Here's our second post in what I hope will be an ongoing series featuring writers who cook. If you would like to contribute, please send me an e-mail at email@example.com.
Shaindel Beers and I have never met but we're Facebook friends and over the past several months I've been impressed with her updates describing and picturing her cooking adventures. She immediately came to mind as a contributor to this series. OK so the picture above has nothing to do with today's recipe but I couldn't resist posting a photo of Shaindel after landing a steelhead. Here's what she has to say about cooking and today's recipe for Poets' Quiche: I started cooking when I was about eight years old because that's when
my mother had my younger brother Aaron and was very busy. I think I
felt grown up helping because there was a baby in the house. It's also
coincidentally about the time I could reach the stove on my
own. I'm the oldest of four, so the one problem I run into with
cooking is that I frequently make enough to feed an army. Lee (my
husband) and I aren't opposed to leftovers, so luckily this works out
I like to cook because it's my quiet time alone in the kitchen. When I'm doing something really time-consuming like canning, I set my laptop on the dining room table and listen to The New Yorker's fiction podcasts. There's something magical about being told a story when you're cooking. It's either that, or singing along with great female singer-songwriters like Emmylou Harris, Loretta Lynn, Lucinda Williams, and others. Then it's like hanging out with all the female friends you've ever had while working. Yes, I've been known to belt out "Coal-Miner's Daughter" while at the cutting board.
I also like cooking because (to me) it's a solitary activity like writing. You can experiment and see if something's working before you share it. If you experiment and things go horribly wrong, no one has to know, just like no one has to know about first drafts. It's also a terrific way of sharing yourself. A lot of people don't seem to really cook any more, so they're impressed when you do. I recently processed about fifty pounds of apples into apple sauce and apple butter. I gave apple butter to my hairdresser and the man who mows my lawn, and they were so grateful. A woman on Twitter offered to drive an hour to buy apple butter from me. I told her not to make a special trip, but if she's ever in town, I'll just give her a jar. Last weekend, I canned nine quarts of apple juice from apples that I'd picked that day. I brought in a pitcher of juice for people in my office. This weekend, I'm going to try canning apple pie filling. One of my students told me during office hours that she does that, so I'm going to give it a try. If all goes well, that might be what my office suite-mates get for Christmas this year.
There's a contentedness in being self-sufficient that I think people in
rural communities understand. Recently, at an author event, I shared a table with a cookbook author, and there were
samples of her salmon dip available. The event was near where I go
fishing, so I asked if she had caught the salmon, and she laughed and
said, "These are supposed to be quick and easy recipes! It's canned
salmon." The last steelhead I caught was two years ago, so
it certainly isn't the quick and easy way, but it's the way I'd like it
to be for more people. I caught the fish, Lee smoked it, and I brought
some to the office with cream cheese and crackers.
This recipe is something I came up with last week because I had an overabundance of eggs and leftovers from the garden. One of my friends nicknamed it "Poets' Quiche." The great thing about this recipe is you can pretty much use any type of bread--I've used cubed French bread, leftover garlic bread. You can use frozen spinach, you can have a layer of cooked sausage. Pretty much, anything works, so have fun with it!
2 slices of bread (I used wheat)
1 red pepper
2 orange peppers
12 cherry tomatoes
approximately 1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup of shredded mozarella cheese
black pepper and salt to liking
Lightly oil bottom of 9" pie plate. Tear up two slices of bread and line bottom of pie plate with bread. Slice peppers into rings, halve cherry tomatoes, and place on top of bread layer. Sprinkle with mozarella cheese. Beat eggs thoroughly and mix in milk and salt and pepper, if desired. Pour mixture over bread, vegetable, and cheese layers. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until cooked through in center.
I serve with sour cream and hot sauce, but then I serve everything with sour cream and hot sauce. Enjoy!