27 January 2010

The Quiche Variations

Supposedly there's a saying: "Real men don't eat quiche." Whatever. My husband, father, brothers, and father-in-law all eat quiche, and quite happily too.

(What's unmanly about quiche anyway? It's a bunch of cheese, milk, eggs, plus fillings as you please, all poured into a pie crust. Aren't men supposed to love pie? I don't understand.)

Sayings aside, here's how I make quiche. I'm listing both my basic recipe and my favorite variations.

Very Basic Quiche

1 prepared pie crust (recipe to follow)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups cheese (a mixture of cheeses is best: sharp cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, mozzarella . . .)
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cream (adjust cream-to-milk ratio as the mood takes you, and if you don't have cream, you can substitute half-and-half or simply use all milk)
3/4 teaspoon salt
fresh black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In medium bowl, beat eggs with whisk.
Add cheese, milk, cream, salt, and pepper. Whisk thoroughly.
Pour egg mixture into prepared crust.
Bake 35 minutes uncovered. Cover with foil and bake 15 more minutes.
Remove from oven and let "set" 15 minutes before slicing.

Hearty Quiche Crust (see this post for an update on my preferred crust)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup white flour
6-7 tablespoons butter
1 egg yolk (I usually add the white to the quiche filling as the "fourth" egg)
4-6 tablespoons ice water

Stir together flours. Cut in butter until resembles coarse crumbs. Add egg yolk and water (a little at a time), tossing with fork until dough starts to hold together. Gather with slightly moist hands, shape into ball, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour.
When ready to use, unwrap and roll dough out on floured surface. Work quickly to keep it cold. Transfer to lightly sprayed pie dish and pour in quiche fillings.

Quiche Variations

I almost always add half an onion, sauteed in butter.

Add a thawed package of frozen chopped spinach. A spicy pepper jack or a very sharp cheese is great with this. One of our favorite ways to do quiche. :)

Saute 4 ounces mushrooms and halve 1 cup cherry tomatoes. Use a milder cheese for this. Add a generous pinch of both rosemary and thyme to the filling, and whisk in the cooked mushrooms. Once you pour in the filling, arrange the tomato halves over the top of the quiche and push them in slightly.

Add 1 cup sliced cooked sausage, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and a generous pinch of cayenne pepper.

Steam 1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli and add to filling. Whisk in a generous pinch of basil and a small pinch of nutmeg, and use some grated Parmesan in your cheese mixture.

Quiche is great served with pan-fried potatoes, a green salad, bread and jam, fruit and cookies . . . whatever floats your boat. And leftovers make super breakfasts and lunches.

25 January 2010

Wise Men Part Three

One more thought on Eliot. I haven't exhausted the poem by any means, but this is the final thing that stuck out to me last week.


The wise men don't fit in. First they trudge through foreign lands and struggle to find even a resting place. Then in Judea, even though it's a pleasant enough place, they still have to move on. It's not enough, taverns and vine-leaves notwithstanding. Finally, once they return to their home, it seems far less homelike than it did before. The sherbert-bearing, silk-wearing girls are now aliens clutching idols. No longer a source of comfort, the summer palaces echo with empty dreams.

Like all true pilgrims, the wise men are uncomfortable in the world-- not that they completely hate it, but it just doesn't satisfy them anymore. The baby Christ birthed a new desire in their hearts, far superior to their previous pursuits. Now that they have witnessed a true Birth, the greatest of all Births, they see the tinge of Death on everything else. They long for deliverance from the curse.

It's not a pleasant state to be in. No one likes feeling uneasy. But that is what the truth does, and doesn't the reward fully compensate for our pilgrimage?


"These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland . . . they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city."
-Hebrews 11

21 January 2010

The newlyweds in pictures. (Okay not really...I just like lolcats.)

This is Jared at mealtimes.

This is me all the time.

This is Jared doing office work.

This is me getting ready on Sunday mornings.

19 January 2010

The Journey of the Magi, Part Two

Well. Here's a question that comes from this poem: what do we expect from God, and do we base our expectations on the truth? In other words, is it what He actually promises, or what we think He owes us?

The Magi see a star. "Ah look," they say, "a heavenly sign sent for us, the wise men of the Orient, to see. Surely a great treasure lies beneath." Off they go, and immediately the way becomes difficult. Look, when you're wealthy and respected and accustomed to "silken girls bringing sherbet," you probably expect a few decent rest stops along the way. But no-- just suspicious tribesmen and crooked merchants, who could care less if you and your two crazy friends are searching for the King of Ages. The Magi must have asked themselves a million times if the trip had merit, after all. If they were on the right track, shouldn't things be a little easier? I imagine that around those flickering campfires, night after night, they started to wonder if they were going insane. "Do we have enough water? Is it just me, or has that star led us in a circle? And whose idea was this anyway?"

Then they reach Jerusalem, obviously expecting to find the kingly treasure there. Disappointed again-- Herod hasn't a clue. So off they go, bound to reach the end if it kills them, and finally that roguish star comes to rest in a "temperate valley," not too impressive, though certainly nicer than the desert across which they came. They arrive just in time.

