Tag Archives: food

impromptu quiche

18 Aug

In elementary school, I went through a phase where I would often make what I called “decorative platters.” I would take whatever my family was eating for dinner – which, thanks to my vegetarian-except-for-occasional-seafood parents, generally included plenty of vegetables and color – and arrange it on my plate in the most artistic way possible. I think I was probably a little food-obsessed even back then. Sometimes, my babysitters would arrive soon after we’d started eating (my parents are musicians and often had rehearsals around six or seven in the evening), and I was able to show them my skills. I’m sure they were thrilled.

I don’t really bother to arrange my food in any particular way anymore, but last night, as I was getting ready to put a quiche in the oven, I couldn’t resist making it as pretty as possible. The quiche wasn’t even a planned meal. It was Saturday evening around five and I realized that I had a) no prepared food and b) no desire to go to the store. I did, however, have eggs, cheese, and random vegetables, so I roughly followed this recipe, using a little bit of fresh spinach, half an onion, garlic, the end of a red bell pepper, and a tomato for my veggies. I also used plenty of seasonings (Tony’s, Tabasco, black pepper, and Dijon mustard) and three kinds of cheese (cheddar, Parmesan, and Swiss) because having multiple kinds of cheese on hand is just how we roll in this apartment.

Before I popped my impromptu quiche in the oven, I sliced up one final Roma tomato and arranged it in a shape that reminds me of a starfish, then put a few more tomato slices around the edges. When the quiche came out of the oven, I put a sprig of basil from our windowsill basil plant in the center to make the whole thing even prettier…and to cover up the part of the quiche where I’d pierced it with a knife multiple times because apparently, mile-high altitude affects how quiche bakes. It took forever. But it ended up looking like this:

quiche

 

Also, it’s delicious. Not bad for a thrown-together dinner.

Then, shortly after I ate it, I nearly had a heart attack because a BAT WAS FLYING AROUND IN MY APARTMENT. But that’s another story for another day.

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eating seasonally

4 Jun

This past March and April, I experienced the strangest (to me anyway) spring of my life.

I grew up in Louisiana, where “spring” means heat and muggy air, just a warm-up for a months-too-long summer.

Then I went to Minnesota for college, where “spring” rightfully warranted a sense of joy in the air; the snow finally melted and everyone was just happy to be outside and to see things that were green.

The school year after I finished college, I lived in the north of France, where “spring” consisted of a gradual warming of the general temperature and where the sun came out a bit more. The weather wasn’t very dramatic or extreme there.

But Colorado. Colorado weather is just something else. I’m not really sure what “spring” means here, because after a rather mild winter, I was sure come April that everything would be lovely and warm and green. Actually, that’s what much of our winter was like.

Instead, we had a mild snowstorm on April 9. It was a Tuesday, and schools were closed. I actually remember thinking and saying, “Well, I guess that was our last snow of the year.” It turned out that it was only the last snow of that week, because we got a lot of snow exactly a week later. And exactly a week after that. And a week after that. Almost always on a Tuesday.

Finally, we had our actual last snow during the first week of May. I was not impressed. Maybe “spring” in Colorado is synonymous with “tease,” because that’s what it felt like. It would always warm up to the sixties or so in between snows.

Now it’s early June, and we have finally had several weeks of warm, springlike weather. And I have finally started craving springlike and summery foods.

I love food and as a general rule, I tend to want to eat most foods all the time, regardless of the weather. But I’m also aware that I’ll tend to lean toward certain foods during certain times of the year. Most of us do it. Pumpkin in the fall. Warm, comforting soups and stews in the winter. Giant, filling salads and sometimes smoothies in the spring and summer.

I’m sure our appetites change in part because of what foods we’ve been conditioned to eat during certain times of year, and in part because of the temperature, but I think our bodies also just know on some level what it needs during a particular season. Sometime in late May, I made some slow cooker chili that I’ve made before. It’s always delicious, but this time, I found myself struggling a little to finish each bowl. It wasn’t any less good than before. My taste buds still relished it, but I think a part of me knew that it wasn’t quite the right time for it.

So the following week, I did something I’ve been meaning to do for months: I made my own salad dressing. I used this recipe. It was amazing and delicious, especially since suddenly, I knew that I just needed a salad. Not a hastily prepared, I’ll-just-eat-this-on-the-side-of-my-hot-food-because-it’s-green salad, but a real one with protein and lots of vegetables and good, pure dressing.

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It totally hit the spot and satisfied me, even after a good workout. Maybe a big salad as a meal won’t be my favorite thing come November, but for these next couple of months, I see it being a regular occurence. It’s that time.

Do you find that your body craves things based on the season?

Nathan’s banana bread recipe (according to him)

2 Jun

For anyone who doesn’t know, high altitude totally changes the way that many things bake. Things like biscuits, cookies, and cornbread that don’t have to rise much aren’t really affected, but when it comes to things like bread and cupcakes, all the rules change. There are websites offering suggestions for ways to make things come out normally at higher altitudes, but I can never keep them straight. Do I add more liquid or less? More rising agent? Do I bake it at a higher temperature or a lower one? I still don’t even know.

I love baking, but I got pretty discouraged after moving to Denver because everything about it is just so different. After a batch of cupcakes for Nathan’s birthday came out a little crazy despite the modifications I made, I kind of gave up on baking anything beyond cookies here.

But then I realized that other people have also had the same problems with high-altitude baking. And some of these people have been so kind as to share their high-altitude recipes that actually work on recipe sites or on personal blogs. Now, instead of having to put in a different amount of milk or baking powder or turn the oven up or down, I just have to Google what I want to make and add “high altitude” to the end. And then just make it.

This is how I managed to make some chocolate chip banana bread for the first time a few weeks ago.

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I hope my photo makes it look delicious, because it really is. I used this recipe (minus cinnamon, plus vanilla, and with whole grain pastry flour), and I first made it one night when I was home alone because Nathan was closing at work. He came home and devoured half the loaf.

We have an index card file box where we store our recipes that have worked out for us. I wasn’t sure whether or not this recipe would work out when I initially tried it, so I just jotted it down on some scrap paper. A couple of weeks later, I decided to make up another batch and went through our recipe box to see if one of us had written it on an index card and filed it away. Turns out that Nathan had…and that he had decided to take all the credit for it.

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Nathan’s recipe? Really?

Once I’d stopped laughing and saying, “Seriously, Nathan?” (to which he kept responding, “What?” as though he didn’t know what), he said, “What? I made this banana bread when you were closing at work and then you came home and ate half the loaf!”

Typical.

Any good baking recipes for high altitudes?