Glasses and Chicken Stock

To children, some decisions seem far more important than they really are.

I’m legendary in my house for how great my vision was as a small child. According to my mother, I used to be able to identify the different planes that flew over our house (we were lucky enough to be on the flight path for a major airport) by calling out the colors on the wings and tails. I could identify birds and squirrels in trees all the way across a gigantic field.

And then my father’s genes took over after my visual peak in kindergarten.

By third grade, I had become the child that had to sit in the very front of the room, or else I would have to walk up right next to the board to read the chalked instructions. My first vision test was right before my class was scheduled to take a standardized exam, and the start time for everyone was delayed for forty-five minutes while the school staff became aghast at how bad my vision was at the old age of 8.

You know the big letter “E” on the vision chart? The one that everyone assumes even a blind person can see? My eyes, it turns out, were worse than that (though it’s a good thing that, at my current age, my eyes don’t appear to be getting any worse).

I should probably take a moment to say that I was legendary in my family for another trait- it took me FOREVER to make a decision. It was though my entire life would be completely dependent on what I chose to bring for lunch that day or what I brought to show and tell.

Therefore, choosing my first pair of glasses was quite momentous. My mother had taken me out of school for the afternoon so I could have a proper eye appointment and then pick out a pair of glasses.

Eyeglass sales clerk: What kind of glasses would you like, my dear?

Young Megs: Should I get blue? Or green? Or pink? What should the sides look like? Do I need sunglasses too? What should I doooooooooooooooo?

I looked at my first pair of glasses at 3pm that day.

By 8:30pm, I had tried on every pair of glasses in the entire store. It had actually closed at 8pm, but the store employee took pity on me (or, perhaps, didn’t want me to return another day where she would then lose out on even more commissions). I tried on glasses right through dinner, and snacks, and practically through bedtime. My entire family wanted to rip their hair out. I practically cried when they told me I had to make a decision in the next five minutes. And I still managed to delay that decision until 9pm.

I finally picked a pair of glasses. Which, looking at the pictures from back then, where my blue and turquoise frames took up over a third of my face, were probably not the best decision.

And, if you must know, it still takes me at least an hour to pick out the perfect pair.

Take the Time Chicken Stock

chicken brothbecause good food is always worth waiting for

Ingredients

  • 1 carcass from a large roasted chicken (or from two roasted cornish hens)
  • 3 large carrots, chopped into large pieces
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into large pieces
  • 1 large purple onion, quartered
  • 12 oz bottle beer (I used an Oktoberfest, but an IPA works well, too)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • Water

How-to

  1. In your largest stock pot available, place the chicken skin/bones, carrots, garlic, celery, and onion.
  2. Pour in the beer, then add in the bay leaf and peppercorns.
  3. Cover everything with water up to an inch below the top of your pot.
  4. Turn the burner onto high, and bring the water to a boil.
  5. Reduce to a simmer and let the stock bubble for at least 3-4 hours, until the liquid has reduced by at least 2 inches and the color of the stock is a nice golden brown.
  6. Using a large colander, pour out the broth and throw away the large pieces of the stock ingredients.
  7. Using your finest mesh sieve, remove the rest of the impurities from your stock. Place into containers and either freeze (you can keep it for up to 6 months) or refrigerate (it can keep for up to a week).
  8. Once the stock is cold, skim off the layer of fat that has solidified at the top (this is really easy to wash off the frozen stock).
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Art Museums and Chicken Salads

There are things that you just don’t want to know about your teachers. You especially don’t want to see them.

French was my foreign language of choice (I also couldn’t take Spanish because I have no ability to roll my R’s, and that was a requirement at my school to take Spanish). However, due to a number of wacky circumstances, I had 8 different French teachers in 5.5 years of taking French, all of whom liked to start over at the very beginning. That essentially means that I still excel at conjugating verbs, but that’s about the extent of my skill set. (I can read some things in romance languages, though).

Okay, back from my tangent.

In high school, our teacher decided that we should take a trip to the DIA, since they were having an exhibit of French painters. We obviously all decided to go, since this was a full-day field trip and what high schooler doesn’t want to skip out on the rest of their classes?

That morning, we all hopped on the bus for our hour long trip to Detroit. To our surprise, our French teacher decided to bring her husband along on our trip.

Now, I should take a quick moment to state that my French teacher was a very socially awkward women in her mid-60s, and that her husband was a very round and also very socially awkward man in his mid-60s.

We got to the museum without any issues and spent the next few hours wandering around looking at art. However, it was soon time to move on to the next attraction, and our French teacher and her husband were nowhere to be found.

That is, until someone went and used the restroom. And reported hearing weird noises and two pairs of shoes in a stall.

We thus were all waiting outside the men’s room when my teacher’s husband, and then my teacher, emerged.

French class was very awkward for the rest of the year.

