Erica and Matt Chua: How to Make Gyoza

The Chinese may get credit for the invention of this little dumpling, but our Tokyo host Takeshi gets credit for teaching me how to make them. The gyoza, known more commonly in the U.S. as “potstickers”, was not introduced to Japan until the 1940′s most likely adapted after the Japanese invasion of China in the late 1930′s. Since then the Gyoza has become so popularized that there are Gyoza restaurants and even a Gyoza Stadium located in Osaka, Japan. The Gyoza Stadium has a museum complete with history and explanations of the many varieties of this adopted dish, while we didn’t visit I am sure it was fascinating…

This recipe includes a dipping sauce and instructions on how to assemble and cook “potstickers” as taught to me by Takeshi, so the amounts are rough estimates- you might have to play with them a little.

Yields about 48 potstickers.

Ingredients:

  • Dumpling wrappers (these can be bought at Asian specialty stores)

Filling:

  • 8 ounces Napa cabbage
  • 3 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 pound lean ground pork
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions, with tops
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Dash white pepper

Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • hot pepper flakes or use a chili oil instead of sesame oil

Other:

  • 2 – 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Chicken stock

Preparation:

Cut the cabbage across into thin strips and then mince into tiny pieces. Mix with 2 teaspoons salt and set aside for a few minutes. Squeeze out the excess moisture so that your dumplings aren’t too wet while you assemble them.

In a large bowl, mix the cabbage, pork and green onions with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, and the white pepper.

Putting the pork and cabbage mixture in the dumplings.  Getting the right amount (about 1 tablespoon-full) of mixture makes sealing the dumplings easier.

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Erica and Matt Chua: How to Make Gyoza

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: What employers should really look for in job interviews

jyb_musingsI just read several articles about what employers look for in job applicants. Each list I saw included qualities like professionalism, high-energy, confidence, curiosity, self-motivation, etc, etc, etc.

But on no single list did I see “sanity” or “stablity.” You may say that these are assumed. Really? Why?

I am serious.

I think most employers get in heat, metaphorically, when hiring a new employee and end up hiring the employee who is most exciting to date, so to speak, rather than the employee who is the best fit for marriage, i.e. a long term functional and useful business relationship.

Like the famous Pepsi and Coke taste test when most people picked Pepsi after one taste because it is sweeter. But sales of Coke continued to exceed Pepai because people got tired of the sweetness after the first few sips.

In other words, employers should focus more on hiring the person who can do the mundane things reliably –in other words, the person who they can rely on to lock up at night when they leave the office rather than the person who will make others the most envious at the country club.

Remember the new hotshot associate you are about to hire is to fill in a piece of a larger puzzle that is your organization and just because he or she looks big and colorful doesn’t mean that piece is more likely to fit. Just that it is more likely to drive you crazy until you find a place in your puzzle to plug it in.

Saul Kaplan: Regeneration, Unleash the Newt Within

photo-saulI have been thinking about regeneration.  While it is common knowledge, it still amazes me, that salamanders can regenerate body parts, including their tails, upper and lower jaws, eyes and hearts.  Yet mammals including humans can’t. Salamanders are the highest order of animals capable of regeneration. Do mammals know something that salamanders don’t? Cosmetic surgery, implants, and promising regenerative medicine research aside we humans are stuck with the body parts we are dealt for now.

I wonder if our inability to regenerate at the biological scale also impedes our ability to regenerate at a social system scale.  It seems obvious that our important social systems including education, health care, and energy need serious regeneration.  These systems have evolved over a long period of time, were built to support an industrial era that is long gone, and have built up incredible mechanisms to resist and prevent needed change.  It is not technology that is getting in the way of social system change.  It is humans and the organizations we live in that are both stubbornly resistant to change. Why are humans so incapable of regeneration at both biological and social scales?

Maybe understanding the biology of regeneration can provide insight.  Salamanders can regenerate injured body parts because evolution has enabled them to immediately unleash stem-like cells to a wound site when damage is detected.  When salamanders are wounded skin, bone, muscle, and blood vessels at the site revert to their undifferentiated state. In essence they go back to an embryonic state and start all over again making regeneration possible.  Humans took a different evolutionary path.

Turns out the human evolutionary pathway traded off regeneration in favor of tumor suppression.  In order to decrease the risk of cancer and increase longevity our mammalian ancestors selected against regeneration.  The theory is rapid cell division required for regeneration looks to our bodies a lot like the unchecked growth of cancer.  Because our longevity makes us vulnerable to accumulated DNA mutations we’ve evolved a kind of molecular brake to keep tumors at bay.  I can’t speak for humankind but it seems like the right trade-off to me.  Unlike salamanders, when mammals lose a limb the body’s reaction is to release cells to the site that become scar tissue.  Current stem cell research is promising and offers the future potential for a work-around to enable regeneration without turning off the molecular brake that prevents tumor formation and progression. Tissue generation and regenerative medicine are both exciting fields to watch.

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Saul Kaplan: Regeneration, Unleash the Newt Within

John Y. Brown, III: Joan Rivers

JYB3_homeI was saddened to hear about the passing of comedian and entertainer Joan Rivers.

