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?
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.
Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to intern at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) under the mentorship of senior research technologist Dr. Xiaoqing Pi. Dr. Pi’s guidance and mentorship has been instrumental to the development and success of my internship at JPL, where I use machine-learning to enhance the accuracy and integrity of navigation and communication signals. In addition to helping me develop an understanding of atmospheric and ionospheric remote sensing and machine-learning, Dr. Pi has often offered his insights on how to improve my researching skills. Dr. Pi was generous enough to take the time to answer a few questions regarding his research and advice for future student interns. I believe many students can benefit from some of the lessons that he has taught me:
The transition period to remote learning was a very uncertain time, especially for research and the Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program. Many hands-on projects had to pivot at the last minute to facilitate off-campus contributions. However, many Techers were able to take advantage of the research opportunities offered at Caltech and JPL to make the best out of remote learning and research. To paint a picture, I’ve interviewed a few talented Techers for some insight on what researching from home looks like for them.