Happy Homemaker, Ph.D.

A novice homemaker's attempts to use her engineering Ph.D. to serve her family

Domestic Engineering – Part I – R&D in the Kitchen

on November 29, 2011

Perhaps you’ve had someone tell you that she’s a domestic engineer as she cares for her home and family.  I imagine few know how appropriate that term really is.  I plan for this series to share my thoughts as I reflect on the role I am about to take on full-time at home.  Yes, I’ll be a domestic engineer, but (and I hope I don’t lose readers over this!) I’m much more the engineer than the domestic artist, so my perspective is perhaps more technical and much less experienced.  Those of you with more common sense than I have (I’m guessing that’s all of you!) will understand what I’m talking about though, I think, and I hope will laugh with me at the time it takes me to learn homemaking basics.

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Perhaps it was my mom’s insistence that I didn’t have to do a lot of cooking for their visit.  Perhaps it was realizing that my planned meal wouldn’t be ready in time for my sister to eat before she had to leave to pick up a student.  Whatever it was, the last few weeks helped me learn something about myself.

I like Research and Development (R&D) – perhaps to a fault.  When company comes or when I have the time, I am more interested in trying new recipes than in fixing a simple meal.  I spend time searching my recipe books for the perfect combination of foods, make an extensive shopping list, litter the kitchen with dishes, and end up rather worn out from my efforts.  My motivation is in trying to bless my guests or family and in revelling the excitement of trying something new.   (Oh, I like to eat good food, too!)

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  My first job out of college was in research and development.  I’ve studied designed experiments in depth at graduate school.  I have always liked starting new projects much more than applying the discipline to finish them.  I like being creative and learning something new, and I do get a little bored without a challenge. 

With my experimental cooking efforts, the time and trouble are worth it, but I will not have the luxury of avoiding the “production” aspect of my homemaking in the months to come with Baby #2 arriving this spring.   My “system” of evaluation to this point has been to make brief notes in the recipe books, which are then too often closed and forgotten about until the next time I begin searching for something delicious and new to try.

Can you see the inefficiencies?  To complicate matters, instead of working to design a system that will work better for us, I’ve been pondering the design and use of mixture experiments to develop a new chocolate chip cookie or pecan pie recipe.  (Sigh.)  I’m definitely a work in progress!  Praise God that

“…He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6, RSV).

I look forward to seeing what He has planned in this new challenge and to the refinement that will undoubtably come through the process as Christ continues to work on my heart!

~Dana

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9 responses to “Domestic Engineering – Part I – R&D in the Kitchen

  1. Liz D says:

    haha! You hit the nail on the head! Matt is always telling me not to “experiment on the guests”. 🙂 I’m with you on that one.

    • dckrueger says:

      Liz, do you remember the “non-Valentine’s Day” dinner I hosted for our praise team folks one year? I loved trying that meal, but it was completely experimental. But, I also did very well in Analytical Chem. lab, so I figure I can follow good directions with precision. (The lecture for that class was another story…) Miss you guys! Chad also encourages me to not experiment on the guests. 🙂

  2. Laurel.hill says:

    I think its great to try new recipes, but don’t make yourself so tired you can’t enjoy the company! This is so you, it cracks me up. I just can’t beleive you think about this stuff so much….>>>.you are such an ENGINEER!!

    • dckrueger says:

      Laurel, I completely agree. The balance is what I’m looking for now and thinking about. I need a bit of excitement (and change), but I also have capacity issues (my energy and hours in the day) to consider and other things that must be done (and special people to love on). A systems approach is the answer. Finding out what that will look like will be a journey! 🙂 I didn’t use to think about about this stuff at home so much, but then, I’ve never had the chance to have homemaking be my occupation. 🙂 That gives me a more intentional and focused mindset in many ways, I think. We need to get together soon. I think I could really make you laugh with some of my ideas. 🙂

  3. OK, so I’m pretty sure I fall on the “artsy” side of the house and I am forever feeding our guests some recipe I have never, ever made before! And I do love me some research. It’s the chase, the pursuit of something new. Once I’ve pursued it and even remotely mastered it (even if that mastery means I managed to do it right once…accidentally), I’m done. I always figured that was the haphazard, artsy side of me. Perhaps we are more alike than you realize!. The artsy and the technical collide in the kitchen and wonder where they can find some even-keel-middle-child to clean up the mess they’ve made! 😉 (lovin’ what I’m reading here…keep it up…it’s therapeutic!)

    • dckrueger says:

      Amy, I’ll be exploring that balance myself in the days to come, especially because my desire to try new recipes doesn’t only come with company. I’ll have to explain more in another post.

      Thanks for the encouragement! It means a lot. I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to post in the next couple of weeks, but after the first of the year, I’ll be inviting you all in to join me in this adventure! Should be a good laugh, if nothing else. 🙂 I feel like the whole world has more experience than I do in this area.

  4. Marla says:

    Your post made me smile. I am the same way – I love research and development in my kitchen, homeschooling, managing the household, etc. I am constantly trying new things instead of finding something that works and sticking with it to develop a good system. Hopefully, God can help both of us become better homemakers!

  5. Rachel W in CA says:

    Thank you for sharing Dana!
    I used to expiriment on my guests, but know that I have cooked enough to have favorites (pizza!) I generally cook a favorite for guests, Or better yet, a SLOW COOKER meal. Set it and forget it, spend time with your guests and dinner is a snap when the time comes!

    Regarding keeping track of recipies. I have a little kitchen notebook where I listed recipies by 1) quick and easy 2) good but only once in a while and 3) favorites but not necessarily quick and easy. I listed meals we liked in the notebook and the page number and recipe book it could be found in.

    I also make notes in my recipe book on the 1 to 5 stars (if it is lower than 3 stars I will not usually make it again). I also notate my husband’s comments, like “this was really good” or “this was too bland” or “this was too spicy”. (Ladies, allow your husbands to give feedback without being beat up by us, they have feelings and tastebuds too. Just because they didn’t love a particular meal doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate your efforts to make it, just notate not to make THAT meal again. He will be appreciative when his feedback is considered in future planning!)

  6. […] by the excesses in our lives and make changes, for His glory.    ~Dana   You may also like: Domestic Engineering – Part I – R&D in the Kitchen Domestic Engineering – Part II – Benchmarking GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); […]

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