Diced, Sliced, and Chopped

What was it, Friday night that I started to feel “dodgy”? All I know is that I was sitting there on the couch, minding my own business and eating ice cream out of the container (per usual)…

When all of a sudden
There ‘rose such a clatter
I clutched my po’ belly
To see what was the matter

Vice-like waves of cramping
From sternum to back
Had me bitching and moaning
Like a housewife on crack

“What’s WRONG?!” cried my husband
Grabbing my Ben and Jerry
I guessed it was reflux
The only condition I carry

I popped down some Nexium
and, for good measure, Tums
While Chris finished my ice cream
leaving nothing but crumbs

We went up to bed
I thought I’d sleep it off
But I woke up shortly later
racked with dry heaves and cough

The pain was back fiercely
And my head was a fog
My new bed was the bathroom floor
My new pillow was my dog

I grabbed my iPhone
Which was close by, what luck!
But the answer was grim
My appendix; ah, fuck!!

Eventually I crawled
Back over to the bed
Looked at my sleeping angel of a husband
And straight cold-cocked his head

He woke with a start
To see what was the matter
I told him my appendix
Seemed about ready to splatter

We got dressed in a flash
He was cute and concerned
I was tight-lipped and bitchy
As my belly, it burned

We drove to the hospital
I was admitted quickly *shock*
Apparently this is a perk
Of being the sick wife of a doc

They put an IV in my arm
(I don’t tolerate needles in my hand)
They hopped me up on pain meds
I got a shiny, white wristband

A mix of residents and doctors
Paraded past my bed
They asked me stupid questions
And one looked pretty inbred

Guess which one examined me?
Was it a smart, attractive filly?
NO! You’re right! It wasn’t!
I was assigned Dr. Squidbilly!

I prayed he just LOOKED stupid
But was quick just like a fox.
Then he examined my appendix
By shining a light in my box

My appendix is up in my abdomen
This guy was clearly a fool
Unless there’s a secret trapdoor
That you learn about in medical school

Once my girl-bits were deemed to be healthy
I had one basic choice to make
Either “waste time” getting a CAT scan
Or go home because my symptoms were fake

At this point my husband stepped in
Told Dr. Dork that he’d had enough
I was wheeled off to wait for my CAT scan
And made to drink some Godawful stuff

The CAT scan proved the obvious
My appendix was fit to be fried
And if I’d gone home per recommendation
It could have exploded and I might have died

So I waited a few painful hours
And then I went under the laparoscopic knife
While Chris sat in the waiting room
Kind of excited a robot was operating on his wife

When I came to I thought I was dying
So much pain, though clearly out of danger
And then they hooked up the drugs
I was a Mighty Morphine Power Ranger


So that’s basically how my weekend went. Lots of hospital stupidity, then surgery performed by a robot, then laying around the hospital seeing how high I could get the levels of morphine in my blood via a creative pain-ranking system, then being openly hostile to anyone who tried to make off with more of my blood, then refusing to eat hospital food and subsisting solely on a diet of sugar-free jello and Twizzlers Pull N’ Peel, then more convalescence.

Apparently you have to do something unpleasant with your bowels to be released after an abdominal surgery, but I am pleased to *honestly* report that I am the first person I’ve ever heard of who managed to get out of this requirement. So I was sent home with my dignity and ladylike-ness intact, much to Chris’s outrage. He thought it was vaguely irresponsible that they let me off the hook so easily, but I’d like to point out that this is the self-same hospital that tried to send me home with appendicitis after giving me some morphine and a pelvic exam.

The last few days have been so frustrating for me that I might explode from boredom and pent up energy. I can’t lift anything, can’t go jogging, can’t drive because of the drugs, can’t fit into any of my clothes because my belly is swollen up like a pregnant lady, can’t do ANYTHING. Sucks.

So Chris came up with the idea of doing a home version of the Food Network show “Chopped” (bless his heart). For those of you who have lives of your own, and don’t depend on tawdry reality tv to fill your time, Chopped is a show wherein four chefs are selected to compete for $10,000. They have three rounds, and in each round they’re given a set of mystery ingredients and a time limit. They have that time, those ingredients, plus any additional ingredients from the set “pantry”, to come up with a dish to present the judges. There’s an appetizer round (three ingredients), a main course round (four ingredients) and a dessert round (three ingredients). At the end of each round, a contestant gets “chopped” by the judging panel and has to go home. The last person standing is the winner. And the mystery ingredients are usually totally effed up. Like, for example, strawberries, turkey, and gummi bears will be handed out to make an appetizer.

So here’s how our home version of “Chopped” went:

Appetizer Round: Chorizo, red plums, and fresh green beans

What did I make? Chorizo “nachos” with sweet onion, green bean, and red plum salsa.

How was it? It was okay. I mean…plums and chorizo? WTF, Chris? But we both ate ours, and it was determined that I had not been chopped. Chris set up a judging system wherein I was competing against the computer. He’d google the three ingredients he’d picked, click on the first entry, and tell me if my food sounded better than the option on the computer. In this case, the computer only used two of the ingredients (chorizo and green beans) so I won for following the rules.

Chris is an excellent commentator, BTW. And he hustles in to clean up between rounds, so that helps, too.

Main Course Round: beef country ribs, pale ale, chiles and…potato buds?

