Davak's Smoked and Pulled Chicken

September 25th, 2008

I am not a chicken fan… unless it is smoked. I hate chicken salad. But make it with smoked chicken, and I’m in heaven. Chicken sandwich–I’ll eat only if I am pretending to be healthy. A pulled smoked chicken sandwich will always make me happy.

By it’s very nature, chicken is just not very favorable. In other recipes I often brine it to improve the taste. However, smoking chicken just makes it magical.

Davak’s Pulled, Smoked Chicken

1 Chicken with skin (at least halved, but pieces will do)


2 cloves garlic
1.5 tablespoons of Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon of oregano
1½ tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
Several sprigs of Rosemary
10 grinds of salt
10 grinds of black pepper
¾ to 1 cup of Olive Oil

Smoking materials:

1 can of pineapple juice
1 beer

This is typically a two day process.

Prepare and wash chicken. Halving the chicken speeds up smoking time and increases surface area for the marinade. Pieces of chicken can be used as well but will cook faster.

Prepare marinade in food processor or whisk wet ingredients into dry ones. The resulting mixture will be thick and sticky. Place marinade in plastic bags with chicken parts and ensure that chicken is well covered. Let sit for 4-6 hours in refrigerator. Every hour squeeze bag around and reposition.

One hour prior to initiation of smoking, start soaking wood chips/chunks of various sizes in water. 30 minutes prior to smoking, light charcoal in chimney starter. 15 minutes prior to smoking, start heating beer and pineapple juice to almost boiling. 5 minutes before smoking take chicken out of refrigerator and bury thermometer probe in the thickest area of meat without touching bone.

Initate smoking by doing the following in rapid sequence: Put white, lit charcoal in smoker. Cover fire with well drained, but soaked wood chips and chunks. Fill liquid reservoir in smoker with warmed beer/pineapple juice mixture. Place chicken in smoker, connect temperature probe, and securely close the smoker.

Smoke at least two hours and my goal smoking time is three hours. Pull off once internal temperature is 165 degrees F. If chicken is having a hard time reaching goal temperature, finish in oven at 300 degrees F. While in oven, keep wrapped tightly in aluminum foil to prevent drying. Once goal temperature is reached, take out and let rest until cool enough to pull apart.

Serve warm.

To add additional flavor, pull the chicken but leave the majority of the bones and skin. Allow to rest overnight in the refrigerator before finishing the pulling the next day by removing everything except the meat. We frequently will smoke several chicken at a time and freeze any extra meat.

Serving suggestions include sandwiches, chicken salad, chicken pesto pasta, or as a pizza topping.

Davak's Salsa Fresca

September 25th, 2008

If you liked my BBQ sauce, I bet you’ll love my salsa. The lime juice and cilantro power it with freshness.

Davak’s Salsa Fresca

6-8 Roma Tomatoes (cored, seeded)
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup of sweet onion
1 clove of garlic (diced)
1 bunch cilantro (no stems, leaves only)
1 jalapeno (seeded and diced)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2-3 tablespoons of lime juice
Cumin, Chile Powder, Salt, Pepper

Quick method:

The quick method is to throw all the prepared ingredients (minus lime juice and spices) into a food processor and blend. Based on personal taste, add lime juice and finish it with a generous amount of the spices. The flavor is wonderful. My only knock is that the salsa will be green from the cilantro and without much texture. Let rest for at least one hour and re-season before serving.

Slower method:

Wash and remove stems from cilantro. Chop cilantro finely. Chop onion finely. Sauté or rest onion in ice water to remove bitterness. Mix the prepared ingredients and flavor it with lime juice and spices as described above. Let rest for at least one hour and re-season before serving.

This method yields a much prettier red salsa with chunks of tomato and bits of onion and jalapeno. The bitterness of the onion is much more apparent when not blended; thus the need for the sauté or ice water step. The cilantro’s green littering of the salsa is visually very appealing.


Since Santa brought little A an aquarium a few years ago, I have been learning tons about caring for freshwater tropical fish. After our initial struggles, our fish now typically live as long as expected. Our experiments with aquarium plants, however, have gone less well.

Java moss did fine but was a mess. Java ferns and other “beginner” plants died, died, and died. I tried all the plant-friendly mineral tricks. They just helped the algae to bloom.

Now a year past our last plant experiment, I am trying again. The aquarium is now closer to a window, and we have upgraded the lights. Fingers are crossed as we have just placed a series of “beginner’s plants” into the tank.

We are trying Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon japonica), Amazon Sword (Echinodorus amazonicus), and Water Wisteria (Hygrophila difformis).

I’ll take pictures in a few weeks if everything doesn’t turn into dead plant slime.


Davak's BBQ Sauce

September 14th, 2008

Yesterday, with all the chicken I smoked and the ribs that were falling off the bone, I needed a friendly homemade BBQ sauce to compliment everything. I have been working on BBQ sauces for a couple of years now, but this one was easily the best one. Like all good recipes, pieces of it were stolen from many places with my own twists added.

