Let’s face it. We all have to eat and for lots of reasons, modern life often doesn’t allow us to do it in the healthiest and most enjoyable ways. I was lucky to grow up in a home with a stay-at-home mom who was an adventuresome cook. My mom and dad were part of the Nisei Japanese population in southern California in the 1940’s; daughters and sons of Japanese immigrants to the United States. Dad put his hard earned American college education to work in a life long career as an aeronautical engineer, while mom was full-time at home raising three girls. My parents, like many of the Nisei, wanted us girls to grow up “American”, and of course that meant eating American food at home. My mom didn’t puzzle over what that meant for very long, I think. I remember each night of the week we ate yummy food from a different part of the world – Chinese sweet and sour pork with pineapple over rice, pork ribs braised with German sauerkraut, Jewish chicken soup with matzo balls, Indian lamb curry and my favorite from Mexico – beef tacos with refried beans and rice that she learned from a neighbor! Now that I think of it, what a cultural hurdle that must have been for her, especially with English being less familiar to her than Japanese. Some of my cherished hand me downs from her are some of the stained and worn out cookbooks she must have labored over to put those very foreign “American” meals on the dinner table. I think mom did that out of necessity and love for her family; she doesn’t spend time in the kitchen now. But thanks to her influence, I’m a retired chef and culinary teacher, now enjoying cooking in my own kitchen, day in and out. Thanks, Mom!
I tell that reminiscence in recognition of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. Jamie’s message resonates with my approach to food and eating – education, nutrition, food waste, sustainability, ethical buying and cooking skills. This year I joined two CSA’s (community supported agriculture), one for vegetables and one for orchard fruits. I shop first at a local farm store which not only sells its own produce and meats, but carries a wide variety of other foods and goods made by local producers. I volunteer at a micro-farm to support and help that small grower. I try to minimize food waste at home and divert other less than perfect foods from the waste stream by finding other uses for them (community food donations or food for chickens). And I write this blog, as a way to record and share my thoughts and experiences. This is my food revolution.
Now to get to the recipe that the Cook the Book Fridays group made for Food Revolution day today – an extra rich quiche. Custards, whether baked in the oven or stirred on the stove, can be a little tricky and temperamental. You’ll probably underbake or overcook one or two before you get the hang of it. Then you’ll be able to tell just when it’s perfectly set without breaking (which happens when the custard gets too hot and the water separates out making your custard look like a curdled mess😭). David Lebovitz provides a versatile and forgiving recipe titled “ham, blue cheese and pear quiche” in his book My Paris Kitchen. I added seasonal and local ingredients like asparagus, spinach, spring onions, green garlic and one big king oyster mushroom. Bacon stood in for the ham, and I substituted Gruyere for some of the blue cheese; left the pear out (no local fruit right now). It was savory and ridiculously rich, an indulgent celebration of Colorado’s first spring vegetables. Oh, and I used duck eggs! They are my favorite for baking and custard making, having both richer yolks and firmer whites, and they are huge. I was able to use just three of them for the four large eggs and two yolks in the recipe. I have to credit David with an excellent quiche crust recipe that browns beautifully without needing to be blind baked before the filling is poured in (for extra insurance, I baked in a hotter oven for the first 10 minutes and used a baking stone). The addition of cornmeal gives a nutty crunch to the very buttery crust. Be sure to serve a salad alongside to balance the quiche’s salty richness, and of course a glass of crisp white wine. Bon Appetit!