Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Banana bread

Every Christmas, I made banana bread. Not just one or two loaves, but more like a half dozen. I wish I was kidding, but I'm not. I guess the banana bread that I make is rather good and it's in high demand - and turns out, so is the recipe!

So, here is a much-coveted banana bread recipe. Follow it right and you will end up with sweet, non-dense banana bread that is great hot out of the oven with a side of vanilla bean ice cream or toasted in the morning as a breakfast treat.

Warning: it's not good for you. Yeah, it contains bananas but that's about as nutritious as you're going to get with this bread.

12.23.08 001

Banana bread
Makes 1 loaf
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
  • 3-4 very ripe bananas (key is very ripe - it's just not the same unless they're ready to be thrown out)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour (if you have bleached, you can work with it - but buy unbleached next time!)
  • 2 tsps baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1 cupe walnut chunks

  1. Mash up bananas and walnuts (if you have them) in one bowl. Place aside.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together with a hand mixer, or a whisk if you have strong arm muscles and determination. The key to this step is to make sure that the butter is truly room temperature. No cheating allowed here (putting a stick of butter in the microwave for a few seconds is not the same as leaving it out for the day - trust me, I've tried).
  3. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat the mixture after each egg to fully incorporate it.
  4. Add bananas and walnuts, if you have them.
  5. Add all dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, vanilla extract) to bowl. Using a spatula or large fork, mix all ingredients thoroughly, but minimally. The secret is to mix as little as possible but to mix all the ingredients together.
  6. Pour into a buttered loaf pan (my trick to do the buttering is to take the paper from the stick of butter and just invert it, spread it all over - kill to birds with one stone and you don't waste food!).
  7. Bake for one hour at 325 degrees. Remember to rotate your loaf pan halfway in between if you have a shoddy oven like me that doesn't heat evenly. Check on it about 50 minutes in, put in a toothpick, if it comes out clean, it's done.
Now, I don't bake and cooking is my real joy (I even got the Joy of Cooking day by day calendar this year to perk me up), but this is my one baking joy. I perfected this bread in a way that it's almost like cooking to me, as I don't even have a written copy of the recipe and I "measure" rather inaccurately and it still turns out perfectly. It took many attempts to get a banana bread that tastes good but does not require the accuracy most baking calls for. So, you may call this a baking recipe for a cook.

White Christmas

I finally made it up to Seattle last week for a white Christmas! I was so delighted and got to spend some good quality time with my family up there... which makes me happy and allows me to keep on chugging along with intern year.

Some great pictures from the trip (more pictures can be found here):

My mom's side of the family

Christmas Eve Dinner - grilled seafood and spring rolls

My dad and his brother - two Vietnamese brothers playing in the snow

Christmas Lunch

My dad's side of the family

An Asian Santa?

Christmas Dinner

Dancing Julia

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Evolution, Schmevolution

My dear friend Eric is now wheeling and dealing amongst the big fish and has gone out and published his own book, and gotten a superb article (and even more superb pictures) in Sierra magazine! 

And to imagine, at one point in high school, I used to "edit" his work - ah, the good ole days.

Monday, December 22, 2008


It's funny how I cannot stay awake while studying, despite the fact that I, a) slept 10 hours last night, b) just had a cup of caramel macchiato (albeit decaf), and c) the Christmas music is playing right by my head. 

Did I mention how depressed I am that I'm still in California?  I want to go sledding!! 

Vacation! Well, not really.

Today is the first official day of my vacation, but what have I done?  I've managed to lose my crochet needle - and hence cannot work on some Christmas gifts.  I am sitting at the local starbucks, studying (or trying to at least - it's hard when David Bowie is singing Little Drummer Boy so loud your ears ache), and overall, not doing a thing.  Oh yeah, don't try calling Alaska Airlines to try and rebook my ticket - it's been busy since yesterday.  And when I get through, all is says is, "Sorry, due to the extreme weather, we cannot help you at this time."  Duh. Like I needed a phone message to tell me that.
Oh well, what a start to the vacation.  So, I'm spending $300 to fly to Seattle for what will now be a 3 day vacation (nevermind that I'm paying for half of my brother's ticket).  I'm so sad.  Especially now that they are emailing me wonderful pictures and stories of sledding in the backyard.  Did I mention how much I love sledding? 

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Christmas 001
It all started with am 11am flight to Seattle. Then it got delayed an hour. Then two. Then three. Then, put on hold. Finally, it was cancelled.

I am so so so sad.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fatigued, exhausted, worn out

There are many ways to put it, but that's what I've been since starting residency.  Would I be less so if my hours were better?  If I had a 5 hour nap overnight while on call?  If I was guaranteed one day off every week?  If I could not be on call more than once every three days?  It's hard to tell, but it will be interesting to find out. 

Soon enough, we will all find out if the new resident work hour recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine are put into effect. 

On my toes

My last call night, I realized how important it is to be on my toes, even at 4am.  I did a c-section at 4am and it went fine, except for some excess bleeding secondary to uterine atony.  We had controlled the bleeding, but she had lost a good amount of blood during the operation.  As I was in the recovery room, dictating the case, the nurse called me over. 

Nurse: "Her blood pressure has dropped."
Me: "How low is it?"
Nurse: "Right now, it's 70/40."
Me:  [Right now, I'm thinking, "Crap!"] "Ok, bolus 1 liter normal saline, get another large bore IV, draw labs, and let me examine her." 
[I then proceed to see if she's bleeding and get a fist-sized clot out, but otherwise it's ok.] 
"Ok, let me get the attending."

Yeah, that's me on my toes.  They may be short little toes and it may have been 5am, but yeah, I did things right.  Of course, that was my first time where a patient needed my immediate attention.  And I was alone, at least in the room.  It was scary, exhilarating, and pretty awesome all at the same time.  In the end, it helped me have faith in my own abilities and, yeah, I really am a doctor. 


This article just came out in the New England Journal of Medicine and it states the obvious - that medical students are graduating from medical school with a mountain of debt.  Upon looking at that mountain of debt, some people who went to medical school to work in primary care or in underserved areas may be swayed to choose more lucrative careers. 

In short, I am one of those quarter of people who graduate from medical school with more than $200,000 in debt.  Yes, you read that right, $200,000.  I think it's a touchy subject because a lot of people don't like talking about money, especially debt money.  However, I think that it's important to consider.  That's enough money to buy a house.  That's enough money to start a small business.  With the interest and eventual pay back, I will have paid back nearly half a million dollars.  Half a million dollars.  Sometimes it's unbelievable to myself.  Sometimes I stop looking at the monthly interest statements that come to my mailbox, in hopes that maybe all of that debt will go away. 

