Sabana de la Mar

I spent the last week with an amazing group of people with Medical Ministry International in Sabana de la Mar, Dominican Republic. It was truly a life changing experience; opening my eyes to the awesome privilege of being blessed with my particular set of skills as a nurse anesthetist. The week began with a flight to Santo Domingo and a van ride to Sabana de la Mar over a very rough and winding country road. The roads and the Dominicans make for an “interesting yet tense” experience for your first time. First off, there are motorcycles everywhere (and I do mean everywhere – sidewalks, the shoulders of the roads, the wrong side of the road, and even occasionally in the road). But Dr. Teo Beato got us there in one piece. We spent the weekend getting acquainted with everyone on the project and allowing those who had already been there a week some time for R&R. Monday thru Thursday was full of surgeries. The major surgery cases requiring anesthesia usually finished up around 1-3 pm but the surgeons kept right on working till around 5-5:30 pm with minor surgery cases (lovingly referred to as lumps and bumps for lipomas, ganglions, moles, etc). With only two operating tables, the project completed over 130 surgeries in 9 days. I feel I have grown thru the experience and look forward to going on more mission trips. Right now I’m trying to decide if it would be fun to go other places, maybe even non-medical trips, or set my sites on helping out the community of Sabana de la Mar…

Here are some of the pictures and videos I got along the way (Disclaimer: I am nurse anesthetist, NOT a photographer).

For about the middle third of the drive, it is almost endless sugar cane fields.IMG_0076

These next pictures are a little blurry because the road was rather bumpy. The Repuesto is a tire replacement shop from what I am told. Yes, that is a Bank for the second picture. The third picture shows the rather unique perspective the Dominicans have in regards to road safety.  The last picture in this group shows what seemed to be the average distance a building is from the country highway/road.
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This is probably the best picture of the Dominican Hato Mayor province countryside.
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Srta Elupina Cordero Hospital and a courtyard dedicated in her honor. They think of her as the Mother Teresa of Sabana de la Mar.
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Our accommodations were complete with mosquito nets but the food was exceptional.
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The typical hospital room at the hospital (complete with four beds, no lights, no bathroom, and no meal service – if you want to eat, your family/friends bring it) and a panoramic shot of our surgery room with two OR tables.
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A couple pictures of our MMI team. The first is our OR crew and the second is part of our PreOp & Recovery team.
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The last pictures are of the Dominican Republic Anesthesiology Residents (Cesar did anesthesia for one of the OR tables while I did the other and Aimee did all the PreOp H&Ps) I worked alongside during our trip and Dr. Beato and me.
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Well… It was quite an experience; one that I think everyone should experience to some extent in their lives.

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Back to BBQ after hibernation

It has actually been winter this year in Oklahoma instead of the extended autumn that we have been lucky enough to have the last couple of years. Even so, I have managed to get out there and fire up the smokers a few times.

Here are some pork spare ribs. They were so tender that I would probably have lost points in a competition:
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I had a tough time deciding but eventually went with Kosmos Q injections and soaks over Butcher BBQ.  It may sound a little be whiny but I just didn’t want to sit there and inject every single chicken thigh.  I have used a combination of Moisture Magic (the white powder in a zip-lock – the only one of his products that doesn’t come in a resealable bag for unknown reasons) and Pork Injection for two 8 pound pork shoulders.photo 1

Here are the shoulder after being injected, resting overnight, being rubbed with Meathead’s Memphis Dust and being allowed to rest for 1 hour.  Meantime the smoker was prepared and fired up.photo 2

Here are the shoulders right as the are going onto the smoker.  I chose my Smoke Daddy modified WSM pellet smoker for the job because I was doing this smoke on a Sunday and would be out for church and it was a long smoke in the cold wind.photo 3

Sorry there aren’t any final product pictures.  We were too busy getting everything ready for a group of friends that I just simply forgot to do it.  The pork shoulders were probably the best I have put forward and have made a Kosmos Q injection believer out of me.

My awesome wife also bought me a spot in the Pellet Envy competition cooking class up in KC this April.  Really looking forward to this!  Hopefully I will be able to glean and absorb some of Rod Gray’s BBQ IQ – for those who don’t know, Rod’s team Pellet Envy is a consistent top team in KCBS competitions and won Season 4 of BBQ Pitmasters.

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Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has already come and gone…where did 2013 go?  The Hogan clan spent Thanksgiving together watching football and eating traditional fare.  Kristi made her “almost” world famous pecan pie (to be honest, it will never be world famous because I  eat it too quickly).  After barely digesting, we spent Black Friday by not shopping and visited Kristi’s family in Gate, OK.  I will forgive you if you need to Google Gate to figure out where that is.  The boys had a great timing playing with their cousins, while Kristi and I had the opportunity to visit with family.

On Saturday we moved into Christmas mode by breaking out the tree, decorations, and lights.  I put out my silhouette nativity scene while Kristi decorated the tree.  I hope to add additional figures to my nativity this year.  On the list yet to be completed are: an angel, shepherd, and the 3 wise men.  Hopefully pictures to follow when I complete them.

