Squash Season, Floors, and Other Very Exciting Things

To celebrate the start of the summer squash season (and the first fruits from our veggie garden this summer!), I went big with Giada’s Verdure al Forno.  This time, I even found fontina cheese at the grocery store, and let me tell you… yum.  I mean really.  If you don’t think parmesan, fontina, and mozzarella mixed with squash, breadcrumbs, and heavy cream are good, you’re crazy.  I know, “Who am I to say you’re crazy?!”  Try it and then tell me what you think.  This is certainly not the healthiest way to eat your veggies this summer, but I’m willing to be it’s one of the tastiest.

Peanut agrees with me, although he might be eyeing the leftover pulled pork, not the squash.

IMG_20140629_202814_987That was family brewing time at its best, thus the burner and such in the background and dinner in the driveway.  Nobody minded eating in the driveway a bit.

If that’s not enough excitement for one day, check this out:

IMG_20140630_115748_190Yes, Scott did rip out a huge chunk of our floor this morning while I was selecting books at the library and making event calendars and whatnot.  Color me impressed!

In case you’re wondering why we’re replacing perfectly nice laminate flooring, let me remind you:

photo-5See, it looks like a messy food trough for dogs, complete with blurry dog.  That’s not what most people look for in a floor, so we’re changing it to this:

photo from LumberLiquidators.com

photo from LumberLiquidators.com

We checked into lots of options for flooring–reclaimed wood, antique but not reclaimed wood, smaller and/or more local mills, bamboo floors, and last but not least, Lumber Liquidators.  As much as we wanted to go with a cool, environmentally responsible option, it just made more sense this time at the good ol’ LL.  The pre-finished option meant at least a week less manual labor and a total lack of fumes in the house.  The slightly cheaper cost meant that shipping at the next best option made it for reals more expensive.  So Lumber Liquidators won in the end.

This was their best competition in our book: Elmwood Reclaimed Timber.  Their prices are reasonable, their products are gorgeous (samples were even better in person than catalog pictures or website), and we really really like them.  But we also like living without fumes and being able to buy Peanut all the kibbles his heart desires.

I really like our pick though.  It looks a little bit rustic without that seriously distressed look (gently rustic).  It’s dark (as Scott prefers) without being super dark (which I don’ prefer).  It’s just right.

Ducks, Pigs, and Polar Bears

It has been a fine Wednesday, Jack.

Whether or not you got that reference, you should definitely watch Duck Dynasty tonight.  Scott and I have been hooked since we saw an episode a few years ago, and we happily watch reruns all the time.  Tonight isn’t a rerun though, it’s the season premier.  We’ve been looking forward to this night for months.

And how did I celebrate this momentous day?

I started with the great fridge de-molding of 2013.  It was pretty epic.  And now that it’s over, I can relax in that wonderful feeling you get after you finish a dreaded project.

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I used a homemade cleaning mixture that my mom recommended.  It was 1/3 hydrogen peroxide, 1/3 white vinegar, and 1/3 rubbing alcohol.  And thanks to that potent mix, I’ve never been happier to see a dated but moldless fridge.  It looks beautiful now.  For more homemade cleaning solutions, there is a great list with recipes at Young House Love.

There had to be more celebration, what with it being Duck Dynasty day and de-molding day all in one.  So in the names of all things Southern, I pulled out a few recipes from my favorite chefs and made a small feast.  It was a take on the week’s accidental theme–pork chops and squash (it’s what we had in the fridge, and I have plans for other exciting meals with other exciting ingredients later in the week).  Even after eating pork chops and spaghetti squash so recently, this was delicious and just different enough.

First, I made squash casserole, Giada-style.  We made this recipe about six times last summer, with the dozens of fresh summer squash that came straight out of our mini veggie garden.  With the lack of garden earlier in the summer, there was also a lack of squash and “Verdure al Forno.”  Thankfully, Scott’s dad came to the rescue with a supply of garden-fresh squash.  I mixed it with some zucchini for color and texture variety, and presto.  Giada would probably be sad to hear that I call her recipe squash casserole, because it’s a lot more than that.  The veggies keep their shape well and don’t get over-cooked, which is key.  And the heavy cream, three-cheese, and breadcrumb combo is magical.

There were substitutions made, as usual.  Monterey Jack cheese for Fontina (which we don’t have at our local grocery store), and Parmesan for Romano.

Then came the pork chops, courtesy of The Pioneer Woman.  The other recipe from earlier in the week had more flavor, but PW’s recipe cooked up juicier, so it’s a tie.  And to go with the cheesy squash casserole, the simpler pork chop flavor just seemed right.

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This was kind of the perfect summer celebration dinner, if I do say so myself–delicious homemade food, a tasty glass of wine, and lots to look forward to.  And do you see that polar bear?

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That is the polar bear from my favorite pair of pajama pants.  Even with splattered green nail polish all over them, they’re still the best.  They’re comfy and cute, and they make me happy, happy, happy.

So all things considered, it was a successful day.  Mold was vanquished.  Pictures were hung, boxes were unpacked, and as soon as Scott gets home, Duck Dynasty will be watched.