Davak’s BBQ Sauce

1/4 cup of sweet onion
1 cup ketchup
1 cup molasses
2 1/2 tablespoon of Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 oz of tomato sauce

I use a food processor and start by liquifying the onions. I then add everything else and blend and blend. Certainly, combining and mixing the ingredients manually is possible. This will store well in the refrigerator for a while at this point.

One hour before serving the meats, put the bbq sauce in a sauce pot and slowly simmer. Serve warm.

Lemon Basil Broiled Trout

July 18th, 2008

When JohnD and I were out buying a couple of new memory sticks yesterday, Tbone asked me to pick up some fish, bread, and cheese at Whole Foods in Chapel Hill. I had always wanted to try fresh trout so I purchased some caught locally here in North Carolina. I got three fillets (about 1 pound) for us two adults and two kids.

Neither T or I had ever cooked trout. Being of Mississippi stock, we grew up on bass, crappie, and catfish. With our fresh basil at danger from the near freezing nights, I hit the google looking for a basil containing trout dish. However, I did not have much success. This is what I whipped up and it was an instant family favorite.

Lemon Basil Broiled Trout

    3-4 Fillets of Trout (about 1 pound)
    15 leaves of fresh basil
    2-4 tbs Extra virgin olive oil
    2-4 tbs Lemon Juice
    Salt / Pepper
    1 Clove of Garlic
    (Butter if dipping sauce wanted)

Finely chop the basil and garlic. To this, add the lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic. Stir to combine until the juices are green from the basil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Place the oven rack where the fish will be about 4 inches from the broiler. This will be the 3rd highest rack from the top on most ovens. Preheat the broiler on high.

Wash and dry the trout. Place skin-down on an broiler pan that has been sprayed with a nonstick spray. Drizzle lightly some of the previously created basil-lemon blend over the top and smooth with a spoon. Reserve some for blend for the dipping sauce.

Place the fish under the broiler. Cook 5-7 minutes under the broiler. Take out, turn the pan a half-turn, and put back in. (Many broilers cook unevenly.) Cook for 5-7 more minutes. Check frequently. It will easily flake with a fork and just start browning on the top when done.

While the fish is cooking, combine the reserved basil-lemon blend with melted butter. You may clarify the butter if you wish. Consider adding more ground black pepper to taste. Place in ramekins for easy dipping.

Consider serving with a bread that can also be enjoyed with the dipping sauce.
Garnish with whole fresh basil.

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The journey starts off innocently enough…

To: “David Kirk”
Subject: Lap Top
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2008 09:41:18 -0400
MIME-Version: 1.0

I am going to get a laptop. I need your help on what and where to get .


My father wants to get a laptop. I have that feeling that a parent gets when a child asks for a car or a bike or whatever. What appears to be a simple task is really a challenge to find the perfect fit.

Clark Kent glasses
Creative Commons License photo credit: Andrew*

Easy answers exist. If I were a zealot one way or another, then I would tell him to get whatever is my favorite device of the moment. I could be lazy and just send him a bunch of links and then hope he figures it out all on his own. Easy answers would lead to confusion and frustration for both of us — especially with parents living 13 hours away.

Dad is currently running an XP box with broadband, printer, scanner, and a couple of digital cameras. He learns well through step-by-step directions but can stumble if new obstacles are thrown his way. He transitioned away from AOL easily enough. However, storing, editing, and retrieving photos in an efficient way still seems challenging.

Just when I think Dad’s system is running well, he wants a laptop. Of course, he does. Everybody wants a laptop. My desktop is used less and less since I started with my laptop. My wife is the same way. A laptop, however, introduces a whole bunch of new challenges.

To work well, a laptop needs a wifi network. To exchange files between a laptop and desktop is not painless or intuitive. Using a scanner and a printer with a laptop has unique challenges too. To top it all off, I have to decide if now would be a good time to introduce Dad to the world of Apple and OS X.

I wanted Dad and me to sit down over some adult beverages and discuss this; however, he is excited to get started. Anxiously, I have been pondering my plan, and I hope I have found the correct path. I am going to tackle each potential decision as a separate blog post. I will try to weigh the strengths and weakness at each step to help Dad make his choice. Hopefully, my blog readers will chime in with additional information as well.

Here are a few examples of planned posts:

  • Laptop versus desktop
  • Apple versus Microsoft
  • Save or ditch the desktop

I will start each post from a beginner level and expand into our normal geek territory. If interesting comments appear, I will amend and edit my posts to reflect new ideas as well.

My father was key into getting me into computers. I get my technology-loving side honestly. Help us find him the best system.

I will blog these entries as computer4dad if you want to keep up with the series.

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Imagine creating an unique, living organism as easily as writing software.