With the mountains and mountains of debt that I have, I am definitely not one of those doctors that laments the "pitiful" income that doctors make.  I think we forget that, even as a resident, I get paid more than the average American.  Granted, I have gone through much more school and training than the average American, but that doesn't make me more privy to a decent income than the next person.  More often than not, I find myself grateful that I can make a more than comfortable income doing something that I love doing. 

I was also fortunate enough to have fallen in love with a medical specialty that pays more than the average primary care income.  With my debt, I am looking at monthly payments of $5,000, or annual payments of $60,000.  If I went into internal medicine or family medicine, that would be more than half of my take home income.  That's downright crazy.  There have to be better ways of going about doing this.  I understand that debt is something that is inevitable, but when is too much too much? 


It's vacation time!!! 

Friday, December 19, 2008

Nights like these

Last night, I did a c-section where the lady lost almost two liters of blood (maybe due to the fact that she had been in labor for two days, or the fact that her baby was 9 pounds plus, or maybe due to the fact she had an infection, or due to the fact that I have bad luck) and needed a transfusion. 

The board (what we call the list of patients on Labor and Delivery at any point in time) was packed full and every patient was complicated - with diabetes, drug use, placental abruption, placental previa (where the placenta covers the cervix), pre-term labor, etc etc.  Lots of fun stuff to be had. 

Unfortunately, with all the excitement, I get no sleep and I only racked up two deliveries (including the c-section).  Oh, to top it off, as I'm rounding this morning, I slip and fall flat on my butt and bang my knee against the ground.  Just what I needed. 

Er, I just want to curl up into a ball. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Aches of all sorts

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Two quotes from an article I'm reading right now:

"Sensible sun exposure can provide an adequate amount of vitamin D3, which is stored in body fat and released during the winter, when vitamin D3 cannot be produced. Exposure of arms and legs for 5 to 30 minutes (depending on time of day, season, latitude, and skin pigmentation) between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. twice a week is often adequate."


"32% of healthy students, physicians, and residents at a Boston hospital were found to be vitamin D–deficient, despite drinking a glass of milk and taking a multivitamin daily and eating salmon at least once a week."

Now, I'm convinced that my joint pain is secondary to rickets. I'm getting rickets. Or maybe it's just that I'm getting older. Either way, it's no fun.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Somewhere, someone is thinking...

to ban shoes from all press briefing rooms. 

And in that same room, someone is pulling their hair out.

Just one of those days

I love it when it rains but then the sun comes out. It's just absolutely beautiful. Just a nice thought on a post-call day.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Farmer's Markets

I love going to farmer's markets, which is a natural extension of my love for fresh, delicious food. One of my favorites in the south bay thus far is the Campbell's Farmer's Market. It's close to my house, open year round (on Sundays), and has a good variety of farm fresh produce, meats, crafts, and ready made food. On my most recent excursions, I have gotten way too many pomegranates, orchids, and a yummy tamale.
They also have live music, which lends nicely to the atmosphere.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A time for firsts

The first Vietnamese-American Congressperson was elected recently. How cool is that? Well, not too cool that it's taken this long, but pretty cool that this happened - and in the South.

This still leaves room for the First Vietnamese-American woman in the House of Representatives, or better yet, the First Vietnamese-American in the Senate. Let the plotting begin.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Intern life

A sliver of my schedule for the last few days:
  • Work 6am-6pm Monday - Friday
  • Work Thursday night until Friday morning at 9am
  • Sleep from 11am Friday to 6pm Friday
  • Awake from 6pm to 10pm Friday
  • Sleep 11pm Friday to 6am Saturday
  • Work 6am Saturday to 9am Sunday
  • Sleep from 10am Sunday to 6pm Sunday
  • Awake from 6pm Sunday to 10pm Sunday
  • Work again 6am Monday
  • etc, etc
So, for the last 5 days, I have only been "awake" and not at work for less than 10 hours.  10 hours.  To life a normal life.  And I looked at my schedule for this month.  I get a whopping one day off in nearly 3 weeks - until my vacation!  I cannot express how excited I am for vacation.  Why did I wait 6 months to take vacation my intern year?  Am I crazy?  If I wasn't before, I certainly am now.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Favorite holiday!

Happy thanksgiving to one and all!!!   May you feast and feast and feast until you can't walk anymore.  Then, may you walk lots tomorrow to make up for it. 

And may I mention that I love this holiday?  It's not religious, it doesn't commemorate any wars or famous people, and it's centered around food.  Food.  Did I mention that I love food?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

One more thing...

Is it too much to ask that my future partner for life be a good scrabble player?  One more thing to add to my "list," I suppose.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Shifting priorities

Last night, I went with my friend Cathal to the Human Rights Watch fundraising dinner in San Francisco and it was really inspiring.  Listening to the honorees (a journalist from Uzbekistan and a political organizer from Burma) talk about their experiences and their hopes for their countries made me want to be a better person.  I think that the reason why I am doing what I am doing can easily be lost in the shuffle of looking up lab values, writing orders, or doing post-op checks.  It's easy to forget that I went into medicine to make a difference, to feel like I have made my impact in the world.  Also, it is easy to forget that what I am doing and what I complain about is nothing compared to how others in this world have it.  Being inspired by the dinner makes me want to make a concerted effort everday, in everything that I do, to do my best and to really feel like I am living up to my potential.  Otherwise, why else do what I am doing? 

Going to last night's dinner was also good because it provided a break from what I do on a day to day basis.  Sometimes I feel lost in the world of the hospital and disconnected from the outside world.  The experience last night helped me reconnect and remember that I am part of a larger picture that continues to go on outside the walls of the hospital. If only I could do it more often.

Are you kidding me?

I nearly rolled over in my chair when I saw this on amazon.com.  Seriously, More than $2 (and that's stretching it) for rice paper is absolutely ridiculous.  Ridiculous.  Did I mention it's ridiculous? 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


If this is true, I'm totally bummed.  Leave it to me and get my hopes up that the Secretary of Health and Human Services have actual experience working in either health or human services (ahem, Howard Dean).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Reality television

I'm watching the Friends episode where Phoebe gives birth to her brother's triplets (yeah, if you aren't familiar with the plot lines, it can sound incestuous, but it's not). They show the delivery room and it's really hilarious, especially given my new perspective after spending many days and nights in delivery rooms.

I guess it's about time I realize that not everything I see on TV is reality.


