We’re almost at midterms week at Caltech. The term really ramps up after this, probably because you get a good base in whatever topics you are studying in your classes in the first half of the term, and then the problem sets in the second half of the term get quite a bit harder. Or maybe it’s because you have group projects due on top of the problem sets you’re already doing. Either way, there’s more work to do for the last 5 weeks of classes. Anyway, the first half of term is relatively laid back and I always get to do more non-work things, like explore Pasadena or LA, test new recipes, or generally hang out more.
One thing I’ve been doing is playing a lot of Dungeons and Dragons. I think I’ve mentioned that a fairly large group of people in my house started playing during ski trip at the beginning of second term, and that large group has now split into several parties who will randomly meet up and try campaigns. A few of my friends have come up with some really creative dungeons and have turned out to be really great Dungeon Masters. (Yeah, it’s as dorky as it sounds. But when you play with 8 of your best friends it turns into goofy, raunchy, fun). Last weekend we had a Friday night and Saturday night game going, which we still need to finish sometime soon, maybe this weekend. It was Ingrid’s birthday, so we started off with a puzzle (can you cut this cake 8 ways with only three slices?) and delicious cake.
Other than DnD, the same group of us have started watching HBO’s The Wire, which went off the air years ago but which is supposedly one of the greatest TV shows ever made. We’re only on episode 8, so no spoilers, please!
As for new recipes I’ve tried: my mother sent me back to school after Spring break with a donut pan, so I tried my hand at baked chocolate donuts (topped with melted dark chocolate and sprinkles because of course):
I’ve also found smoothie bowls to be a great breakfast or lunch. They don’t take any cooking whatsoever, just throwing the right stuff in a blender and then waiting for 20 seconds. By “the right stuff,” I mean whatever frozen fruit you like, probably also a banana (or some yogurt, for texture), and some milk/almond milk. This one was 1 banana, 3/4 cup frozen cherries, 1 cup almond milk. Topped with pumpkin seed granola I picked up at the grocery store when I bought the frozen cherries!
I’ve also recently started making more chia pudding. Chia seeds (yeah, the ones that grow chia pets!) absorb liquid and can turn a cup of liquid into a gel-like pudding consistency. It’s honestly kinda slimy and little bit crunchy (because the seeds are still in there) and it’s super off-putting if you don’t know what to expect. I’ve gotten used to it though, and I’ve started trying different flavors. Usually I just used 1/2 cup of chocolate almond milk and 2 tbsp of chia seeds. Stir that really well, stick in the fridge for 30 minutes, stir again, then stick it back in the fridge. 30 minutes later you’ve got chocolate pudding!
Last week, I blended a cup of raspberries and 1.5 cups of coconut water together, and mixed in 3/4 cup of chia seeds. It made four servings (basically a huge mixing bowl) of raspberry chia pudding.
I’ve also made banana, by blending 2 bananas, 1 cup of almond milk, and 1/2 cup of chia seeds:
Yeah, yeah. I know it looks like sludge :P
As for food I’m getting from other places, Eugene and I drove to Hollywood to go to Blu Jam Cafe this morning. We waited 75 minutes to get into this place and it was WORTH IT.
I recommend going on a weekday, though, and probably earlier than 11:30. Trust me, order the crunchy French toast. It’s coated in corn flakes and the texture is incredibly (gooey french toast on the inside, crunchy on the outside, what even is this?). We also got lox and bagels and chicken apple sausage, because it was 1:30 by the time we got our food and we hadn’t eaten anything yet today. Whelp. Won’t need to eat again until tomorrow at least :P
As part of my personal challenge to myself to get into LA more this term, I’m going to open up my to-go list to all of you! My new challenge: ask the Caltech Blog Readers if you guys have anywhere you’ve heard about in LA (or have gone to and highly recommend) that you want a review of. I’ll try to go there this term, and post about it here! I might even drag Grace (of Grace’s Table) along with me.
SURF, short for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, is a quintessential experience for any Caltech student. It is a widely accessible research fellowship for Caltech students that funds your proposed research for one summer term. While many of my classmates did their first SURF the summer after their freshman year, I sent in my first application to the program as a sophomore. As a CS major, I was trying to chase meaningful work that intersected computation with the field of neuroscience. I ended up doing a SURF at the Stanford School of Medicine that first year, studying hand gestures in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Since then, I’ve been working in the research space of applying computational analyses to ASD.
This summer, from the confines of my Brooklyn apartment, you could find me typing away on a tiny 13-inch laptop screen. At times I was looking for answers on countless Stack Exchange pages, editing a Jupyter notebook, or making blood flow measurements on a software called Arterys. This was my 2021 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURF) experience.
Almost a year ago now, I was just about to start my first Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at JPL. NASA had sent out an email to all of their summer interns containing a social media template to announce that we had been selected as NASA interns. Excited to show my NASA pride, I posted it on my Instagram story, unaware of what would come out of this small action.
Hey hey! We’re starting a series where I walk you through my best finds for food and drinks in the Pasadena region, and in the LA metropolitan area. Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, if you will (although, for copyright reasons we can’t call it that). As you explore your college options, I firmly believe that food and location are more important than your high school guidance counselor may lead you to believe. And I’m here to share my best finds from my time at Caltech with you.