December 25, 2011

December 21, 2011

Chocolate Crinkles

One of the many reasons I love these cookies (my brother and I called them Crack Cookies when we were little...this recipe comes from my mom's amazing recipe vault) is that once you make the dough, they can be baked fresh whenever you want one...or a few!  I made one batch this past Sunday night and then the rest on Tuesday to take into work for a Holiday Treat.  They are also incredibly simple, and not toooo chocolatey so they get Stud's seal of approval.

Chocolate Crinkles
1/2 c. vegetable oil
4 oz. melted unsweetened chocolate
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 c. all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar

Combine the vegetable oil, melted chocolate, and sugar in a bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time until well combined.  Add the vanilla.  In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together and add to  egg mixture.  Mix just until combined.  Put in the refrigerator and chill the dough.  Once it's chilled, form into balls about the size of a walnut (about 1" across, a walnut is all I could come up with!) and roll in the powdered sugar until coated.  Bake for 10-12 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

The dough can chill for a few days, if you would like to keep the dough longer, I would stick it in the freezer and pull it out to thaw when you want some cookies.  This recipe made about three dozen, plenty of cookies for family and work!

December 20, 2011

I'm still here!

Stud and I are alive and well, just very busy!!  We have still been cooking, so I will try and get some posts up over our break from school (alas, not from work), so stay tuned!!

November 14, 2011

Daily Fluff

We took Beau on his first off leash walk over the weekend...major success! We all made it home in one piece and Beau ran about ten miles. Tired pup.

November 7, 2011

Winter is Coming....

I hate paying for fresh herbs in the winter.  Mainly because I have them all summer in my garden, and never use them.  And it always seems that I want them when I can't have them, in the winter time when they are dried shriveled up stalks.  So this year I am trying something new.  I am attempting to freeze my herbs for the winter so I can use them when needed and they are all ready to go.  I have done parsley and tarragon so far, I might add Thai basil as well.  All I did was puree the herbs with a tablespoon or so of olive oil, just enough to coat all the shreds of leaves.  I put them in a Ziplock, flattened it all out, labeled it, and stuck the bag in the freezer.  I am very optimistic about my fresh winter herbs, and I will keep you update on the success (or failure...) of my project.

October 23, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatballs

While Stud was in San Francisco, I still had class two nights a week until 9pm, so both my parents and Stud's parents were very generous and helped me out with Beau.  Beau was able to get dinner on time and also had some time outside to be the insane dog that he is.  To thank them, we had both sets of parents over for dinner and shared some of the wine we purchased in Sonoma along with a large bowl of spaghetti and meatballs.  TO find a recipe, I went to my mom's new favorite, Anne Burrell and modified her recipe for my first attempt at meatballs.

....and I forgot to take a picture.

Spaghetti and Meatballs
1 large onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, diced finely
3/4 lb ground beef
3/4 lb ground pork
2 large eggs
1 c. grated parmersean
1/4 c. parsley
1 c. breadcrumbs
1/2 c. water
Pepper Flakes
Olive Oil

Saute olive oil and onions along with a pinch of salt to a skillet and let them saute for about five minutes.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes (to taste) and cook for another minute or two.  Once the onions and garlic are soft, remove from the hear and allow them to cool.  In a large bowl, combine the meats, eggs, cheese, parsley, and breadcrumbs and combine.  Add in the onions and garlic and ix well, then add the water along with an additional pinch of salt.  Shape the meatballs as you wish, we used an ice cream scoop to make them all about the size of a ping-pong ball.  Bake them on lined cookie sheet in a350 degree oven until they are cooked all the way through, ours took about 15 minutes.  Add to marinara sauce.

Marinara Sauce:
2 28 oz cans of crushed tomtoes
2 yellow onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
Olive oil

Cook the onions in olive oil with some salt until they are translucent.  Add in the garlic and cook for a few additional minutes.  Add in the tomatoes and add salt to taste.  If the sauce tastes too acidic, add some sugar to cut it, just about 1 T.  Cook the sauce over low heat for two to three hours.  Add the meatballs whenever they are finished.  The sauce and meatballs can be kept in a low oven until ready to serve.  Makes enough for two pounds of pasta.

