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Posts Tagged ‘spring’

I love doing experiments.

I need to do experiments.

I enjoy working in the lab.

This, I know, is what I am born to do.

As much as I love experimenting in the lab, I too, love experimenting in the kitchen.  I somehow associate experimenting with cooking.  And these words are interchangeable in my dictionary. 🙂

AT WORK:  The lab is my kitchen and my samples are my recipe.  My results are the products of my hard work- they are the food I have created.  But I also understand that doing science is not just about the fun part- cooking.  It is actually about serving your meals to the people a.k.a. your costumers.  It is about the purpose- the costumer´s satisfaction and their nourishment.  It´s purpose is to nourish- to promote growth, to better knowledge and deepen understanding, to foster the development of research and technology for the betterment of humanity.  Science involves writing and making it known to the public.  It is about publishing.  “Publish or perish” right?  And so, the pressure is up, but the projects are most often than not frustrating.  This cooking career requires skills, patience, lots of troubleshooting, and tons of faith and prayer. But I enjoy it anyhow…

AT THE KITCHEN:  I experiment on new recipes. I search for ingredients and I get a bit creative and flexible with it.  I look for alternatives, and this is the fun part of it. It takes courage and experience to create new things, and this is what it takes to create new recipes.  And resourcefulness wouldn´t hurt either.  And this is what I just did.  I used my resourcefulness 🙂

I picked some fresh sour cherries at my institute´s garden, washed them thoroughly and patiently pitted them one by one. I then transferred the pitted cherries in a cooking vessel on a low heat. I added a handful of white sugar and I brought it into a boil.  I set aside some of the juice extracts from the marmalade and then I poured a half bottle of red wine into the pot.  I continuously heat it up until the alcohol from the wine was reduced.  This is to concentrate all the rich flavors from the sour cherry, the sugar, and the wine.  I came to a product I call cherry wine marmalade.

Oh my, I love the taste!  It is perfect for my early morning (plain) yoghurt (I also tried it with freshly cut banana, and it´s wonderful!), or top it on a vanilla ice cream.

I also turned the juice extract from the marmalade into a wonderful cherry cocktail.  I filtered the extract it into a bottle, added some sugar for added sweetness, or vodka, for a kick.  I gathered some ice cubes and put it in, gave a hard shake  and  wahhhlahhhh!!!! My refreshing cherry drink.

I served these to my friends when I hosted a dinner one Saturday night in my apartment and they loved it.  It just complemented the pineapple chicken and buttered veggies I served for the main course. We did enjoy the ice cream topped with cherry marmalade and the cherry cocktail while we sang our hearts out in youtube karaoke and laugh our night through it.

That´s the thing with experimenting in the kitchen over cooking in the lab – I always get good results, a smile on my face and a happy stomach.

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Being an Asian who grew up in Asia and has only been to Asia (confined to the Philippines and Taiwan, and has recently been to India), I am so inquisitive on anything (different) about the Western culture, its people, its weather, its vegetation, and all nice things this temperate region has to offer.

I had experienced my first snowy wet winter.  Oh goodness!  That was hard.  It was always gray, gloomy, cold to the bones, and depressing.  Okay, I’m exaggerating… I know it’s not Alaska or Canada or Norway. It’s just Cologne, Germany. But you can’t blame me. I flew from hot Philippines to white, snow-covered Germany.  It was heat shock, if you must say.

I too had experienced a pleasant spring that filled my soul with colors and glow.  Oh!  How I loved those spring flowers abloom, the warm kiss from the sun, and the birds’ singing that greets me a nice morning.  Most of these flowers I met the first time.  Here is an interesting species of flora and fauna and I enjoy every sight of them.

Summer is not less fun either. I am so loving the long days here. Winter depression is now long time gone, and the spirit is on high. I am even much more productive and effective at work, even in doing  (frustrating) experiments.

The days start early at about 4:30 and ends at about 22:30  Is that not awesome?  That even after a long day’s work, one can still enjoy the sunshine for a jog… a stroll in the park….. or…. apple and cherry picking. How wonderful.

BTW and FIY, this was my first time to meet Mr. Apple Tree, Ms. Cherry Tree, and their friends Ms. Pear, little Raspberry, Blueberry, Blackberry, Bilberry, lovely Olive, and beautiful Plum.   My eyes twinkled at the sight of them!

Thanks to the gardeners who painstakingly maintains the MPIZ gardens.  Great to know that my new friends are just around the campus and I guess I will be their constant visitor from now on 🙂

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It´s spring time and I am so loving it!  The weather, the fresh plants, the green trees, the flowers, the butterflies and the bees, the birds, the sunlight, and the longer daylight.  And it´s the best time for a walk.

And so our group went into what we call a spring walk.  Into the small village called Eifel.

It was nice to be out of the lab as a group.  We enjoyed nature together; and basked in the sun, smelled the fresh air, and adored the breathtaking view of the vineyards.

We saw new things, new plants. Talked about different flora and fauna. Picked and ate wild strawberries.  Saw slugs of different colors and sizes.  Discussed about the movie Into the Wild… as we hiked up and down the wine road and mountain tracks.  While I enjoyed taking photos and documenting our walk. 🙂

It was tiring. However, refreshing. And cathartic.  It was a lovely walk indeed!

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I went to the Netherlands for the second time to attend a Proteomics course at Wageningen University.  I thought I will just be stuck in a classroom trying to understand and absorb as much information I can get from the course.  And for this I prepared myself for the next 4 days in the university.

It sounds hardwork and boring right?  But my stay there was as fun as one can get! Who would have thought proteomics, a combination of the study of proteins and genome, could also be a blend of study and leisure?

The university is located in the small town of Wageningen which is composed of about 37,000 residents and about 8,000 of which are students.  Wageningen is called the city of life sciences thanks to Wageningen University and Research Center and other research institutes.  The town is the center for Agricultural, and Food and Nutrition studies in the Netherlands.

The old campus of Wageningen University is the perfect place for a quiet, serene, and relaxing atmosphere.  Yes, it was relaxing despite the tough course.  Believe me, please.

The campus has lovely ponds and two botanical gardens where photography junkies and nature lovers alike can delight and take pride on the sweetness of the countryside life. Also, the nearby river Nederrijn or Rhine river (which runs through Cologne too!) offers a cool atmosphere and a breathtaking view.

On my daily 20-minute walk to and from the Biochemistry building and Hotel de Wageningshe Berg, I reveled on the spring weather, the flowers, the greenery, the river side, the sunshine, the birds, the lovely houses, the bicycles, and the friendly smiling people.

I too had the luxury of time to give way for a good reading in the hotel balcony overlooking the river.  The novel “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Shaffer and Barrows is just as alluring and captivating as this small town.  It also has as extraordinary a name as Wageningen, don’t you think? And it is as phenomenal as how one pronounce Wageningen (Va-ke-ni-ngen) with the typical Dutch spit sound at the second syllable.

The proteomics team, the lunch and the fair weather.

Wageningen University old campus

In and around Wageningen…

…during my most coveted afternoon walks with my camera.

That is the Rhine river- the same river I am admiring in Cologne!

And if you´d ask me…

…Yes, I do love plants!

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