Thursday, September 22, 2011

So... when do I get my report card?

In case you missed my large-scale social-media broadcast yesterday, I will reveal that my first academic paper has been published.* If you're interested in reading it, it is available to all here (no paywalls, yay!), but unless you're on my thesis examination committee I won't be disappointed if you just look at the pictures.

This is my favourite figure (Figure 5).
I think I should get a medal for designing the greatest histogram ever. 

While I'm thrilled that my paper is out there, I can't help but feel a little let down. You see... no one gave me a grade on it, and even though I'm done I have to write more of them (forever). Some people need to have a purpose behind their work, to be able to see how it fits into their life goals. Those people aren't me - I just need the work I do to be evaluated and found worthy. Yes, a successful peer review is an evaluation, but a pass/fail doesn't have the same deep satisfaction as an A. 

All said and done, though, seeing your name on google scholar is pretty satisfying all by itself. 

*Well, first as a first author... I have a fourth-authorship from some work I did as an undergraduate.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quinoa Salad #1 (Mushrooms and nuts)

As a recovering pasta addict, working quinoa into my diet has been an important coping strategy for me, so I have been inventing recipes based on what I have in my fridge and cupboards. I also like to hide vegetables in things, so salads are right up my alley. This isn't actually quinoa salad #1, but it's the first one that actually turned out delicious. Apparently part of being a grownup is eating your kitchen experiments even when they taste gross. 

This recipe makes two smallish portions (my dinner and lunch, I'd multiply everything except the lettuce by 1.5 if making it for two people, or add a meat to make it a bit heartier).


Ingredients: 
  1. Half a cup of dry quinoa
  2. 1/4 cup crushed walnuts
  3. 1 Tbsp flax seeds
  4. 1 portebella mushroom, diced finely (shut up, mushrooms are a perfectly legitimate vegetable)
  5. 1 shallot, in thin slices
  6. 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  7. 6 leaves of green lettuce (three per serving), in bite size pieces (Baby spinach would probably be good too, but I didn't have any)
  8. Salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
  1. Put quinoa in a saucepan with 1 cup of water, and bring to a boil. Keep an eye on it, and when it boils, bring it down to a simmer and cover and cook for 10-15 minutes. 
  2. In the meantime, melt coconut oil in a skillet and sautée the shallot and mushroom.
  3. I added salt generously here, because I was afraid it would taste gross. It's ok if this mixture is over-salted, because the quinoa is kind of bland on its own. Add pepper too, but no need to go crazy.
  4. When the mushroom looks almost done, add walnuts and flax seeds - toss them around until they're toasted and remove the whole thing from the heat. 
  5. My quinoa wasn't done, so I took this opportunity to fill my dinner bowl with lettuce.
  6. When the quinoa is done, empty it into the skillet and mix everything around.
  7. Serve the quinoa and mushroom mixture over the lettuce and enjoy. I hope.