This recipe makes A LOT.  Stud and I were eating spaghetti and meatballs for a week, not that we were really complaining.  Really, spaghetti and meatballs take time, but not much work.  It's mostly mixing things and then just letting them cook.  Also, Stud cooked the pasta when our parents were here while I enjoyed some wine, so it worked out really well!!  It went really well with our Sonoma wines we served with dinner, and it was a great way to thank our parents for their help with our psycho beast.

October 19, 2011

Not so Spicy Peach Jam

Stud wanted to plant a habanero plant this summer.  So we did, along with four tomato plants, a bell pepper plant, and the typical parsley, dill, basil, tarragon, rosemary, and thyme.  The tomato plants baked in the summer heat and I have one left, the bell pepper plant never really grew, but the habanero plant?  I have probably 50 habaneros.  By far the most successful of our summer plantings.  I decided it was high time we started to use some of them, so I set out to make peach habanero jam.  I was (past tense is key here) so excited about this recipe!  Sweet peach jam made with fresh summer peaches with a hint of heat from one of our habaneros…sounds delicious right??  I had heard about the power of habaneros and their high score on the Scoville scale, so I got some gloves to protect my skin from the pepper power, finely diced one and threw it in my jam.  I thought they smelled funny, but I had never smelled fresh habaneros, so continued along.  As the jam finished up, I tasted it and discovered Stud and I had managed to grow flavorless habaneros. Confirmed when my dad took a bite from a raw one.  HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN? The bell pepper was hotter. I have no idea and it ruined my spicy sweet jam, but I still have delicious peach jam that tastes just like summer.

Peach Jam
2 ½ lbs fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and diced into ½ cubes
1 ½ c. sugar
2 T. lemon juice

Put the diced peaches and sugar into a large pot and let sit for an hour or so until all the sugar has mostly dissolved.  Once  the sugar has dissolved, turn on the heat.  Once the mixture starts to boil, set a timer for 25 minutes and cook the jam, stirring frequently.  Once it’s finished, skim all the foam off the top and put in jars and enjoy!

I didn’t bother canning the jam since I knew we would go through it quickly, but it would be great for canning.  And it was super easy.  The hardest part was prepping the peaches.  I am loving the jam on my bagel in the morning and since the temperatures are starting to plummet, it’s been a great lingering taste of summer.

Oh, and I have been “stressing” my habaneros by refusing to water them, I don’t think it’s making them any spicier.  We had great plans!  Hot sauce! Mexican food! Salsa!  Alas, I have about 50 bland habaneros.  Even Beau stole one and thought it was a toy.  They are that bland.

October 12, 2011

Day Two - WINE!

Day two brought wine and sunshine.  We spent the day in wine country with Stud’s aunt and uncle and their friends.  We went into Sonoma to an area which primarily makes red Zinfandels. Our first stop was Chalk Hill, by far the tastiest wine (and most out of our price range) of the day.  So needless to say, the $10 fare for a 5-6 glass tasting seemed like a deal when one of the bottles at one point retailed for $450.  From there we headed towards Healdsburg and lunch, but not before a stop at Seghesio which I think had my favorite wine of the day, their Block 8 Zinfandel.  Bottle #1 – purchased.  We had a delicious lunch at the Healdsburg Bar and Grill, and then it was off to more wine!

 We made a quick stop at Coppola, but it was so crowded!  Granted, the place also serves as a hotel, but we had already grown accustomed to the smaller crowds.  So as soon as we finished up our tasting, we were out of there!  Next was Wilson winery which had just won a couple awards the night before!  Bottle #2 – purchased.

