Friday, December 10, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Inspired By Wolfe--who will forever have a special place in my heart for making the medieval Beef y-Stywyd--sent me the following email:
I am nominating my friend Kathy who blogs over at Play, Eat, Learn, Live. For her daughter's 7th birthday, she organised a science-themed birthday party, including science experiment party games and pass the parcel with science themed prizes. The piece de resistance was the 'birthday cake' which took the form of cupcakes in the design of the periodic table. Once I heard her plans, I volunteered to help and we spent an evening icing 118 cupcakes with the correct chemical symbols. It's fair to say that until I began to ice 118 cupcakes, I did not fully comprehend how many cupcakes there were! Kathy has blogged about our experience in icing the cupcakes here:Oh, I do commiserate. The periodic table is a huge undertaking.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
I'm looking through all the fantastic science cookie roundup submissions in my email box this morning--scattered amongst the mountains of emails telling me I've won £500,000,000--and it looks like it is time for another roundup!
This time I have a few of my own cookies to include.
Though you must forgive the pastel colors. While crafting these cookies I was also making butterfly cookies with the young daughter of our UK house guest.
We've got beakers, flasks and test tubes! Best of all, I didn't have to hand cut them. I got my hands on a set of science cookie cutters. The first I've ever seen.
The set included cutters for flasks, test tubes, atoms and beakers.
I came across these cutters after reading an email from a physicist/chemist who works at a science museum. She was tired of hand cutting shapes (totally understandable) and ordered a custom set of cookie cutters from a manufacturer. Only she had to order a minimum of 2000 sets to have her design made. To unload the surplus cutters she decided to offer them up to the science-cookie loving public:www.sciencecookiecutters.com
I think Sherry is onto something. When she sells out--and she probably will--I think she should consider having other designs made up. Please? The nerdy baking community needs you. I need you. At the very least, I will buy them. Hand cutting macrophages is a pain!
Sherry sent in the cookies she made for a teachers workshop for the round up and a picture of her custom cutter set. As well as a brain cake they made for their biology meeting.
We have a lot of cakes this round up!
The next cake I received was from Carmela of Mela's Baking Adventures, whom I'm now hopelessly in love with.
I am a Pre-Med student going into my Junior year of undergrad. I was accepted into a program that gives early acceptance to medical school. One of the requirements of the program is to take classes at the medical school each summer, and at the end of the summer, we celebrate our hard work with a dinner banquet and talent show.
For the talent show, I decided to make a cake of an anatomy model (something that all of us at the program could relate to). I have included pictures of the cake, which is red velvet and is sitting on a blue sterile field. If you'd like to see the "surgeons" (aka caterers) in action, I posted those pictures on my blog.
Good thing he/she is only partially anatomically correct, eh. I will take a slice of liver, please.
I have also included the link to the video that I presented at the talent show. My brother put the video together since my talent is not in video editing, but in baking. I hope you like it and will consider posting it in the next Science Cookie Round up.
Love the video, check it out:
If the idea of eating a human torso doesn't disturb you, the next cake may...
Christine, an entomology grad student, of dragonflywoman.wordpress.com sent me this email and cake:
A friend of mine (Cheryl) in a wildlife and natural resources program defended her Ph.D. about a year ago. In her department, it's customary to turn defenses into potlucks and almost everyone shows up with some sort of treat to share with everyone else. Another friend, Jess, was interested in bringing a cake to the defense and asked if I wanted to help out and of course I did. Cheryl studies crayfish and Jess used to be one of Cheryl's employees for the project, so we planned (while on a boat taking water samples for work) to make a somewhat realistic crayfish cake based on Jess's knowledge of crayfish habitats and behaviors. We then scoured every toy store, party supply shop, and grocery store in the city looking for crayfish or lobster toys to put on the cake with no success. In desperation, Jess (an excellent fisherwoman) eventually thought to look at a bait shop. She bought four fantastic, rather realistic plastic crayfish lures and the crayfish cake was born.
