Since there’s no mandatory board dinner over the summer, it’s the perfect time to grind experience points and level up on some life skills. Although I have been making food on the weekends with friends for a while now, all of my friends who actually knew how to cook have left. Since I have tons of cooking experience from watching quality Japanese cartoons when I was little and that one cooking class I took in middle school in which I totally did not set my oven mitt on fire, nothing can go wrong, right??
To prevent starvation, roommate S and I decided to go off to Pavilions, the nearest supermarket, to buy some foods for the next few days.
Our choices are thus (from top to bottom, left to right):
the second-cheapest vegetable we could find at the local supermarket (because we had the cheapest some days ago. Gotta have variety!)
leftover small sweet peppers from our last cooking adventure (they were on sale)
kale, which was chosen over the other vegetables via some coin flips
some large quantity of flesh (cow)
Not pictured are half a bag of potatos, one avocado, garlic, and random spices, all accumulated from our previous cooking adventures.
Buying the large amounts of meat has convinced me that I should go vegetarian, because flesh is too expensive. The meat (which was the cheapest per pound that we could get) costs $12 each pack. That’s 6 bunches of kale we could’ve bought with that money! My roommate, who is not as cheap as me, declared that she’s not willing to go vegetarian but would be willing to cut down on meat consumption somewhat. The duel is at midnight. Whoever loses will become food for the winner.
Whatever. On to the cooking.
THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO COLLEGE COOKING
Step 1: Heat oil in pan.
Step 2: Put in all of the garlic and/or onions you own.
Step 3: Put in all of your uncooked food.
Step 4: Poke food with stick.
Step 5: Eat with rice.
This is actually how we cook.
Honestly though, cooking is not that hard. Both of my friends who actually knew how to cook abandoned us for the summer, and my roommate and I haven’t died… yet…
The finished dishes: kale with olive oil and sesame seed sprinkled on top so it tastes both Asian and European; flesh cooked with peppers, onions, and garlic because we had to get rid of the peppers before they go bad; and rice. A shout-out to roommate S if you’re reading this: follow the instructions on the rice cooker and don’t add too much water next time!
Also, because we had leftover rice, we made rice pudding.
Actual cooking tip of the moment: Always brown garlic and/or ginger and/or onions first before you add the rest of the ingredients! To brown things, put oil in pan, turn on heat to some arbitrary temperature, put your garlic/ginger/onion in, and stir it around with a spatula or something until they start smelling delicious. Garlic and ginger should turn slightly brown. Onions take forever, but at least wait for the pieces to become clear. Browning makes your food more delicious because of the Maillard reaction, which forms various new flavor compounds that make your food delicious.
Next time, on Cooking with Chengyi: What is this?? JPL doesn’t accept dbal for lunch anymore??? What is Chengyi going to do with $320 worth of declining balance?
This summer I had the incredible opportunity to do a 10-week internship at Gilead Sciences in Foster City, CA. For those unfamiliar, Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a research-based biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of innovative medicines.
With 45 Nobel Laureates on its Faculty Roster, it’s not surprising that research is an integral part of the Caltech undergraduate experience. One of the programs that promotes such research is the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). There is no minimum knowledge or experience required to participate in a Caltech SURF. In fact, students can participate in a SURF as soon as the summer after their freshman year. It is not difficult to get a SURF. All you need to do is find a mentor who is working in an area of research that interests you and willing to mentor you through a research project. The mentor can work in a Caltech lab, at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), or at another participating institution. Once you find a mentor, you work together to write a project proposal that you later send to the SURF office for review and approval. About 98% of the SURF proposals get approved. This fellowship is a great way to explore various fields of research and obtain real, hands-on experience where you get to apply the theoretical knowledge you’ve learned in class. Not only do you get to work and learn alongside your mentor, but you also get compensated for your time. The length of the SURF is ten weeks, and it starts at the beginning of the summer. However, it is not uncommon for many students at Caltech to continue their research project throughout the academic school year.
Like many students at Caltech, I suffer from a slight boba addiction, where side effects may include over caffeination, minor sugar highs, and of course, a large toll on one’s wallet. This addiction is not helped by the fact that there are at least three boba shops within walking distance of campus. So, after an entire term’s worth of boba runs, I came back from winter break with a new year’s epiphany: it was time to get a job. Rather than try to curb my addiction, I decided to find a way to subsidize it.
Research at Caltech looks different for every student, and can often vary term by term. As a chemistry major, my course requirements are on the lighter side for a Caltech major, and many chemistry majors take advantage of the lighter course load to join research groups. This can be whenever the student wants, but many people join labs during their freshman or sophomore years. Some may work in one lab only, and some may switch between labs during the course of their undergraduate studies, depending on if their interests change.