Archive for February, 2011

fish tacos

Fish tacos are sort of a staple around here. You should eat them at your house too!

To my mind there are a couple of types of fish tacos.. One type that uses pretty pricey steaky fish, grilled, and then broken up and drizzled with lime, etc. Delicious. These are the other kind. Cheap fish, breaded and fried, and served with a little chipotle mayo. Also delicious.

The fish I use is Swai or Basa. I haven’t done much research, but my guess is that they’re the same thing. Just cheap white fish that’s good fried up.

To bread them, I use a mix of zizzed up panko and corn meal, with a good bit of cumin and black pepper. That’s it. Bread them and deep fry them in small batches just like you did with the calamari.

I usually serve them with some salsa, some quick pickled red onion, avocado, cilantro, and naturally, roasted poblanos.

Salsa:  Grape tomatoes work well in the winter when big tomatoes are terrible..  little diced red onion, little diced jalapeno, lime juice.   ta da.

Poblanos:  Roast them on open flame until the skin chars, then put them in a plastic bag to sweat for while.  When they’ve cooled down they’ll be easy to peel.  Peel them apart, core them, slice them up.

Onions:  Slice them thin across the grain, and add a little sherry vinegar and salt.  That’s it.  Do this at least 45 minutes before you eat so they can pickle a bit.

Chipotle mayo:  Goya and other companies like them, sell canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce.  Perfect.  A few chiles diced up with whatever adobo is hanging on, mixed into some mayo makes great sauce for fish!

Slice the avocados and drizzle them with a little lime so they don’t go brown.  Heat the tortillas (fresh CORN tortillas) over the open flame (there’s a trick here.  Do it in batches of four.  Each time you flip, flip the whole stack, then the top two, then the top one.  This will eventually expose each surface..  The other trick is asbestos fingers, which I am quickly loosing to erbitux!)

That’s it.  All you need to know.  It’s not high brow food..  It’s just really tasty, particularly in the summer, but really any time you want.  Yesterday we decided we wanted.  Enjoy.

Things are fine

I’m writing to reassure you all that I am quite all right.  I received a flood of encouraging comments and emails after my last post.  Thank you all so much.  It really does mean the world to me to have your voices coming through the ether with encouragement, support, love.  I’m not sure what it was exactly about that last post that elicited such a strong reaction, but I want to assure you all that I am fine.

What I am going through is hell.  There’s no question about it.  This has proved MUCH harder than the last time I went through this shit.  And yet, happily, time relentlessly continues to pass, bringing each next treatment around seemingly a little faster than the last.  Before I know it, it’ll be done.  5 treatments left.  The next one starting in just 4 days.  The list of strange side effects continues to grow.  The aches and pains get worse, and last longer.  But I don’t want any of you to mistake the documentation of these for a feeling of defeat on my part.  I have my moments, for sure, when I’m pretty sure that the treatment is killing me..  But that’s the point.  It’s sorta supposed to kill you, but not QUITE.  My eyes are on the prize.  Make no mistake.  I am calm, and resolute.  I WILL finish this course of treatment.. and I WILL over a period of time recover from it.  Whether or not it leaves me cured seems to be largely a matter of chance, but we can hope.

In the mean time, a cannot stress just how much I’m loving my life despite it all.  Over the last few days, my bff and college room mate, Kim, came to visit, and we had a wonderful time.  Yesterday, despite mouth sores, we went on a little cheap spicy food walking tour.  I wanted to show her some of the gems that I’ve discovered living here in NYC.  We started at the highline just to have a nice stroll.. what a beautiful park..  even in the winter.  Then ambled down through the west village and into soho to make a stop at La Esquina/The Corner Deli, which has the best tacos that I’ve found in NYC.

I recommend both the Cochinita Pibil, and the Tinga de pollo.

We then wandered down into China town and stopped at a Malaysian place called Jaya.  Jaya has what I feel is the greatest appetizer in the city.  For $2.50 they bring you Roti Canai.  A big fried roti with a little bowl of some of the best malaysian chicken curry you can imagine.  Have it with a cheap Chinese beer, and you will be with the one you love.  When it came I was so excited to eat it that I didn’t take a picture, so all I have is a shot of the aftermath..