Socially Appropriate Chicken Salad

always appropriate for any occasion

Ingredients

  • 2 c chicken, shredded
  • 1 rib celery, diced
  • 1/4 c walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 c dried cranberries
  • 1/4 c fat free greek yogurt
  • 1/4 c light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c fat free sour cream
  • 1 tbsp tarragon
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. Mix together greek yogurt, mayonnaise, sour cream, and tarragon.
  2. Add in chicken, celery, walnuts, and dried cranberries. If mixture is too thick, thin out with some skim milk.
  3. Salt and pepper to taste.

Sore Throats and Spicy Pizzas

Medicine has a learning curve. Some people just take longer to catch on.

My very first rotation of my third year of medical school was family medicine. At this point, we’re probably the smartest that we will ever be in regards to biochemical processes that cause any disease to happen or any medication to work, because we have just taken Step 1….or, in other words, the worst exam anyone ever has to take in his or her life. Step 1 is easily 100 times worse than the MCAT, which is the exam you have to take to apply to medical school.

However, though we are the smartest book-wise at this moment, we have never seen a real patient before in our lives (I’m not counting any of the standardized patients who teach us how to do physical exams)…and have not, in many cases, performed a variety of medical procedures.

Which is what led to the incident in question.

As I said, I was on my family medicine rotation at a small town and was there with one of my classmates. Now, this classmate (who will be featured in a later post) could be described as quite eager but also quite awkward. And that might be the biggest understatement of this particular post.

Anyway, my classmate on this particular day came running into the clinic room to excitedly announce that his patient had a sore throat and needed a strep test. And, since this clinic was quite busy (all 4 physicians there had 2 patients booked every 15 minutes…they had 2 coworkers out on medical leave and thus were having to pick up all of their patients), and since I had performed multiple strep tests at this point, they sent me in with my classmate to provide instructions.

Now, many of us have had a strep test before. but for those of you that haven’t, what essentially happens is that one needs to swab the back of one’s throat with an elongated q-tip and stick it in a liquid that shows quickly if a patient does or does not have strep throat.

I walked into the exam room as my classmate was approaching the patient…but not with the correct swab.

I saw the patient’s eyes begin bugging out, so I quickly stepped over, grabbed the correct swab, and said, “I think that we can use a smaller swab than that, don’t you?”

What kind of swab had he grabbed, you ask? A huge swab (think of a giant cotton ball at the end of a long q-tip) that is only supposed to be used when doing a pelvic exam to clean off the cervix.

That woman had no idea how close she came to a REALLY unpleasant experience.

Kill the Sickness Spicy BBQ Chicken Pizza

the spice will kill whatever ails you

Ingredients

  • Pizza dough for 1 pizza (I normally use the Cuisinart recipe since that’s what I have, but any uncooked pizza dough from the store will do)- make sure you leave this on the counter for 20-30 minutes to come to room temperature.
  • 1 c spicy pulled chicken (or see note below)
  • Olive oil spray
  • 2 tbsp light ranch dressing
  • 2 tbsp barbeque sauce
  • 1 c 2% shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tbsp parsley

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spray pizza pan with olive oil. Take pizza dough and spread out on pan. If the dough doesn’t appear to be stretching, let it rest for a few minutes, then try again.
  3. Spread ranch dressing and barbeque sauce onto the pizza dough. Top with cheddar cheese, then the pulled chicken and bell pepper. Sprinkle with garlic salt.
  4. Bake for 14-18 minutes or until crust is crispy. Remove from oven and sprinkle with parsley. Cut into slices and serve. If desired, top with a bit of cole slaw.

Note: If you don’t have any spicy pulled chicken on hand, make a quick version- mix together 1/8 c sriracha and 1/8 c barbeque sauce and stir in 1 c shredded chicken. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so the flavors can get into the chicken.

Plays and Chicken

I can’t wait to be old. Then I can say whatever I want.

My medical school is known for a number of crazy traditions. One of them is the 2.5 hour long musical that we write, produce, and star in every year. This is far more involved than any high school production I ever did…and my high school theater group was not one to half-ass a production.

As with every tradition, this musical is made up of more traditions. The musical always features the “babe dance” and the “stud dance,” which feature the about-to-graduate girls and guys, with the guys always coming up with clever ways to show their muscles and take off all of their clothes so they are dancing in their underwear. There are also roles that appear every year…

The Giant Penis and the Giant Vagina (and, a more recent tradition…the Giant Anus…which is really more of a Butt, to be honest).

These obviously come with huge, handmade (honestly, I wonder whose mother made these, because they are quite hideous) puffy, life-sized costumes. You can see the actor’s face, as they have holes strategically cut out for that.

Now, before I get any further, I should take a moment to say that these are actually quite coveted roles- they always have a lot of lines and it’s some of the most over-the-top acting in the whole show.

