Zucchini Lasagna & Some News From The Nerdverse

Spaghetti Squash supported on tomato cage.

Spaghetti Squash supported on tomato cage.

Spaghetti Squash supported on tomato cage.

This last week the first fruits of the garden ripened and were harvested. It starts slow but as things get going there will be plenty more squash, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers and other delicious things to add to our diet fresh from the garden.

Because this is the first year of the garden I haven’t used any pesticides, weed killers or sprays of any kind. Just water, soil and sun have gone into these veggies. You can’t get much more organic than that.

We got two zucchini, one cucumber, a handful of basil and two patty pan squash this week. The Vintage Wine tomato is absolutely loaded with green tomatoes right now and when they ripen we will have a lot of them. Likewise the spaghetti squash and pumpkins. The squash keep well in a cool dry place and should last well into winter if we get enough of them.

Some ingredients

Some ingredients

On my search for something creative to do with zucchini, instead of just zucchini bread (which we all love) I found a recipe for zucchini lasagna. Now there’s an idea. The recipe called for using grilled zucchini in the place of the pasta (do I sense a low carb lasagna?).

Since I already have a really good lasagna recipe I thought I’d just substitute the zucchini (and since I had it some patty pan squash too0 for pasta in my own recipe and call it good. Things to keep in mind are that zucchini and patty pan squash have a lot of moisture in them, that’s why they suggested grilling the slices first. I didn’t want to fire up the grill just for some zucchini so after I used my mandolin to get thin slices I let them rest on paper towels for a while to absorb some of the excess moisture.

My mandolin is not adjustable so I only got really thin slices of squash when I used it. Since the texture is what you are looking for when substituting anything for pasta I’ll have to see if this works or if I need to get a mandolin with an adjustable blade.

Zucchini Lasagna:

2 Zucchini
1 lg patty pan squash
4 cups mozzerella cheese
1 cup parmesean cheese
1 lg container of ricotta cheese (16 oz)
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp italian seasoning
2 tsp fresh basil
2 eggs
1 tsp worchestershire sauce
1 jar spaghetti sauce (when the tomatoes are ripe homemade is the way to go)

Tools

Tools

Rinse squash and basil in water. Cut ends off squash and run through mandolin so that you have a nice pile of thin slices of squash. Spread out on paper towels and blot to dry a bit.

Brown ground beef in skillet with salt, pepper, italian seasoning, and 1 tsp of the fresh basil sliced thin. In a medium bowl mix ricotta, parmesean and 1 cup of mozzerella with 1 tsp basil and 2 eggs.

Spray 10 X 19 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spread 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sauce in bottom of dish and sprinkle a little bit of the cooked meat. Layer in the squash, overlapping the edges just like you would with lasagna noodles. Cover with half of the ricotta mixture, 1/2 cup of mozzerella cheese and 1/2 the remaining meat and 1 cup of the sauce. Repeat layers. Put a final layer of zucchini on the very top, cover with sauce and sprinkle with cheese.

Thin sliced zucchini

Thin sliced zucchini

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until cooked through. If it’s watery, try grilling the zucchini slightly or broiling it for a few minutes to drive out some of the excess water.

Starting the layers

Starting the layers

Layer the zucchini

Layer the zucchini

Cheese, meat and sauce then repeat layers.

Cheese, meat and sauce then repeat layers.

In the Nerdverse I’m way behind on movies I want to see and with the release of Ant-Man I’m even farther behind. I didn’t get to Age of Ultron due to illness, nor did I get to Intersteller. Both are movies I will have to see on DVD.

I’m conflicted about Ant-Man. I truly hope they don’t go down the route where he tries to murder his own wife because he’s an abusive misogynist. Heroes do not try to murder their wives; heroes do not abuse women or any other people full stop. In fact heroes stand up for people who are traditionally abused or oppressed by the culture. That’s why we love them.

I still want to see San Andreas and Jurassic World. I love a good disaster movie and I love a good monster movie. To be honest I love cheesy disaster movies and monster movies too. Which is why I was somewhat pleasantly surprised to discover there will be a third Sharktopus movie. Because there were so many unanswered questions from the first two. The third one, apparently, will be Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf. Yeah, tis going to be a festival of goofballery. But I’m a push-over for a good (or terrible) mad scientist movie. According to IMDB 7/19 is when it premiers.

