Tuesday, May 24, 2011

cooking and chemistry

I think it is more typical for people to garner an interest in chemistry from their interest in cooking. I, on the other hand can confidently say that I was never really interested in cooking before I studied chemistry. It is only since I got married and more interested in domestic matters that my interest in cooking has really piqued.

Today I made a french lamb stew that I found several weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal. Often on weekends WSJ has a food section- most notably I've seen this stew recipe as well as  whole section about how to cook artichokes. (Artichokes are hands down the best vegetable out there.)

After I browned the lamb in hot oil and then carmelized it with sugar followed by a heating in the oven I felt like I was in chem lab. Heating, cooling, thickening, wetting.......it took me all day to prepare the lamb to combine it with a few fresh veggies for a complete stew.

For the first time I used my joint frying pan/casserole pan to cook part of the stew on then burner and then bake it for a bit in the oven. The broth was made with whole garlic, chicken broth, flour, drippings from the lamb, fresh sage and, of course, salt and pepper.

All the vegetables were fresh except the peas and the pearl onions- I parboiled them in water and then plunged them into an ice bath. If that doesn't sound like something straight out of organic chem lab then I don't know what does! The "plunging" in the ice bath is supposed to prevent them from overcooking before they are neatly tucked with the lamb in the thick, bubbly, richly-smelling lamb base.

I love cooking and I love its relationship to science. I wish I realized this a long time ago.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Whatever will I write about as I am idle?

I am afraid of being idle. I get terribly bored very, very easily. This is why I hesitated before I said "no" to offers to teach in the fall. Am I crazy or am I just realistic? I have been told by numerous people, most notably my beloved sister, that I will be feeding around the clock for at least six weeks. By my calculation, that puts me at mid-August or so before the madness ends. This is exactly when the fall semester begins. This is why I declined offers to teach in the fall.

My spring schedule is already filling up- the question is really what kind of a load I can realistically handle. I would love to take on more classes and even move up in the ranks in terms of the level of classes that I teach. I'm not sure that will happen based on my tendency for exhaustion.

This is becoming a reality quickly- last night we ordered the pack n play and the stroller/carseat travel system. Next weekend we purchase our crib/changing table.

Motherhood has nearly begun. Embarking on the unknown is both tremendously daunting and excruciatingly exciting simultaneously. This is a bit like the curve, severe dip and then drop-off of your scariest roller coaster at the park. The question is- is it fun or just very frightening?

In recent years I vote more for frightening as I get severe whiplash on any roller coaster. Perhaps this is why traditionally, nature favors younger mothers. Am I too old for this?