Easy, Breezy, Beautiful Quiche

Easy, Breezy, Beautiful Quiche

Quiche, anyone? If you’re like me, quiche seems like a pretty elegant dish. Lots of folks confuse elegance with complexity, but quiche proves that simple can be elegant, too. I was reminded of this when I was at my first Mother Earth News Fair (more about this event in a future post) where a presenter was providing tips for easy, cheap, and green living.

What got my attention was when she told us quiche was her go to dish whenever she had dinner guests. She went on to explain that since she raised chickens (we don’t), eggs were usually in strong supply and that quiche was a really simple dish to prepare, especially if you go crustless. (I don’t—more about that in a minute.) And it never failed to wow her guests. Sounded good to me.

You’d think proportions would matter with a dish like this. But I’ve seen recipes with anywhere from four to eight eggs. Some recipes call for cream, some for milk. And the amount of cheese varies significantly, too.

About that crust. The easiest thing of all is to skip it. Just be sure you spray or butter your baking dish well. I like a crust, though, for the added texture. But I’m no pastry chef. My attempts at making piecrust from scratch have usually been pretty dismal, and I find those in the refrigerated section of the grocery story—the ones in the red box with the puffy dough boy on the package—do just fine. I almost always have a package in my own refrigerator, just in case. You could use frozen, too, but I’d suggest you go for deep dish.

The neat thing about quiche, I’ve discovered, is that it’s more method than recipe. When I come across something as simple as this, I keep the ingredients and oven temperature info on a 3 x 5 index card that I stick inside a kitchen cabinet for quick reference.

Here’s my favorite take on this deceptively simple dish.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

If using a crust, lay it in your pie pan and crimp the edges. (If you’re making it from scratch, you’ll have to seek out your own recipe.)

2-4 cups veggies of your choice (We like a combo of mushrooms, onion, and Swiss chard or some other leafy green. Broccoli and bell pepper—red for color—are other favorites.) Lightly sauté or steam your veggies, depending on which ones you’re using. Remember,they’ll keep cooking in the oven, so you don’t want to overdo it.

1 ½ cups grated cheese (Again, your choice. Cheddar, Swiss, Gruyere, whatever tickles your fancy—or whatever you have on hand. A mixture of different cheeses works well, too.)

Mix the following together:

4 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt, or to taste
½ tsp pepper, or to taste

Place prepared vegetables in pie pan. Cover with grated cheese. Pour egg mixture over all. Bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Add a tossed salad and a side of fresh fruit and you have an easy and sophisticated meal.

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Daily Life: Early Days on the Diagonal, Part 5

Daily Life: Early Days on the Diagonal, Part 5

(If this is your first time visiting the Early Days series, may I suggest you start here and work your way forward?)

Everyday life is a wee bit different when you have neither electricity nor running water, but we’re finding our way. To get water for our daily needs, we fill two five-gallon containers every couple of days from an enclosed spring with an overflow spout by the side of the state maintained road about three-quarters of a mile away.

Sometimes, we take sponge baths, and sometimes we take advantage of the almost daily rain for a brief shower. (Brr-r-r!) When we feel especially in need of a good cleansing, we trek deep into the woods for an exhilarating 40-degree creek bath. Our secret site is decorated with rhododendron flowers and boasts a convenient mountain laurel towel rack. We always leave with a strange sensation of lightheadedness, especially when we wash our hair in that cold, cold water.

 

On occasion, we take a trip to town for a dip in the county pool preceded by a real shower with hot, running water. It’s the only time we feel really and truly clean. Eventually, these trips become a twice-weekly routine that provides us with a time for family play as well as some good exercise. Not that we don’t get plenty with all the digging and tree-cutting, but this feels different—and a lot more fun.

We spend evenings and rainy afternoons (plenty of those) reading stories aloud from our stash of books from the county library. We especially enjoy Ramona and Clifford the Big Red Dog books. Other favorites are That Quail, Robert and the iconic raccoon tale, Rascal. We’re also fascinated by Eric Sloane’s Diary of an Early American Farm Boy, a pioneer-days real-life story that seems to parallel our own experiences at the moment. When we’re not reading, we pass the time creating themed crossword puzzles for each other to complete.

One of the joys of building our house ourselves is getting to be out in nature and getting to know our little corner of paradise on an intimate basis. As we dig, we find all sorts of interesting creatures: a golden-eyed spade-footed toad, black and red salamanders, and shrews that can’t seem to stay out of the holes.

Each morning brings an untold number and variety of spiderwebs, with dewdrops making them sparkle in the sun. The geometric masterpieces can be found on fences, in trees, and just about anywhere else one can imagine. I stalk these works of natural art with camera poised.

 

Now that we’re out here in the country so far away from city lights, we can really appreciate the night sky. In August, we ‘re treated to the Perseid meteor showers. We’ve never seen anything like it.

Mid-August heralds the beginning of the school year, which always coincides with the blooming of the touch-me-nots (or jewelweed) that line the long gravel drive to our house. Afternoon walks from the bus stop are always slow because our children can’t resist stopping to pop every seed pod they spy.

What a delightful surprise it is to discover wild blueberry and blackberry plants on our land. It’s a charmed life we’re living.

(More of the Early Days on the Diagonal series coming next week. Stay tuned.)