Thursday, April 28, 2016

leek & ramp quiche

With Spring comes many things: green grass, birds singing, flowers blossoming.
I will confess that over the Winter, I bought "Spring Mix" salad from the store. I couldn't help it. My body just craved the fresh food. And now, it only gets worse.

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I went foraging for ramps. Ramps are also known as wild leeks and the tend to grow in the woods near streams, or any wetland area. They are pretty powerful little buggers. The taste will outlast teeth brushing. (That is a tested fact.) Leeks are in the Allium family (as are onion and garlic).

Let's do a comparison.

My husband picked these [domestic] leeks from our garden that had over Wintered. Their stalk is a lot larger, which is the part that you use. A ramp can be used for it's stem and it's leaves. The leaves are tender and much more palatable.

Earlier this week, I made a quiche with both kinds of leeks. There was a strong smell coming from the oven while it baked, but the ramps' flavor did mellow out a lot. (I guess that didn't really matter because my husband and I were both eating it, so no one was going to be offended by bad breath.)

Making pie crusts used to frustrate me to no end. That was a problem because my husband loves pie. The only way to get better is to practice and in our almost six years of marriage, I have a lot of pie. A lot. I use my Mother-in-law's pie crust recipe and it will forever be implanted in my brain (along with her pizza sauce and her homemade pancakes).  If you are a pro at making pie crusts, than you can skip on ahead, but if you are looking for some improvement, I will give you my most helpful tip: use a spatula. I would have the hardest time mixing in the water. Did I add enough water? Why isn't the dough coming together? Using a [rubber] spatula helps to blend in and to press on the dough to bring together the ice water and flour-fat mixture.


Leek & Ramp Quiche

2 T olive oil or bacon fat (Whaaat? Yeah, it's really good.)
3-5 leeks, stalks only, thinly sliced into half moons
1 t salt
15-20 ramps, cleaned, stem and leaves, chopped
1 c cheese, grated (I used a mix of Swiss and sharp cheddar)
5 eggs
1 1/2 c whole milk
Fresh cracked pepper (Yes, I've become that person. It makes a big difference, people.)
Your favorite pie crust recipe, unbaked

Preheat oven to 350.
Sauté the leeks in the fat of your choice for 5 minutes with 1/2 t salt.
Spread cooked leeks in prepared pie crust. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheese.
Evenly distribute ramps (stems and leaves) on top of cheese.
Whisk eggs, milk, 1/2 t salt and fresh pepper. Pour over top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake for 1 hour.

(I originally wanted to make this quiche because when I was skimming through the directions I saw "30 minutes" somewhere towards the bottom and thought, "Nice! This won't take that long." It wasn't until I was following along and put it in the oven that "30 minutes" was prefaced by "Bake for 1 hour and allow to cool for..." This wasn't my first quiche, so you think I would've done a double take and questioned the short baking time. I'm notorious for not reading recipe directions completely.)

Disclaimer: If you or a loved one you are making this for does not like onion, please don't make this.  They will not be happy with you. I am not responsible for anyone, adult or child, who refuses to eat this. This is not intended for picky eaters.
However, I am not trying to dissuade you from making this. I think this quiche is delicious and light. If you want it to be a bit more rich, use 1 c milk and 1/2 c heavy cream in lieu of the 1 1/2 c whole milk.

I want to make some ramp pesto next.
Anyone else have a good recipe for ramps?
Please share in the comments below.
Take a walk in the woods and see all that there is to offer.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

to my main squeeze

Today, someone else joined the 30s club.

Happy Birthday to my handsome, hardworking, God fearing husband.
I pray that God will strengthen you and bless you abundantly this year.
with all my love

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

the seeds of today

Here in western PA, the weather is a bit dramatic. One day it's 60s and sunny- the next we have snow flurries. Even though it snowed on my birthday, two days later, the snow has all melted. It is April and we are used to this craziness.

I continue to look forward to warmer temps and the day I can finally wear my Birks outside without the fear of getting frostbite. In preparation for such days, my husband and I have been seeding vegetables in the basement. (I would absolutely LOVE a greenhouse, but that's just a dream...)

Certain vegetables take longer to germinate and also require the soil to be at a warmer temperature. We have a small heat mat and a light for the little seedlings to grow properly.