My dinner tonight, inspired by nothing at all as my local Safeway had no good veggies, other than some yams. So, I cooked up dinner from some staples in my fridge and pantry and came up with:
  1. Red leaf lettuce salad with green apple and sesame ginger dressing (really needs no recipe - just a salad, some sliced green apples, and some of Newman Own's Sesame Ginger salad dressing).
    11.18.2008 009

  2. Baked yams with salt and pepper (literally, peeled and sliced yams drizzled with a little canola oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, baked until soft and placed under the broiler for some caramelization).
    11.18.2008 005

  3. Chile lime shrimp (inspired by this recipe).
Yes, this is what I make when my fridge is "empty" - you should see it when it's full.

My own variation on the shrimp (serves 2):

Chile lime shrimp
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves 2

11.18.2008 004

  1. Peel about 10 shrimp (you can leave the non-tail part if you'd like, like I like) and cut down the back of each shrimp.
    11.18.2008 002

  2. Place in bowl with finely sliced garlic and a splash of fish sauce (instead of the salt in the original recipe).
  3. In another bowl, combine the lime juice (of 2 limes) and red pepper flakes.
    11.18.2008 001

  4. Heat up pan with canola oil on high heat.
  5. Place shrimp and garlic in and stir frequently until almost done
  6. Place lime juice and pepper flakes in - it will cook down really quickly (you can add a dash of water to keep moisture going if the shrimp hasn't cooked all the way through).
  7. Take off heat almost immediately and serve!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Exciting night!

In the last night, I delivered a 4200+ gram baby (approximately 9 1/2 pounds) who had such a large belly, I think the mother pushed harder to get the belly out than the head.  I also delivered two babies in beds within an hour of each other.  Great excitement and all in a day's work.

Monday, November 10, 2008


I think I have an infected pinkie. I'm being my hypochondriac self and thinking of the possibility of it turning into sepsis, all through a hang nail (worse things have happened, I suppose). It's been throbbing all day, kind has this funky discharge, is warm, swollen, and red. That meets all the qualifications for something that I should be worried about, no? I'll wait a day or two and then I'll forget about it, I'm sure. Or, I'll develop fevers and nausea and vomiting and curse the day I took off that hang nail.

Shopping for dishes

I love shopping for housewares, almost too much. I love it so much that I can never buy anything. How does that happen, you may ask. Well, I can explain it through my adventures trying to find dishes.

Every time I go to Crate and Barrel, or Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, or Sur La Table, or any other store that may sell dishes, I fall in love. There are so many dishes and no doubt, I will like at least one set. However, I will stand there in the store, staring at the dishes for about half an hour. I ponder about prices, I try to imagine the dishware in my apartment, with my food on it, how it will fit in with my existing dishes, what it says about me as a person (yes, I think about this). After all of this, I will walk out of the store empty handed the vast majority of the time. It comes down to the ultimate decision to commit to a set of dishes, which I almost always fail to do. I keep on thinking, "What if I find another set of plates/cups/bowls at _next store down the line_ that I love? Do I want to be folksy, modern, simple classic, elegant, whimsical, etc?" So, because of the possibly of greener pastures with prettier dishes down the line, I end up getting no dishes (fortunately, I already have a set of dishware that are ok for the meantime. Note to self: never buy dishes with a metallic rim on them.), so it's not like I'm eating out of the palm of my hands.

So, I guess you never knew that I think about dishes so intensely. Yes, I need a life and perhaps more serious things to think about. However, as I was thinking about this the other day, I realized that I think of dating in an errily similar way (reread the post and maybe it will give you a laugh). In translation, I have commitment issues in relationships, as well as in dishware. I date (go shopping) a lot, but never end up commiting (buying) for fear that I'll miss out on something greater down the road. It's something I knew I always had to deal with, but the revelation that it parallels my shopping pursuits was just too weird (and gave for quite a laugh with a friend on Saturday, status-post Friday night date gossip).

On the other hand, I bought a fabulous set of bowls from Anthropologie that I'm in love with. I want to eat everything out of them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Exciting day!

Besides the recent elections, which I'm totally psyched about (with the exception of Proposition 8 and a few other races), I got to be primary surgeon for the first time today! Not once, not twice, not thrice, but FOUR times. Read that - four times! I can't believe it. It was such a thrill. I never thought that I would really enjoy operating this much but it was so much fun and so thrilling. I got to do three laparoscopic tubal ligations and one cone biopsy (you can google it... but maybe you don't want to google the cone biopsy). By my third tubal, I was an expert and it took all of 12 minutes from start to finish - and I didn't even feel rushed. Though, I did feel the rush of being surgeon afterwards - and I'm still feeling it.

Almost makes up for the fact that I didn't leave the hospital until 9pm today and that I'm on call tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I just cannot believe that Barack Obama is the president-elect. I really cannot believe it. I'm in shock. Good shock, but shock nonetheless.

Go vote!

It's election day!! And I'm so nervous my TMJ is acting up.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Laughing out loud

I'm listening to This American Life on my iPod right now and their choice of music just made me laugh out loud. To end their story on regulation of the mortgage and banking industry, they started playing "Regulate" by Warren G and Nate Dogg, from the movie, Above the Rim. It made me laugh so hard that I rewound it just to listen to it again. It reminds me of 8th grade, when I found out that my crush at the time (whose name is still secret - I can still be embarassed by my 8th grade crush!) liked the movie soundtrack. Ah, memories.

Thank you, Ira Glass.

Reality check

The New York Times just published an interesting article on the parallels between the last two seasons of The West Wing and the current presidential election. It's fascinating and makes me want to finish the last two seasons before the election (which I won't, of course... I'm only on the beginning of Season 6 right now).

We'll soon see how this story ends.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Time sucker

This whole internet thing is just a big black hole for all my free time. I woke up at 1pm (don't worry, I got to bed at 10am - I didn't get to sleep 12+ hours!) just to be able to do work. But all I have managed in those two hours is checking facebook, the New York Times, my email repeatedly, and getting a recipe that I will try for dinner.

Living in Twilight

I feel like that's how I've been for the last week or so. It's been a crazy few weeks. In no particular order, I finished up on my medicine rotation, cried for the first time in internship, has my first weekend off in forever, and managed to squeeze in two (albeit unsuccessful) dates. Sometimes, when I spend a lot of time at the hospital and the rest of my time in my tiny studio apartment by myself, I feel very holed off from the rest of the world. Albeit, I do read the New York Times online more often than once a day, but I feel like my whole world is this parallel universe to what the rest of the world is living. Sometimes I even find myself using language that implies as much - calling non-hospital life the "real world," as though my hospital life is not part of any world most people know.

