An ode to quiche and other seasonal mediums
People ask me “how do you do it? How do you work full time and farm at the same time?” I usually laugh and joke about how little sleep I get, make a reference to my favorite Tom T Hall song and acknowledge my incredible support system of friends and family. However, the truth is I don’t really believe I’m any busier than the average person. I just have different responsibilities. Many people work two jobs to make ends meet, raise children and are caretakers to family members. To me it is about both hard work and compromise. And believe me…I'm learning to give myself the room to make a lot of compromises.
In the summer I don’t have much time for housework and the house becomes a bit of a bomb (my loved ones would probably call this an understatement). The dryer with the steam/de-wrinkle option was a great investment for a person who lives out of laundry piles May through September. I’m currently watching the vacuum robot push a gym shoe around on the floor and instead of dusting the nooks and crannies of my home this afternoon I will move fencing so the pigs and cows have fresh grass.
In the summer my eating becomes a lot simpler too. I am mastering quick dinners and finding ways to quickly stuff as much of summer’s bounty onto my plate as I can. In the winter I have time for more elaborate meals, sauces made from scratch, slowly braised meats and greens, Dutch oven baked bread and things that have time to set, marinade or ferment. Summer at the farm is another beast entirely.
Prioritizing in the midst of a hectic life has taught me that seasonal and healthy eating can be accomplished and I don’t need to overthink things. I’ve embraced the grill, crock-pot and sheet pans. Though, if I’m being completely honest my time management skills need work and I haven’t fully figured out the best way to make the crock-pot work for me. My advice is to embrace simplicity and throw out your rulebook. Breakfast makes a great dinner food and breakfast is a state of mind. You can eat salad for breakfast and have yogurt, fruit and granola for dinner. Peanut butter is not just for children, you can stuff a grilled cheese with veggies and the best meals are made of things you can empty your refrigerator into (I’m looking at you stir fry). This brings me to quiche and my love for it.
Quiche is versatile and my favorite summer meal. You can make it sans crust, vegetarian, laden with cheese and full of everything you love or whatever you have left before your next trip to the store or farmers market. I love my quiche with crust, but I haven’t had much time for making pie crust lately so I’ve compromised by buying pre-made organic-y ones from the natural food store. My mother makes a mean quiche that is made with Bisquick so it begins as crust less, but then the mix settles to the bottom and forms a crust as it bakes. I’ve tried to recreate this with organic substitutes for Bisquick, but have yet to find something that replicates hers.
Like chili and enchiladas quiche is the perfect catchall. You can add summer squash and whatever greens are in season. Once you envelop everything in eggs and cheese the magic happens. Things I love in my quiche include: yellow squash, basil, mushrooms, garlic, Swiss chard, milk or cream from the local dairy and whatever nub of hard cheese I have lurking in the corner of the drawer that is verging on the edge of getting too funky. I make my quiche with lots of eggs so it is dense and can support the weight of everything I insist on stuffing inside.
I love quiche for breakfast with bacon or sausage. I also love it for dinner with a side of roasted sweet potato and steak. I eat it for lunch topped with salsa. I am both a convert and a proselytizer when it comes to the gospel of quiche. Other simple meals I have grown to love and appreciate include fresh pasta loaded with seasonal vegetables, a frozen pizza topped with greens and garden veggies, any vegetable sautéed with butter and garlic, steak and roasted sweet potatoes, grilled summer squash, and what I call “everything but the kitchen sink enchiladas”. I believe in the power of batch cooking because why make one when you can make two in almost the same amount of time? Also, how it did take me until now to realize how easy it is to cook a good steak or a pork chop? Steak has the benefit of being both quick meat to cook and something that makes me feel fancy or accomplished. Weeknight winning.
I encourage you to take your favorite foods and think about how you can make them easier to cook and adapt them seasonally. Eating locally and seasonally doesn’t have to be that hard. Remember, lettuce wraps are just sautéed ground meat with spices in them. In a world of delivery meals, microwaves, pre-cooked dinners and packaged chopped foods I commend anyone who strives to eat seasonally and supports their local farmers—even if you have to compromise. So when it comes to deciding what to serve your family for dinner my advice is to let them eat quiche.