Monday, August 9, 2010

Summer Projects

As with previous summers, I have been busy during recent weeks. I have been preparing two projects that went on display last Friday.

The first was a painting of a Black Oystercatcher for a show at our community art center. It is now on display with other works from artists who live or work in Multnomah Village.

The other was a research poster I brought to the Ecological Society of America meetings in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Unlike the painting, which will be up until September, the poster was on display for only a couple of hours.

Until last week, I had never visited the northeast portion of the country, so I had been looking forward to this five-day trip all summer. Despite the heavy humidity, I enjoyed every day I spent in the city. There is a lot optimism here, due to a boom in academic spending and sustainable building, which have replaced many of the jobs lost during the industry shutdowns of the 1980s.

Thursday morning, I took a quick trip to Frick Park in the Squirrel Hill district. In the early morning fog, I found a luna moth and several "eastern" bird species I had not seen or heard in several years.

Later that afternoon, dozens of Pirates fans and I crossed the Allegheny river on the Roberto Clemente Bridge to catch a baseball game. The Pirates beat the Rockies 5-1.

Now that my poster and oystercatcher projects are complete, I can see the finish line of my summer busy season.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Recipe of the Week #7

After returning from a trip to the east, I was eager to get into our garden to pull some weeds and pick veggies for cooking.

Many of my favorite dishes to prepare in late summer and early fall include a tasty combination of tomatoes, eggplants and summer squash. Last night I cooked my first dish of this sort of the year because I needed to use some summer squashes and an eggplant from our CSA. I also had some leftover pasta on hand, as well as one last container of last year's tomato sauce. I combined them all into the dish described below.

Eggplant and Summer Squash Pasta Bake

Several small summer squash and eggplants
Tomato sauce
Bread crumbs
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese

Brush bottom of a baking dish with olive oil and sprinkle a thin layer of bread crumbs over the bottom. Add a layer of pasta above the breadcrumbs. Dice eggplants and squash into approximately 1 inch cubes. Toss cubes with salt and olive oil, then place on a baking sheet. Put baking sheet in the oven and broil until they start to brown. Stir occasionally to ensure that multiple sides have browned. Keep an eye on the oven to make sure they don't burn. When browned, spoon the squash and eggplant on top of the pasta.

Sprinkle Parmesan and cover vegetables with tomato sauce. Add another layer of pasta, another layer of tomato sauce, then more breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Place into the oven and bake at 350 until breadcrumbs and cheese begin to brown on top. Serve immediately.