I guess that this is all a part of residency, this feeling of isolation and feeling like you're fighting a current of trying to get as much learning in as possible without sacrificing your personal sanity. The first few months actually went by smoothly - I was adjusting, I was getting praise and constructive criticism, and felt as though I was really going somewhere. Now, in my fifth month, I feel like I'm stalling. I'm haunted by the feelings of inadequacy that every intern encounters (Am I good enough? What do my attendings and senior residents really think about me? Will I ever be good enough? How will I manage as a real doctor?), feelings like my real life is being neglected (Will I ever find a good base of friends here in the south bay? Will I ever find a steady date? Will I ever get to my crafting/gardening/reading project?), and feeling purely exhausted and drained.

I hope that this post isn't coming off as depressing, but just more serious than most. I'm not depressed at all - actually, I delivered my first baby in two months last night and it felt great. I just feel that this is a time of reflection for me, as I am almost halfway through my intern year. Also, I can't wait for my first vacation (just bought my plane ticket yesterday!) and the ability to sleep in for more than one day in a row and the freedom to take a few calm, deep breaths.

The inspiration for the title is the song currently playing on my computer, Living in Twilight by The Weepies.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I have been held hostage by something called "ward medicine" for the last few weeks. That has left me with very little time to sleep, eat, do work, and otherwise have a normal life. I am perpetually sleepy, perpetually grumpy, perpetually tired, and perpetually feeling behind. Hence, I haven't been updating. I haven't even been cooking (gasp!). I did manage to throw together Ma Po tofu (silky tofu with ground turkey) the other day in 10 minutes - but was too tired to take pictures. I will give the recipe one day, as it's a great one and really easy and quick to make.

5 more days to go, then back to a more "normal" schedule of 6am-6pm with overnight call 1-2 times a week. Yeah, normal. It's amazing what intern year does to your perception of things.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I have a patient who is under the age of 40 and is on 16 medicines. Yes, 16. And some she takes more than once a day. Who really can keep track of 16 medicines? Of course, the reason why she takes so many medicines was completely preventable if she took the 2 or 3 she had to take years ago. And, of course, she doesn't take all of her medicines, which brings her under my care.

There has to be a better way of doing things.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


This week has not been a fun week at all. And to top it all off, I'm sitting in my apartment, about to throw my Palm (not my hand, my PDA) against the wall. It just pooped out the other day, and I turned it back on and lo and behold - all was lost. Now, I can't even sync it to my computer to restore everything. It's driving my positively insane. Now I want to open my palm (now my real palm, not the PDA) and hit smash the Palm (PDA, not hand) against the wall.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What did you say?

Isn't there a saying that "A watched syringe won't melt"? Because that's what I'm doing - watching a frozen med syringe defrost in front of my eyes before I can give it to the patient. This is what I trained 4 years for, right?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

All in a night's work

Last night had to be the most challenging for me since the beginning of this wonderful journey otherwise known as intern year. All in one night, I...

... sat by a patient's bedside for nearly an hour as I drained nearly 4 liters of fluid out of his belly. In that time, I got used to his smell (he was homeless and probably hadn't seen a shower in a good amount of time), and got to know his story (a Vietnam veteran who has been homeless for almost 30 years).

... had the same patient nearly give me a heart attack when he starts getting all seriously sick on me. Seriously. And this happened in my 27th hour on call. Yeah, 27th hour. Yeah, like I'm thinking properly at that point.

... seen and smelled the worst smell ever and something that no one should ever smell, or, worse, smell like. I guess that's one of the things that can happen to you when you're 400+ pounds.

... realize that a Spanish-speaking patient doesn't not understand me - rather she just refused to answer any question directly. Me: "Do you have pain?" Her, about a minute later, "Oh, I think I have pain on my hand, and phlegm in my throat. Can the phlegm cause a heart attack?" Not kidding you.

So yeah, not a pleasant night. Now, I'm awake and I don't know if it's better to just stay awake or to actually go to bed. And what day of the week is it? It's a question I ask almost all my patients (you'd be amazed at how many get it wrong), yet sometimes I have to reconsider and think to myself. Yeah, it's a Saturday, a "leisurely" day for most of the population - unfortunately a population to which I do not belong.

Ending the suffering

I don't know whether it's me or the patients suffering more (yeah, yeah, I know the patients are suffering more, but let me whine). I just want to sleep, but I have to keep on truckin'. Let's just say that I'm hating internship at this moment in time. Check on me in a few hours.

Friday, October 10, 2008

And now this...

I was talking to a friend the other day about the state of politics in this country nowadays. Of course, my knowledge is limited and a lot of what I say may be nothing at all. However, I'll tell it to you anyways.
I told her that I think politics has always been divisive, with Democrats on one side and Republicans on the other. Politicians have never really gotten along well if they're on opposite sides of the aisle, and sometimes don't get along well even if they are on the same side of the aisle. However, what I think has changed in recent years is that it's no longer the politicians who are divisive, but cities, neighborhoods, and even homes. My friend is voting for Obama but her husband is voting for McCain and she realizes that this is sometimes a point of contention in their house, as it is in many thousands of others across the nation. I don't know if the divisiveness will end with the election, instead, I think that it will just continue to grow until something changes. One side will always be unhappy and the other side will always gloat in their victory, at least until the newly-elected president makes a mistake, which is bound to happen.
This all came to me when I was reading this article, which was just so profoundly disturbing. They're calling Senator Obama personal names and insults, as though they were bullies on the playground pushing the new kid in school around. Worse yet, they're throwing thinly veiled threats at Obama. I give the McCain campaign credit for trying to subdue their crowds, but I can see how it's hard given the crowd mentality that can build up to seem like a witch hunt at times. It's just so unbelievable to me that the attacks on both sides are getting personal. Maybe McCain is to blame a little because he is running negative attack ads (though so is Obama), but I don't think the blame can be placed squarely on either of the campaigns. I don't think the blame can be placed on anyone, except maybe the obvious.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A nonsensical policy

When did family planning become a bad word? When I was little, we used to drive past this building with the words, "Planned Parenthood" on it. I didn't know what it was nor did I know the controversy surrounding such clinics. However, the words struck me. "How great is that? People can plan on when they want to become parents!" This was when I was in elementary school. Now that I am older, I still think the same. How great is is that people can control their own reproductive choices?