We did shopping for dinner at my favorite little Thai Market and then made our way to the most incredible food deal you can imagine.  Xi’an Famous Foods.  It’s a Western Chinese noddle stall under the Manhattan bridge, with standing room for two, that pulls noodles while you wait and serves them with combinations that most westerners wouldn’t recognize as Chinese.  With lots of influence from the western borders, this stuff is filled with cumin and other spices that you generally think of as Indian or Middle Eastern.  We shared a massive $6 plate of noodles with brazed lamb and cumin.

The whole event burned the hell out of my mouth sores, but was totally worth it.  We managed to walk just under 5 miles, which for me these days is actually a piece of exercise.  Had to come home and nap with the dog for a while before cooking dinner!  I made lap, sticky rice, and some really good tom kha (just to continue the assault on my mouth).  Sorry..  again no pictures or video.  Too happy just to be with friends spending time in the kitchen.

Today I will rest.  In the evening I’ll see if I can muster up the energy to shoot a cooking video.  No idea what’s for dinner, but the request lines are open until I go do the food shopping.

this week

Writing mostly because I’m feeling the need to update. After a promising start, this week ended up being pretty tough. Monday night’s experience with the addition of Motrin horse pills, and what felt like successful management of the pain, left me feeling pretty optimistic about the week.  So optimistic that Wednesday I went straight from being unplugged to the pool hall to play a truncated afternoon with Jeremiah.  I went prepared.  I took pain meds with me.  Around the middle of the afternoon I felt the pain setting in, and nipped it in the bud with meds.  Played very well for the rest of the afternoon, and went home feeling pretty tired.  Made Hill some beautiful shrimp green curry, and got ready for an early night.  Went to bed exhausted and then managed to go the whole night without sleeping at all.  Around midnight, pain set in like it had something to prove, and I couldn’t really get on top of it.  I wrote some emails and watched the clock until it said 6:00 and I felt I could get up and make myself some coffee.

Poor hill was so distracted by my restlessness that SHE couldn’t sleep, and ended up moving to the guest room.

Rather than give you the blow by blow of the rest of the week, I’ll sum up by saying that the pain is under slightly more control with the addition of Motrin, but that I ended up spending as many days in bed with Putney as I did last round and have finished the week feeling just as much like an emptied out shell.

My nose is in pretty serious trouble.  I can’t blow it without triggering a nose bleed.  I have a feeling that the erbitux is really wreaking havoc.  Yesterday I could feel its side effects flaring up (strange, when I recieved the dose all the way back on tuesday!) and this morning I woke up with a mouth full of sores.  Boooooring.  (there’s some solace in knowing that any little cancer cells that are floating around my body are probably suffering from some pretty bad insomnia and mouth sores too..   screw ‘em!)

I hate this pattern of bringing you ever more pitiful news.  I sometimes hesitate to write at all, and yet the point is to document this bloody process.

Meanwhile, strangely, I find that I am ever more aware of just how much I love my life.  My mind is going at warp speed with ideas..  I’m excited about getting back to building bikes, but also about lots of other things. I love making these food videos!  I’ve got some music video work coming up that’s awfully exciting.  There are things that I want to write, pieces of hardware that I want to design. Places I want to go..  and yet I’m falling asleep writing this entry.  I’m beat.  I’m tired.  I hurt.  It is unbelievably frustrating.

Tonight I will make fish cakes.

by the tail

So this round is off to a strange start. I never really recovered last round. Never got back to the baseline that I expect. The best I felt was Sunday night, right before having to start up again, when I put on my wedding suit, my only suit, and took Hill out to dinner for valentines day. We share a bank account.. Maybe she took me out! Hard to know. We had a lovely time at Il Posto Accanto, a quiet little wine bar that serves food out of the kitchen of the italian restaurant next door. It’s a beautiful little menu full of well prepared bites.

I was really dreading this round because last round was so hard. I’ve been anxiously waiting to see if the worsening trend continues, or if maybe the thing has peaked and will flatten out, or start to ease off. It started out all right. The oxaliplatin didn’t hit quite as hard and fast as usual. Most times, withing 20 minutes of it starting to drip I can feel it. Hard to describe what I’m feeling exactly.. chemo brain setting in, gurgling in the stomach, general flu like symptoms, etc..

