Curry Pumpkin Quiche (or, a practice on using up the most eggs and leftover ingredients)

The more work we put in, the more we are getting out of our farm. We are not owners of the acreage. We are not owners of the chickens. We are stewards only. Providers. Protectors. Housemaids, landscaper, and garbage man. We kill mice in traps and with the same hands pet a chicken while she's laying. Hoping to soothe. To say a small thank you for the work she's doing for us.

It's been just less than a month since their egg laying has picked up. We average 8 a day. That's 2 dozen every couple of days. About 4 or 5 a week. And we give them away--to librarians and shopkeepers. To the mailman and our mothers. We try to sell them, but it's winter and we're lazy and don't want to take money out for change. Instead, we let the eggs pile up in cardboard boxes and give them away when someone comes over. And, fortunately, more people have been over lately than before.

But after Thanksgiving, in the month of December, between the bookends of the holidays, I know there will be leftovers. Half-used, half-assed ingredients that I bought for one dish and I'm left with a half can of something-or-other to use up. Nolan and I are more conscious of waste, or animals, of the environment. We try to buy what we need, and use up what we have. So, looking in the fridge, behind the soggy mushrooms that we forgot about and the gallon of iced tea neither of us remember buying, there was spinach, a can of pumpkin, and a pat of dough. A half dozen eggs and an hour to kill, I made a quiche, dotted with spinach and brightened with curry powder. A dish that fed us for three days.

Curry Pumpkin Quiche

Ingredients:

  • Dough for 10-inch pie crust
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tablespoon yellow curry powder
  • 1/4 cup frozen (or fresh) spinach

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F
  2. Roll out and shape dough into your pie pan, ensuring any tears are patched up (otherwise, filling will leak out)
  3. Whisk together all remaining ingredients
  4. Pour over uncooked pie crust
  5. Bake for 50 minutes or until center is firm, but slightly springy to the touch
Curry Pumpkin Quiche
Curry Pumpkin Quiche
Curry Pumpkin Quiche
Curry Pumpkin Quiche

Pumpkin Tahini Waffles (featuring my baby girl Elsa!)

All I can think to do this week, all of my wandering thoughts, all of my lazy moments, they center around the bed. It's cold here (finally). Usually in the thirties when I wake up in the night looking for a blanket. Instead, I find an arm to hold me. A dog to cuddle with. A light that pulses through the branches of the trees when a car comes down the hill that our window overlooks.

It's usually grey from 6 until about 9 here. Foggy, sometimes so dense I don't even see the trees. Sometimes the water in the creek is so silent you can hear the squirrels padding along its bank. Sometimes Nolan's smoke and my breath and the coffee's steam all meanders above our heads like thought bubbles in old comics.

And so I think of relaxing in bed, even though we've been too busy to lately. I think of lounging. I think of the ten minutes it takes to put this recipe together and the half hour of waking up, bleary-eyed, while the coffee gets cold. It's my favorite time of day, I think. 

Pumpkin Tahini Waffles

Pumpkin Tahini Waffles

Ingredients:

  • 2 cup flour
  • 3 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 TB white vinegar
  • 1/2 TB pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 TB orange zest
  • 1 TB molasses
  • 2 TB honey

Directions:

  1. Prep and grease your waffle iron
  2. While iron heats, sift together all dry ingredients
  3. In a measuring cup, whisk together all wet ingredients and orange zest until frothy
  4. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture
  5. Slowly pour in your wet mixture, while stirring in the contents (I found that a rubber spatula actually worked great here)
  6. Using a ladle, pour batter into iron
  7. Bake waffles to waffle maker's directions
  8. Repeat with remaining batter
Pumpkin tahini waffles
Pumpkin Tahini Waffles

And here you can see that Elsa enjoyed the waffles, too! (Plus, I threw in a cute one of her because ISN'T SHE BEAUTIFUL!)

Elsa with her waffle
Elsa with her waffle
My dog, Elsa

Breakfast in the Morning, a Fire in the Evening

How to Turn Brunch into a Fireside Platter

There was a period this summer where Nolan worked something like 13 days in a row. Working from home, this was hard on the both of us--he was exhausted and I was lonely. I'm so accustomed to having him around at his odd work hours that I wanted to make sure he knew how special that time we spend together is for me. So I had the idea to make a combo breakfast in bed and fireside dinner.

How to Turn Brunch into a Fireside Platter

We pulled out the couch bed and watched an old movie and fell asleep with beer on our breath. I woke up an hour earlier and made breakfast. Assembled the pastries I had bought the day before, mixed a heavy-handed mimosa, sliced some fruit and cheese and made flipped pancakes. We ended up, stretched out and full, watching the Lion King.

It gets cold here at night, even when it's muggy during the day. So a fire in August still felt right. That night, when chores were done and we napped a couple times, I pulled the lawn chairs down and we burned some old cardboard boxes and broken branches. We killed off the pasties, the champagne. We had fruit and cheese and crackers. A few hard-boiled eggs and nothing else was needed. It's how we like to eat when we're prepared. 

How to Make a Breakfast in Bed/Fireside Platter

Do:

  • Buy pastries the day before instead of trying to make them
  • Make sure the champagne and orange juice are chilled
  • Have flowers available for a special touch
  • Have a lap desk/tray so you're not balancing everything dangerously in bed
  • Make the pancake batter the night before so you're not messing with it when you're tired and rushing
  • Boil some eggs 
  • Save every leftover-even if a pastry just has a bite in it
  • Give some condiment options in the evening - we had some mustard lying around that was perfect for this
  • Transfer everything to a platter, nix the orange juice in the evening, kill off the champagne and add a few eggs for dinner!
     

