Things are looking good my friends. Things are looking really, really good and although I sometimes feel as if my husband is a drill sergeant I’m starting to understand the method behind his brilliance.
We’ve been working lots of long days lately– mostly because it’s June and the weeds keep growing, and though sometimes I like to think we can just skip the weeding and wait until July when all the planting is over, my Carrot quickly reminds me that weeds become bigger by the day. “It’s important to get them at the white thread stage” he says. It’s a phrase he’s got on repeat but I must admit, all the weeding we’ve been doing at the white thread stage has been awfully successful. Our fields are clean and keeping them that way has been essentially effortless (at least when you compare it to the hours and hours of hand weeding we did last summer when we let the weeds get out of control). Did I ever tell you that I did so much hand weeding last summer that somehow the skin under my thumbnails got burned and then my thumbnails fell off? Appetizing, huh?
Well don’t distress because that’s not going to happen this year. We’ve got all these cool new tools to help us keep the weeds down (like the Terrateck biodisc and finger weeder attachments that are all the rage in small-scale vegetable farming right now). And as of now, although we know mechanized cultivation is a thing of beauty, we’re really enjoy playing with these efficient tools, limiting our fossil fuel use, and keeping things a bit simpler at our farm.
In other news, our employee and worker share crew is truly astounding, our planting schedule is (somehow) back on track, we’re already rapidly approaching the third week of our CSA (and harvesting things like zucchini, broccoli, and kohlrabi–and snap peas very very soon!), the spinach and arugula is nearing its end, and we’ve got our first party of the year coming up. Oh and I have a mad back sunburn because I’ve been rocking the crop tops through this 90-degree weather and never remember that delicate strip of skin situated between my bra line and my pants.
But as crazy as life has been, I’m continuing to try and find my balance: to know my limits, know myself, communicate well, and take time even if it’s just 20 minutes in the morning with a book or an hour on the trails each week.
Making time in the kitchen has been a challenge but I’ve developed a lot of techniques to help me stay energized with all the abundance. I keep a laundry list of all the things I want to make right in my planner and add to it just as soon as inspiration strikes (right now the list includes asparagus soup, a kale salad inspired by this recipe beefed up with some quinoa because my Carrot needs hearty salads, escarole & fennel lasagna, burgers because we need something easy, and another batch of rhubarb margarita). I make sure there is a balance of super quick recipes wrapped in with the more complicated ones. Burgers, brats or something that can be cooked in a slow cooker seems to show up at least once a week.
Then with a rough vision for the meals that lie ahead, I take a couple hours whenever I can get them and do some prepping. Tonight I chopped up kale and sliced scallions while my escarole & fennel lasagna baked. On Sunday I made a vat of quinoa. On Saturday I blanched some asparagus (for what I’m not quite sure but I know the asparagus was about to go bad).
I know how hard it can be to fit vegetables and cooking into a busy life but I’m determined. And this style of cooking in bits and pieces somehow keeps our fridge full without ever feeling like too much work.
And when I get extra tired, there is always quiche. Quiche is my comfort meal. It always tastes good and you can put anything into it. I always have eggs and milk in the fridge as well as the flour and butter it takes to make pie dough. Often I whip up a batch of pie and pizza doughs on Sundays when I have no idea what meals lie in my future because I know my Wednesday and Thursday self will be thrilled that I can throw together a quiche in 10 minutes and respond to emails while it bakes. If pie crust isn’t something you find easy, just follow along with the steps below. If you don’t have a food processor, follow this recipe instead. And if that all sounds unappealing, just buy the damn store bought crust. As long as you’re getting fresh vegetables on the table, you’re doing great!
All my pie-crust love and adoration,
P.S. I am enthusiastic supporter of the locally grown and milled organic all-purpose flour from Meadowlark Organics for this pie dough– and pretty much all doughs I make. Check them out and enter LEEKLARK20 at checkout for 20% off your order!
SHAVED ASPARAGUS, SPINACH & MUSHROOM QUICHE
One 9-inch quiche
Takes 1 hour if making crust from scratch (and its not made in advance)
1 cup cold water
2 sticks + 2 tablespoons butter, cold, divided
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
12 ounces button, cremini or shittake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/2 pound spinach, leaves torn or roughly chopped
1-1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
1/2 pound asparagus, shaved
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Now, let’s start your pie dough! Are you ready?! (If you used store-bought crust or have your own great pie dough recipe skip to step 5). Fill your liquid measuring cup with 1 cup cold water and place it in the freezer. Next get your butter out of the fridge and cut it into small cubes. Place it in the freezer until ready to use.
- Meanwhile, measure flour, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse once or twice to combine. Add chilled cubes of butter and process for 10-15 seconds until butter is broken into smaller pieces. Drizzle in cold water while the processor is running, first 1/2 cup then a couple drops more. Let it keep processing for 10-15 seconds after you’ve added the water. Add a little more water if the dough isn’t coming together. It should form a ball in the processor. Immediately remove it from the food processor with a spatula, wrap in plastic and place in the freezer for 15 minutes while you slice your mushrooms, chop your spinach, shave your asparagus and grate your Parmesan. (If you made this in advance, it could be kept in the fridge and ready for you immediately).
- Remove the dough from the freezer, cut in half and roll out into a 14-inch circle. (The other half of the dough can be kept in the fridge about a week or just make a double batch!). Press the dough into a 9 or 10-inch pie pan, cover with foil and pie weights then bake for 15 minutes. If you are using a store-bought crust, follow package directions.
- Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Saute for 5-10 minutes until just beginning to release their juices then add the spinach. Stir to combine and cover. Turn off the heat but leave pan on burner for five minutes just to steam the spinach. Add shaved asparagus along with remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine and then pour into pre-baked crust.
- In a medium bowl, combine eggs, cream and milk. Whisk until smooth then add Parmesan. Pour over asparagus mixture. Shake pan to even out the filling. Bake for 30-35 minutes until cooked through.