The pain that I’ve been complaining about, however, started a little earlier than it did last round, and by the time I was walking home, it had ramped up to the worst I’ve felt it. FAST. From nothing to VERY severe over the span of about an hour and a quarter. Special Ed walked me across the park and then rode his bike home while I got on the train. The pain continued to develop. Rocket ship trajectory.. just worse and worse. By the time I got home I wasn’t sure if I’d ever been in more pain. The strange thing is that it was cracking me up. I couldn’t stop laughing. Almost like the pain was so severe that I was having some sort of out of body experience.. observing the pain from outside, and laughing at the absurdity of how fast it had come. I was in a GREAT mood. Feeling no nausea whatsoever! I took a couple of oxycodone and some extra strength motrin and lay down in bed. Still laughing and having a great time. It took about 45 minutes for the stuff to kick in, but when it did, it worked. Pain gone. Vanished. The new element is the motrin. My doc had the thought that if this pain was somehow inflammation related that narcotics might not do as good a job as an anti-inflammatory. Good thinking, doc!

At around eight I peeled myself out of bed and actually cooked for the girls! The first time that I’ve managed to cook on a treatment monday. It was almost as though the pain came in swinging for the fences, and knocked every other side effect right out of the park. So when the pain was under control, nothing else was left. Hallelujah! Chicken and Gai lan with black bean sauce!

Pain started to surge again after dinner. More drugs. I slept pretty well. It’s there again this moring, but manageable. No nausea still. If the motrin horse pills continue to keep the pain under control, this could turn out to be a much easier round than last. Fingers crossed!

I’ll go in again this morning, for day two of drip drip. Day two starts with benadryl, which usually knocks me right out. A nice nap while he pushes in the erbitux and leukovorin.

I’m feeling optimistic. I’m not interested in loosing another two weeks to this treatment. Hoping like hell that this round I manage to be more productive than the last.

soup

Thought I was feeling so much better. Really felt that I had this round by the tail finally.
I went on wednesday to spend my day at the pool hall with Jeremiah. I felt so happy to be walking in to the place, but then nothing really happened. I was distracted, couldn’t concentrate, foggy. My eyes have been burning (erbitux, I think), and that didn’t help. By the end of the day I was busted.
Spent yesterday in bed doing my book keeping for the year. Felt pretty tired and wretched. The pain is pretty well gone, but I think that last week really took a toll on me. Just adds insult to injury that after loosing a week to intense pain, you get to loose another to the exhaustion that it caused. Having a very hard time believing that in just a few days I have to go in for another treatment. I’m frustrated. I don’t mean to sound morose, but I liked it more when I had a couple of lousy days, and then a little over a week of feeling pretty good. This round is for the birds. Better luck next week, I guess.

Last night it was clear that I needed liquids in me. Hot ones. Probably flavored like chickens. So I made some soup. Asian confusion soup with pork and chive dumplings, sauteed baby bok choy, and pea shoots. So good. Just what I needed.

calamari

This last week was real hell.  After my last post, I spent another 3 days flat on my back on pain meds.  Unreal. I finally began to emerge on sunday, and yesterday, just in time for my top up appointment, I was feeling pretty well.  Well enough that I decided to shoot a little video last night while I cooked.

When I walked into the office yesterday my doc said “I have news for you,” ominously as he passed to go see another patient.  When it was my turn he announced that over the weekend he had done some research on the pain.  That it was NOT the oxaliplatin on its own.  BUT that oxaliplatin in conjunction with 5FU and luekovorin DID cause pain in a certain percentage of patients.  What sort of pain was not made clear in the study.  I feel I should point out to you here that this particular drug cocktail is very common.  Common enough to have a name.  It’s called Folfox, and almost all colon cancer cases are treated with it.   The notion that you have to look for some obscure study to find a list of the synergistic side effects of the cocktail as a whole seems crazy.  Anyway.  The pain is there.  It’s been getting worse each round for the last 4.  We’re going to try to treat it with extra strength Motrin instead of oxycodone (I have my doubts).  We’re also going cross our fingers/pray/wish/hope etc.. that it just goes away.

Last night I made a little calamari as an appetizer for dinner and thought I should throw up a video and some instructions.

Calamari is cheap and easy.  Usually there won’t be any leftover.