This post is about family planning. I had a friend call me the other day and we discussed family planning. She is pro-life, I think, and asked me, somewhat rhetorically, "Why wouldn't any pro-lifer support family planning?" She went on to argue (and I'm paraphrasing here) that anyone who is pro-life should be for any prevention in unwanted pregnancies, including comprehensive sex education and teaching and enabling people to use birth control. So, this in light of a recent op-ed in the New York Times highlighting President Bush's "pro-life" choice to cut off birth control funding to many international organizations, got me raging. Seriously, doesn't he get it? Not giving people condoms doesn't stop them from having sex. Giving them condoms simply gives them a way to protect themself from infection and unwanted pregnancy when they do have sex. I mean, if the President decided not to fund any programs that provided sex education or birth control in the United States, people would be outraged - wait, he already did and people are outraged. I guess we can give President Bush brownie points for being consistent.

Meanwhile, a "young woman lies in a hut, bleeding to death or swollen by infection, as untrained midwives offer her water or herbs. Her husband and children wait anxiously outside the hut, their faces frozen and perspiring as her groans weaken." [Quoted from Kristof, "Can This Be Pro-Life?"]

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

One of those days

It's just one of those days where I want to curl up into a ball and hide in a corner of the hospital - after I throw my pager into a brick wall. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The other side

Warning to those who may be "shy" - the following post contains references to male and female body parts.  Gasp!

So, I have been doing internal medicine for the last 6 weeks or so - it's an ob/gyn's way of getting primary care training and being able to manage things such as hypertension, pneumonias, and diabetes.  I actually really like the program that I am at because it does offer this training as I think being a primary care physician is integral to the way that I want to practice in the future.  However, there have been a few times when I wished that I was delivering babies again - and this is mostly when I have to do a male-specific exam or manage a male-specific problem.  For instance, I did my second prostate exam - ever - the other day.  Yeah, how did I manage to get through medical schol without being required to do more of these?  Maybe I was just in the right place at the right time, meaning not in the vicinity of any person in need of a prostate exam.  Granted, it's not that bad, and admittedly, easier than a pelvic exam - but still unpleasant nonetheless (and yes, I will acknowledge that it was definitely less pleasant for the poor soul who needed it).

Reflecting on my service, I have had 4 men with urinary tract infections (UTIs).  I do get a lot of experience managing UTIs, but in men, it's a somewhat different ballgame.  So, I find myself trying to figure out how to ask about their prostate.  And I find myself asking patients about "penile trauma" and then patiently wait for the awkward answer. 

That's not to say I am not getting a lot out of this rotation.  I set a goal for myself to learn more about antibiotic use and that definitely is coming to fruition (out of 4 admissions last night, all 4 were on antibiotics).  And I am definitely getting the hang of managing high blood pressure, diabetes, pneumonias, etc. 

In short, I miss delivering babies.  I miss not having to worry about my patients and their hallucinations (such as the one I had last night).  I miss the generally healthy ob/gyn population.  I miss doing more than mountains of paperwork and orders for my patients.  Ah, only a few more weeks, then I'm back to the OR. 

Candidates on the issues

I just stumbled upon this handy dandy "candidates by the issue" voter's guide on the New York Times web site.  It's short, sweet, and to the point.  Discovered just in time for the debate! 

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Today's cold weather and my wet bike ride inspired me to make something that was homemade and warm, so I made a soup that my mom used to make when I was a kid. I think she made it whenever she had random stuff on hand, because all it really needs is a good broth and pasta. Yes, you heard me, this soup uses pasta. No, it's not Asian and no, it's not Italian. I have no idea what it is - it's just soup that's yummy.

A warning that it's not as easy or quick as my usual meals. And it's definitely not vegetarian friendly, as it requires three different meats (all pork).

The broth can be modified and used for any kind of soup you desire. You can also add a few stalks of celery in there (I just didn't have any).

So, here I present you:

08.10.04 011-2

Pasta and meat soup
Feeds: 5-6
Active prep time: minutes at before simmering the broth and 15 minutes at meal time

  • (3 lbs) chicken or pork bones. My mom swears that pork bones make the broth "smell funny" but I don't buy it. I use either, whichever one looks better at the grocery store.
  • (3-4) large carrots, cut into inch segments.
  • (1) large onion, cut in quarters, but not completely. In other words, cut the onion like you're going to cut it into quarters, but don't cut it all the way through. That way, when the onion cooks, it doesn't fall apart and is easy to take out in one big scoop. I used red because it's what I had on hand, but you can use yellow.
  • (1) tray pork trotter. I don't know how much is in a tray, perhaps a pound and a half? And you may ask, "What is pork trotter?" Well, it's a euphemism for pork feet. Yeah, pork feet. It's something that is uniquely Vietnamese, in the way it's prepared here, I think.
  • (1 lb) lean ground pork, sauteed with 4 cloves garlic until cooked.
  • (2 lbs) chives, chopped into 2 inch segments.
  • (5) green onions, chopped.
  • (1 bunch) cilantro, chopped.
  • (1) jalapeno, sliced.
    08.10.04 005-3

  • (1 lb) pasta, cooked. My favorite pasta to use in this is generic macaroni, but all I had on hand was rotini.
  • (1 tbsp) sugar.
  • Salt to taste.
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste.
To make broth:
  1. Boil 4 quarts water.
  2. Add pork or chicken bones, bring to gentle boil, gently. The rougher the boil, the murkier the broth turns.
  3. Add carrots and onion.
  4. Simmer covered as long as you can stand. I like to it to boil for at least 4 hours, for the most flavor.
  5. An hour before you're going to eat, put in pork trotters and bring to gentle boil, then simmer and cover.
  6. Season with salt to taste and sugar.
To assemble:
  1. Pasta goes in the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Add a little bit of chives, little bit of onion, little bit of cilantro and a little bit of ground pork.
  3. Grab one piece pork trotter and soup bone (if you're into that kind of thing - some people aren't).
    08.10.04 009-2

  4. Scoop soup over whole thing, top with squeeze of lemon and dash of freshly ground pepper.
A picture of most of the ingredients. Yes, I cooked this all for one person - me.
08.10.04 007-2

Afternoon snack

08.10.04 004-2

My afternoon snack today blended the good (green apples) with the bad and the smelly (shrimp paste). For those unfamiliar with shrimp paste, it's basically shrimp and salt. And then ground up into a paste. Yeah, probably doesn't sound very good and to a lot of people, tastes even worse. However, to someone who loves anything salty and doesn't mind smelly things (durian, anyone?), shrimp paste is great stuff. It's not used in many recipes and it's a wonder I even keep it in my fridge. The one good thing that it's always good for is as a dipping sauce, albeit sparingly, for green mangos or green apples. The tartness of the fruit goes well with the saltiness of the shrimp paste.

