Spring (thank goodness it’s finally sprung) generally brings change. For me this means that after many years of apartment-dwelling, my fiancé and I are moving to a house, complete with a backyard, in a city that allows for—hold on to your hats, folks—backyard chickens. Oh yeah, we’re talking Martha Stewart in the City style, fresh eggs, trendy chicken coops, and askance looks from the neighbors. Those kind of backyard chickens. Not so fast, says the fiancé (aka the Voice of Reason): Me: “Can we please have hens in the backyard?” “No,” he says. “But I promise to do all the work.” “It’s not the work. You know we have a dog who would really enjoy eating those chickens.” “We could train her NOT to eat the chickens!” “How many chickens do you think that training would take?” “Not many.” “And what about the smell? What would the neighbors think?” “We could bribe them with fresh eggs. And I bet we wouldn’t notice the smell.” “We probably shouldn’t get chickens before we meet the neighbors.” “Why not?” Apparently, having this discussion makes me revert back to being a five-year-old with an endless supply of senseless argumentation. But in the end, I come to the realization that while I was born on a farm, I have never cared for a hen; and with my garden aspirations (let’s start small, like growing lettuce), he’s right. Chickens are probably a bad idea. For now. In the meantime, I will live vicariously through acquaintances with hens and turn to the local farmer’s market for my fresh egg supply. Spring is a good time for quiches, as egg pies make great vehicles for using up whatever you’ve got plenty of in the garden (asparagus, greens like spinach or swiss chard, green onions, and fresh herbs, for instance). Get ambitious with a homemade crust, or not, but whatever you do, make sure you’re using farm-fresh eggs. You’ve never seen a prettier quiche, trust me, and the flavor will beat any you’ve ever had before. Fresh Garden Quiche * This is a basic, highly-adaptable quiche recipe, meant for the cook to get creative. This also means it’s easy to whip up with ingredients that you might have on-hand. 1 deep-dish pie crust (for my favorite homemade crust recipe, click here) 2 cups filling of your choice (steamed fresh asparagus or spinach, lightly sautéed onions or greens, fresh mushrooms; crispy bacon or cooked ham also make nice additions, and if you like spice, try adding pickled jalapenos or fire-roasted peppers) 1/2 cup fresh chopped herbs, like parsley or cilantro 8 ounces grated cheese (cook’s choice) 4 eggs 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, half and half, or whole milk 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper Preheat the oven to 400. Roll out the crust and fit to a deep-dish tart or pie pan, then prick the bottom all over with a fork. Place the crust in the freezer for 15 minutes or longer, while you prep the filling ingredients. Remove from freezer and bake for 12 minutes. Remove crust from oven and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Allow crust to cool while you finish preparing the quiche filling. Prepare the filling ingredients (steam, sauté, or cook). Be sure to drain as much of the water off as possible when done; too much liquid will cause the quiche to be runny. Layer the ingredients in the cooled quiche crust, starting with the meat or vegetables and then adding the cheese. Using a whisk, beat together the eggs, milk or cream, and seasonings just until mixed. Pour the egg mixture on top of the quiche crust and place in 375°F oven for 40 minutes, or just until the eggs are set and the quiche is golden brown on top (the quiche will continue to cook some after you remove it from the oven, so be sure not to over cook it). Cool before serving.
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