battle 1–day 1–squash casserole

Here’s how my day went yesterday leading up to the Battle 1–Day 1 squash meal: Good luck, Julie! You can do it, Julie! Why is your first vegetable the vegetable that gives vegetables a bad name, Julie? Squash? Gross, Julie! Way to go, Julie! Can’t wait to hear how it goes, Julie! Squash reminds me of poop, Julie! Did you buy beano yet, Julie? You have such great hair, Julie!

I also spent a lot of time researching squash casserole. And by “a lot of time” and “researching” I mean, I read my mom’s recipe, asked Lauren how she does it, and Googled one other recipe online. This was very time consuming because then I had to spend time thinking about how to reconcile the differences among the three styles:

  • My mom and Lauren both use fresh squash; the lady online prefers frozen. Since I already had fresh squash, that’s what I would go with.
  • My mom and the lady online both mash the squash after boiling it; Lauren doesn’t because her mom doesn’t. Lauren (who was also making squash casserole last night) and I talked a lot about this and decided in the end that we would stick with what our moms do. So I planned to mash the shit out of that squash. Lauren didn’t.

When I got home from work I still had about three hours until dinner needed to be ready so I immediately…sat on the couch and did nothing. I waited. Right after all that sitting and waiting I learned a valuable lesson: Just because the recipe says a food item will take 30 minutes to cook doesn’t mean the whole cooking experience will only take 30 minutes. To be fair, I did actually build an extra 10 minutes into my dinner prep schedule, so I thought I was looking at about 40 minutes start to finish. But here’s where I went wrong: I don’t know how to cook.

Fortunately, right around the time I was going to have to call my mom or get into some really serious Googling, Christa showed up. Christa is my friend who knows everything there is to know about fresh food. I actually know a lot of people who know a lot about fresh food, but a school of public health gave her a fancy piece of paper that says she knows a lot and a bigwig federal government agency thinks she’s an expert, so I was pretty relieved she appeared right as I was about to mutilate my squash. It took a lot longer than 10 minutes for Christa to tell me 27 times how to slice and cut the squash (the wine had nothing to do with it) and then how to tell if it was done boiling, but we got it done. Thank you, Consummate Supporter Christa.

super supporter food expert christa

I have to admit, once the squash was “boiling” my kitchen was starting to smell pretty good and I was feeling warm fuzzies toward the whole project, mostly because I was pretty convinced I was going to win this one, and if I could win this one, I knew I could win it all. The uncooked squash already had a yummy, buttery smell while I was cutting it, but once it started boiling it filled my house with a beautiful, home-cooked warmth. I was shocked how quickly it transported me back to squash casserole nights growing up, and I remembered how much I loved the smell then, and how disappointed I always was to learn that yummy, yummy smell was yucky, yucky squash. I was really excited that yummy, yummy smell tonight might just turn out to be yummy.

No turning back now

Then the buzzer beeped. We made a big to-do over my Suzy Homemaker-esque removal of the squash from the oven. We took photos. And there it sat. That big pile of squashy, gooey mess. I briefly considered gagging and vomiting, but that seemed self defeating, so I forged ahead.

digging in

We made a big to-do again over my first bite. We took photos. We made a big to-do when I ate the last bite. We took photos. We made a big to-do when I went for seconds. We took photos. We were sort of done with the photos and big to-dos by the time I was licking my plate clean for a second time, but it happened. I ate it and I liked it. Success!

we loved it

And so. My mom’s recipe follows, with my modifications:

6-8 yellow squash, sliced
(I got three massive squash from Uninterested Farmer, and that was plenty, I sliced them and diced them because they were so big)
2 eggs
(I used two brown eggs, which sparked a debate over whether you can really taste a difference between brown and white….I prefer brown)
2 tablespoons butter
(I started with 2 tablespoons and very quickly went to a little more than half a stick….more butter never hurt anyone)
1 cup grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
(I started with 1 cup grated organic sharp white cheddar, but it didn’t look like enough, so I added a lot more)
1 cup (or so) cracker crumbs, saltines work best
(I used my favorite crackers, Cabaret, which I almost always get at the DeKalb Farmer’s Market, but I think I’ve seen them at Publix, too)

Boil squash with salt and pepper to taste until tender.
(I did not salt and pepper to taste because I think that is a weird instruction; how do I know how much salt squash needs when it’s boiling? I was duly chastised for this. I’ll just salt the shit out of next time and be done with it.)