It’s an ultimate salt and pepper don’t fuck it up type dish.

Rinse and strain the calamari.

Cut up the tubes into 3/8″ or so rings.  I prefer the tentacles, myself, and so I often send Hillary to the fish counter, since she’s far better looking than me and twice as charming.  She usually manages to come away with about 80% tentacle.  Nice. The tentacles, you can leave whole.  Press them to the bottom of the colander to get as much moisture out of them as possible.

Dredge all the bits in a mix of all purpose flour, salt, pepper, and some dried parsley..  I don’t typically keep dried herbs around.  They all taste the same to me (maybe with the exception of dried mexican oregano, which I usually do have on hand).  Fresh parsley will work fine..  Just dice it up fine and dry it out in the oven for a while so that it doesn’t gum up the dredging mix.

Toss the dredged bits into some nice hot oil, stir occaisionally, and remove when they’re a satisfying brown.  Drain on brown paper.

I like to serve them with a little aioli, or I guess to be accurate, flavored mayonnaise.  In this case I did one with mashed garlic and pepper (oh oh..   learn to mash garlic.  It’s in the video.  First slice it as thin as you are able.  Then put some salt on it.  The salt acts as an abrasive.  Using the side of the knife edge, mash it into the counter top.  This takes just a little practice, but once you’ve got it down, you can reduce a clove of garlic into super nice oily garlic paste in about 30 seconds flat).  The other was mixed with a little Patak’s garlic pickle.  Outstanding stuff.  Great on sandwiches.

That’s it.  You’re done.  Serve it on a bed of salad to make it look cute.  And maybe have it with some soup that you made for lunch the day before. This is the sort of thing that people often get at restaurants.. don’t bother.  It’s easy to do at home, and is almost free (I believe this was about $4 of squid, maybe less).

ATTENTION!!  My brother is playing at poisson rouge tonight.  It’s a new series he’s doing where he invites friends who happen to be in town to join him on stage and play some of his music, some of theirs.  The first one, last month, was great.  This one promises to be as well.  The official guests are Justin Bond (who if you don’t know, is the grande damme of NYC cabaret, and a beautiful soul), and the Poison Tree (Steve Salett’s new band..  formerly head man of King of France, and one of the truly great song writers out there).  Though it’s not published, I happen to know that our pals Glen Hansard and Samamidon will also be playing.  So if you’re not busy tonight, come join us! Get tickets. It will sell out.

Ok. Thank you all for your words of encouragement this last bunch of days. I was stuck in a pretty bleak place, but am really feeling much better now. Can’t promise I won’t spend a little time horizontal this afternoon in order to make it to the show tonight.

calamari

This last week was real hell.  After my last post, I spent another 3 days flat on my back on pain meds.  Unreal. I finally began to emerge on sunday, and yesterday, just in time for my top up appointment, I was feeling pretty well.  Well enough that I decided to shoot a little video last night while I cooked.

When I walked into the office yesterday my doc said “I have news for you,” ominously as he passed to go see another patient.  When it was my turn he announced that over the weekend he had done some research on the pain.  That it was NOT the oxaliplatin on its own.  BUT that oxaliplatin in conjunction with 5FU and luekovorin DID cause pain in a certain percentage of patients.  What sort of pain was not made clear in the study.  I feel I should point out to you here that this particular drug cocktail is very common.  Common enough to have a name.  It’s called Folfox, and almost all colon cancer cases are treated with it.   The notion that you have to look for some obscure study to find a list of the synergistic side effects of the cocktail as a whole seems crazy.  Anyway.  The pain is there.  It’s been getting worse each round for the last 4.  We’re going to try to treat it with extra strength Motrin instead of oxycodone (I have my doubts).  We’re also going cross our fingers/pray/wish/hope etc.. that it just goes away.

Last night I made a little calamari as an appetizer for dinner and thought I should throw up a video and some instructions.

Calamari is cheap and easy.  Usually there won’t be any leftover.

It’s an ultimate salt and pepper don’t fuck it up type dish.

Rinse and strain the calamari.