Finally, news has been rather sparse for the Toho 2016 Godzilla. I keep hoping to hear more updates. It would be fantastic to have another Godzilla movie from Toho. Plus I don’t want to wait till 2018 for the next legendary Godzilla. Also they just started filming the second Pacific Rim movie and I am impatient for them to finish it.

That’s news from the garden and the less main stream nerdverse, more of an outlying nerd nebula, like a satellite nerd nebula than the nerdverse, but that’s what I’ve got for you this week. K.

squash vines

squash vines

A Nerd In The Garden: First Fresh Veggies

Squash Blossoms

Squash Blossoms

Squash Blossoms

So i tried to grow my squash up cages to keep them all contained and well behaved. They grew up the cages, oh yes, and then they grew down the other side and started taking over the entire garden space. They look gorgeous and they are setting squash like there is no tomorrow. The squash are growing visibly from day to day. I cut up an old shirt to make little slings to support the squash so that their weight doesn’t damage the vine before they ripen.

Saturday I went out to water and there were all manner of pollinators in the garden just loving all the gorgeous yellow squash blooms. The bumble bee colony that has taken up residence behind my favorite rose bush was well represented as were other species of bumble bees and yes, even honey bees. I was gathering some roses to put in a vase inside and a honey bee, already heavily laden with pollen really wanted one of the roses I had cut. I held it for her and she alighted and gathered even more pollen then flew off.

The cucumbers, likewise, have grown up and out of their cages. Although to be fair I used smaller cages for them. Actually I used a couple of really small, really old tomato cages I had from my long ago garden. Now they are vining up the tomatoes.

Squash

Squash

Speaking of tomatoes, the Vintage Wine is just covered with little green tomatoes. The Yellow Brandywine haven’t set any fruit yet. They are just starting to flower so their tomatoes will come on after the Vintage Wine is slowing down.

There are only a handful of pea plants that have survived the squirrels digging in the garden. They are just starting to flower.

On a whim I picked up a packet of watermelon seeds. Yes it is really too late in the season to plant them but they were on clearance and watermelon is delicious. I put exactly two of the seeds in the ground and they have both come up. Now I’m just hoping for a little bit of an extended growing season. It could happen.

New Leaf on Black Magic

New Leaf on Black Magic

The elephant ear plants have new leaves on them. They were worrying me a bit since they were planted at the height of the heat wave and they hadn’t put out any new leaves for a few weeks, but now they have and I am quite pleased. They are gorgeous plants. I believe I have a Black Magic and an Illustris but I’m just guessing since neither one came with name tags when I got them. To be fair I got them on super close-out sale. I’m hoping that with a heavy mulching I won’t have to dig them up when the cold weather hits.

I also replaced the Gunnera and it is doing well. It was planted at the beginning of the heat wave and lost almost all of its original leaves to sunburn. One leaf survived and the crown has put out almost a dozen new leaves that are on short stems and protect the crown from the sun. it’s looking lush if a bit short. I have high hopes that it will get huge next year if I can get it to winter over. Again I’m looking to mulch it heavily when the cold weather hits.

The hummingbirds are very shy this year. I’ve only seen the mother bird a couple of times and I almost never hear the chicks any more. I only heard them once a couple of weeks ago. The mallow bush and crocosima are still blooming though and I am glad because I know they like to sip nectar from those plants. The little mother hummingbird was also sipping nectar from my clerodendrum which has approximately eleventy-billion flowers on it this year.

Illusins new leaf

Illusins new leaf

the clerodendrum has such a lovely scent when it blooms and it makes the whole yard smell just gorgeous. It has gotten about as large as it is supposed to and it does shade a corner of the yard but I really like it. The only thing is that it does try to propagate underground so I have to keep plucking out the suckers that try to come up. I didn’t know it would do that when I first got it.

A lot of this I’m learning, and figuring out, as I go along. Sure I consult the Google on occasion but mostly I’ve just jumped right in and I’m seeing how it works out. Next year I’m planting the squash away from the main garden so that when they vine all over the place they won’t take over the other vegetables.

squash in slings

squash in slings

The other major thing I’ve learned so far is not to use the cocoa shell mulch in the main garden. Hazelnut shells are better. The cocoa shells mould and get very slippery when they are watered. Also they draw flies.

I will keep updating the growth of the garden and what I learn. By time this season is over I hope to have weekly photos documenting the garden.