My very first year of medical school, I got the role of the Giant Vagina, with some uproar (it’s normally a fourth year female going into gynecology…and that student was not the most happy that she didn’t get the part). My parents decided to come to the play, and I did have to warn them ahead of time that I would be wearing a huge, ugly vagina costume.

My parents took it quite well, but the unexpected call came from my grandfather.

Grampa: Hey honey.

Me: Hey Grampa!

Grampa: So I hear you’re going to play a huge vag?

I managed to eventually choke out a “yes” after I finally recovered from shock.

Costume Inspired Oven Beer Can Chicken

I don’t think I need any more explanation

Ingredients

  • 6 oz beer or some other liquid (soda works well, too)
  • 1 whole chicken (about 4 lbs)
  • 2 tbsp light butter
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • Garlic salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil spray

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using an empty soda or beer can, pour in your liquid of choice. Or, open a new can of your beverage of choice and drink half.
  3. Mix together butter, rosemary, paprika, garlic, and hot sauce.
  4. Using your fingers, make pockets between the skin and the meat of the chicken. Smear the butter mixture in these pockets. Try to cover as much of the chicken as you can.
  5. Spray the outside of the skin with the olive oil spray and sprinkle on the garlic salt and pepper.
  6. In an 8×8 in baking dish, place the can with the liquid in the center. Place the open end of the chicken over the can and use the drumsticks to almost create a tripod to stabilize the chicken.
  7. Place into the oven and roast for 1 hr 45 minutes to 2 hours or until juices run clear. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes before removing from can and carving.

Crying and Chicken and Dumplings

It can be hard to switch back to eating meat after being a vegetarian.

As I stated in an earlier post, I was a vegetarian for about six years. After I finally started eating meat again (the infamous ham incident in my family), I still couldn’t do anything to prepare it.

It was my freshman year of college and we had to go back a few days early. Now, the dining halls wouldn’t be open again until Monday morning, so we were on our own for food. My parents had gotten me a crock pot for Christmas, and before they left they thought they’d be nice and get me some groceries so I wouldn’t starve for two days. Those groceries included a whole chicken.

Back in my pre-vegetarian days, I had loved a crock-pot chicken roasted whole, so it made sense that my parents decided to buy this (also, chicken was on sale).

I set up my crock pot in the residence hall floor kitchen and then got out the chicken. Which is when I discovered the problem…

The chicken was too big for the crock pot.

Remember how I just said that I could again eat meat, but was unable to prepare it?

Yeah….so I had to cut up the whole chicken to fit it in the crock pot. Please understand that never before in my life had I cut up any sort of meat….which doesn’t totally explain what happened next, but I use it to justify it.

I started crying while cutting up the chicken. Let’s be honest- I was practically bawling. And I kept apologizing to the chicken in my upset state.

“Oh chicken, I’m so sorry. You’re so slimy and gross. And now I’m cutting off your wings. Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

You can imagine how shocked the guy I was dating at the time was when he walked into the room, expecting to see me competently making a roast chicken, and instead I was wailing and talking to a dead bird.

I really couldn’t blame the guy for bursting out laughing.

P.S. I can now butcher a chicken without crying, thank goodness.

Don’t Cry Over Me Chicken and Dumplings

does not induce tears to prepare

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c dry sherry
  • 5 1/2 c low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 small can reduced fat, low sodium cream of mushroom soup
  • 3 lbs chicken breasts or thighs, cooked and shredded or uncooked
  • 1/4 c water
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp poultry seasoning
  • 2 c Bisquick
  • 2/3 c fat free milk
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 4 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1/2 c fat free milk (optional)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. In a large pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onions are just translucent.
  2. Add in sherry, chicken broth, and cream of mushroom soup.
  3. If using raw chicken, add and simmer for 25-30 minutes until cooked.
  4. Removed chicken and cool, then shred. Add back into pot. Mixture should still be simmering.
  5. Mix together water and cornstarch, then add to pot and stir.  Add in poultry seasoning.
  6. In a separate bowl, mix together Bisquick, milk, parsley, chives, and pepper. Spoon onto top of mixture. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (the dumplings will break up a bit but that’s okay). Place lid on and simmer covered for an additional 10 minutes.  If mixture is becoming too thick before the dumplings are done, add up to 1/2 c milk (I normally have to do this).
  7. Salt and pepper to taste, then enjoy!

Again, this makes a lot of food, but it reheats quite well if you stir in 1-2 tbsp fat free milk halfway during the microwave process.

If I’m Going to Hell, I’m Taking These Wings

If you’re going to tell me I’m going to hell, you have to expect me to fight back.

It was a hot June day and a bunch of us were about to go tubing on the river located by our apartments. I was already decked out in my stars and stripes bikini (nothing wrong with being patriotic, y’all) and gathering up my stuff when my doorbell rang.

