullet called the Perm-mullet. A perm-mullet specimen was usually found on football players who wanted to show an aggressively sensitive side. It was very common to see a perm-mullet paired with a very muscular meathead type guy wearing a pink shirt. Country music stars are also very fond of a perm-mullet. To grow a perm mullet, you have to first grow a mullet and then get it permed in the back. So you have a dorky looking meathead type guy with short straight hair up front and a big curly ape drape in the back. Because of the sporting influence, perm-mullet wearers are usually very aggressive. Watch out if they are wearing a gold chain, especially if there is a gold cross on it.
My specimen today was very unusual. He had a skullet and a perm mullet. I have decided to call this new type of mullet a perm-skullet. He exhibited the typical skullet traits (trying desperately to hold on to lost youth etc.). I saw him drive up in a convertible brown Z-28. He was also exhibiting a few of the more aggressive characteristics of the perm-mullet. It was a very odd combination so I kept a healthy distance.
Friday, April 08, 2005
Last night on call I watched this Charles Bronson movie called Death Hunt. It has Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin and Carl Weathers. Anyway the reason I bring it up is that Lee Marvin -
was wearing a Stormy Kromer when he was hunting Charles Bronson!
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
I thought I would post a few of the photos from my trip to Miami.
The first thing I did when I got to Miami is go down to the beach.
There were all these crazy model shoots going on. It looked like they were shooting for summer clothing. One group was apparently for a big and tall store.
As you can see, this photo was actually taken standing in the Atlantic Ocean!
Did I mention how much I love the Ocean?
The next day I drove to the interview but the bridge to the hospital was up all day.
They have canals running around all through Miami to allow boats to go inland a ways. At certain times of the day they raise the bridges that go over the canals so the boats can go up and down them.
Most surgery residents work in a VA at some point during their training. How many will get to work at a VA with palm trees out front?
Another difference about Miami hospitals -
I have never seen a fruit stand outside a hospital before.
Here is the original hospital building. Today it is surrounded by a ring of modern hospital buildings.
After the interview I went out in South Beach with some buddies. I would post those pictures but I am not sure they are 100% appropriate. It was spring break down there and it was like on Girls Gone Wild.
Memphis, Nassau and Chattanooga.
A couple weeks ago I was in Memphis. I was up there for an interview. I was just about on my deathbed the day before and the day of the interview. I got into town and I was having terrible fevers. I have a useful piece of advice for everyone: if you are having high fevers, never go to Wal-Mart. I went there to get some gatoraid and I ended up with a whole cartload full of crap. I think I was a little loopy in the head because I bought a box of fruit roll-ups, an alarm clock and some Fig Newtons. I called my wife and she said I was acting bizarre. The next day I went to the interview and I am sure I said ridiculous things. After the interview I went to a famous Memphis establishment:
I ate with this friend from LA. I got ribs and pulled pork. I don't remember a whole lot about it but I remember it being delicious.
Last weekend I was on Long Island. I interviewed at Long Island Plastic Surgery associates or LIPS. The night before the interview they took us to this great restaurant in a park. I'd say they spent a HUGE amount of money because it was at least a 4 star restaurant if not 5 star. I was still sick at that point and I was about to pass out after desert so I had to leave real quick.
This weekend I am headed up to Chattanooga. I am supposed to eat at a brewery the night before with the residents. I forgot my camera for Long Island but I already have it packed for Chattanooga. I'll be sure to post some pictures.
Chicken Gumbo File
Today I got hungry for something hot. I was thinking of going to the store and buying some chicken gumbo. Usually when I buy it I spice it up a bit with some hot sauce.
Instead I decided to make my own chicken gumbo from scratch. Its really easy.
Chicken Gumbo File
Saute the following ingredients in a couple tablespoons olive oil:
1/2 onion diced
2 stalks celery
1/2 green pepper, diced
Add a healthy amount of garlic depending on your tastes. Add a little bit of salt and some fresh ground black pepper.
Next add 1 14 oz can whole peeled tomatoes that have been drained. Chop them up roughly in the pot. Add 1 quart of chicken broth and 1/2 cup minute rice. Add 1 bay leaf.
Now for the chicken. You can brown 1/2 of a chicken breast in olive oil or you can blacken it. I chose to blacken my chicken breast and then cut it up. To blacken a chicken breast get a cast iron skillet very hot. Add 1/2 stick butter to the pan. Meanwhile sprinkle some Cajun seasoning (or just salt and cayenne) on each side of the chicken breast. Sprinkle a little thyme on as well. Drop the chicken breast in the melted butter and cook it on one side until it is blackened. Flip it over and blacken the other side. When it is done chop it up and add it to the soup. Now add a little heat to the gumbo by dumping in some Louisiana Hot Sauce. Be careful if you are serving this to little old ladies. For me, I like it blisteringly hot. I like it hot to fear factor levels.
Get the soup boiling and then reduce heat and simmer for about 1/2 hour covered. After 1/2 hour of simmering add 1 14 oz can of cut up okra and simmer for an additional 2 minutes.
Remove the gumbo from heat. Now you want to make it gumbo file, so you need some gumbo file to add to the pot.
Gumbo file was introduced by Native Americans way back in olden times. It is made from ground up sassafras leaves. You add just a little bit to a soup and it will thicken the soup and give it an unusual flavor. To my pot of gumbo I added 1/2 teaspoon and it was perfect. You add gumbo file after you have removed the pot from the heat. Stir it up and let it sit covered for about 10 minutes.