Thursday, January 22, 2015

This week . . .on the tenure track

It is Thursday, and I'm actually using my writing time to write this instead of the research blog post I need to be writing, the stats I need to be reading, or the endless calls I need to make.

Nothing interesting has happened food wise this week. We've eaten simple, repeat recipes from the fridge, ranging from frozen ravioli to pork tenderloin. Nothing exciting. I've barely ran - yesterday was the only day it happened, but the next three days look pretty good for 3-4 miles. I did 3.2 yesterday.

My schedule has been jammed packed. We're in the last week before busy season, and everyone is slammed. I spent 9 hours at work with lab related projects on Tuesday, but that big project is now 100% done - and worked out perfectly. We're starting a new project today with the Thursday group - they will do a nice, easy half run to get comfortable working as a team and get used to the new assay. I've blocked four hours in the lab today - hopefully I can spend the rest nearby working on service.

Ah service, that 10% of my job (50% teaching, 40% research). Technically, 22% of my job, since I have a service related course release. I have 12 hours blocked next week just for service related meetings, and this is a theme that will continue for the next three weeks. This does not include my national service - this likely includes another 10-20 hours, although my work study student is rocking the sign making and scheduling.

So this week, how did my time break down?
Monday: 7 hours writing, 2 service (9)
Tuesday: 6 hours lab, 3 reading, 2 service (11)
Wednesday: 4 hours teaching + prep, 2 reading, 3.5 service, 30 min lab (10)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Rebooting - and trying again

It is January. And as I do every January, I revisit this blog and try to think what will make me stick with it this year. My research blog is now two years old, with regular updates. This blog? Well, I update annually.

So this year, I'm giving it another shot. If I fail, I'll delete at the end of the year.

How is going to roll? The goals for this year: run 842 miles. Make 84 new recipes. Be kind to myself 42 times. Easy?

Well, the year has started off with a lot of stuff going on. I left for a 10 day training course in North Carolina on Jan 2, and got back Jan 11; the day before classes started. B had a severe illness on Jan 11, and has been unable to get out of bed or do much since. We are now one week out, with very modest improvement. It will be a long, slow road ahead.

I've turned to my challenges and cures as a coping mechanism. I'm doing the Apartment Therapy January Cure, and am only a few days behind now, thanks to an aggressive catch-up schedule this weekend. The week plus in NC was also great - I ran 16 miles, and have done another 4 this week, putting me at 20.1 for the year.

Food wise, it has also been a busy week. Tuesday night I made Tomato and chicken pea sauce for sweet potatoes, following this recipe on The Kitchen: .
Sweet potato with chickpeas and tomato sauce.

This dish was also the first time in months I had used our can opener, after realizing that I had failed to soak the dried chickpeas the night before. I did not use canned, diced tomatoes as recommended in the recipe - I find canned tomatoes taste tinny, plus a student did an awesome presentation on BPA + tomatoes last year and now I can only eat tomatoes in glass or fresh.

Thursday was recipe #2 for the year. I'm making up for the lost week of microwave cooking while in NC. It was canned soup followed by canned soup followed by easy mac. Our wonderful admin is moving on to a cool new job in another city, and since she is a huge sweets fan, I made chocolate chip cookies. As a scientist however, I had to make the best cookies, and turned to the awesome for their 4 part series on the science of chocolate chip cookies. I ignored all crisco or lard based recipes, as I think cookies should taste like butter. This recipe was "Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies". It adds 2 oz cream cheese to the mix, 2 hours of setting in the fridge, and a lot of deliciousness. I omitted the corn starch - I don't keep it, and I did not have tme to run out and buy more. Sick B ate 3 - the first solid food he ate all week, and I got 2. They were delicious, and I'd certainly make this again - in fact, I nearly did on Saturday night. 
The two parts of the dough. And my wonderful kitchen aid. Our kitchen is so small we do not have 30 complete inches of counter space, so I often have to use the stove as extra space.

The finished product as I was loading them up for the party. 

I made these while also writing a grant, and they proved a nice way to think about the grant while writing - and kept me from staying at my desk all day. 

 Recipe #3 was Friday evening. I told B I would make him anything he wanted, and he wanted chicken and dumplings. So I called my 90 year old grandmother, as we back worked out my great-grandmother's recipe - with a few modifications my grandmother had made over the years. She now buys her dumplings and has for the last three decades, so we did have to cross check the recipe with the internet. She did this on her tablet (my grandma rocks BTW) while I sanded down some furniture. I rolled the dough out with my great grandmother's rolling pin (I have her pin and her cast iron skillet, and they are the best cared for kitchen implements I own). I cut them, and while they dried I made the soup from some stock I had made in November and frozen (the stock came in handy this week). They were delicious. B still can't really taste anything, but I had two giant bowls.

Chicken and dumplings get in my belly. 
And, we had enough dumplings left over that I could freeze them for a hearty dinner later in the month when things get crazy and I don't pre-plan dinner.

Recipe #4, like recipe #2, was a recipe from my childhood that others had made me, but I had never made myself (it counts!). These were homemade donuts. The mother of my best friend in elementary school would make these for spend the night parties (the morning after). So good. I found the post on The Kitchen, but back tracked it to Serious Eats: donuts here! These are the Pillsbury dough donuts.
I know, you are thinking "cheater! That is not real cooking."
I beg to differ. These were probably the most complicated thing I made all week, because the oil was so hard to control. It got very hot, and then too cold.
The first failed attempt. The oil was well past 400 - the needle was going back around the candy thermometer when I dropped these in. 
The first attempt was a miserable failure. It is my fault - I got distracted reading about symphysiotomy and let the oil get too hot. There was then a long period of cooling (and further reading) before the oil was the perfect 350F.
I ate one before remembering to take a picture. It was warm and gooey and delicious. 
I could not bring myself to dip them in one of the butter-based sauces listed on Serious Eats, so instead I dusted them with powdered sugar and cocco powder I had on hand. 

Tomorrow, I'll post about the Apartment Therapy Cure - my big project is almost done and then (and then), I can get back to working on grants and papers.