Craig Venter’s techniques build DNA from scratch. The DNA software package can be placed into an organism as a chromosome. The host organism boots the DNA software from the chromosome and virtually creates a entirely new organism.

If you want a program to do X, you most likely can pick your langauge and code it. Now if you want an organism to do X, one day you will likely be able to code that as well.

He plans to create organisms to convert CO2 back to fuel. However, this research will not stop there.

The creation of synthetic life will be more revolutionary than the invention of the computer.

Please watch the video. As a biology/medical type, I’ll be glad to try to explain any of the confusing issues…

OpenEMR is Ridiculous

March 18th, 2008

Having “open” electronic medical records (EMR) is absolutely ridiculous.

ReadWriteWeb believes that we should be able to control and transfer medical records personally. However, this is felt impossible because health care is “controlled by big business and government.” Furthermore, they state that “decentralizing this network and giving the power for each American to control their own medical record could ensure higher reliability, less poor diagnoses, and can handle scale.”

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Yes, our current medical record system needs to change. As a practicing physician, I frequently see test duplication and delays in diagnosis due to our current closed system. Doctors at one hospital will likely not get results from other hospitals in a reasonable amount of time. Even if a physician knows to request the records, often the physician may not know specifically what to request. Worse yet, these records are usually faxes from one hospital to another.

With these problems, the brainstem reflex is to let each person control his or her own medical history. Let me, the patient, control who and what accesses my medical records. It is romantic. It is crazy and flawed.

Actually, if the patient was always YOU, then an open EMR might work. You are probably not crazy. You probably do not abuse the system, drugs, or your body. But you are the same person who actually accurately keeps up with medical history now. Any medical record system works well for you.

Let me a take common ICU admission for you. Young lady found down unresponsive and barely breathing. Maybe by searching her house or testing her urine we can estimate that she has overdosed. Maybe she has been in the hospital before and we know that she has been depressed or has a history of overdose. Maybe she also has a rare disease like adrenal insufficiency that can be fatal if not also concurrently treated.

Assume that we fix this lady up and forward her medical records to her EMR carrier of choice. If it is truly open, she can forward it to anyone. Perhaps she forwards it to a “lockbox” carrier who promises to keep it hidden from other systems. Her physicians will never know about her suicide attempt or her potentially life threating illness. Perhaps she forwards it to a “edit” carrier who promises to sanitize or grossly edit the medical record for her. She pays a little extra so her medical record will now show that she has a crippling pain syndrome and requires narcotic pain medications.

Open is open. An open medical record system is an untrustworthy medical record system. Now, I agree that people should have the ability to view and make comments about their personal medical records. Doctors and tests are not perfect, and a patient should have the right to make his/her opinions known.

Luckily, this is not complicated. Just get the EMR companies to come together a establish a universal document standard and communication API. The government would host and secure the common database that would store all the information. Patients could log in and make comments to clarify the record, but information could not be removed or edited.

Medical records are as essential as legal records. Should legal records be open too? Frequently life and death decisions are based upon these documents. A truly open EMR system allows for manipulation and abuse. A universal medical records system will save money and lives. It is vital and essential to insure that the record is inclusive and precise. In this circumstance, being “open” is not the solution.

I will be glad to detail and debate further issues in the comments below.

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Blog Me Tender, Blog Me True

March 11th, 2008

The tech-recipes authors are blogging like crazy. As I am not always the tutorial zealot, please allow me to brag on the crew a little this morning.

BFF and code monkey Q is becoming the photographer and photoshoppper extraordinaire. In his blog exposure post he highlights some of his favorite photography related blog posts.

New tech-recipes author Incursor reminds us all to take an ubuntu typing break. Our other ubuntu guru ShamansTears is on the cusp of getting Google Calendar working offline. He is destined to get us a big scoop before somebody leaks it to the a-listers.

Gadget boy and hardware hacker Seamonkey420 is beating the tobacco addiction but will never be able to give up the gear habit. Check out the videos for his Asus Eee PC 4G and his PS3 versus HTPC.

My wife and I are celebrating a little family time in the wine country. You guys be careful and not mess up the place, okay?

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Dilbert's 9-Point Financial Plan

February 24th, 2008

Here are nine, simple, common-sense steps for financial planning. I am blogging about them to keep them in my peripheral brain…

  1. Make a will
  2. Pay off your credit cards
  3. Get term life insurance if you have a family to support
  4. Fund your 401k to the maximum
  5. Fund your IRA to the maximum
  6. Buy a house if you want to live in a house and can afford it
  7. Put six months worth of expenses in a money-market account
  8. Take whatever money is left over and invest 70% in a stock index fund and 30% in a bond fund through any discount broker and never touch it until retirement
  9. If any of this confuses you, or you have something special going on (retirement, college planning, tax issues), hire a fee-based financial planner, not one who charges a percentage of your portfolio

This is quoted from this Farrell’s blog post .

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