Stuffed Cookie Recipe

I took a break from my usual lichen filled life to bake some delicious cookies and they were so good I am going to share them here. I got adapted a recipe from a blog called Sugar loco.

stuffed cookie

Ingredients you will need: 

2 large eggs

350 g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

225 g salted butter

225 g caster sugar

85 g dark brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

150 g chocolate chips

12 peanut butter cups/ Oreos

Equipment: 

muffin/ cupcake tray

grease proof paper

large mixing bowl

wooden spoon

Method: 

Preheat oven to 150 ºC (I use a fan assisted oven.)

Use softened butter or alternatively soften butter in the microwave (do this in 10 second intervals). Beat the butter and sugar together until you get a pale creamy mixture. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Add vanilla and mix until combined. It is important here not to over mix!

To this mixture add in the flour, baking powder, mix until combined, again do not over mix. Finally fold in the chocolate chips.

The cookie dough is quite wet but don’t be afraid it will all work out.

Grease the tray, I used butter (you can use spray if you prefer). Then cut strips of grease proof paper to just help the cookies out if they got stuck. This step may not be necessary if you have a good non-stick cupcake tray, I just did not trust mine.

Roll the dough into roughly a ball shape, about 5 cm diameter, then press that into the tray and push the sides up. Next  press the oreo or peanut butter cup in. Then roll another ball and place on as a lid.

Place the tray into a preheated oven for 35-40 mins, check at 30 mins. When the cookies are done the wet appearance of the dough will disappear.

Take them out of the oven and place on the side. Leave in tray for at least 15 mins or longer if you can (it’ll be worth the wait I promise).

I had some cookie dough left over and of course you can just eat this but I decided to make some normal cookies as well. To do this:

Place the dough on cling film and then roll it into a sausage. Leave to cool in the fridge for 30 mins (You can just pop it in the freezer for 10 mins). Next cut it up into thin slices and bake at the same temperature for 10-20 mins (The time varies depending on how you want your cookies, I went for 20 mins and got crispy cookies… Actually they were more like biscuits)

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ERASMUS+ Placement- Rennes, France

Hello,

It’s about time I updated everyone on my placement, now I’m back in the UK…

I was lucky enough to get funded by ERASMUS to work at the university of Rennes 1. My research involves investigating lichens for potentially biologically active compounds. These compounds could be used as an antibiotic, for example. At Rennes they have a whole department dedicated to investigating lichens. It was perfect they had all of the knowledge I was looking for and I got to work in France for three months.

The initial plan was for me to use the equipment and library of compound that they have built to investigate lichens that I bought over from the UK. As with most plans things changed quickly, instead I was going to be creating a whole new method for extracting compounds from lichen!

Extracting compounds involves:

  1. Have dried lichen material ground into small pieces or a powder.
  2. Choose a solvent
  3. Choose a method, traditional (heat extraction) or microwave-assisted extraction.
  4. Choose conditions: temperature, time
  5. Combine solvent and lichen and start reaction.

I was going to be using a new solvent system that has not been used on lichen before. With a new solvent I would need to determine the best conditions to run at so as to extract the most compounds.

The reason for needing new solvents in the extraction of compounds from natural products (including lichen) is that the current solvents are  toxic for the handler and are not environmentally friendly. The solvents synthesised were non-toxic and environmentally friendly. Three months was only enough time to make a dent in this work and I still have to analyse all of the data I did manage to get.

Anyway I could write for ages about this but lets not do it all in one post. I did so much more than just sit in a lab. I got to see some amazing places my favourite was le Mont Saint Michel but I also went to Roscoff, St Malo and Paris. Below are my two favourite pictures. I also ate so much amazing food and drank some fantastic wine but sadly they were gone before I thought about taking pictures.

Lorraine 🙂

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Erasmus placement- Rennes France

I am lucky enough to do a 3 month placement at Rennes university 1. I will be working on one of the labs here and hopefully finding lots of new interesting things about lichens (come on lets find enough to put in a  paper!).

I landed in Rennes yesterday and the plane journey was good. I have to say usually I am a good flyer but this plane, I wish I took a picture we walked passed all the nice big planes and got onto this tiny plane that looked quite old! I have to say I was nervous at take off and landing.

I got picked up at the airport by Marylene on of my new colleagues and she dropped me off at my accommodation and then took me shopping. This was so nice of her but i was terrified as she couldn’t drop me back to my accommodation she had to go back to work. Bare in mind that this is my first time on my own in a foreign country. The main thing i am feeling at the moment is fear but i am just about to go out and explore the local area, wish me luck.

