thanks, Timbo!

Tim has been my colleague since ’88.  His Garden City MI working class upbringing has been refined though Harvard, U of M med school and residency (including a chief residency) and a San Francisco fellowship.  He married a dermatologist who’s smarter, better looking , and far more successful (measured by paycheck).  Both are still incredibly down to earth and good friends.  Tim’s been a great colleague.  We even share authorship on a paper* describing an intervention of Tim’s design.  See us here in ’94 applying it to a patient.  I’m the guy with the ‘scope.  Tim’s leaning against the wall between me and the patient surveying it all.  We’re all wearing goggles to protect against the UV light.

A patient taking psoralens, a compound that’s sensitizing to UV light (used to treat psoriasis and also employed by John Howard Griffin as he strove to darken his skin for Black Like Me), was subjected to UV energy directed by a needle arthroscope (maneuvered by me), and the fried synovium (joint lining tissue) indeed changed for the better as determined by biopsy 4 weeks later.  The intervention bogged down trying to find ways to direct it all around the joint.

Both our wives are named Kathy, so we have that in common, in addition to each girl being a superior person to our lowly selves.  Tim, like me, loves to cook.  We’ve never had a head-to-head competition, but I’ve gathered from his descriptions of his own ventures, he goes a little more elegant than me.  He graced us many years ago with a simple recipe that we’ve employed many times, always with great satisfaction.  The recipe is for gravlax (Swedish for “buried salmon” or “salmon in a grave”), one of the many old pre-refrigeration fish recipes, like lutefisk, where fresh fish is buried with salt and other drying compounds to be preserved for eating later.  The product was often vile, but beloved by generations later who have far outgrown the necessity of such a practice.  The Swedish version, made in all Scandinavian countries (Kathy’s and my own Norway included) makes for a pretty tasty product.  Likely, the fish was gathered just before the waters finally froze up or became too frigid to ply, with the cured product available to be munched at Christmastime.  Maybe it’s attractive to rheumatologists like me and Tim as we never cure anything otherwise.  At least we can do a fish.  To do this right, you take a pretty big slab of salmon (recipe’s at the end), so unless you have a big Christmas crowd, there will be leftovers.  Not knowing what to do with the surplus from our last batch several years ago, I vacu-sealed and froze it.  The fate of that fish I the basis for the rest of the story, which I related in an e-mail to Tim:

Hey Tim,

I dug out your old gravlax recipe today, the one written on 3 pages of a Naprosyn notepad.  We haven’t made it for several years, but it’s always a winner.  I don’t have a big slab of salmon to cure right now, but I wanted the sauce recipe.  Digging though my freezer yesterday, I found a slab of gravlax from God knows when (I date my freezer entries now).  Thawing it out to see how it might taste, I decided to slice it thin and serve it between a couple of the slices, toasted, of the Zingerman’s rye I’d bought Thursday for the Reubens we made last night.  Figured a little of that sauce of yours would boost the flavor.  Had to use some grapeseed oil as I was down to my last ¼ cup of olive.  I also substituted agave nectar for the sugar just for the hell of it.  Tastes pretty good.  I got ‘em made in time for Kathy’s noon break from her big screen, and she found hers delicious.  Mine was o.k. too.  The flavor and texture of the gravlax has survived well in those years in the deep freeze, and the sauce tastes great slathered on a sandwich.   We washed it all down with a nice petit Verdot (Quail Hollow, Lodi, 2018) that arrived from Vinesse today.  We consumed the feast on our deck in 660 sunshine, surveying NW AA to be sure all was under control.  It was.  The bottle did not survive lunch.  Kathy blew 0.210 on my BACtrack pocket breathalyzer, myself a mere 0.170.  She teaches well under the influence, and I’m set for any and all retiree activities, unless I get pulled over.  We sung your praises again, as we do every time we haul out this recipe.  There’s fish, bread, and sauce (very little, but easy to make) left over so we’ll have it again soon.  Thanks again.  I thought you might want to know about this little sliver of your legacy.  I don’t think you can put recipes on your CV, but I hear that soon you’ll not be needing to impress any promotions committee.  So just when will you be joining me among the growing ranks of the elderly unemployed?  It’s a great place to be, believe me.  Plus you’ve got a working wife to support you.  You know how those girls love to work and work and get a kick when they’re pulling in more than their men.

Thanks again.  Let’s keep in touch.


Tim replied and confessed he hadn’t made up either recipe, although he couldn’t recall the specific sources.  But to me and Kathy, they’ll always we his.  You can’t sing praises to a cookbook, like we can to Tim!

And here they are:

And here’s our paper:

* Laing TJ, Ike RW, Griffiths CE, Richardson BC, Grober JS, Keroack BK, Toth MB, Railan D, Cooper KD.  A pilot study of the effect of oral 8-methoxypsoralen and intraarticular ultraviolet light on rheumatoid synovitis.  J Rheumatol 1995;22:29-33.

Published by rike52

I retired from the Rheumatology division of Michigan Medicine end of June '19 after 36 years there. Upon hitting Ann Arbor for the second time (I went to school here) it took me almost 8 months to meet Kathy, 17 months to buy her a house (on Harbal, where we still live), and 37 months to marry her. Kids never came, but we've been blessed with a crowd of colleagues, friends, neighbors and family that continues to grow. Lots of them are going to show up in this log eventually. Stay tuned.

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