Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I've been at my summer course for over 4 weeks now. How time flies. We've finished with organized laboratory procedures and have moved on to conducting our own projects as we see fit. Everyone is really energized and the atmosphere is amazing, but the long hours are beginning to wear on me. I feel guilty if I leave the lab before 10PM. Everyone gets along well, and we have entertaining conversations about science and life. It's good to learn that everyone in academia has issues. It's not just me.

There is a "secret" beach near the site that is reached by a long dark path through the woods. If you go on a good night, the path is lit only by fireflies. And in the waves, the bioluminescent dinoflagellates turn the water to stars when you move. The stars in the sky are significantly less obscured by city lights than in most places I've lived, so the double luminescent effect above and below is enchanting.

Cafeteria food is monotonous, but could definitely be worse. Like undergrad dorm food, for example. We go out on weekends, so there's a little bit of variety. My parents and sister were in town for the fourth last weekend, so I got to sample all the local restaurants with them. The town has a fourth of july parade which is largely populated by scientists from the courses in town. Each course has a theme, and participants dress up as nerdy things. I was Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans, the bacteria I might study for my Ph.D. I also helped dress a friend's 3-year old as a phage.

Eggplant Lasagna
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • basil and oregano
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup milk
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 lb. lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 pound cheese of choice, grated (mozz is classic, but I prefer co-jack)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and cut into thin slices. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes until squishy.
  2. Heat butter over medium heat in a dutch oven. Add onions, and cook until brown, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and spices and cook together for 30 seconds before mixing in the crushed tomatoes. Stew for 10 minutes and salt to taste.
  3. Melt butter in medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in flour. Cook the roux together for a minutes or two, then slowly whisk in milk. Simmer for 20 minutes until thickened. If you're going to store the white sauce, press plastic wrap on surface so it doesn't get filmy.
  4. Boil noodles according to package directions.
  5. Line a 13x9 pan with foil and spoon 1/4 of the red sauce over the bottom. Place a layer of noodles on top. Scoop on 1/3 of the white sauce and some eggplant then another 1/4 of the red sauce. Continue layering as you see fit, and cover the last layer with red sauce and shredded cheese.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes.
If you can't eat it all in one go, you can store single pieces in ziploc bags with no air bubbles and freeze. Re-heat by placing the bags in boiling water.

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