Strange Two-Legged Garden Pest
A few weeks ago I went out to thin out our carrots, and while I was working I discovered we had a garden pest that kept eating the scraps as I cleared out the excess carrots.
It wasn’t so bad when he was just getting into my carrot scraps. But then he started in on the peas.
And when he ate up the six little yellow tomatoes that I had been patiently waiting to ripen, I started to get concerned.
Here are the physical characteristics of the pest:
- A little over three feet high, about 33 pounds
- Scraggly, unkempt hair
- Covered in mosquito bites
- Insatiable appetite
- Understands basic commands, but will not follow them
I gladly shared what I had with this pest, because I could tell it had been a while since he had willingly tasted fresh produce, but any recommendations for the future are greatly appreciated.
In all seriousness, the garden has motivated Sam to eat more vegetables than any other sneaky mommy technique that I have tried. The garden not only gives me control over the foods we eat, it also gives Sam the agency to do the same. Plus, when he sees me pull our food out of the ground, he is so much more willing to try it, as was the case the following cheesy no-noodle lasagna recipe.
Today I finally had a bunch of ripe roma tomatoes in my garden, and I snatched them up while Sam was distracted by the yellow grape tomatoes — I still haven’t gotten to try one of those! I decided to do something with an Italian flair in honor of these delicious beauties. I’d seen a few different recipes for “zucchini lasagna” that uses zucchini instead of noodles. I loved that idea because the best part of lasagna is the cheese anyway, so who needs those carbs when you are eating all those delicious fats?! Most of the recipes are “paleo-style” and involve mixing browned meat with a can of sauce and then layering that mixture with the zucchini, but I wanted to take it a step further and use all fresh ingredients. I decided to cut the sauce out altogether and just layer my tomatoes and zucchini together. I promise that you won’t miss the noodles! Even Sam ate up the cheese covered tomatoes!
Busy Mom’s Lasagna: No Noodles, No Sauce, Just Cheesy Layers of Veggies
• 1 medium-large zucchini, sliced into ¼ inch or smaller rings
• 5 or 6 tomatoes, sliced into ¼ inch or smaller rings
• 1 small bell pepper, chopped
• ¼ sweet onion, sliced into rings and halved
• 1 tsp garlic, minced
• 1-2 cups spinach leaves
• ¼ cup basil leaves, loose
• 1 cup ricotta cheese
• 1 cup mozzarella
• 1 cup pan-browned hamburger
• Salt and pepper to taste
1. Prepare the vegetables and meat if necessary.*
2. Spray the bottom of a 9×9 pan with non-stick spray. Layer in this order: zucchini, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper. Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic, and basil. Continue layering: spinach, ricotta, hamburger, and mozzarella. Repeat both layers once. I went heavier on the mozarella and meat in the innermost layer, and heavier on the mozzarella on the top layer.
3. Bake in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
*Busy Mom’s Shortcut: Every six months, I buy a giant container (I think it is 5 or 6 pounds) of lean hamburger from Costco and spend a couple hours browning it in stages. After I’ve drained the excess grease (I even pat it down with paper towels to reduce the fat even more) and allowed the meat to cool a bit, I measure out the meat into ½ cup portions and place it in snack-sized freezer bags. I put all the little bags into a large tupperware box (no cover) in the refrigerator, and after they are completely cool, I freeze them in our deep freeze. This makes it so easy to throw together meals without having to ever worry about browning hamburger. I used two pouches on this recipe. I got this idea from a busy mother of four. I only have one kid, but it makes my life so much easier!