Field of Science

Sunday foooooooooooood.

I've been in a kitchen-y mood this weekend, and I wanted to share some of my productivity. These are simple to make and not very expensive, so they're ideal for grad students!

Cim's chocolate cake of DOOM.

I got this recipe quite a few years ago from a friend of mine, but I had never tried to make it until yesterday. This isn't a sweet cake, it is more of a dark chocolate cake, so it needs a sweet icing. The original recipe is doubled because it is supposed to be a double-layer cake, but I didn't want nearly as much. If you like, you can double all the ingredients and then bake in two 8x8 or one 8x16 pan to make the full cake.

1 cup flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/8 cup unsweetened cocoa*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup cold brewed coffee or black tea
1/2 cup milk

* (Unfortunately the original recipe called for 3/4 cup and there's no good way to half this. I just eyeballed 1 and a half 1/4 cups.)

Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Beat wet ingredients lightly, then slowly add dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed for 3-4 minutes. Pour into 8x8 inch pan and bake at 350*F for ~30 minutes. Cool completely, then ice with something fruity or coffee-flavored. I used strawberry icing and it came out wonderfully.

Beef pot roast with vegetables.

I got this recipe from my grandma. It is a great recipe for the summer because you make it in a slow cooker instead of an oven, so you don't raise the temperature of the room. It is also great for winter because it is warm and hearty, and it is great for graduate students because all you have to do is toss everything into the crock pot in the morning before you go to the lab, and bam, dinner is ready for you when you get home.

You can add chopped onion to the mix if you like, but I find it flavorful enough without it. I also make a variant of this occasionally with apples and cinnamon instead of zucchini and spinach, if you want something very slightly sweet.

~2 lb beef roast (I prefer bottom round.) [Depending on size and cut, anywhere from $5-$10]
1 zucchini squash [~$1.00]
4-6 red potatoes [~$0.80]
2 big handfuls of baby spinach [$2.40 for 1 bag]
1 14 oz. can beef broth [$0.75]
salt, pepper, and basil

Total cost: $10 to $15 for 4-6 servings.

Line the bottom of your slow cooker with the baby spinach, then chop the zucchini into thick slices and quarter the red potatoes, then add to the pot. Put the roast on top, pour in the broth and then season the meat to taste with the salt, pepper, and basil. Cook on high heat for at least six hours.


  1. I love the idea of a dense, not-so-sweet cake paired with a fruity icing.

    The stew looks good, too, but I'm vegetarian. :/

    I am going to try this as a side very soon. And I expect it to be amaaaaaazing. :D

  2. I bet it wouldn't be hard to make the stew as vegetarian. Just throw in a few other kinds of veggies and use veggie broth instead of beef broth! I'm not experienced in cooking with tofu or alternative types of protein so I'm not sure how well it holds up in a slow cooker, but I bet there's a way to sub it in.


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