Tinker

Experiments in tinkering and thought


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3 Pet Peeves as a Scientist

Sometimes a movie comes out that represents certain concepts in physics, chemistry, or engineering, and the lay people look on in wonder and ask: “Is that really how it is?” This is about something more subtle than that. This is about the times that most people may not even notice that something is amiss.

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University Research and Startup Commercialization – from a Graduate Student’s Perspective

My most recent area of interest has been business, entrepreneurship, and startups. My experiences have mostly been in university chemistry departments, which may or may not translate to other disciplines. Furthermore, these opinions stem mostly from my impressions more so than hard facts, but I’m always open to discussion and other perspectives.

Since I started my doctorate at Université de Montréal, my project has been aimed at moving the project to a stage that could feasibly be commercialised, in addition to the more fundamental side of the research. Though there is a small area of overlap between commercial and academic end goals, research with this dual objective can be difficult to manage. Continue reading


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Onigiri – Japanese Rice Balls

I first encountered these beauties when I was on my way back to Tokyo from Kyoto. I was about to go take the nozomi train and wanted

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Onigiri while waiting for the train.

to grab a bite on the go. Most of the convenient store (or supermarket) food over there ranged from decent quality all the way to good quality. I did not really encounter any bad food in Japan. That is not to say that absolutely everything was to my taste, but when it was not, it was not a matter of quality, it was just that I did not like the taste.

As far as I can tell, onigiri simply means rice balls Continue reading


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Steak Frites

Today we tackle a classic.  I am not going to claim that it is an improvement, or the best version ever, but I did have some fun trying variations around the batter used for making the fries.  For the steak, I usually try to go as simple as possible and let the meat speak as it should.

So I wanted to get fries that were ideally crispy and flavourful. Generally speaking, when I have made fries that are simply fried, or even double fried, they would end up crisp for a very short time, generally about 5-10 minutes, and then become moist.  Some of the best crispy fries that I have had were very crispy and nicely flavoured, over at Poulet Bronzé, strangely enough Sushi Saint Jean also had delicious fries (but terrible everything else).  So to get them to be crispy, we need to batter them, and I experimented a bit with some batter.

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Stuffed Peppercorn Squash with Cheese

I am going to start off by saying that I have worked through most of the apples we picked, and even if we still had some, I am tired of making apple recipes.  I still want to try making an apple soufflé at some point, but for now I will be content with just my chocolate soufflés (I have been basing them on this recipe, but the techniques seem to vary from one source to another… more experiments to do).  Regardless, all these sweet recipes are making me (and those around me) fat, so time to experiment with some savoury recipes.

This was a recipe that is mostly based on something my mother used to do.  It is a delicious mix of peppercorn squash and a meaty tomato sauce, all topped off with a grilled cheese layer.  For the moment, not much experimenting has been done (apart from having made it before), but I got a few ideas for variations on it to try out in the future.

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Apple Experiments – Apple Buttermilk Scones

I was trying to think of what to have for breakfast on this Sunday morning, and I thought some buttermilk scones would hit the spot, but then why not make it Apple buttermilk scones?

There was not much tinkering involved here, mostly just adding apple to the recipe.

Since normally dried fruits are used in scones, which are much more concentrated in sugar and flavour, these did not end up tasting much like apple.  A larger amount could be added to compensate for this, or maybe drying them beforehand.

Another thing is that since the margarine was salted, these ended up fairly salty (delicious) but it countered the apple taste somewhat.

All that being said, they were still quite delicious.  Bet you can’t eat just one!

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Apple Experiments – Apple Walnut Sugar Pie

Just when I thought we were out of apples and I could move on to some other ingredient as a base for my recipes, lo and behold, more APPLE PICKING!  We went with my wife’s family this time, picking a combination of Cortland and Empire.

This time I wanted to try making a cross between an apple pie and a sugar pie.

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