I was never a great fan but had great respect for her pluck and persistence.

Although none of the eulogies I have read mention it, I consider her an important as a woman who broke through and competed with great success in a profession dominated by men. Women comedians, in my view, have a tough time of it. Audiences like monologues that are raw, sometimes profane, personal and edgy.

But we don’t seem to like it as much when the punch lines are being delivered by a woman.

Joan Rivers didn’t seem to mind about that and did it anyway. Because she was smart and shrewd and richly talented and an indefatigable performer who made a lot of us smile and laugh out loud — and even think –during her 55 year career as one of America’s most prodigious entertainers..

RIP

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Favorite Things

jyb_musingsFavorite things….

At dinner tonight, No, we weren’t discussing Julie Andrews but were brainstorming for our “Top three” favorite lists in a bunch of different categories. 

It’s fun to play along. Here are some of mine. 

Comedy Series (Cable) — 1) Ali G , 2) Chapelle Show, 3) Curb Your Enthusiasm. 

Drama (Cable) — 1) Sopranos , 2) Six Feet Under (never got the credit it deserved, IMHO , 3 ) Breaking Bad and House of Cards (tie) I know that is cheating by having a “tie.”

TV Series– 1) Columbo 2) Twilight Zone 3) Beverly Hillbillies

Musical Groups — 1) Steely Dan, 2) Traffic, 3) R.E.M./Pearl Jam/RHCP ( 3-way tie). Honorable mention to Black Crows (Totally cheated on this one. I struggle to be succinct.)

Movies — 1) The Twilight Saga (Not really, of course. I joke. But mostly because my favorites don’t seem very congruent. I just like them a lot) Real favorites: 1) Annie Hall, 2) ‘O Lucky Man, 3) About a 10- way tie but am unsure which 10 movies but might include Pulp Fiction, My Dinner with Andre, Little Miss Sunshine, Raging Bull, The “Up” Documentaries, Magnolia, Goodfellas, American Beauty, Casino, and Gandhi. And had an honorable mention category that included Forest Gump and Owning Mahoney. Drugstore Cowboy and American Hustle. (OK. I really, really cheated on that one. But I love movies.)

Classic books: 1) Inferno, Dante. 2) Odyssey, Homer, 3) Huckleberry Finn, Twain. Honorable mention to Candide, Voltaire and Gulliver’s Travels, Swift. (Didn’t cheat very much on that one.)

Modern books: 1) Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell; 2) A New Kind of Mind, Pink 3) World is Flat, Friedman (With not to self to start reading more recent books.)
Honorable Mention: Musings from the Middle I and II. (I mean, c’mon. Whaddaya expect?)

Best kitchen investments: 1) Nespresso 2) Vitamix, 3) Panini Press,

Worst Kitchen investments; 1) Doughnut maker, 2) Fondue, 3) Snow Cone machine.

Julie Rath: How Your T-Shirt Should Fit

Men's Style Advice: How Your T-Shirt Should FitFor most of my clients, Summer means t-shirt time. How does yours fit? Don’t laugh — even though it’s just a t-shirt, it should fit you as well as all of the other items in your wardrobe. Below are 4 key points to watch for when determining whether to buy that next beefy-t:

Men's Style Advice: How Your T-Shirt Should Fit1) The shoulder seam should hit directly on the edge of your shoulder. When a t-shirt is too big, these seams hang off your shoulder and make you look sloppy. But wearing a shirt with the seam right on the edge of your shoulder will make you look fit and trim.

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Julie Rath: How Your T-Shirt Should Fit

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Exciting New Product!

10378160_10154542366180515_8423975875231163213_nExciting new product! 

If you have an easily distractible husband who has difficulty keeping up with you and the family when shopping, finally there is the perfect solution!

The “Husband Travel Tether.”

Like the lightweight harnesses and leashes for children but sturdier for a more secure hold.

–Made of a leather to keep dads from breaking away. 

–Reduces fear of dads being separated from their families when traveling.

–Patented adjustable buckle to pull closer in crowded areas.

jyb_musings–Credit cards never more than 4 feet away. 

–Shoulder straps optional.

Beth Gamulka: Books every doctor (and maybe every patient) should read

Beth GamulkaBefore I went to medical school, I spent 4 wonderful years at college studying the history of science and medicine.  I especially loved the books on my reading lists that captured a story about a past medical discovery or epidemic.  While I had no medical expertise at the time and simply wanted to do passably well on the MCAT so some medical school would accept me, the stories of the flu epidemic of 1918, the discovery of penicillin, the Wexner report and the development of formal medical education captivated me.  They gave me context and allowed me to understand the path the practice of medicine had taken prior to my interest in the profession.

