My name is Sarah and I was born and raised in California, but I am living the expat life in Zurich, Switzerland. I moved here from San Francisco in April of 2010 to complete my Master’s degree and PhD in Environmental Science. I decided that while I am knocking the degrees out (1 down, 1 to go) I would embark on a personal culinary adventure as a vent and therapeutic combat to the daily hours spent in the lab and in my office researching. What better therapy than cooking…so off to the Laboratory! ;-)
I set out with my goals being to explore tasty looking recipes from all around the world, utilizing the incredible cooking tool that we all now have at the tips of our fingers…the internet! Not only do we have the luxury of being able to get recipes almost instantly from any part of the world (thank you Google Translate!) but we can also read heaps of feedback and tips from multiple sources on most recipes. This gives us the opportunity to find the best of the best recipes. With that in mind, I utilize the researching skills I have picked up in graduate school to find the most savory recipes and the best cooking techniques in the world for making dishes from all ethnic backgrounds.
I have committed myself to the goal of making everything from scratch (when possible!) – a methodology that appeals not only to my keystone philosophy of using whole foods in cooking but also to the strict food budget regulations that come with the lifestyle of a graduate student. But by no means does having a tight food budget require you to sacrifice taste or style. I have found that putting just a little more time and effort into food preparation, you can save boatloads of money which can then be used for buying more fresh ingredients. =)
I also value keeping my cooking as sustainable as possible. I focus on buying everything local, when possible (a not-so –difficult feat here in Switzerland where they pride themselves on keeping everything Swiss, which inevitably keeps it all local as you can’t drive 3 hours in any direction without being in another country). I also try to close the loops in my kitchen by keeping all the scraps I make when I am cooking and bagging them up in my freezer until I have enough to throw into a pot and make into a nice big batch of stock – a priceless staple to have on hand in any kitchen. =)
Being an expat here in Switzerland, with Swiss German skills that one could categorize as lacking, makes this cooking exploration an adventure in itself! It has forced me to be in a constant state of translation – always trying to find the right ingredients in the store, converting ounces, pints and degrees in Fahrenheit to grams, milliliters and degrees in Celsius! It definitely keeps me on my toes. I have to attribute the outrageous costs for eating out here in Switzerland and the limited selection for great ethnic foods in the restaurants as the kickstarter for this cooking adventure. If I still had access to the $5 burritos of Pancho Villa at hand I am not so sure I would spend the extra hours pressing my own tortillas and refrying my own beans here in Zurich. It is true that tough times do make you stronger…at least when it comes to this first world problem!
I hope that this blog inspires you to experiment with some things in the cooking world that are unknown or may feel uncomfortable to you at this point. That is the goal of research in academia; why not bring this aspiration to the kitchen?! I also look forward to it enabling another channel for me to learn some additional cooking tips from others (i.e., please leave feedback!). Enjoy your time in mine and your own Savory Laboratory!