Lorraine 🙂

GA Conference- Budapest

I attended my first international conference last week It was amazing! I was presenting a poster along with around 500 other people/ posters. I won the Teva award for my poster, it was a massive surprise. I have to send my thanks to my supervisor, Watcharee whose work I presented.

me and emily poster

The conference was on natural products research, they had some amazing lectures. I have to say that the talks that interested me most were the natural products relating to veterinary medicine. They were all fantastic and made me think that maybe after my PhD that is the area I would like to go into.

Now to finish my confirmation report!

Lorraine 🙂

poster award

Confirmation Report, Posters and France

Hello 🙂

I haven’t been doing as much lab work lately, partly as I had a nice trip to Cornwall to see the family but mostly because I have been trying to write up all of my results for the confirmation report. I am getting there, at a rough draft stage at the moment but its starting to take shape!

Another thing that has been occupying some of my time is poster designing. At the end of August I am going to a conference in Budapest and I am presenting a poster. I think that obviously its hard to think what words to put on there but the design is half the battle. I think I have finally got the design down (picture below) but I still need to work on what I am going to say. So still a long way to go yet.

poster

I have some exciting news regarding lab work, I am going to France for 3 months!! :O I will be using the equipment at the university over there. It should be great as, if everything goes to plan :/ , I will hopefully be able to identify the compounds that I have extracted from lichens much quicker. I am hoping I get enough for a paper.

Au revoir (I still need to work on my French)

Lorraine 🙂

Microscope Work

I thought that I would write a quick post on some really pretty images that I took using a microscope and the lichen Ramalina farinacea.  This first image is of the lichens structure you can really see the branching. You may be wondering “well what does that tell me?” well it can tell you a lot. Some lichens have very distinctive branch patterns. So this one image could be a really help in identifying the lichen. As some people may not be all tat interested in lichen, having a photo like this that is essentially a good photo of part of the lichen with a good colour on the background is a great tool to try and sell the subject to other people. Edge If that photo wasn’t enough the next one is an absolute gem! another tool to aid identification of unknown lichen species is microcrystallisation. The theory is that the lichen could be identified by the characteristic crystal formation of the substances in the lichen. In practice this test alone would not be able to identify the lichen species conclusively so a variety of other tests are used. Anyway lets just admire how amazing that image is! Each of these crystals are slightly different due to it being from a different substance. Hopefully one of these crystals is holding my future break through for my PhD, but we will see. Crystals2_light fom bottom

Lorraine 🙂

Postgraduate Research Conference

As promised in my previous post here is my sum up of the conference that I helped to organise. The Postgraduate research conference also known as the PGR Conference was held on 23rd-24th April 2015 and was a great success. I thought that I’d write a quick post about my time being on the organising committee.

First things first I am so glad that it all went well! the relief that I felt when it was all over was a great feeling! Being on the committee; it had loads of positives for example; something amazing to put on my CV, meeting a large variety of people from all around the university (both staff and students) and  learning how conferences run. The connections that I have made from the conference will help me throughout my PhD at Surrey I am sure! As with most things there were also some drawbacks to being on the committee the main one being it was a lot of hard work that took up a lot of my time, in the two weeks leading up to the conference my PhD took a back seat. This is obviously something that I wish that I could have avoided as I was then behind in my lab work. One other thing was that being on the committee I missed all of the keynote speakers 😦  but the feedback from people about them was amazing and I was very jealous that I didn’t get the chance to see them.

Lets not focus on the negatives though! The conference was a great opportunity for everyone to get to together and enjoying seeing loads of diverse research! It was also a chance for everyone to get stuck into interesting talks such as Ben Goldacre who did a talk on bad science and the panel discussion that followed afterwards. For anyone that is debating about going to an internal conference like this one I would say go for it! The conference is an amazing opportunity for presenting your work and getting feedback on it. Not only that but a great part of a conference like this is finding out what everyone else in postgraduate research is up to and to see all the amazing research that is happening in the building next to yours. To anyone that is thinking about being on a committee it is really hard work so prepare yourself for that, but it is a really rewarding feeling when its all finished and everything went (pretty much) to plan. The only other thing that I have to say is good luck and have fun, enjoying meeting loads of amazing people. I can safely say that I am really looking forward to going to next years conference and enjoying it as a presenter (hopefully).

Lorraine 🙂 Untitled