After voting and placing some final touches on my BBQ Logo, here it is:

OJB BR

I hope every has a fantastic Christmas and remembers the real reason for the season.

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BBQ Logo Poll

Help me out by voting on which Logo you think looks best

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Busy with Work and Ideas

The trappings of daily life have kept me from doing much in the way of doing much smoking/BBQ over the last month.  Rather, I have been working on side projects around the house.  First, my wife and I came to the conclusion that we wanted logos for our respective hobbies.  Without a second thought, we asked around with family and friends for a graphic designer to look for quotes.  Sometimes being naive is a good thing, but other times it comes with quite the sticker shock.  We were amazed to hear that people were wanting upwards of $300-400 per logo.  Rapidly any notion of paying someone else to create our logos went out the window.  After some research, numerous tutorial videos, and many tries at making logos, I finally began to get the hang of Adobe Illustrator (well… the demo version anyway).  Surprisingly, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are nothing alike – despite having many of the same tool icons.  So, the dilemma I quickly ran into was that my original design idea was much to complicated (too many shapes and freehand required) to replicate in Illustrator.  Next, it was brought to my attention that some of the detail of my original design would be extremely difficult, nay impossible, to read if shrunk down to business card size.

Here is my original design draft

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After many tries, frustrations, and edits, here are the Logo Finalists I have come up with

Oklahoma Jayhawk BBQ Red Blue White Oklahoma Jayhawk BBQ Banner Red Blue Oklahoma Jayhawk BBQ Blue Red White Oklahoma Jayhawk BBQ Banner Blue Red Oklahoma Jayhawk BBQ Flag Oklahoma Jayhawk BBQ Banner Flag

With my wife already having a Ravelry site, Etsy Shop, Facebook Page and Blog - I set off on designing her logo.  I had looked for various vector files, but eventually Kristi found some fee for  license vectors on ShutterStock.  With a few hours of editing and layouts, here is the logo she settled on

More Hours Per Day Logo

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Texas Style Brisket and my little helper

Was able to pull out the new Smoke-EZ for my Texas Style Brisket experiment a couple of weeks back. Started it nice and early to allow for a long smoke at 225 degrees. I used a combination of hickory and cherry wood with charcoal for the first 6 or so hours and then just straight charcoal.

My first use of the Smoke-EZ came with a few lessons. The BBQ Guru PartyQ unit that works pretty well for the Weber Kettle alone does not provide enough airflow with the Smoke-EZ in place. So after playing with the damper for the first few hours, I finally got the right combination going. Second lesson learned was that this smoker setup will be much better for chicken an ribs than pork shoulders or briskets. Despite trying several different configurations, I can only get the charcoal ring to last for 8-9 hours at 225 – which comes up a little short. Lessons learned. Will plan on using my pellet smoker for brisket and shoulders and the Smoke-EZ for chicken and ribs.

We also let Elijah grill up some hot dogs. He did everything from helping me light the charcoal to placing, turning and removing the hot dogs. Yesterday he helped me with some grilled chicken (sorry I forgot pictures), but reminded me that he would rather have hot dogs or steak.

Pictures below :)

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20131014-091145.jpgElijah cooking his favorite

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New BBQ Toy

After waiting 3 1/2 weeks while my Smoke EZ was on back order, it finally arrived this past week. My Weber 26″ OTG (one touch gold kettle grill for the uninitiated) has been my grill and BBQ workhorse for years and the support legs were starting to show it. The bottom of the legs had begun to bend under the pressure of additional hardware and use. This fact combined with the increased height from the smoker ring and my desire to try to get Elijah to start “helping me grill” lead to an idea. And as most of my ideas do, it lead to a trip to Lowes/ACE Hardware. I find that the more of these home projects I do, the more trigonometry I get to use in real life. After measuring angles and lengths of the Weber support legs and finding suitable pre-made wood round and casters, I set off to painting the round in high heat enamel and cutting the support legs. The final result after adding casters is an easily moved Weber grill that is about the right height to let Elijah start helping me on the grill.

20130918-192419.jpgThis picture was just for posing and I don’t let him help me barefoot

Adding a second 26″ cooking grate, and placing the Smoke EZ ring on top of my grill, I now have approximately 1000 square inches of charcoal, low and slow fun. Now just to trim up that packer brisket to use the fat deckle and a generous amount of hickory and oak smoke to season it up. My plan is to try to make a Texas style deep, dark crust brisket without wrapping and smoked over coals with hickory and oak.

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For those interested or keeping track, this now raises my BBQ fun to 1000 sqin of electric smoking, 1000 sqin of pellet smoking, and 1000 sqin of charcoal and wood smoking. It will be fun to play around with the variations of wood selection and smoker choice. Also, the folks at Firecraft were easy to work with and are a direct dealer for Smoke EZ. Both are a great place to go browsing for new toys and accessories.

Pictures of a deep, dark brisket to hopefully follow

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