Pasta with ricotta and mushrooms

Adapted from Lidia Bastianich

454 g pasta (I used spaghetti)
glug of extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, sliced
chopped thyme/rosemary (I used thyme)
6 brown mushrooms, thickly sliced
pinch of salt and pepper
200 g ricotta
1 bunch green onions, chopped (I didn’t have any)
parsley for garnish, roughly chopped (I didn’t have any)
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

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Cook the pasta al dente in salted water, save some pasta water for your sauce. Saute garlic and rosemary until fragrant. Add mushrooms. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add scallions. Add some reserved pasta water. Mix in pasta, ricotta, and parmesan. Serve hot.

~Jessica

Hungarian paprika potatoes

Adapted from LMU München

Serves 4

2 spoonfuls of butter
2 glugs of olive oil
1 large onion, diced
24 g Hungarian paprika
6 large waxy potatoes, diced 8 cm big
1 small green bell pepper, diced
1 large tomato, peeled and diced
salt and pepper

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Melt butter in a large saucepan, and mix with olive oil. Sauté onions for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, and add water until it just covers the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer over low heat. Avoid stirring as much as possible, so that the potatoes do not fall apart! Cook 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. I topped with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

~Jessica

Indian potato curry with mushrooms

Adapted from LMU München Serves 2

glug of olive oil
½ cm ginger, grated
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Mustard powder
Curry powder
Paprika spice
½ handful of arugula
2 tomatoes, chopped
3 medium potatoes, chopped
1 ½ onion, diced
~ 5 mushrooms

Note: This dish is cooked mainly by feel. Go with your gut!

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With Roti paratha

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Peel and cut potatoes, cook about 5 minutes in slightly salted water. Drain. Finely chop onions and chop the tomatoes small. Add two glugs of olive oil to pan, heat for about 3 minutes. Add the chopped onions and stir until fragrant. Fry the ginger and garlic. Then stir in the potatoes and chopped tomatoes. Season with a teaspoon each of paprika, curry, and mustard powder. Carefully add arugula; arugula has an intense flavor, so do not add too much — 6-7 stalks should be enough (I didn’t have any on hand). In a second pan, fry the mushrooms in a little oil for a few minutes. Then add those to the first pan. May be served with either bread or rice!

~Jessica

Science.

Excerpts that resounded from the post “Goodbye academia, I get a life.

“Every scientist goes on to do science for a single reason: the love of science. Science doesn’t make you rich, it doesn’t make you famous (can you tell me the last 5 Nobel Prizes for chemistry without looking on Wikipedia? I can’t either) and doesn’t make you comfortable. The only sane reason for starting to do science is the dispassionate love of science itself.”

I’ve also read how this is a scam in the way that the system pits scientists against one another, often for less than stellar work conditions.

“The first is going for the sky: doing great science in a first-class place, make a great curriculum and look for a tenured position in the end. The problem is that a lot of clever people want to go for the sky, and there is much more people who want the sky compared to the available positions…

Top level science requires also an absolutely mind-boggling determination and, overall, confidence in yourself. To properly do science you must be absolutely sure that, whatever you have in mind, you will do it, no matter what, and that you’re doing it right, to the point of almost self-delusion… Combined with the above, this means working 24/7, basically leaving behind everything in your life, without any doubt on your skills and abilities and most importantly on your project, while fencing off a competition of equally tough, confident and skilled guys.”

Statistics say this is true. The fact that there is an overabundance of academics has been seen in engineering, by the National Science Foundation, in the UKhumanitiesglobally, etc. This has resulted in more efforts to counsel PhDs in alternate career paths, even going so far as to actively promote leaving academia. (Although I’ve never even considered science to be like class warfare.) Life sciences, and particularly my field, biology, does not have the best ratio of jobs to graduates.

“There is a second option, which is bare survival. You go from postdoc to postdoc, perhaps end up as a long-term researcher somewhere in some tiny university or irrelevant research center and basically spend your time with a low pay, working on boring projects, crippled by lack of funding and without any hope of a reasonable career (because the career path is taken over by the hawks above described), nor any hope of stability in your life.”

This is the more likely reality of the two options he presents. Neither is something that most 9-5 employees tend to face upon entering the workforce. Even highly qualified individuals will be put off by the ‘rat race’ cycle of grants-teaching-research that never ends.

I like to think that people who leave academia to do something else are almost invariably much happier than before. I’ve seen enough psychological detriment (and physical and emotional health along with that) in graduate school to believe it isn’t impossible to be happier elsewhere. Just observations. Another great article about the conflict between being a scientist and doing good science, and being a scientist vs. academic. And for some humor, BuzzFeed provides.

~Jessica

Chinese snow pea stir-fry

Adapted from The Woks of Life

For the protein marinade:
protein of your choice
cornstarch
light soy sauce
oil

chicken stock or water
spoon of cornstarch
200 g snow peas, trimmed and washed
glug of oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 glug of shaoxing wine
spoon of light soy
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
dash of sesame oil
pinch of salt
Fresh ground white pepper
Pinch of sugar

~Jessica

Indian potato tomato curry

Adapted from LMU München and Show Me the Curry

1 big or 3 small sweet potatoes
200 g Green beans
Butter
200 g Tomatoes (I left this out this time)
coconut oil or butter
Cumin Seeds – if you have it
Asafoetida – if you have it
Salt – to taste
pinch of Turmeric powder
pinch of Cumin powder
pinch of Coriander powder
Red Chili Powder – to taste
pinch of Garam Masala
200 g Coconut milk

Dice peeled potatoes small (two small potatoes per person), add to pan with a little butter, sauté until potatoes are tender. Add salt, pepper, spices, chopped tomatoes (same amount as potatoes) and coconut milk, stir evenly. I also threw in some organic vegetable broth powder for extra umami. Simmer on medium low for 25 minutes. Serve hot with chapati or roti.

~Jessica