Don't:

  • Worry if not everything looks perfect--it's the thought that counts
  • Forget to make coffee
  • Forget to have back-up drinks once the champagne is done in the evening
  • Try to get too fancy with dinner, it's more about snacking than anything
  • Leave the platter out too long - take it out when you're hungry to stop flies from swarming
  • Use any silverware for dinner; use your hands and even feed each other (I think we ended up having a grape catching contest over the fire haha)
  • Litter when you're done! Take everything inside!

 

How to turn Breakfast into a Fireside Platter

A Muffin for this In-Between Month

Tahini Ginger Muffins

Decidedly, increasingly, it's getting colder around here. The dogs sleep on the bed with us, Murphy and Milo in the middle, sandwiched by my body and Nolan's. The window stays open and sometimes a stray moth floats in. If we bat it down with a tissue box or sock, it turns to dust and tumbles down.

I can't seem to stay awake. I can't seem to do much of anything, but everything is getting done. That's why I'm not a huge fan of September, because it's the in-between. It's the un-season. It's has the lazy transient waltz of earthworms and bumblebees. I want it to be over. I want it to be October. I want to celebrate my niece's birthday and wear layers and sit facing one of our pastures and dream of what comes next.

But in the meantime, we have our chores. I was cleaning out a cupboard when I found some muffin liners I thought were gone. I found some tahini, too, tucked behind a bottle of olive oil. And so I made muffins. Big, hearty ones. Ones that have a hint of molasses, a hint of fall on the tongue to keep us satiated and still waiting. 

Tahini Ginger Muffins

Tahini Ginger Muffins

Ingredient:

  • 1 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 4 TB unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs +1 yolk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 TB pure vanilla extract
  • 2 TB molasses
  • 3 TB candied ginger, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoon sesame seeds

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375*F and prepare your muffin tin (I used a large muffin tin, if you use smaller, baking time will be reduced by 10 min or so)
  2. Sift together flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together tahini, butter, and sugar
  4. Add eggs and mix to combine. It will look a little lumpy at this stage
  5. In a measuring cup, whisk together milk, vanilla, and molasses
  6. With mixer on low, alternate adding your milk mixture and flour mixture to your tahini mixture
  7. Once a batter forms, fold in ginger
  8. Evenly distribute between your muffin tins
  9. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top
  10. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean
  11. These muffins are good for up to 4 days in an airtight container
Tahini Ginger Muffins
Tahini Ginger Muffins
Tahini Ginger Muffins

French in the morning: Oeufs au Plat

Tarragon and Garlic Oeufs au Plat Bressanne

I'm still learning about the land we bought, the restless five acres that house hidden deer on the hill and raccoons behind the garage. We came back from Iceland this week, a six hour flight and a two-hour drive home. When we made the turn that led to our house, the expansive reality of our ownership surprised me. Five acres looks so much bigger when you've been staring at nothing but the mindlessness of an airplane cabin.

There are many things I didn't realize about the land. How much effort it takes to maintain it and how effortless it is to respect it. How cautious I am to burn anything. How fearful I am of giving our chickens anything that isn't first corroborated between two websites. How quiet it can be, home alone all day with lazy, dozing puppies. How lonesome the night feels sometimes when the sky, coquettish, hides behind sheets of moonlit clouds.

This is our first autumn at this house of ours. There are four bushes that are in our backyard. I ask Nolan what kinds they are, as they haven't yet blossomed or changed color. I know so little about these types of things. And, because of this, I am able to be surprised in the resolute sense that this world will shift forward without my incessant question-asking. 

The chickens will lay on their time.

The dogs will bark in the nighttime.

The bees continue to build their ruddy nests in places we haven't yet discovered.

And we may find a deer, broken and flattened, on the side of our driveway. This is through no fault of our own. None of it is, really.

I am beginning, just beginning, to find peace in acquiescing. To hold so little responsibility, to become a steward of our animals and this homestead I am responsible for, versus a master of anything. I hold no ego the way I once did. I hide behind no fantasy, the way I once did. Sometimes I cannot tell if I am exhausted from years of trying so hard to keep everything together, or if it was all in my head for nothing.

Next year, I'll know a little more. And this recipe is in preparation for it. Herb and tomato and egg from our land; I'm waiting for the day when I can taste it.

Tarragon and Garlic Ouefs au Plat Bressanne

Tarragon and Garlic Oeufs au Plat Bressanne

Adapted from this recipe, this dish is perfect for a simple Sunday meal for two. Feel free to adjust your garlic, seasoning, and even herb choice as you like. Adaptable French is key to how I like my meals, you could say.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 clove garlic, diced finely
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 slices of quality bread, sat out to stale for a day or so
  • 2 eggs
  • 6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon tarragon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375*F and butter a small cake pan, baking dish, or skillet
  2. In a small saucepan, heat heavy cream, garlic, salt and pepper on medium heat until bubbles just begin to form on the edge of the pan
  3. Remove from heat and let steep
  4. Lay bread in prepared pan
  5. Pour cream mixture over top
  6. Cream a small well in the center of your bread to nestle the egg yolks
  7. Crack your eggs over the bread
  8. Add tomatoes
  9. Bake for 12 minutes, but begin checking at 10 to see how your whites have set. You can take out anytime after 10, depending on desired runniness of your eggs
  10. Sprinkle with tarragon and any additional salt and pepper
  11. Best if eaten immediately
Tarragon and Garlic Oeufs au Plat Bressanne
Tarragon and Garlic Oeufs au Plat Bressanne
Tarragon and Garlic Oeufs au Plat Bressanne
Tarragon and Garlic Oeufs au Plat Bressanne
Tarragon and Garlic Oeufs au Plat Bressanne