 We attempted to go to Preston, but they had just closed so we quickly swung into Talty, where they were kind enough to bring the tastings back out for our group.  We were the only people there and the guy leading our tasting was great.  He has his own label with Talty making Syrah instead of Zinfandel, and he was so knowledgeable, and entertaining.  Bottle #3 – purchased.

 I loved just driving through Sonoma, the vineyards were so pretty.  And as we pulled back into SF, the sun disappeared and the fog reappeared.  As we crossed the Golden Gate bridge back into the city, you could not see any land there was so much fog.  That night, Stud and enjoyed a nice Thai dinner and then it was off to bed.  We spent out last morning wandering around downtown window shopping before we had to head to the airport back to KY.  All of the wine made it home safely, and two bottles have already been consumed.  We thought it was an appropriate way to thank our parents for helping me out with this psychotic creature while Stud was gone for a month.  He also just celebrated his second birthday.  Maybe he'll calm down soon?

Beau and his new toy!

October 10, 2011

San Francisco!

Finally, an update!  I was able to go and visit Stud for his last weekend in SF, and we had a great time eating, drinking wine, and exploring the city.  Since we were rounding and counted that weekend as our first anniversary (really a week early), we scored a huge room upgrade at the hotel.  We had great views of the city and I loved watching the fog roll in and out from that high up.  I was supposed to get in late Friday night, but thanks to Continental and some bad weather in Newark, I finally arrived Saturday morning around 9:30.  A very hungover Stud met me at the airport and our adventures began.

 We started off with a lovely walk through the Tenderloin and then some phenomenal coffee from Philz Coffee.  They make your cup just for you.  We then headed up to the Painted Ladies and then onto Haight where I had the pleasure of meeting Stud’s landlord, Harold.  Interesting man.  Anyways, someone was struggling a little bit so we stopped in and split a burrito before moving onto Pier 39.  Which Stud had yet to see. Sea Lions!  I loved it.

From there we walked down to Fisherman’s Warf and then on wards and upwards to Coit Tower.  The stairs up were really beautiful, but not somewhere I would ever want to live.  The views from the top of the tower were amazing, I only wish the fog had burned off just a littttttle more so we could see Golden Gate Bridge.  

 I was getting hungry at this point, so from Coit Tower we walked through China Town and had some dim sum!  New favorite thing.  I’m not really sure what we ate, but it hit the spot.  We poked around in all the weird Chinese food shops before heading back to our hotel so we could rest our feet.

That evening, we played major tourists and bought round trip tickets on the cable car.  They turned around literally a block from our hotel, so we were able to hop in line and were off in no time.  We had no real plans for the night, so when we were cruising down Hyde Street, we saw some wine bars with Happy Hour and hopped off to enjoy the evening.  We ran into a good friend of mine from college (random, and so fun) who had some suggestions for dinner in the area, so we had a fabulous French dinner at Hyde Street Bistro.  At this point, I was fading rapidly (I had left my hotel in Houston around 4am SF time), so we hopped back on the cable car towards our hotel. 

 Day one was PACKED.  But day two was a major change of pace.

October 4, 2011

Daily Fluff

So much going on around here, I'll update soon!! Meanwhile, here is an adorable picture of Beau and his new favorite bone.

September 19, 2011

Daily Fluff

This is what Beau would look like if he was in the Shining. Which I have never seen. I hate scary movies.

September 18, 2011

Green Genius

The city of San Francisco has a goal that by 2020 they send zero trash to landfills. Everything will either be composted or recycled. Sounds to green to be true, but every trash receptacle area now has three options: recyclables, compostables, or trash. For example, at the hospital cafeteria, there are four cans for compostable stuff (paper, food, wooden stir sticks, etc), three cans for recyclables (cans, bottles, etc) and only one can for trash. The "trash" can is never full and the other seven cans are stuffed. It is a genius system and I don't know how the rest of the country hasn't caught on to this yet. Or maybe it has and Louisville has just been living under a rock and hasn't picked up on it. Either way, this idea needs to spread because it is working.