Medical school, residency, medical practice and parenthood do not leave much free time for pleasure reading.  While it is still wonderful to escape with a novel, I still gravitate to non-fiction works that focus on medicine.  A few years ago, I gave a lecture to my colleagues about books that every doctor should read.  While it is still prudent to keep updated on new research to help our patients, these books are designed to help physicians (and non-physicians)  maintain perspective.  Here are a few of them:

History of Medicine:

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is a well-researched account of the history of HeLa cancer cell line and the woman whose cancer launched a medical revolution.
  • Bad Blood by James H. Jones is history of the Tuskeegee Syphilis experiment that the Public Health Service ran from 1932 until 1972. African-American men with syphilis were studied over decades to learn about the natural course of the disease. However, they were never treated with penicillin even after the antibiotic’s availability increased in the 1940s.
  • The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee is a biography of cancer. It is long and detailed and clearly shows how recently many advances in cancer treatment have developed and how little oncologists really knew even 50 years ago.

Meditations on the Profession:

  • Complications by Atul Gawande, a surgeon and prolific writer, is a collection of honest essays written during and after surgical training.
  • The Youngest Science: Notes of a Medicine-Watcher by Lewis Thomas was his third collection of well-written and thoughtful essays reflecting back on his career as a successful academic and physician. I remember reading this in high school and deciding to become a physician.
  • The Real Life of a Pediatrician, edited by Perri Klass is a collection of candid stories following the path from student to veteran doctor. While I love every book that Perri Klass has ever written (and can admit that her memoir A Not Entirely benign Procedure allowed me to survive the summer of 1988, also known as the summer of med school applications and MCATs), the many voices in this collection are honest and engaging. Let’s face it: pediatricians are generally nice people and I like reading about them.

Books that can influence the way we practice:

  • Forgive and Remember: Managing Medical Failure by Charles Bosk, follows fictional surgical teams in a teaching hospital and is one of the first books ever written on medical error.
  • The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande, provides a 21st century approach to patient safety using the expertise of the aviation industry.
  • How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman is an extremely honest and thoughtful look at medical error and cognitive error. It explores why doctors succeed and why they err, how they can embrace uncertainty and how patients can help doctors avoid error. I tell every trainee that I teach to read this book in the hopes that s/he will incorporate these learning points in the practice of medicine.

Happy reading!

Josh Bowen: Is It Really About Fitness? 5 Reasons Why it is Not

joshThe title of the blog may seem confusing and even appalling to most. It may lead you to question my sanity after 11 years as a personal trainer. “How does he not know what his job is?” Just hold on for a minute. For years I have had this approach when it came to clients, focus on more than fitness and nutrition.

See I believe fitness is a vehicle that we use to improve people. People HATE exercise, for the most part. For one reason or another most people disdain the process of trying to get into shape. They have goals but most of the time those goals are deeper than fitness. They impact every aspect of their lives. So, if it deeper than fitness why do we not concentrate on more than fitness? This approach may actually help you jump start your fitness and go on a quest to better yourself.

In my mind exercise/fitness and good nutrition affect every aspect of my life. Therefore, not only do I affect the physical part of me and they way I look but I also affect several other aspects of my life; relationships, better sleep, energy, confidence etc. So if you knew that working out would help boost your confidence and help you have the courage to ask a pretty girl on a date or make a great speech in front of the CEO of you company, would you be more aped to do it? Of course you would. Here are 5 of the most impacted areas of our lives that fitness increases more than anything else.

1.  Confidence

jbtransform

The picture on the left is from my high school graduation in 2000 and the picture on the right is from last year. On the left I weigh an astounding 140lbs on the right 200lbs. Forget the numbers and the obvious physical difference, the number one benefit that fitness has provided me is confidence. Without it, I would not have been able to speak in front of hundreds of people, write a book, go on a bootcamp tour for 14 days across the US or be a personal trainer. Physically I am different but the most effect has been in my confidence.

So many of my clients will list confidence as their number one benefit from working with a trainer and starting an exercise program. The proof is in the pudding.

2. Relationships

As a continuation from confidence, I find that increased relationships with others is a direct reflection from being fit. Often times clients will meet new people and friendships are born or their existing relationships improve because of heightened self confidence.

3. Diligence

A direct reflection of being fit is increasing one’s diligence and determination. Get tasks completed because they have more energy or confidence is common place.

4. Clarity

The hormonal effect of exercise is documented but what you often forget is the increased ability to think clearer. This aspect comes in handy in todays fast moving world. I always have told people I never make decisions until I have worked out that day. Working out will give me the extra time and mental clearness to think about making a decision.

5. Self Esteem

Confidence and self esteem are different. Self esteem is how you view yourself and how you feel about it. Fitness supplies the increased self esteem that one feels like they can conquer anything. Feeling better about the way you look is the best feeling in the world.

All in all, I do not concentrate on fitness. I concentrate on the effects of fitness and how it effects and impacts our lives. Anyone who has started an exercise program an continued with it can tell you that there are more than just five aspects that help better their lives. Focus on the effects working will give you, instead of thinking about whether you can do it or not.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: The Internet

jyb_musingsNothing has revolutionized and expanded human intelligence more than the Internet. 

The Internet is solely responsible for raising the IQ of the average user by nearly 20 points simply by offering free online IQ tests that puts nearly everyone, by the third time they take the test, in the “very superior” or “genius” category. Including me. 

Thank you Internet for making me so much smarter than I was before.

And giving me a online certificate to prove it.

===

Facebook confession

I often look up words in the Urban Dictionary.

And sometimes rely on its accuracy more than even Wikipedia.

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