And what does this wise man say about the Christ child? What's his evaluation of this long-sought treasure?

"It was (you may say) satisfactory."

Hold on a minute! What's that supposed to mean? Were they disappointed? Did the Magi miss the point entirely? I don't think so, but I do think this poem makes a pretty realistic guess at their initial reaction to that little peasant baby, lying there helplessly, unable to speak or move, let alone rule the universe. I get the sense that this Oriental king, with his magnificent visions of "summer palaces on slopes" and pompous parades down gilt avenues, was simply confounded. Struck dumb. Oh yes, it was fine. More than fine: it was everything we wanted, and even better. It satisfied us, he declares, and that is a deep expression of approval. If something is satisfactory, it fills you in the most complete way possible, and what more could you desire?

But good golly-- it sure wasn't what we had envisioned.

It's kind of like when you pick up a glass expecting water, and get chocolate milk instead. The first reaction isn't "Oh wow, what a delicious drink!" You're taken by surprise and your reaction is more ambiguous. It's usually "Whoa! Wait-- uh-- what is this stuff-- oh. Um, yeah, that's good. Oh yes, I do like it. I really do."

The vast difference between God's will and our expectations takes us aback far too often. Why? Because we aren't willing to follow: just to follow, not to predict the outcome or get insurance for possible mistakes or make things comfortable for ourselves along the way. Certainly, I love plans, schedules, and predictability. Adventure is fun, but only when I want it, and only when it involves lots of laughter and entertainment. But what if God asks me to follow, doesn't tell me the ending goal, and makes no guarantee that I'll enjoy the journey? What then? Am I willing to embrace it with the same joy that I'd embrace something I planned?

18 January 2010

Mellifluous Mondays: T.S. Eliot's "The Journey of the Magi"

"A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey;
The snow was deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter."
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men came cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and their women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty, and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

Oh my goodness. This has to be one of my favorite poems ever. It overflows: in just three stanzas, Eliot packs in so much theology, so much art, so much keen observation of the human condition. The word patterns alone are enough to make you stop and stare. But beyond that, I'm astounded by the meditations on faith, submission, pilgrimage, earthly trials, Christ's humility, "chasing the wind," and far more. I can't even start to discuss it in a blog post. I think there will be a series on this instead. :) So stay tuned for part 2.

14 January 2010

Housekeeping and Cranberries

I suppose a few things have changed since last post. That marriage bit, for example.

Yes, it finally happened, after all the hullaballo and worrying. It came off perfectly, in fact. I really got married: I said my vows, kissed a boy, cut the cake, and changed my name (though not yet legally. Do you know how much paperwork that involves??). And after a week in beautiful and historic Charleston, we're back in Lancaster to stay. I'm crazy about my husband and I couldn't be happier.


Housekeeping is fun. I say that after less than a week of doing it, so feel free to splatter your cynical predictions all over my greenhorn optimism, but I probably won't listen to you anyway and shall continue looking through the rosy glasses of a newlywed. So pooh.

In any case, I think it's wonderful that when God calls a woman to be a homemaker, he doesn't turn her into another creature entirely. He's been preparing her to do this for her entire life; her personality and gifts will blossom more fully in this new role, rather than being tossed out the window and replaced with something new. Of course, I expect to change a lot, and I also know that this job will demand more self-sacrifice than anything I have ever done (especially once children enter the picture). But still, I am excited. I am confident that God has equipped me with the ability to do this well, in a manner that glorifies Him. When He asks His children to take on reponsibilities, He always provides the grace to carry those responsibilities out. So, this will be a challenge-- and I like challenges.


Here is a very good recipe for cranberry sauce, one with less sugar and more . . . berry. Orange and ginger liven it up. It's a gorgeous dark red and goes perfectly with roast turkey, grilled lamb, New York style cheesecake, vanilla yogurt, a romaine-orange-havarti salad, or just plain. All by itself. In a bowl. With a spoon. Oh heavens.

(Here I am reminded of the scene in Shadowlands where C.S. Lewis inquires of his housekeeper, "Have you got any cranberry sauce?" The confused housekeeper, who has never heard of this American oddity, brusquely replies: "Well, you find me some cranberries, Mr. Lewis, and I'll sauce 'em.")

Tangy Cranberry Sauce

1 1/4 cups orange juice
2/3 cup white sugar
1 12 oz. bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained
zest of one medium orange
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1) In small saucepan, bring orange juice to boil. Whisk in sugar until dissolved.
2) Add drained cranberries and stir. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 10 minutes; watch that it doesn't boil over the sides of the pan. Cranberries should start to pop and grow soft.
3) Stir again and simmer, uncovered, until you can mash the cranberries with a spoon. Mash them as you desire; some people like a smoother sauce, some prefer it with whole berries. Then stir in all remaining ingredients.
4) Remove from heat and let cool in pan. Refrigerate cooled sauce until serving time.