September 17, 2011

Outdoor concert

A couple of days ago I had the day off and decided to go take a walk in the park. I was walking along my usual route, minding my own business, when all of a sudden I go around a curve and there are literally thousands of people. About half the freaking city was gathered about 5 minutes from my house. Of course I go check out what is happening and as I walk through the mass of people all I see are protestors, dogs, and groups of people with wine, cheese and hummus. Whatever it was, it was soooo San Francisco. Celebrities start talking on the stage, then the mayor gives a speech. Turns out it is a free public orchestra concert given by the Interfaith Council dedicated to the victims of 9/11 and the heroes who sacrificed their lives that day. I hung out for a little listening to the speeches and was going to continue on my way when the music started playing.
Suddenly the wacko "9/11 never happened" protesters shut up, the pop of wine bottles stopped, and a hush came over the huge crowd. It was the most surreal experience. Well my plans changed that day. This was the most stereotypical San Fransisco thing I could possibly imagine and a great show at that. I went and got some wine and crackers and stayed for the whole show. When in Rome...

September 16, 2011


The other night I went to a San Francisco Giants home game against the Padres with my buddy Peron and some of his friends. It was an awesome game. We won 8-3, Carlos Beltran hit 3 home runs, the weather was great, and it was a packed house because the Giants are doing so well this year.At&t Park (and all the names it has had in the past) is an incredible stadium. Above is a picture of the view from the perspective behind home plate. As you probably know, behind the bleachers in the outfield is water, so if you kayak up to just behind the ballpark you might be able to snag a home run ball out of the water.

Below is a picture from our seats. Center field, 3 rows up from the field. Awesome seats for home runs and, as I already mentioned, Carlos Beltran hit 3 homers. We didn't catch any but one came into our section and I participated in the boo's and angry scowls directed at the fat drunk man who caught it and refused to give it to the 4 year old boy sitting next to him. Shame on you fat man.

September 14, 2011

The Rock

So you can't spend a month in San Francisco and not see Alcatraz. I had the day off yesterday after working a bunch of days in a row (hence the absence of posts), so I decided to take the full day to check out the island. Just a warning, I took a lot of pictures. There is a ton more history to the island than a maximum security prison.. It was a military fortress, a military prison, a site where Native Americans battled for their rights against the government, and a bird sanctuary. All I really cared about, though, was seeing where Sean Connery snuck in through the underground sewer system and where the rogue, crazed ex-marine told Nicholas Cage, "I'd take pleasure in guttin you, boy" in the movie, "The Rock." I was not disappointed (except for the underground sewer system entrance). I took the audio tour (which was fantastic) and explored the main cell blocks for a couple hours. The above picture is the view as you approach the island on the boat. The wind cutting across the bay was about 40 miles per hour and very cold. The currents were equally as strong so I can see how the 1.25 mile swim would be almost impossible. Here is a pic of the first thing the inmates would see when they arrived: the decontamination area. They would be thoroughly washed down and given their inmate outfits and their blanket here.

They would then be walked to their cells where, to their knowledge, they would spend many years alone. They inmates got two showers per week and privacy wasn't exactly a priority in the prison. There were actually partitions between the showers in the early days of the prison but too many inmates were getting stabbed with prison shanks and other unfortunate happenings so the guards removed the partitions for the prisoners' own safety.

This is a picture of the typical cell. It was shockingly tiny. Like 5 feet by 9 feet. I'm not even claustrophobic but I got chills standing inside one of them.

There are several rows of cells, each row being three stories tall. There are more favorable rows/levels based upon the obnoxiousness your neighbors, sunlight, windows with a view, etc. This is the D-block, which was apparently where you went if you were being a jerk. The most well-known criminals housed here were usually in D-block. On this side of cellhouse you could hear the sounds of the city if the winds were blowing the right way. Apparently they could almost always hear music and girls laughing at the Yacht Club's New Years party every year which was right across the bay. Ouch.