Drain well, return to pot. Add butter and mash. Add eggs and mix.
(I mashed and mashed and mashed some more. The mashing really worked for me.)

Pour into buttered baking dish.
Sprinkle with cheese.
Top with cracker crumbs.
Bake at 350 COVERED for 15 minutes.
Uncover and cook for 15 more minutes.

Those of you who spent all day yesterday telling me that you think squash tastes like or is the consistency of poop, try it this way, or I will do it for you and I’ll hold your hand. I’m a squash casserole convert.

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22 thoughts on “battle 1–day 1–squash casserole

  1. YAY!!!! I hate squash casserole, but since you ACTUALLY liked it, I think I might try to make it. You’ve inspired me, Julie

  2. Do it, Jess! It really was good. Next time I will add salt and pepper and probably more cheese. That organic white cheddar is the shit.

  3. How cute is this website for your vegetable adventures?!
    Fun fact: The color of the eggs reflects the color of the hen who laid them. The flavor shouldn’t be different- white eggs come from white hens and brown eggs come from hens with those little patches of color behind their ears. Or whatever chickens have.

    1. He’s a naysayer solely because he feels betrayed, lonely in his staunch hatred of all things nutritious.

      And because I keep insisting he should join you. I’m a big enough supporter to counteract his negativity.

      I’ll help with next week’s veggie – maybe that will encourage him?

    2. Oddly enough though- Ben is a HUGE vegetable advocate. Our love is basically founded on our mutual love of vegetables. Vegetables are our own personal aphrodisiac. OK- maybe that was taking it a little far but still…
      Point is- my bro-in-law doesn’t know what’s he missing. 🙂

  4. Agreed on the salting and peppering WHILE boiling. Seriously? How do I know what it “needs”? But yes, do it.

    More cheese is always better.

    Good job! Victory is yours!

  5. I assume no dishes were broken in the eating process. I am the proudest dad on earth. 😉
    And just so you know, more smaller squashes is better than fewer giant squashes, but that is a nicety you will learn later I suspect. And if you use Ritz crackers…oh my gosh! Save those for the broccoli casserole.

    1. I did the larger squashies on the recommendation of Uninterested Farmer, but I’ll try the smaller ones next time.

      And DAD, I used my FAVORITE crackers. Maybe you should try Cabaret in broccoli casserole. Oh snap.

  6. Sniff. So proud. Sniff. So happy. Even though I had nothing to do with the accomplishment. Though I suspect the addition of cheese, crackers and butter makes this not hard core vegetable eating, I’m confident you’re working up to it.

  7. Okay, I’m so freakin’ impressed that I can hardly stand it. After aaaaaaaall these years, she finally likes my squash casserole!!! YAHHHH!!! I believe NOW Julie has reached adulthood for sure.

    So, now that you’ve conquered squash, you WON this week, do you eat it again this week in another recipe, or do you wax philosophical and virtuous for the rest of the week?

  8. You can’t go wrong with butter and cheese. They make everything taste good! Especially squash! So glad you can declare squash-victory so early in the week!

  9. You’ll be main-lining brussel sprouts in no time! The ultimate reward for eating your veggies is that you’ll start crapping like a lumberjack! In flannel! Congrats

  10. Lovely hair. So happy that your first at-bat was a homerun! 🙂
    Love the writing too. I think I might join you with your vegetable per week. There are definitely some I need to try and have been scared of (beets, kale). I just might kind of skip this week since we’re half way through it and I know I like squash. Or maybe I’ll just grill some squash at the party Saturday, that counts as this week, right? 😀

  11. I’m totally bummed we had to miss it. I want to come for beet night and for brussel sprout (brussel or brussels???) night. Success is great and all, but I think failure on the first night is going to be way more fun.

    Also, can’t you just hear Dad saying “Oh my gosh?”

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