Now I had thought that I was supposed to meet my friend at her house, but maybe she was coming to mine instead? I couldn’t see who was outside so I just buzzed the person in, then opened my door to the knock.

Standing in my doorway were two men of God, carrying pamphlets about their meeting over the world ending soon. And they did not have happy looks on their faces upon seeing me.

Me: Hi there, can I help you?

Man #1: We just wanted to come here to save you and let you know that the world will be ending.

Me: Well thank you very much, but as you can see, I’m about to head out.

Man #2: (while sneering) Well that’s fine if you want to continue to damn yourself to hell with your current behavior, but if you want to be saved you’ll stay and listen to us.

As I previously said, I don’t take too kindly to this.

Me: Excuse me, sir, but I was raised Catholic and the first lessons you learn are that 1) God loves everyone and 2) we aren’t supposed to judge our fellow man, because God alone will judge us after we leave this earth. Therefore I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t tell me I’m going to hell, since that will be His decision, wouldn’t it?

I’ve never seen jaws drop as far as I did that time.  I then politely said goodbye and shut my door.

I’m finally off their mailing list for their seminars on the world ending, too.

Sinfully Delicious Hot Wings

if I’m going to hell, these are coming with me

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs chicken wings, tips discarded and wings separated (or just buy drummettes, like I did)
  • 4 c water
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil spray
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne
  • 4 tbsp beer jelly
  • 4 tbsp sriracha

How-to

  1. Mix together water, salt, white wine vinegar, and crushed red pepper flakes.
  2. Place chicken into a gallon size ziplock bag and pour mixture on top. Brine for at least 3 hours- I did mine overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
  4. Remove chicken from brining liquid and dry off with a paper towel. Place on a roasting pan with a rack, or onto a cookie sheet with an oven-safe cooling rack placed on top of it (you can just place in a roasting dish, but you’ll get crispier chicken this way).
  5. Spray chicken with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is starting to look crispy.
  6. Mix together beer jelly (I haven’t tried it, but you could also sub in another type of jelly- I’d probably recommend cherry for a good flavor profile) and sriracha. Remove wings from oven and brush mixture onto each wing. Return to oven for an additional 10 minutes.
  7. Let cool 5 minutes to give the coating a chance to set, then enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce (I prefer ranch).

By brining overnight with the crushed red pepper flakes and then coating in the sriracha, both the outside and the actual meat are spicy. If you like yours hotter, just use more sriracha and less beer jelly.

Dating Disasters and Cold Weather Chowders

I have had many disastrous dates.  However, one guy has the prize for committing so many errors in just one evening.

It is partially my fault, since I hesitantly agreed to this date. I should have listened to my gut feeling…but I thought I’d be nice, give the guy a chance, and agreed.

I was slightly confused when he picked me up and his dog was in the car.  Now, this date was in winter, and I don’t know that many people who let their dog chill in their car when it’s cold outside in Michigan.

Surprise #1: “Sorry the dog is in here- I have to drop her off at my parents’ house before dinner.”

When we arrived at their house, I then had surprise #2– his mother and father both came running outside to meet me.

“Oh, you must be Megan!  We have heard so much about you and we are SOOOO happy to meet you!!!”

Now, I don’t like to meet parents until I have been dating a guy for a while, and I certainly don’t like to meet parents while on the first date.  I also barely knew this guy, and the fact that his parents had already “heard so much about” me was a bit alarming.

When we finally arrived at the restaurant, surprise #3 was right around the corner. “I really want to get married within the next year, and you seem perfect.”

And the piece de resistance, surprise #4. “So it looks like I forgot my wallet at home.  You can pay for your dinner and mine. After all, you’re going to be a rich doctor some day.”

Now I realize that mistakes happen, but at least say that.  I normally offer to pay for my half of the meal, but don’t tell me to pay for your dinner, too. And second, just because I’m going to be a doctor some day, does not mean that I don’t currently have over $250,000 in debt from medical school.

If you’re wondering, after mistake #4, I paid for my half of the meal and called a friend to come pick me up…I figured that he could call his parents to come bail him out instead. 😉

Skip the Date and Stay Indoors Spicy Corn and Pepper Chowder

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 2 bell peppers, diced (I prefer red)
  • 1 bag frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 c cooked chicken, shredded (optional)
  • 2 c chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 c skim milk
  • 1/2 c salsa
  • 5 tbsp tabasco sauce
  • 2 tbsp fat-free greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch

How-to

  1. In a large stockpot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent.
  2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients except for the cornstarch and cook over medium heat for 20-30 minutes or until bell peppers and corn are tender.
  3. Mix cornstarch in 1/4 c cold water and mix into the chowder.  Cook for an additional 10 minutes until thick and creamy.