Update: Books, cooking, Churchill, and more

I have a lot of little things to say, mostly in the form of, “There will be a real post on this topic soon, I promise!” But for now, there’s not much (or too much) to report.

My normal method of cruising through books at a rate of several per week has been interrupted by a couple of tomes that have eaten up a lot of my time, and which I haven’t been spending more than an hour or two per day with. I’m almost done with them, though, so there will be an update on those soon.

I’ve also been doing quite a bit of cooking in the last few days, but I haven’t bothered to document any of it. On Friday, I made this zucchini rice gratin from Smitten Kitchen, which was quite tasty and worked perfectly to use up some of our produce. Next time, I think I’d chop up some sun-dried tomatoes and mix them into the rice mixture along with some extra herbs, or maybe some finely-chopped cooked Italian sausage; it was a little bland to my taste. Yesterday, we coated a pork tenderloin in a miso-based marinade (recipe at bottom of post), cooked it slightly in the microwave (we’re philistines…but a few minutes in the microwave helps cook large pieces of meat all the way through without them getting too tough), and put it on the grill for about 20 minutes for final browning. That turned out pretty well, but again, no picture. I’ve got a loaf of simple spelt bread (this time, I used 2 Tbsp honey as the sweetener and 2.5 c whole spelt flour to 1.5 c white spelt flour) in the oven as I write this.

Not as dark as the last one because I used honey instead of molasses, but it's cloudy outside, so you can't really tell the difference.
Not as dark as the last one because I used honey instead of molasses, but it’s cloudy outside, so you can’t really tell the difference.

The biggest demands on my mental energy have been getting ready to go to Cambridge and working on fellowship applications for next year. Although my Ph.D. at Harvard will be fully funded (though a Purcell Fellowship my first year, then through T.A. and research assistant salaries, as is pretty standard for all science Ph.D. programs), getting a nationally-competitive fellowship can help you get into the lab you want (since you cost the P.I. less), looks great on your CV, and can sometimes give you a little extra money during grad school.

To be honest, I found the process of applying for fellowships to be incredibly draining last year, even more so than applying for grad schools or for my undergrad research grant. In some ways, it was worse than writing my thesis; that, at least, gives you a sense of synthesizing your work and looking at the big picture. While I’m immensely grateful for the one fellowship I did get (the James B. Reynolds Scholarship for Foreign Study, from Dartmouth), I’m not psyched about repeating the application process. I’ve been “procrastinating” by getting some of my things ready for Cambridge, which is way more exciting. I got my visa in the mail today! It’s real! AAAAAAAHHHHH!!

I have never been so excited to receive a crappy photo of myself.
I have never been so excited to receive a crappy photo of myself.

Yeah. Pretty excited for next year, and for the years after at Harvard. I am so lucky. And, let’s be real, I worked my butt off to get the opportunities I did, and I’m pretty darn smart. That last sentence was a feeble attempt to head off impostor syndrome, another thing I will almost certainly post about in the near future.

OK, that’s enough of that. Here’s a miso marinade recipe:

Miso Marinade

Adapted from JustBento.

Makes enough for 1 large pork tenderloin, or probably 10-12 chicken tenders

3 Tbsp white miso (shiromiso)
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 Tbsp mirin
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
2-3 tsp dark brown sugar
Freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Mix miso and grated ginger in a small bowl, then add mirin, rice vinegar, oil, brown sugar, and pepper. As always, adjust proportions to taste. When I made this, it had a somewhat-thin paste consistency, so it stuck well to the meat. Spread evenly over meat in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap (or put in plastic bag and squish around to coat). Let sit for at least 2 hours, and up to 24 hours, before cooking.


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