I’ve always felt that I wasn’t creative enough in the lab. If protocols say to add 24 ul and wait 5 minutes, I will do just that. Sometimes I’m lazy and hurried, and it will be 4 minutes or 6 minutes, but that kind of behaviour seems to be a Bad Thing.
The people who are the best at benchwork always follow everything to a the tiniest detail. If they change something, they do so very methodically, by running parallel experiments under varying conditions. They don’t just switch to another brand or batch number midway through an experiment, or forget their samples on their bench, or accidentally had half amounts of some components and then mentally adjust to figure out what to add on top of that to get the proportions right again. Yeah.
I did get better over time, but I still don’t really like following protocols.
I also don’t really like following recipes. Like experiments, my cooking immediately suffers when I don’t do exactly what it says on the page or on the side of the box. I’m using the word “recipe” very loosely here, because most of my cooking is of the “add water” or “microwave for 3 minutes on high” variety.
Someone once told me that I just don’t like cooking because I don’t enjoy eating very much. That’s probably true. I mean, why bother: you’re just going to eat it anyway. And having never really been home before 8 after lab and meetings, I always came home really hungry, and just wanted to eat – not cook it first!
As supporting evidence for the “I don’t like cooking because I don’t enjoy eating” statement, I do really like baking. And I’m good at it, and I am not scared to experiment with the recipe! The first time I made pumpkin pie I replaced half of the required pumpkin amount with apple sauce. The second time, with the same recipe, I added double the amount of spices and used whole wheat flour for the crust instead of white flour. Both pies were amazing, if I may say so myself. Friends agreed.
I guess this also says something about my feelings towards lab work: I probably just didn’t really like what I was working on, and that’s why I found following the protocols such a drag. And/or if I had been better at it, I could have altered the protocols to get even better results than with the original protocol!
But back to the kitchen: I’ve decided that now that I no longer have to follow protocols in the lab, I should really devote more time to experimenting in the kitchen. Since it is apparently unhealthy to live on pies and cakes and cookies and meringues alone, I am going to try and learn to cook better. The goal is to have 5 awesome “signature” dishes (and home-made bread) by the end of the year: two vegetarian, one vegan, one fish, and one chicken. I will not eat the last two myself (maybe a bit of the fish one) but I’ll serve it to other people and have them decide.
My 2008 resolution was to finish my PhD, and somehow the cooking project seems much, much harder…
I think I’ll start with a quiche – at least that looks like a pie.