Crayfish make burrows in mud at the bottom of the streams where they live, so we dug some holes out of our chocolate cake to represent burrow before we frosted everything with chocolate frosting. We went with chocolate in part because it is delicious and in part because we needed the cake to look muddy. We then tucked three of the four crayfish lures into the "burrows" after we carefully removed the hooks. They have their claws out like they would in the wild so that they're ready to defend their burrows from challengers. The fourth crayfish didn't have a burrow, so we placed him claw to claw with one of the burrow-holding crayfish to illustrate that it was challenging the resident crayfish to a fight for the burrow. We further decorated the cake with green sprinkles (representing algae) and chocolate sprinkles (representing clumps of mud or small rocks - the piles in front of the "burrows" are there to represent the materials they've excavated while digging the burrows) to give the whole thing a more realistic feel. It was an easy cake to make and the decorations were very simple, but we were quite proud of the realistic feel and scientific accuracy of our cake - until we brought it to the defense and NO ONE WOULD EAT IT! Apparently we had made it too real and people were scared to eat it, thinking that we'd put dead crayfish on it. Jess and I each had a big piece to let everyone know that it really was cake and that it was in fact edible (and tasty!), but we didn't get any takers. Still, Cheryl loved it, so we considered it a success.
Say it with me, folks: AHHHHHHHHHHGGGGG!
So realistic! I love it... after I got over my initial horror.
The next cake is from Carolyn, a grad student working on marine evolutionary genetics.
A few months ago, I helped teach a course in Molecular Ecology. For the last class, I made the students a gel electrophoresis cake as a reward for all their long nights at the gel bench. It's a simple chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream icing. It's iced to accurately reflect the size of the DNA fragments they were amplifying, complete with primer-dimer and a blank well as a control.
Electrophoresis cake, fantastic! It is about time! Now I want to see someone in the field get over their agar repulsion and make a pertri dish cake.
The other cake depicts a kelp forest ecosystem, and was made as a submission to a friend's Art Show and Garden Party. We're mostly all marine biologists, so the cake represents a classic ecological interaction between sea otters (which eat sea urchins), purple sea urchins (which eat kelp), and of course, kelp (which shelters sea otters). The breakdown of this system with the removal of sea otters is a classic example of a trophic cascade-- but this cake ecosystem is balanced and happy, and even has a few garibaldi for color. This is a dark chocolate cake with brandied ganache, decorated with fondant (of course).
This has to be one of the prettiest science cakes submitted to date. Gorgeous.
Our next set of cookies comes from Catherine, a biology undergrad.
I am finishing up my undergrad in Biology this year and taking an 8 week Microbiology class. I decided to spice things up a bit and make micro cookies to share with them all! Here are a few of them: agar plates, scientists and my favorite virus (to learn about not acquire)... the T4 Bacteriophage!! I ended up making these cookie cutters by cutting out the bottom of an aluminum lasagna pan and shaping them around a design I had made on some thick cardboard, and then I stapled it together.
Love the little piping gel goggles on the scientists! And the lasagna pan-cardboard cutters did a great job! Going all Macgyver on the science cookie creation. Right on!
Kristina, a post-doc biochemist/biophysicist sent a sample of her baking. These perfect female spectral karyotype cupcakes!
Based on Martha's Caterpillar Cupcakes.
Because a science cookie roundup wouldn't be complete without some version of a lab mouse, we our next cake by Sunmi.
For the past two years I have been working in a transplant immunology research lab, spending most of my waking hours with the thousands of mice that my lab uses. When I started working full-time, I found myself with free time on my hands for the first time since middle school, so I began trying out new recipes, churning out baked goods faster than my roommates and I could eat them. Of course the natural solution was to bring the excess food to the lab, and pretty soon I became established as the resident baker of the lab. I even received a marriage proposal the first time I brought cookies for the animal facility staff!
I wanted to make something special for this past Friday since it was my last day at the lab, so I turned to your science cookie posts for inspiration. I settled on a mouse(-shaped) cake (not a cake made of mouse!), which got a great reaction from everyone who saw it. Its proportions are like those of a 2- to 3-week-old mouse, which is my favorite age for mice. I like to think of it as the mouse equivalent of the human 2- to 3-year-old, when it is impossible for anyone not to be adorable. :)
The cake in progress:
Great idea for the whiskers!
Our last submission is from one of the youngest bakers to contribute (16!), Chelsea Ann of Chelsea Ann Coconut.
Chelsea sent in these absolutely fantastic cookies representing neurons, neuromuscular junction, spine with nerves.
I just finished a week of work experience with a neurosurgeon! It was absolutely amazing and to say thanks, I made these cookies. I'm a bit proud :)
I think I got everyone in this month's round-up. If I missed you (the blog's email box is roughly 99% spam, it happens), email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to be in the next round up, shoot me an email with links or photos of your science-themed edible goodies. Including "Science Cookies" or "Science Roundup" in the subject line helps ensure I don't miss you.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Somehow April slipped by without a science cookie roundup!