If you were really being a butthead, they put you in isolation. Yeah. The longest anybody stayed in here was 14 days straight. Imagine if that door was closed and it was total darkness. A commentary from one inmate said that to prevent from going crazy he would pull a button off his shirt, flick it in the air, turn around 3 times to disorient himself, and then try to find the button in the darkness. Then he would repeat. Yikes. Better behave.

This is a picture of "The Yard" where inmates were allowed to go for a bit if they earned the right. Apparently there were some crazy games of chess and bridge out here. Reminds me of Shawshank....

This is the view of the city across the bay. So close but so far for the inmates.

There were several escape attempts but it's said nobody successfully made it alive. One man actually escaped and survived the swim across, but was so close to death upon making it to the other side the authorities simply picked him up out of the water and took him back. The most famous attempt though, was made into a movie, fittingly named, "Escape from Alcatraz." It was 3 guys (can't remember their names) but they used spoons to dig through the concrete around the air vent in the back of their rooms. They then climbed up pipes in the narrow utility space behind their cells to get to the roof. They got off the roof and made it down to the water where they were never seen again. Some people say they made it and were living in South America (they were learning Spanish before they left), but most people say they drowned in the icy water. This is the pic of one of their cells. They air vent is removed in the back of the cell. They made dummy heads out of soap and concrete to put in their beds to buy more time.

Okay, this is where this story takes a turn. Up to this point I was just minding my own business with my audio tour and informational pamphlet like the hundreds of other tourists. I was reading some stuff about Whitey Bulger at a table about famous inhabitants of Alcatraz when a kindly old security guard walks up and we start chatting. Whitey, fugitive Boston mob boss, was just recently caught in California and this guard was full of interesting information about him. Turns out he was an FBI informant, but was playing both sides- the Boston mob AND the FBI. Like a double agent. The FBI caught on and was going to lock him up for good but the FBI agent directly communicating with Whitey tipped him off and he fled and was on the run for 20 years until several months ago. The FBI agent who tipped him off got like 5 years in the big house.

Anyway, the guard asks me where I'm from and what I'm doing in the city. I tell him I'm here for a month doing a rotation in EM at the General and he goes, "Oh cool, do you want to go upstairs and see the hospital wing?" There is a second floor to the cellhouse that was used as the hospital, pharmacy, OR, dentist office, etc that isn't open to the public because of peeling lead paint. I say absolutely, but isn't it closed to the public? "I have the keys..." he says as he pulls out these HUGE keys from about 1930 and unlocks the bars to the second floor. This guy is awesome. So that's when I got a private tour of the second floor of Alcatraz from a trained tour guide. This was probably the coolest thing I've done this month. These are two pictures of the old OR table from about 1930. The fashion and function of these tables haven't changed a whole lot in 80 years.

This is the "psych" room where they put unstable patients. Nowadays they at least put some padding on the walls to make it a little more comfortable. That is the kindly security guard...

This is the room for "hydrotherapy," which I don't think is an actual thing anymore. He said it was for arthritis, etc. Less well known to the public, he says, is that the guards used to take inmates who were being hostile and agitated, wrap them in a bedsheet, and stick them in this tub that was full of water from the bay (~45 degrees) until the inmate was shivering with hypothermia. Apparently you can't fight guards when you are incapacitated from shivering.

This is the general "medicine" ward of the prison. Really not all that different from the General today. The guard told me that Al Capone contracted syphilis when he was 15 and by they time he was in Alcatraz he had full blown neurosyphilis (when it goes to your brain) and he was completely off his rocker. He couldn't find his way back to his cell a lot of times and ended up spending most of his time in this hospital room.

This was the pharmacy, where the old doctors would make their own medications. A doctor would sign a year contract to work on the island and had to live here for the whole year.

