Monday, November 7, 2011


A little off the subject from Horticulture is another science, Chemistry.  Right now we're learning about limiting reagents.  That is to say, we're learning that in every situation there is a factor that limits the amount of production.  In Chemistry we're talking about the combination of two or three elements on the periodic chart and their ability to combine and create a new substance.  The limiting reagent is the element we have the least of will because it will decide how much product we can create.  But, this idea of limiting factors is not specific to Chemistry.  When we take away the confusing technical jargon, we can apply this concept to anything.

For example, recently I made stuffed shells for an early Thanksgiving Feast. The element in my refrigerator that determined how many shells I could make was the ricotta cheese.  I only had enough Ricotta to make 34 shells.  Since Ricotta is the main ingredient in the filling, it is the limiting reagent in the recipe.  (No point in having empty shells.)

It's not just cooking...A person's ability to build muscle or to lose weight is based on a number of elements.  A person's ability to learn, to love, to grow...all these are based on a combination of elements and it isn't too difficult to discover the one element will limit the success of whatever is attempted.

My latest realization is this:  School is a condensed version of life.  You learn lessons by experience, but it takes a lifetime. We need a lot more knowledge a lot sooner than we can gain from living and so we educate ourselves.  Ideally we combine our education with life experience and get a balanced idea of how to conduct ourselves and succeed in the world.  However, since life is not ideal, it's easy to see that one or the other: experience or education could limit a person's ability to achieve or succeed. For that matter, a number of other things could limit us as well. 

It seems important to note what our personal limiting agents are.  Are we limiting ourselves? Are we limited by fear? Are we limited by something else? Some cards we are dealt and we have to accept, however, others we can trade in, discard or collect more of....Circumstances exist that allow us to add more of the element we are lacking, so that we can become unlimited.  

Here is the recipe for the stuffed shells.  The only change I made was to add a tsp of chopped fresh tarragon and to split the cheese,half and half finely shredded mozzerella


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