week 2 - maize, bread, & optical microscopy

For the second week we were assigned to make or bring bread. We were given the option to take bread from a dining hall, buy one from a store, or bake. I decided to bake bread because one of my friends had shown me how to make bread during winter break. Interestingly enough, the recipe was fairly simple and I had most of the ingredients already at my disposal but I did end up having to buy yeast and the flour. One of my roommates also brought some fresh rosemary from her garden at home. The recipe was fairly simple, only requiring garlic, thyme, rosemary, flour, instant yeast, salt, and water. It was a one bowl recipe and after mixing in all the ingredients I let it rise for 6h. In the morning, I first went to the gym and then returned to bake it in the oven for around 40 minutes. Shown below are the steps in making the bread (https://www.tastesoflizzyt.com/no-knead-rosemary-parmesan-bread/).

The pictures display the steps that I took while making the bread including the dry ingredients, parmesan cheese, fresh rosemary, instant yeast, the bread being put into a shelf to expand, and finally it being baked. 

Yeast, is a fungus that grows as a single cell, rather than as a mushroom (university of buffalo). Each organism is made up of one cell, yeast cells live together in multicellular colonies. In addition they reproduce through a process called budding where a "mother cell" grows a "bud" that gets bigger until it is the same size as the mom.

Instant yeast, is activated when it comes into contact with water. The yeast will become active soon after coming in contact with the moisture from the wet ingredients (recipe pocket). The most common yeast is called Saccharmyces cerveisiae. These strains are bred for gas production and the flavor. Another word for yeast is also called microorganisms (medium.com). Active dry yeast is partially dehydrated and is formed into granules. To active it, one most soak it with warm water and some sugar before adding it to dry ingredients. Additionally, cake yeast is made from a mix of yeast and water that has enough moisture to be compressed into blocks.

Furthermore, the flavor is developed with enzymes in the yeast as it breaks down starch molecules. As the yeast consumes sugar, it produces carbon dioxide and alcohol. While also organic acids and amino acids that make the taste. "In addition to adding flavor, the acids and carbon dioxide in the dough also make it more acidic, which causes even more chains of molecules to break into smaller ones. This creates flavor because when molecules in protein, starches, and fats are broken down into their building blocks they become delicious."

Explained in class, baker's yeast also can be passed down from generations by families. It can be stored in the fridge and fed. While it is responsible for the fermentation that makes beer alcoholic and allows the dough to rise. In the 19th century, bread bakers received their yeast from beer brewers. This process known as the Dutch process spread to Germany and was sold as cream. According to history, Tebbenhof was the first person in 1825 to make yeast into cube cakes by extracting the moisture. Whereas  in 1867, Reiminghaus used the filter press, allowing improved industrial manufacture of baker's yeast. This method is still used commonly throughout Europe.

Additionally, there was a guest speaker who discussed the roots of maize and the mast impact it has had specifically in the United States. Maize, is a cereal grain first domesticated by indigenous peoples in southern Mexico about 10,000 years ago (wiki). Also called corn, mazie has many properties and can be used for many things like fructose sweetener, starch, feed, oil, and even ethanol. America specifically has focused on the mass production of GMO corn instead of something more ethical environmentally. GMO corn can have benefits, however, America only breeds corn for its size rather anything else. There are many different kinds of maize that aren't produced anywhere than central Mexico. Thankfully there is a museum dedicated to the history of maize but in fact it is something that has been forgotten about. 

During Thursday we toured the interactive installation by Allison Hiltner. The piece simulated the pulse of a heart by using rubber tentacles that shrunk and inflated based off a sensor measuring one's heartbeat. The juxtaposition of the medical technology and the simulation of the alive heartbeat was breathtaking. I also agreed that adding the noise of the heartbeat, perfectly captured the message of the installation. 



Finally, we learned about the optical microscope. Where guest speaker professor Gimzewski, introduced the history behind the science including in 1665 where Robert Hooke was observing cells, through a microscope. Since photography had not been invented at the time, only cells were drawn by hand. Nanotechnology is used to assemble, control, and measure matter at a scale measure in nanometers. Pathologists today use this as a diagnosis at a cell level. For example, it can be used to observe cells that have become benign or even cancerous. It can even be used to feel the holes of human teeth. I was shocked to discover how far technology has advanced and how small microscopes can now measure when a millimeter is already small for me.