How did that happen? That sneaky month just went ahead and ended on me without any warning. Time it seems, just slips by when you've got a lot going on.
Well, better late than never! Right?
Science cookie roundup #4!
This time we have so many terrific cakes that I can barely get away with calling it a "cookie roundup" but I'm going to anyway (because I can).
I baked the cookies pictured above (along with nearly 60 others) this month. I'm not going to go into detail about what they are exactly, since they're for a project that is still in the works. Still, they're my contribution to this month's round up. If you can guess what they are, geek-gold-star for you!
Let's get on to the baking nerdery...
Crissy made the following gorgeous science cake. So pretty that even if you have no idea what it depicts, you can still appreciate its handsome good looks.
"I'm currently a third year grad student focusing on cilia biology. I made this cake last year for one of my labmate's birthdays - it depicts the cross-section of a 9+2 cilium by transmission electron microscopy. I covered the cake in homemade marshmallow fondant, which I also colored and used for the design."
Kim sent me several batches of science themed baked goods, including this beautiful cake.
"The cake a bit more math-related than science, but it seemed right up your alley anyway. It is a normal white cake with basic frosting gone horribly nerdy. It was for an 80's themed birthday party, hence all the colors. Around the outside is the birthday girl's name spelled out in binary (ASCII) and in the middle is an equation for finding the probability of 2 people out of a group of n having the same birthday."
Statistics is very much up my alley. I loved it!
"One is a set of mole-shaped mole-assus cookies spelling out Avagadro's number. I made them for some nerdy boys I know in honor of Mole Day a few years back. The extra dough became some recognizable (and some not-so-recognizable) molecules."
Fellow baker and science lover Andrea made this incredible brain cake!
"Our Neuroscience Club participated in the chocolate festival here at our university so I made this brain cake. I know its not a cookie, but I think it fits right in with all of the science-food fun! Its made of 3 layers of devil's food cake, carved into the dome shape and covered with homemade dyed fondant."
Molecular Biologist Carolyn sent me these mice cookies she made for her lab.
I really find it amusing how biologists love mice cookies, but when I show a biologist a petri dish cookie the general response is: "I can't bring myself to eat that!"
Sure petri dishes smell bad but do the mice really smell much better? I'm digressing here... on to the mice cookies!
Clockwise from top left:
Dorsal skin chamber with GFP tumor
Cranial window with GFP tumor
Nude mouse (cover your eyes kiddos)
Monica, a former science teacher, sent in these crayfish cookies she made for her son's class (they studied crayfish this year).
I actually have this exact cookie cutter. I used to have a couple of them but I sent one to a friend who claims to be 'allergic' to seafood. I thought it would be a good way to taunt him.
I know, I'm a great friend.
Very cute cookies, Monica.
Marta sent in an absolute wealth of engineering cookies for this month's roundup:
- Fourier's law (heat conduction)
- Electromagnetic field
- Atom (a classic)
- Organigram (they have some subjects on Management)
- Circle surface (I particularly like this one. So geek).
- Reynolds' number
- Laplace transform
- Integration of the exponential function (which is equal to itself, integration has no effect. It seems to be a maths joke.)
- On/off button
- Binary numbers
- Electronic boards
- BJT transistor (third row, second column)
- Vector addition (third row, forth column)
- Cantilever beam (third row, fifth column)
- Two-spam beam (forth row, fourth column)
I hope I got everyone!
Ever since publishing my email address on here, I've been inundated with spam. Stock tips, male enhancement, cheap prescription drugs, deposed Nigerian royalty with lots of money in need of safe keeping, you name it.
It is making managing my daily emails a little annoying. So if you got lost in the crush and I missed you, send me an email today and I'll edit you in. If you're interested in being in the next science cookie roundup just send me an email to email@example.com and I'll share your baking nerdery.
If you send me a 419 scam, my bank account routing number is 3304...
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
My sourdough starter is starting to make me feel bad.
I've been taking such good care of my little pot of yeast and I am so proud of it. Every day I take charge of feeding it, watering it, keeping it warm and it grows, bubbles and thrives under my care.
This makes me feel quite aware that my Mr. Stinky is a living breathing thing.
Now the anthropomorphized Mr. Stinky is making me feel really guilty about his care routine.
I can see him over there, giving me the yeast stink eye....
Allow me to explain in web-comic form: