A Recipe for Botany

blog captureAre you a gardener, or interested in gardening? How about going deeper and delving into a bit of botany? Do you like to cook? I find great satisfaction in planting a seed, nurturing the crop to harvest, then discovering the tastiest way to prepare the results. Plus, I want to understand the plant I’m eating. That’s why I was so excited to discover a new-to-me blog, The Botanist in the Kitchen. (I’ve added it to my list of links for your convenience.)

I immediately realized that the two authors, PhD biologists Katherine Preston and Jeanne Osnas, are my kind of people. In fact, it was blog-love at first sight.

To take a paragraph from the “About” description:

A person can learn a lot about plants through the everyday acts of slicing and eating them. This space is devoted to exploring food plants in all their beautiful detail as plantsas living organisms with their own evolutionary history and ecological interactions. Our goal is three-fold: to share the fascinating biology of our food plants, to teach biology using edible, familiar examples, and to suggest delicious ways to bring the plants and their stories to your table.

(In reading about the authors, I realized that we share a university in common. If Katherine had been teaching botany while I was an undergrad, I would have rushed to sign up for her course!)

I admit to being a grammar nerd. Maybe that’s because my paying job includes editing books and articles for publication. Or maybe I’m just detail-oriented and somewhat of a perfectionist. (OK, not just somewhat.) Well, the authors are botany nerds, and should be proud of it. The first post I saw was “Botany lab/rant of the month: that’s a magic beanstalk, not a soybean,” from last summer. Apparently, the plant illustrating Katherine’s soymilk carton was not a soybean, and she called them out about it. Yes! Someone who thinks like I do!

Intrigued, I read a few past posts and found them to be both amusing and filled with facts. How could you not click on an article with the title “Pirates of the Carob Bean”? I discovered why kiwi fruit are fuzzy. And, looking at posts from previous Octobers, I learned why my Jack-O-Lantern cooks down into stringy squash: “If it’s stringy, it’s because your pumpkin shares the same alleles for a single gene, sp, as spaghetti squash, which is somehow involved in the formation of pectin bands that dissolve during cooking, leaving strings.”) I didn’t know that—did you?

If I have one complaint, it’s that new posts seem to appear rather sporadically. The blog dates back to August, 2012, but there are many months between then and now when nothing was posted. I can only guess that the authors got busy with teaching and research—totally understandable—and this wasn’t a top priority. The soybean post I mentioned above was the most recent, and that was in July. Yes, I’m just being greedy.

I realize that this blog isn’t for everyone. The articles can get pretty technical. However, they’re nothing like many of the textbooks I’ve had to slog through. Those were dry. These posts are definitely entertaining, and besides, there won’t be a test on the material.

Thank you, Katherine and Jeanne. You make learning fun.

2 thoughts on “A Recipe for Botany

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