29. April 2013 · Comments Off on Team retreat 2013 · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , , ,

Lichfield Cathedral
On the weekend of 22nd of March, we went on our annual team retreat to Waterhouses, a village in the south of the Staffordshire Peak District. We set off from Oxford following a symposium at the Wellcome Trust Center of Human Genetics. Along the way we stopped in Lichfield to visit the famous Cathedral and the house of Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of Charles Darwin, www.erasmusdarwin.org). Surprisingly, Erasmus Darwin’s work hinted at the possibility of evolution, and although they had never met, Charles’ inspiration could have potentially come from his grandfather. We also had a nice meal in the Damn Fine Café, which had a selection of food and drink perfect for a cold winter’s afternoon.

We were really fortunate not to have lingered too long in Lichfield, as a large snowstorm rapidly descended upon the region. More »

20. March 2012 · Comments Off on Pasta with butternut squash, spinach, and fetta · Categories: Recipes · Tags:

We made this for dinner the first night of the team retreat and it proved to be so popular (even amongst the carnivores) that we felt we should record it here for future use.


  • 1.5kg butternut squash, chopped into ~2cm cubes (skin removed)
  • 150g baby spinach
  • 90g pine nuts
  • 150g fetta cheese, cubed
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 500g short pasta (e.g. penne)
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • Olive oil
  • Grated parmesan cheese, to serve


  1. Place the squash in a roasting pan and mix with rosemary, garlic and olive oil (around 5-6 tablespoons).  Season with salt and pepper and then roast in a pre-heated oven (about 200 celsius or gas mark 6) for 20-30 minutes until squash is soft and starting to brown.
  2. Roast the pine nuts in the oven as well (or under the grill) until they release their oil and start to brown.  Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, boil water for the pasta in a large pot and then cook according to packet directions (start this about 10-15 minutes after the squash is in the oven – you can leave the squash in a low oven to keep it warm while the pasta is cooking).
  4. Once you’ve added the pasta to the boiling water, fry the onions with a tablespoon of olive oil for about 3 minutes or until softened.  Add honey and cook for a further 2 minutes until they start to caramelise.  Then add the stock.  Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes or until the mixture has reduced and thickened slightly.
  5. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pot (or a large bowl).  Add the pine nuts, fetta, and spinach, then add the squash (including pan juices) and onion mixture.  Mix together gently and season with salt and pepper.  Serve with parmesan cheese.

Serves: Six hungry people (or Yang and her boyfriend)