Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Ginger-Hoisin Beef and Scallions on Crispy Noodle Cakes (Page 56)

  • Date: Friday, April 4, 2008 -- 7pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Randy, Peter M, Bert, Bruce, Dan, Vigleik, Tony, etc...
  • Recipe Rating: B

I wanted to make one reasonably fancy appetizer for my math party last Friday night, so I chose this recipe which sounded quite tasty. An odd thing happened though: nobody would eat them. I don't mean that people tried them, decided they didn't like them, and then didn't eat any more of them. Rather, people just wouldn't try them. Odd, no? They were pretty cute. They looked like a hunk of beef on top of some noodles, which looks appealing to me. But they hardly got touched aside from the few that I ate. It was weird. Too fussy-looking for a crowd of mathematicians? I'm not sure... Anyway, these little bites had both positive qualities and not-so-positive ones. First, the good stuff: the beef was delicious (as you would expect beef tenderloin to be -- otherwise why would you spend so much to buy it!). The sauce was also extremely tasty. It had a strong flavor which complemented the beef well. The bad news is that the crispy noodle cake was not so good, and that detracted from the dish. My main complaint about the noodle cake is that it had hardly any flavor to it. The texture was extremely crispy, which didn't complement the beef nicely. I would have much preferred the beef on little toasts, or even just by itself, with the sauce dabbed on top. It was extra-frustrating because in addition to contributing negatively to the dish, the noodle cakes were a pain to make. So I definitely wouldn't make this recipe again as written, but I may prepare this beef and sauce again sometime, as it was quite delicious.

Here is the recipe.

I am teaching double this week. (When I run off to California mid-semester, as I have a couple times this term, my class doesn't just run wild through the halls. Someone teaches them. In return, I teach that person's class while they are away. This is such a week, so I am teaching double.) My own students took an exam today, and so I am currently bleary-eyed after several hours of grading. I graded half the exam today and will worry about the other half tomorrow. I always read my exams carefully before administering them to make sure everything is clear, but I still got about a dozen questions during the exam today about one part of one problem. Apparently it was very confusing. Here was the setup. They were told that a differentiable function f(x) has exactly one critical point, which is at x=3. Then they were provided some additional information and asked to figure out if the critical point was a local maximum, a local minimum, or neither. Then they were supposed to sketch a possible graph of such a function. So, in the part of the problem where they had trouble, the addition information was: "f(x) goes to infinity as x goes to infinity, and f(x) goes to infinity as x goes to negative infinity." This created huge problems. Before I tell you, can you guess why?

(time to think about it)

Ok, so here's the thing. My students thought it was a contradiction. They interpreted that as, "whenever f(x) goes to infinity, x goes to infinity, and whenever f(x) goes to infinity, x goes to negative infinity." That would indeed be difficult to understand, but that isn't what it says. That interpretation also demonstrates a mysterious lack of understanding about dependence in function. The idea the f(x) depends on x is an important one. Anyway, I tried to clarify matters for the students who asked about it. I haven't graded that problem yet. It will be interesting to see what happens...


mkd said...

As a high school math teacher, I try my best to help the kiddos with math language. It's tough at any level.
Thanks for writing a blog about many things that I love: math, cooking, Boston, and Stanford.

Teena said...

Thanks for reading! Yeah, I think many people are intimidated by the language of mathematics, which makes the whole subject seem more frightening! I'm glad to hear that you are working to help your students understand it better!

Math, cooking, Boston, and Stanford are some of my favorite things too! Did you go to Stanford? What year did you graduate?