What did I make? Chili con carne and potato biscuits with honey butter

How was it? Damned good, if I must say. The meat choice was designed to give me a headache, since it can’t be cooked in 30 minutes, but I did my best with a superfast braise. It was tender enough to chew without major difficulty, and the flavor with the ale and the chocolate I added was fantastic. The chiles lent a solid bite, and it had a hearty consistency. The biscuits were the real sleeper. I’ve never made biscuits without using some sort of measurement reference, but these were just thrown together with half flour and half potato buds, a liberal pinch of baking powder, several tablespoons of cold butter and some milk. The potato buds made them more buttery, somehow, and the crust was crisp with a really tender crumb. I soaked them in honey butter, which brightened the outlook considerably. I was almost able to forget I was eating potato buds…I didn’t get chopped, because computer made a green chili with potato dumplings that Chris said “fell apart like an oil slick.” He’s got a vivid imagination.

Dessert Course Round: maple flavored granola, navel oranges, and mascarpone

What did I make? A big freakin’ mess. You could call it mascarpone griddle cakes with maple oranges and buttered granola.

How was it? Again, a big freakin’ mess. I had started out making mini cheesecakes with granola crust and sauteed orange topping. This was NOT going to work in the time frame allotted, so with 1 minute remaining, I pulled it from the oven, dumped it into a bowl, crust and all (also dumped a goodly portion into my utensil drawer by accident), stirred in some flour, and fried them up in a pan like griddle cakes. All in all, it sucked. Huge failure. The computer was weak-ass, too, but I wanted to cry at the waste of a full container of mascarpone.

Fortunately, I had a good showing throughout the meal and beat the computer by a few inches, according to Host Chris. And instead of winning $10,000, pretend style, Chris actually awarded me a surprise gift—


It was designed to cheer me up since I’m an invalid right now and can’t exercise or go anywhere, and it worked. Sometimes I can’t believe how sweet he is, and the little things he thinks of. It gets me all teary-eyed, but that could just be the meds.

I already asked Alinea if I can bring the book when we visit next month, and they said both that I can, and that Achatz will be there to sign it. Swoon.

I’ve got some serious experimentation to do. Not with Achatz, but with the book. Obviously. I’m married.

12 thoughts on “Diced, Sliced, and Chopped”

  1. Only you, Kristie. ONLY YOU would get out of surgery and compete in a standing-for-hours-and-beating-the-clock type cooking competition. Crazy woman.

    I think there's something wrong with me, because when I saw the chorizo, plum and green beans, I thought, "chorizo and plum – yum! Oh, and green beens. Yeesh."

    And you're going back for another shot of Alinea? I shouldn't read things that make me jealous so early in the morning.

  2. Wow! So trying to compete with Grant Achatz and Michael Caines in the seriously ill and disabled cooking stakes, eh? I'm very impressed that you could think about food under such circumstances. Hope you're feeling better.

  3. yeah…apparently after you push a human being out of your lady parts, the doctors will refuse to let you go home until you poop… so I guess that's a reason to not have kids.

  4. Yay Alinea!! I helped two young women shop for mystery ingredients that are ACTUALLY going to be featured on the show on an upcoming season. It was pretty sweet and I tried to call you while at work. (A few weeks back). They ended up with something fucked up like raw crawfish, soy-based ice cream, and some kind of cous cous I think. I miss you and can't wait to see you! (P.S. We finished the three mile in 33:42 today). Getting ready for that Turkey Trot!

  5. I guess you're lucky Obama's health care plan hasn't been passed. Or you might have died before they could figure out if you were elibable for surgery!

  6. I'm completely fascinated by molecular gastronomy. But as a newbie foodie who's just starting to get into (mild) experimentation with recipes I find around the net, I get excited about even little things like "there are different kinds of pepper? Cool!". I bet the Alinea cookbook is amazing!

    And I'm glad you're feeling well enough to be up and cooking things! Looking forward to more adventures in gastronomy! Does the cookbook have the PB&J; recipe that involves a grape encased in PB and brioche? Things like that would be really fun to try.

  7. MY Alinea book is already signed.

    I will try to send you that bacon recipe soon, but since I didn't- you know- use a recipe, I'm not sure there's much to tell.

    I was also totally going to write you a rhyming comment, but I'm just too tired to come up with anything. Glad you're back, and feeling better.

  8. Oh, anonymous…you're back. Fantastic. Maybe you can tell me what "elibable" means, as I'm curious. If you can take a break from being sanctimonious and trying to make unattractive and closed-minded children long enough to do something productive, I'd advise you to actually read the healthcare plan, if you're going to insist on spouting out about it on food blogs. 'Cuz you're uneducated. Just sayin'.

  9. OMG, I know! And I've heard he's a Nazi. And a fascist. And a socialist. And a communist. And a nudist. It's frankly amazing they've allowed him the right to vote, let alone the right to be voted into office.

  10. Ooh, plus, I also read that Obama broke into a police station using his African Blackness as a cover, sentenced the elderly guard to euthanasia by firing squad, and stole Vincent Foster's shredded "suicide" note, then forged his birth certificate on the back of one of the shreds, using the blood of innocents for INK. It's totally effed up.

    We're basically the laughingstock of Russia. I should know. I can see them from my house. All of them.

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