This guard told me another interesting story about the absolute worst inmate during the lifetime of the prison, a man named Robert Stroud aka "The Birdman." He was such a pain in the butt for the guards, he spent almost his entire 17 year stay in a private room on the second floor. He was never allowed to leave and the guards were never allowed to go inside. He got his food through the bars in his door. He apparently spent the 17 years walking around naked and yelling things at the guards fluently in 3 languages. He started his career of crime in his late teens by murdering a family in Alaska. His mother protested to the prison to give him a parole hearing. Even though he was the worst inmate they had, they humored her and gave him one. When asked, "What would you do if released from prison?" he responded: "Oh, that would be great! I have so many more people to kill." Parole denied. This is the view of the city on the boat back in to town. Thank you, Mr. security guard/tour guide/history buff man for a great day on The Rock.

September 7, 2011

Staring with your head slightly tilted

I had a splinting workshop today so I could learn how to properly immobilize broken/dislocated body parts. After that, I headed to the museum of modern art because it is free on the first Tuesday of the month. The real art museum was on the other side of town and I didn’t have time to get there before it closed, so seeing as I had nothing better to do, I decided to check out this “museum.” To preface this, I have zero art knowledge. None. I am 100% ignorant on all things art. But still, these are the types of things at this “art museum.” I mean, a black rectangle?A blue arc? I know for a fact that I did that exact same drawing in kindergarten, except I added several more colors and called it a rainbow. My parents still have it on the wall going down to the basement. Sitting on a freaking gold mine and don't even know it...

I have decided a modern art museum is a place one goes to stare for a significant amount of time, with one’s head slightly tilted, at something extremely simple and stupid on a wall like a black rectangle. As far as I’ve been able to gather, the only point to this activity is to try to get other people to notice you staring intently at this simple black rectangle and think, “Wow! That guy is a genius. He must be divining the meaning of the world through that black rectangle. Or maybe he has found Nirvana through its blackness. I certainly couldn’t find the meaning of the world or Nirvana through that simple black rectangle, so he clearly is a better person than me. I bet if I find something equally as simple on a different wall in this museum and stare at it for a long period of time with my head slightly tilted other people might think I am very smart and interesting as well. Oh hey, there is a blue arc on that wall over there with nobody in front of it! Maybe I can pick up a hot date this way…” And so it spreads like a virus. Idiocy.

Now, good old Wake Forest has properly taught me that every time I exert an opinion I need to discuss the opposing view as well, so as to not look like I haven't thoroughly thought about the topic. So I must say, that in my flight to get out of this mad house I found a room that actually had some cool pictures. Some photographer had traveled around the world taking pictures of random things that other people would probably never think to photograph. It might have been worth seeing. Here is a refugee family in Africa. That father has crazy eyes.

After a brief pause in this room, I couldn't find the exit fast enough.

September 6, 2011

Cliffs and Jazz

So I had a string of shifts the last couple of days so haven't had much time to explore until yesterday. I am not going to talk much about work for 3 reasons: 1. HIPPA 2. It will take way too much typing and I'm fairly lazy 3. You might lose your lunch if I go into detailed ER stories. So, I will continue to focus on the stuff I do during my time off. Yesterday I decided to walk the Coastal Trail, which is part of the Golden Gate Recreational Area. This park-ish area is a huge part of the coastal area of the city. You can theoretically walk almost half of the coastline of the city in the park. This trail starts at a beach fairly close to my neighborhood that is apparently the most popular surfing spot in the city. My phone camera doesn't zoom, but there were about 30 people out in wetsuits hitting the waves.The trail then goes up some steep cliffs and, after rounding a point on the peninsula, Golden Gate Bridge comes into view. I walked several miles along the cliffs but didn't walk all the way to downtown because I got hungry and started dreaming of Doner kebab.

I also found a little cave along the cliffs that had a cool view of the surf coming in below me.

There is also apparently a coyote problem in the city. Who knew?

I ended the evening downtown at a little speakeasy for some Jazz. I was that sketchy guy sitting alone in the corner. That's what you get when you are alone in a city for a month with no cable or internet. Anyway, it was a great show...the saxophonist looked like Miles Davis after several hundred Big Macs.
Not something you find around the corner in Louisville and not a bad way to rest your tired feet.


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