The summer solstice has come and gone.
The start of summer? We here on the ranch celebrate — or at least note — the date as “the first day of winter.” The days are getting shorter again, even if by only a minute or two every few days.
For us, that means a sort of countdown through our busiest season: two more cuts of hay — one is done, cut, baled and sold already.
Everything is planted out in the garden, and we’re already harvesting chard, lettuce, onions and herbs.
The first big weeding is done; some of the corn is mulched and “knee high by the Fourth of July”; and cabbage, broccoli, beets and carrots are thinned, though they will need it again. There are baby tomatoes on good-sized plants, and even some little baby squashes.
Strawberry jam from Rodriguez farms at the farmer’s market is made and tucked away for later.
We’ll use tomatoes, squash, corn and fruits from the farmer’s market for a few more weeks until ours come in.
There’s lots more to do, of course. Plus our lives are especially brightened by the arrival of a new Aussie puppy that keeps us laughing and wakes us at 4 in the morning.
As we work through these long days, the thought of cooler, shorter days, evenings by the fire, good books and slow-cooked meals keeps us going. We are most thankful for the seasonality of our lives. The downside is the winter solstice, which should be the first day of summer — but we rationalize and remember that we have three months before the warm weather sets in again.
Our recipe this week is for a summer quiche — simple, light and inspired by the garden. It’s good for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and is especially nice accompanied by a green or fruit salad.
This is a small recipe that serves about four. It may be doubled easily. The ingredients may be changed to use what you have; just keep the milk/egg proportions the same.
Lightly grease an 8- or 9-inch pie dish and set aside. Set the oven at 375 degrees.
Make the crust (or use a purchased pie crust):
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
½ teaspoon salt
about ¼ cup ice water
Mix by hand or with a pastry blender the flour, salt and shortening until crumbly.
Add the water; you may need a little less or a little more, depending on the flour.
Mix with a big spoon until it holds together in a ball; roll out on a floured board and fit into your pie plate. Cut around the edge, leaving an extra half-inch. Fold in the extra to make a double thickness rim and crimp the edge. Set aside, covered with a damp dish towel.
Make the filling:
3 eggs, well-blended
1½ cups whole milk
½ to ¾ cup grated creamy Havarti cheese (or your choice)
as much chopped parsley as you would like
salt and pepper to taste
Mix the above, and add your choice of:
½ cup steamed, chopped chard or spinach
¼ cup diced green onion
½ cup steamed, chopped broccoli
½ cup steamed, sliced baby summer squash
Combine the two mixtures; pour into the pie shell and bake until done, about 35-40 minutes. Take out of the oven when the center is still a bit quivery.
David and Muffy Vhay are the owners of Deer Run Ranch Bed and Breakfast. Contact the ranch at 775-882-3643.