Thursday, May 26, 2011

urban homesteading and you

This is my first attempt at a quiche/frittata type of dish, and I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. I got the recipe from an awesome book I picked up a few weeks ago, The Urban Homestead, which is full of fascinating information about skills that are largely unknown in American city society. The book covers topics from cleaning (vinegar and baking soda) to growing food (from microgreens in the window to full-on food gardens) to keeping worms and chickens. It also covers various food preservation methods, including canning, making butter, drying, and so on. While I'm passingly familiar with many of the concepts, I'm not at all familiar with how they are executed and it is really neat to have a book that explains all of this sort of thing to my citified self. And possibly even more importantly, the book is written with enthusiasm but not with disdain, as so many "eco-friendly" books often are, so I came away from reading it excited and inspired to try new things and not dejected and morose that I'll never be cool enough or eco-friendly enough to be acceptable. The recipe for this "crustless quiche" came from the book, and I modified it slightly to make it gluten-free so that Chris could enjoy it as well.

Recipe: Crustless Quiche (from The Urban Homestead, modified to be Gluten-Free by me)
4 eggs
~1 cup of soft cheese
1 cup of milk
3/4 cup of gluten-free flour
1 tsp of salt (or more to taste)
ground pepper (to taste)
additives (bacon, ham, onions, garlic, spinach, etc.)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9" pie pan, and put the pie pan on top of another pan or cookie sheet in case of spills.
2. Prepare any additives that need it, such as sauteeing garlic/onions/spinach in olive oil, cooking bacon and crumbling it, chopping up ham, etc. All mix-in items should be diced, chopped, or crumbled to be small, like 1/4" - 1/2" with smaller pieces better. Also cut up the cheese at this point and set it aside - again, 1/2" cubes is a good plan.
3. Mix flour, salt, and pepper together. If you want to add any additional seasonings, this is the time to do it.
3. Beat the eggs together in a largeish bowl. Add in the milk and mix thoroughly.
4. Add the flour a bit at a time, mixing well with each addition, until all of it is incorporated and you have something that looks kinda like pancake batter. Gluten-free flour is particularly picky about being mixed in, so just do your best - mine still has some small blobs of unmixed flour even after several minutes of beating.
5. Add in the cheese cubes and stir, then add in the rest of your additives.
6. Mix everything well and pour into your pie pan, possibly giving it a bit of a stir to redistribute the additives after pouring. Top with extra grated cheese if you like.
7. Pop into the oven for 45 minutes. The quiche is done when a knife stuck in the middle comes out clean.

The flour in the mixture, at least with my gluten-free version, will settle a little bit during baking and make its own sort of psuedo-crust in the pan. You can kind of see this in the photo to the right. I've made this recipe twice so far, and the important attributes seem to be the size and amount of additives, and the type of cheese used. My first one was made with queso fresco from the farmers' market, which is a slightly squishy and low density cheese, and it came out much better than the second one which I made with fresh mozzarella which I think was both too dense and too damp for the dish. The original recipe suggested feta, and I'm thinking of trying cheese curds as well. Shredded cheese would probably be great as well, but I did really like the taste and texture I got when using the queso fresco. The second version I made I used sliced ham that I cut into about 3/4" squares, and they were too big and didn't stay well distributed in the pan, though that might be because I also used a lot of ham. The second one was still edible and pretty good, even with the damp cheese and too much ham, so this is a pretty forgiving recipe over all. And it's pretty quick to put together, especially if you pre-chop everything in advance. The one recipe gave enough for two meals for the two of us, and it reheats nicely - I just foil-wrapped the pan, and then popped it into the oven at 250F for about twenty minutes the next evening.

I also have a funny Jadzia story to share today. I've realized this week that she has figured out how to tell me the water dish is empty - she waits until I'm filling my own water bottle at the fridge, and pats my leg. Every time she's done this in the past two weeks, her water dish has been empty. That's pretty good problem-solving, even for a border collie - she connected the water from the sink, the water from the fridge, her bowl, and my bottle together. I'm very entertained and kind of proud of her for that.

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