Please be forewarned that shrimp paste is very salty. Seriously, it should have a haz-mat symbol on it. The physician in me tells me that I should warn people with high blood pressure to stay away from this (and all other salty things!). Also, if you can't stand smelly things (and you know who you are), don't even try this. If you have normal blood pressure and don't mind smelly things, eat away.

The shrimp paste from my fridge:
08.10.04 002-2

Rain, rain, go away

Today, I decided to explore a little of the south bay and go biking on the Los Gatos Creek Trail. It was supposed to be a great trail and a great day and a great ride. However, things just weren't going my way and my day ended up looking like this:

All gone down the drain.

First, my front wheel was slightly flat. However, I was still determined to go. Yeah, I'm crazy.

Second, my pants leg got stuck in my bike and promptly tore a hole in my pants. I'm not so sad about the pants, just sad about it happening. It literally happened one minute after hopping onto my bike.

Third, it started raining. Now, this wouldn't be so bad if it was simply sprinkling. I can handle that. But then, it started to get real bad and I wasn't even able to see. My clothes got soaking wet, but only on one side (the rain came in sideways, thanks to the wind). If you look closely, you can see my right pants leg all tied up to keep it get from getting caught into my gears!

This part of the trail was swollen over on the way back. It was hard to tell how deep it was and I didn't dare go until some other bikers went through before me. It was about 5 inches deep. Fun stuff.

On the way back, I saw this woman gearing up, getting on the trail, and then her little dog on a leash!

And, after all this, I am still smiling. Look closely and you can see all the raindrops on my face.

Needless to say, I didn't go the whole way of the trail. I didn't even go halfway. Biking while soaking wet with a semi-flat tire is no fun at all. So, I decided to try this falafel place that is always so busy on the corner of Stevens Creek and 880. There were about 20 people in line, but well worth the wait. Falafel sandwich was crunchy, great tahini. However, the hot sauce was all in a dollop on top - totally unsatisfying (I'm really into making sure ingredients and sauces are spread evenly). The banana shakes are also good, but not great. I feel like there's something in them that makes it taste like fake sugar (maybe it is fake sugar?). However, I'd still go again, the falafel was pretty damn good. Next time, I'm trying their "meatball in wheat" - sounds delicious, eh?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Healthcare reform

The New England Journal of Medicine, for which I have a lot of respect after seeing how it works (I spent a month at their offices in medical school - one of the best months of medical school, ever), just published two "articles" written by Senator Obama and Senator McCain on how healthcare reform will look like under their administrations.  It's interesting to see the perspective in both.  For those of you interested in healthcare, as everyone should be, it's a good read. 

I will save my opinions for another day.  And, I can't seem to focus enough right now to really read the articles in-depth to be able to converse intelligently about them - just thought that I'd put the articles out there. 


08.10.01 003-2, originally uploaded by yenniet.

My afternoon snack as of late. Easy, quicky, and satisfying.

(Ingredients: vine-ripened tomato with a dash of salt, low-fat sharp cheddar cheese)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Life's little treasures

...includes wearing a just laundered shirt with the nice detergent smell and the dryer softness.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Don't forget!

While I'm on the talk of politics and all that jazz, remember to register to vote(and re-register if you changed your address, name, or political party).  I'm assuming most people reading are in California, so that link, and this post, is specifically for California.

Commonly received excuses:
  • I'm too busy to vote - yeah, so am I!  I work 80 hours a week and I have to study on top of all of that, while maintaining my sanity.  Don't tell me you're too busy.  And yeah, I still vote.  How do I do it?  Absentee, baby!  California lets you sign up for permanent absentee ballot.  It's the best thing in the world.  Just send off your vote and be done with it.  Easy as pie. 
  • I don't care about any of the candidates - yeah, but you should.  It matters who is in political office as to what your taxes pay for, how much you pay in taxes, how good the public school your kids go to are, what your doctor can order for you, etc etc.  You should care and it is a privilege (and a right) to vote - take advantage of it.  And there's a lot more on the ballot than just candidates.  In California, there are propositions regarding animal rights, gay marriage, and alternative energy, among others.  Surely one of those must matter.  If nothing matters, who cares.  Send back an empty ballot.  Saying nothing says something.
  • I don't know anything - read the silly one pager on all the propositions and candidates.  It's easy.  If I can manage to do it, you can.  It comes in your mailbox and is available online, conveniently enough.
Why am I so adamant that everyone vote?  Because voting for me is a privilege.  I wasn't granted the right to vote based on my birthplace.  My parents had to travel over an ocean and a mountain of paperwork to be able to obtain the right to vote, so I take it as my own responsibility to do so - and so should you. 

So, that's it.  Yeah, more than my two cents.  And no, I don't care who you vote for.  I'd rather someone vote for Michael Jackson than not vote at all. 

(Trying to get people who don't vote is kind of like getting smokers to quit - you never think you will change their habits, but you just have to keep on trying.  On that note, I just got notice that one of my patients that I counseled on smoking cessation last month actually quit the day after I saw him!  It can work!)

It's all about the economy, stupid!

A classic line during the 1992 election campaign and I think that it applies to this year's election as well.  Times like these make me wish that I actually paid attention in my economics class (which I took as a senior in high school at the local community college - I mean, who knew that it would be useful later?!).  I wish that I could make sense of the situation and figure out who to believe.  Will we fall into a huge recession (more so than we have already) if we don't rescue the big corporations who got us into this whole mess?  Or will bailing them out just cost the taxpayers billions of dollars while the big corporations get off scott-free?  Who knows. Maybe it's a mix of everything.  Just from listening to things, I get the sense of taht something needs to happen.  I think ideally, it would be that there is a bailout - maybe not $700 billion - but attached to it are conditions whereby the mortgage and investment firms have to reform their practices so that this doesn't happen again.  It's silly.  I mean, you'd think we learn from previous financial market meltdowns, such as when savings and loans went the way of the dinosaurs, but alas, politics has a short memory when it comes to lessons and a long one when it comes to scandals. 

In the end, I think taxpayers get screwed.  They have to bail these companies out while trying to eek through their daily lives with rising gas and cost of living prices.  In the end, we could have done a lot more with $700 billion.  We could have worked towards insuring the 46 million plus uninsured Americans.  We could have improved our failing public schools.  We could work towards cleaning up our parks and waterways.  There is so much more we could have done - but alas, those are apparently not as important as bailing out the companies who counted their coffers while the average American tried to stretch theirs. 

