Friend L really likes Mexican food and had been wanting to make tacos for weeks, so we finally caved in and made tacos for dinner today. (Friend L is one of those people with actually no cooking experience at all but somehow ends up cooking food that looks more legit than what we make. I don’t understand it at all. She also runs the blog Surf Surf Revolution.)
Tacos consist of three to four things to cook, depending on your tastes: 1) a thing made from flour to hold the stuffing, 2) mexican rice, for the stuffing, 3) beans, for the stuffing, and, optionally, 4) meat, for the stuffing.
For the thing to hold the stuffing, Friend L decided to make our own tortillas. It was pretty easy – make a dough, flatten, then cook on pan with oil.
**Protip: when recipes call for “dust work surface lightly with flour”, they actually mean “dump large amounts of flour on your work surface until you can’t see the surface anymore”. **
**Protip: it’s a lot easier to filp things when you dual wield. **
We didn’t flatten the dough balls enough, so the tortillas looked more like naan instead. At least we know what to do if we ever want to make Indian food…!
For the rice, we followed instructions on the internet and obtained various ingredients from various places. Instead of cooking the rice on a stove, we dumped everything in a rice cooker because it seemed like a good idea at the time.
We didn’t have long-grained rice so used medium grain instead, which was completely wrong but it can’t be helped. As expected from rice cookers, the rice turned out quite well.
The beans were a little bit more work; Friend L had been soaking the dried pinto beans in water ever since last night, and we started slow-cooking the beans well ahead of time, but they still weren’t done by the time they’re supposed to. We left the beans in the slow cooker for another hour but they were still hard… We ended up taking out the beans we wanted to eat and microwaving them instead. That worked quite well.
**Protip: beans always takes longer to cook than you think it will. Plan ahead of time. **
Friend L also bought organic ground beef, which was delicious and fatty and possibly the easiest thing to make besides the taco shells. Making the meat was just doing the generic “brown onion and garlic, brown beef” sort of thing. We tossed some extra jalapeno peppers in the meat for taste.
The end result was pretty great. I think the rice was my favorite part of the dish. Rice and beans and flour turned out to be super cheap, too! (The ground beef, not so much…)
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.