It may seem a bit late, but we generally direct seed and transplant around Memorial Day weekend. Frosts can come later than you think around here. It's better to be safe than extremely sad and frustrated.

We've started peppers, celery, tomatoes, onions and snapdragons. This morning I started seeding cabbage, broccoli and kale.

Onion seedlings

My husband heard from a coworker that in 1816 and 1916 there was a frost every month of the year. What will it be like for the Summer of 2016? Hopefully not that. People are calling for a hot, dry Summer. That's good news if you're raising hay; for vegetable grower? Not so much.

Last year, we had a stretch of hot, dry weather and our cauliflower didn't head. That was a bummer. On the other hand, we had a great crop of tomatoes, beets, beans and broccoli. Something is going to grow in abundance and another will be a devastation.  You have to take the good with the bad.

For now I'll nurture these little guys
and think of warm sun and fresh veggies.

"All the flowers [and vegetables] of tomorrow
are in the seeds of today."

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

the five year plan + one year extension

A couple Thanksgivings ago, my husband and I were at my parents' house in New York. I was blessed to have 2 out of 3 sisters there, which meant fun with our niece and nephews.
As I was cuddling with our nephew William, I picked him up, looking right at my husband, I said, "I want one just like this."

I have baby fever. I've had it for a while now.

Before my husband and I got married we signed up for the "five year plan." We wanted to wait five years before having any children. Some people want to start a family right away. We wanted to spend time as a couple for a bit and do things we wouldn't be able to do (easily) with children like, work on a vegetable farm and live in a '75 Shasta camper. (Yes, that totally happened.)

Last June, the five year plan ended, but my husband filed for an extension.

I reluctantly accepted.

People say you're never really ready to have kids. When you think you're ready something may happen that you weren't planning or some such thing. I don't think my husband was ready.

Whenever I would mention having a baby, he would quote the Faith Hill song, "A baby changes everything."
"That song is about Jesus!"
"I'm just saying-- a baby changes everything."

It's true. Everything changes. Taking on a new role as a parent means new responsibility.

I used to think, Oh, I can't wait to have a baby!... Everyone else is having babies... Our baby would be so cute! (I still think about that last one.)

I'm not going to deny that I love babies. (Let's be real- pretty much anything in baby form is adorable.) I love their chubby cheeks, tiny little noses, little dimples for knuckles... I will cuddle, tickle, play, and be silly with my nieces and nephews all day long. Did I mention I love babies?

In anticipation of someday having a baby, I've looked into cloth diapers. I have a "someday" board on pinterest with so many cute things to make...

But then there's the lingering thought in the back of my mind- what if I'm unable to have children? I remember telling my boss that my husband and I were in the pre-planning stages of starting a family.
The first thing she asked was, "Are you able to have children?"
"Oh. I've never tried, so I think so?"
I know that she was not trying to be discouraging. It was just a question; a question not everything thinks about. Who wants to think about the infertility? Of course, I follow vloggers on youtube and have heard some sad stories-- which I don't really recommend. (It's like going to WebMD and typing in your symptoms, which turns into you thinking you have a rare disease.) Maybe we won't have a problem trying to conceive. Maybe it will take years.

A couple weeks ago, after dinner I found myself sitting on the couch with my husband, with our cat, Alfie, on our lap, listening to a Peter, Paul and Mary record.

I looked around.

I have been blessed with a wonderful, hardworking, loving husband.

I have been blessed with this house.

I have been blessed with food and way too much clothing.

I have been blessed with so many things that I don't need- like a craft room full of yarn and fabric.

It's so easy to look at what others have. It's so easy to compare.
I have been blessed beyond measure. There is no way I could count all the blessings in my life.

It has taken me a while to get to this place, but I am content. I know that God is holding me in his hands. He has a plan for me- with or without children.

Next week is a big one. I'm going to be 30. It's a pretty big number; no longer a "twenty-something."

When I went in the first grade room for art this week, a student raised her hand to share something. She said, "Happy Birthday!" I told her it wasn't my birthday yet, but thank you. Another student said, "Are you excited to get pregnant?" With the whole class laughing she corrected herself, "I mean PRESENTS!"

Whatever this new year brings, I will hold tight to the truth that the joy of the Lord is my strength and I won't let anyone steal my joy.