Better to say nothing at all

My mom always said that if I don't have anything nice to say, then to say nothing at all. So, that's why I haven't been updating very much - I'm not having much fun. I'm on inpatient medicine right now and it's tough, dude. The schedule is so confusing, I have yet to figure it out. There's call, post call, pre call, long call, short call, overnight call. Why can't there just be a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc etc? And I work 6 days a week. What is this madness?

But yeah, I miss ob/gyn. I haven't done any ob/gyn in nearly two months and I miss it. I'm glad I'm getting the training in medicine, because I want to be an excellent primary care provider, but it's not as fun as delivering babies or operating. Ah, just a few more weeks.

Yum! (again)

My main dish:

Vietnamese caramelized salmon
Serves: 3-4
Prep and cook time: 20 minutes

  • (2 tbsp) sugar.
  • (1 tsp) canola oil. I use canola oil in most of my cooking (other than Italian), because it has the lowest saturated fat content.
  • (1 lb) salmon fillet.
  • (1) medium yellow or red onion. Cut into quarters, then sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices.
  • (3) cloves garlic, minced.
  • (2 tsp) fish sauce. Found at any Vietnamese grocery store. It's a staple in Vietnamese cooking. It's called "nuoc mam" in Vietnamese.
  • Optional: 1-2 chiles.
  1. Place sugar in pan on medium heat. Watch closely, because you're looking for a caramel.
  2. When it starts to become light brown, add the oil.
  3. Add onions and garlic and chile (optional).
  4. Place salmon skin side down in pan.
  5. Cook for ~2 minutes, then flip over, making sure to keep whole fillet intact.
  6. Keep on low to medium heat so that the sauce slowly thickens. If it becomes too thick, add some water to reconstitute.
  7. Done when the salmon is done. You can continue to cook if you want, to boil down the sauce.
This is my take on a classic Vietnamese dish called "ca kho" (and very similar to another dish made with pork called "thit kho"). There are many ways of going about making it and you can just do a google search and finds dozens upon hundreds of recipes. I myself make it very different ways too. You can make it with all kinds of fish, with catfish being traditional (and one of my favorites - but preparing it is much more labor-intensive). Some people add chiles (like myself), some add ground pepper (like my mom).

I hope am hoping to do more Vietnamese dishes, but they have to come as they come.


fIt was a short day today, so I decided to make a full two course dinner. First, the soup:

Mong Toi and shrimp soup
Serves: many
Prep and cook time: 20 minutes

  • (1 lb) "mong toi". It's a broad leafed, dark green vegetable on a thick-ish stem that, when cooked, is sort of slimy (which sounds unappetizing, but it's good!). Alternatively, you can use almost any of the veggies found in the leafy green vegetable aisle of your local Asian grocery store. Cut it into large pieces, basically cutting a little bit of stem with each leaf. Make sure you wash it well, as with any leafy green veggie. My advice is to get a big tub of water, place it in, swish it around and repeat at least twice.

  • (2) king oyster mushrooms. I also used them in this dish.
  • (1/4 lb) shrimp, peeled and cut in half lengthwise. Season with a dash of salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Optional: 2 tsp chicken broth powder. It's my secret weapon in making quick, easy soups. Yeah, it's full of MSG and such, but it beats making your own broth (which I do - but not when I am making a quick soup!).
  1. Boil 3 cups water and chicken broth powder (or just use two cups chicken broth). Add mong toi.
  2. After a few minutes, add mushrooms.
  3. Then, add shrimp. Mix together. Serve!

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Quickie dinner made of leftover pasta and basil, yet inspired by Parmesan cheese purchased today:

Pasta, tomato, garlic, and basil - on my!
Serves: 1
Prep and cook time: 10 minutes


  • (2 cups) cooked pasta. I just used the leftover pasta I had from the other night.
  • (4) cloves garlic, thinly sliced. No, you don't have to use that much, and yes, I love garlic.
  • (2) Roma tomatoes, diced. I used only one, but really wished I used two.
  • Teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil.
  • (2 tbsp) freshly grated Parmesan or Romano.
  • (handful) fresh basil leaves.
  • Seasoned salt.
  • Freshly ground pepper. I use only freshly ground. You won't find the pre-ground stuff in my kitchen!
  1. Heat olive oil and garlic in a saucepan. I started out on low and let the garlic sit there (which added cook time), but you could definitely just go straight to high heat.
  2. Add tomatoes, seasoned salt and fresh pepper. Add pasta and mix very well.
  3. Add cheese a little bit at a time to let it melt with the pasta.
  4. Turn off heat and add basil.
  5. Top off with a little bit more cheese.


Today is my only day off for the week, so I decided to go run some errands and do some exploring.  First, I went to Michael's to get some art supplies (as though I have time to do that!).  Then, went to the Guadalupe River Park - it's really not that cool and the fact that it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I only saw a dozen people in the span of an hour makes it seem very sketchy.  Maybe I went to the wrong section (the one closest to the airport - which provided the cool views of planes flying into SJC), but I'm willing to give it another go.  Next time, I think I will go to the southern section, where there may be more people?

On the other hand, I drove through the Rosegarden neighborhood and drove right by its namesake.  I didn't have time to stop by, but now it's definitely on my to-do list (in addition to visiting the San Jose Public Library branch there). Of course, I found the neighborhood grocery store and had to make a stop, where I got some Parmesan cheese to make a quick pasta dinner (to be posted later). 

Overall, a good day.  I still need to study and it feels like a Sunday because I have to work tomorrow.  Booo. 

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Keeping it real

I'm currently watching Grey's Anatomy and it's utterly ridiculous. Utterly. Well, maybe it's been ridiculous for awhile, but I haven't seen it in about a year. So far we have seen a trailer preview be a complete joke ("I'm carrying your child"), the nearly impossible (a resident falling on her back, then being stabbed by an icicle - oh, the drama!), and the main character pining away (whiny Meredith, wondering why, why, why).

Eep! How many more seasons can this ridiculosity continue? Why am I wasting 2 hours of a perfectly good evening watching it?!

At least I have a drink to help me through it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


One of my favorite pasta dishes involves lots of zucchini and other squash - perfect for today since I have a bounty of them from the local farm.

