Monthly Archives: August 2012

Lab fright, and how to fight it

If you have happened to glance at the About page, you’ll know that when the baking biologist isn’t doing biology or baking, she also sings. What you might not know is that when she sings she gets major stage fright. Those who are not involved in any kind of performing arts might not have ever experienced stage fright. It’s not about being scared. It’s about the racing pulse, the sweating palms, the ringing in your ears as the panic rises…

But on a stage is not the only place the baking biologist gets stage fright: she gets it in the lab too.

When I walk into the lab there is sometimes a little voice that tells me You don’t belong here. It’s one part a Professor with a very dry sense of humour, who was single handedly responsible for me dropping molecular biology after first year (only to decide when I graduated that I wanted to do a genetics PhD….) It is one part a real badgerwaffle of a scientist that I had to work with after graduating, who went as far as telling me to do things wrongly just so he could enjoy watching me screw up. But though there are specific reasons that lab work unnerves me I don’t think I’m alone in finding a molecular biology lab a scary place to be, and I don’t think I’m the only one whose imposter syndrome stretches to the bench.  Continue reading

I may be sweet and nutty… but so is my baklava!

Last night wasn’t just a night for sausage rolls and single malt. It was a night for sugary nutty goodness as well. I can’t remember whether it was actually the housemate with the Turkish grandparents who introduced me to baklava, but I like to think it was. I certainly hadn’t encountered it prior to starting my undergraduate degree. Crisp filo pastry. Tooth-achingly sweet honey. Chewy nuts….

Ahem. Pardon me while I daydream.

Continue reading

A cure for heavy rain and an empty house: Whisky Sausage Rolls

Or  rather Whisky-Caramelised-Onion sausage rolls.

We moved into the new place just shy of a month ago, and it’s still a bit of a tip with unpacked boxes and stuff on every surface. I haven’t been doing much cooking, much less baking. And by the time I made it home (faffing in the lab, finishing blog posts, answering phone calls, sheltering from the rain) it was nearer to 8 than half 7. But I have the house to myself, and not much to do this evening (besides cleaning out the guinea pigs and laundry and tidying and … oh…) I wanted carbs. I wanted comfort food. I wanted to open nice whisky.

This is an adaptation of an adaptation by Helen Graves. It is not quick. It isn’t cheap. It is not fool proof. But it is worth every minute and every penny (even when I got distracted by the Olympic swimming and it all went a bit pear-shaped…)

Continue reading

#summergoals: End of July evaluation

A few weeks ago I decided to get a handle on my summer by setting myself some goals (thanks to  Flora Poste for giving me the idea!) . I’m a very target driven person and also prone to floundering without a schedule (someone remind me why on earth I wanted to do a PhD?) The aim of the game was to make SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound). In other words I set myself a whole bunch of tasks to be achieved; some big, some small; that would help my PhD in a noticeable way, and that were supposed to be complete by certain deadlines. The end of July was one of these deadlines.

My first recap of #summergoals was pretty successful. The end of July… less so.

Continue reading