Cut up the tubes into 3/8″ or so rings.  I prefer the tentacles, myself, and so I often send Hillary to the fish counter, since she’s far better looking than me and twice as charming.  She usually manages to come away with about 80% tentacle.  Nice. The tentacles, you can leave whole.  Press them to the bottom of the colander to get as much moisture out of them as possible.

Dredge all the bits in a mix of all purpose flour, salt, pepper, and some dried parsley..  I don’t typically keep dried herbs around.  They all taste the same to me (maybe with the exception of dried mexican oregano, which I usually do have on hand).  Fresh parsley will work fine..  Just dice it up fine and dry it out in the oven for a while so that it doesn’t gum up the dredging mix.

Toss the dredged bits into some nice hot oil, stir occaisionally, and remove when they’re a satisfying brown.  Drain on brown paper.

I like to serve them with a little aioli, or I guess to be accurate, flavored mayonnaise.  In this case I did one with mashed garlic and pepper (oh oh..   learn to mash garlic.  It’s in the video.  First slice it as thin as you are able.  Then put some salt on it.  The salt acts as an abrasive.  Using the side of the knife edge, mash it into the counter top.  This takes just a little practice, but once you’ve got it down, you can reduce a clove of garlic into super nice oily garlic paste in about 30 seconds flat).  The other was mixed with a little Patak’s garlic pickle.  Outstanding stuff.  Great on sandwiches.

That’s it.  You’re done.  Serve it on a bed of salad to make it look cute.  And maybe have it with some soup that you made for lunch the day before. This is the sort of thing that people often get at restaurants.. don’t bother.  It’s easy to do at home, and is almost free (I believe this was about $4 of squid, maybe less).

ATTENTION!!  My brother is playing at poisson rouge tonight.  It’s a new series he’s doing where he invites friends who happen to be in town to join him on stage and play some of his music, some of theirs.  The first one, last month, was great.  This one promises to be as well.  The official guests are Justin Bond (who if you don’t know, is the grande damme of NYC cabaret, and a beautiful soul), and the Poison Tree (Steve Salett’s new band..  formerly head man of King of France, and one of the truly great song writers out there).  Though it’s not published, I happen to know that our pals Glen Hansard and Samamidon will also be playing.  So if you’re not busy tonight, come join us! Get tickets. It will sell out.

Ok. Thank you all for your words of encouragement this last bunch of days. I was stuck in a pretty bleak place, but am really feeling much better now. Can’t promise I won’t spend a little time horizontal this afternoon in order to make it to the show tonight.

narcotic dayz

The most difficult side effect over the last handful of rounds has been pretty severe joint pain.  It seems to radiate from the upper spine, and effects my arms.. elbows, wrists.  It’s a dull but constant ache.  For a moment or two, not so bad, but after 24, 36 hours it gets exhausting.  Last round, it set in on the thursday following treatment and persisted through the weekend.  I feel I probably mentioned it in a previous post.  I had an MRI of the spine, and it revealed what I already knew.  I have a couple of herniated disks in my upper spine from bouncing around on my head when I was teaching dance.  They flare up now and then, but the quality of this pain is something quite different.

This round had a pretty promising start.  The pain set in immediately instead of waiting until Thursday, and Monday night I didn’t manage to sleep at all.  I went into the office on tuesday and got a dose of benadryl as usual to go with the erbitux, and it knocked me out beautifully.  I slept soundly while getting dripped for close to three hours.  I walked back through the park feeling quite a lot better.  The pain had subsided and I thought maybe that was it for the week.  Yesterday, though, it came back with pistolas blazing.  Today I’m in a lot of pain.  I got out of bed this morning, and got as far as the bathroom..  Took some oxycodone and went back to bed.  The stuff puts me in blissed out daze, which beats the pain for sure, but makes me pretty useless.  Finally got up and started moving around at about 11, filled an Etsy order, ate some lunch, and now the dope has worn off..  at least the part of it that does anything for the pain.  I’ve just taken some more and am planning to head back to bed.  I’m hoping against hope that this isn’t something that will just get worse with each round.

Despite all that, I managed to make dinner for 9 last night, and went to see Glen perform at the City Winery.  It was a late show, but totally worth it (He wrote me a song and performed it, and broke my heart a little.   What a thing).  Also worth mentioning that this round marks the half way point!  Just three more bloody months to go.

All right.  I’m taking my dog, and I’m going to bed.