Pasta with vegetable marinara
Serves: 5-6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients (all fresh from the farm today... I love living in California!):

  • (1 lb) pasta - whichever variety you choose, boiled to your desired done-ness.
  • (1 lb) ground turkey (optional). Alternatively, you can use ground beef, but turkey is healthier and tastes all the same.
  • (1) jar pasta sauce
  • (2-3) large tomatoes, cut into large wedges.
  • (1-2 lbs) squash, cut into large chunks. I have a wonderful selection of green and yellow zucchini, summer squash, yellow summer squash, and a round little squash that's adorable.
  • (1 tbsp) olive oil.
  • (5 cloves) garlic, finely minced.
  • Handful of fresh basil, cut into a chiffonade. Again, this is picked from my basil plant, which I have been nurturing for over 2 months now (thankfully, it has not gone the way of my other plants).
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  1. Cook pasta. Drain and place aside.
  2. In same pan, or while you are cooking the pasta, place olive oil and garlic with pan on high heat.
  3. Sautee until garlic is aromatic.
  4. Add ground turkey (optional) and sautee until just cooked.
  5. Add zucchini and sautee until brown and just done.
  6. Add tomatoes until they begin to soften.

  7. Add tomato sauce and turn heat down to medium.
  8. Cook down until squash is done.
  9. Serve with pasta and fresh basil. I prefer not to cook the basil, but rather place on top to mix with the pasta to preserve the flavor.
  • You can also add whatever vegetables you want to the sauce. I like to add bell peppers (green ones are great because they stay crunchy), onions, or even carrots. If you add the onions, add it the same time as the garlic and cook unti lnearly translucent. If you add other hardy vegetables, add at the same time as the zucchini or slightly after.
  • I cooked it with rotini, but it's good with spaghetti or any other thicker pasta that can hold up all the veggies in the sauce.
  • A tip for those eating alone (like myself): make the sauce down to being ready to serve it and then put it into freezer bags to defrost later on. Then, you can just boil pasta and you have a healthy, fabulous dinner.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Here is a classic recipe, ala YennieT. I make this whenever I think in advance and know I won't have time to make dinner later on in the week.

Marinated and baked chicken
Serves: 4-6
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes

  • (4-6) chicken thighs, boneless and skinless. Alternatively, you can use chicken breasts, but I favor thighs (yeah, yeah, "dark meat is bad").
  • (3) cloves garlic, or more if you desire.
  • (2 tbsp) soy sauce.
  • (1 tbsp) rice vinegar or lemon juice.
  • (2 tbsp) oyster sauce
  1. Place everything into a large zip loc bag.
  2. Mix around until mixed together.
  3. Place in fridge.
  4. Can be marinated anytime from 1 hour to 2 days. The more marination, the better (I usually make it one day, bake it the next).
  5. Alternatively, you can freeze it after making sure everything is mixed together. To use, just pull out of freezer one day before you want to cook it and place in fridge for defrosting.
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place foil onto baking pan (I use a large casserole dish). Foil helps in clean up.
  3. Arrange chicken in single layer, with some room in between.
  4. Turn occasionally until chicken is barely done.
  5. Turn on broiler in oven. Place under broiler until both sides are browned.
Some hints:
  • You can add zucchini or onions or carrots (or any hardy veggie) to the chicken while it's baking, to get your veggie quota for the day as well. (I got these wondrous specimens straight from the farm today.)
  • Use plastic bags to marinate, not bowls! That way, the marinade reaches the meat entirely (in a bowl, only the pieces at the bottom really get marinated well). Also, makes for easier clean up.
  • In place of the vinegar or lemon juice, you can use any acid. Alternatively, you can use a salad dressing with vinegar and oil in it. The acid helps the marinade reach the inside of the meat - meaning you get juicier and tastier meat!
  • Instead of baking the chicken, you can place it on the BBQ. It's a hit!
  • For the marinade, you can really use anything you'd like. Sometimes I add shallots. Sometimes I add ketchup. As long as it has the sweet (the oyster sauce), the salty (the soy sauce), and the acid (vinegar/lemon juice), you're all set.

Raining men

Well, it's not really raining men - I only wish.  I went out with a high school friend on Saturday (just out as friends, not that kind of "going out") and we went to a club.  It was pretty obvious that there was an overwhelming percentage of men.  When I made note of this to my friend, he quipped, "Well, it is Man Jose."  (For those of you outside of California, I live in San Jose, so Man Jose is a play on words.) 

The thing I'm wondering is where are all the men?  I have yet to find a date, or even a date-able man.  Maybe it's because I work in the hospital almost every waking hour.  Maybe it's because even when I'm working, I never really come into contact with any men.  Or maybe it's because I'm hideous and un-date-able myself.  I really hope it's not the latter. 

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008


For dinner tonight, I was craving something other than rice, so I made noodles!

Sit fried chicken and vegetables with rice noodle
Serves: 4
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

  • (2) chicken thighs, boneless and skinless.
  • (1/2 - 3/4 lb) baby bok choy, cut into 1 inch segments.
  • (1/2 lb) giant oyster mushrooms (see note below). Cut them in half lengthwise, then on a diagonal, about 1/4 inch thick.
  • (3 cloves) garlic, finely minced.
  • (1) package flat, broad rice noodles, found at your local Asian grocery store. Break them up into their individual noodles before placing them in the pan (otherwise, you'll end up with a giant clump of noodles.
  • (1 tsp) black bean sauce
  • (1 tbsp) sesame ginger salad dressing. I recently discovered Newman's Own Low Fat Sesame Ginger dressing, and it's great!
  • (1 tbsp) oyster sauce
  • (1/2 tsp) starch or tapioca flour
  1. Heat up pan, place drizzling of oil and sizzle garlic until aromatic.
  2. Add chicken and sautee until chicken done.
  3. Add mushrooms and baby bok choy. Sautee until bok choy is soft. Add water if it looks really dry.
  4. Add noodles and sauce.
  5. Mix together until thoroughly combined and starch/flour in sauce is cooked.

(The baby bok choy ended up looking like a rose from the way I cut it. How cute.)

Some notes:
  • For the sauce, I really just eyeball everything and mix into a bowl. Sometimes I add soy sauce. Sometimes I add chiles. Sometimes I don't add dressing. Really, use your judgment. I use these general sauce for most stir fry's and noodle dishes.
  • Salad dressing can be used for more than just salads! I use my dressing more for marinating meats than for salads, actually. My famous chicken recipe will come soon!
  • King oyster mushrooms are these wonderful specimens:They can be found at your local Asian supermarket (along with other wonderful mushrooms - my favorites are Shiitakes, Enoki, and Portabello). They are great in stir fry, soups, and anything else your heart desires. They are meaty in texture, but not in flavor.
Is anyone reading these food posts? I enjoy putting them up, but they definitely take longer than most my posts.

And yes, I really have been cooking nearly every night! What can I say, I love to cook and I hope you love my recipes.