Roasted Vegetable Quiche

This summer was insanely hectic. I feel like it passed it a blur of beaching, boating, and warm summer nights. I wasn’t in the kitchen making new things to share with you as much as I’d like, but now that the days are becoming cooler – it’s my favorite time of year to be in the kitchen. Not to mention it’s the best time of year to work with the bounty that your garden, or local farmers in your area have produced.

I’ve always been passionate about gardening, and particularly varietal history and seed saving. So when the good folks at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello reached out and asked me to share the details on their 10th Annual Heritage Harvest Festival happening this weekend, I was delighted to do so!

Thomas Jefferson championed vegetable cuisine, plant experimentation, and sustainable agriculture. In today’s modern world,  they are continuing that tradition at Monticello – and have been doing so, for many years. They were kind enough to send me a beautiful box of garden goodness fresh from the fields.

monticello

I mean – what an honor. Talk about tasting history! Eggplants (Listadia di Gandia and Black Beauty), Peppers (Marconi and Fish Hots – a variety that was used in seafood houses in my region for hundreds of years), a Green Nutmeg Melon, fresh sesame, and some of their locally made Hickory Syrup and Peach Butter available from their online shop. I can’t thank them enough for sending that box of loveliness my way, it was a real treat!

I ended up tossing the eggplants Marconi peppers with a little olive oil and salt, and added a tomato and some garlic from my dad’s garden for good measure – then roasted. That’s a great way to get out excess moisture, that can lead to soggy situations in whatever dish you’re preparing. Plus, it really intensifies all of the flavor.

Used my favorite pie crust recipe to line my tart pan, and blind bake. Then piled in the roasted vegetable goodness and a rich egg-custard to fill in all the nooks & crannies. And a little goat cheese for good measure. A local farmer has been selling his goat cheese at the farmer’s market here on Chincoteague, and it’s insanely wonderful. Have been enjoying it every chance I can get!

A quick bake for about half an hour, and you’re good to go. Paired with a simple green salad, it’s the perfect meal for this time of year. Could also be made in a pie plate without the crust!

And, if you’re in the vicinity and looking for something to do tomorrow – make sure you check out the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello. The’ve got a great lineup of speakers, activities for kids, gardening info, seed saving, good eats….they’ll have it all! A great day to get outside and live, breathe, and taste history.

 

Iced Coffee Tonic

The dog days of summer haven’t hit us yet, but I wanted to be prepared when they do. My friend and coffee roaster Kristen, down at Eastern Shore Coastal Roasting Company, had made us these refreshing concotions after a long day on the road – literally all over the Eastern Shore. It was for a farm tour hosted by the good people at the Chincoteague Bay Field Station. Last year they had their first Serving Up The Shore event, and it was a great success. Local farmers and producers donate an array of items, and local chefs donate their time. Last year I attended, and have anxiously been awaiting this year…

Imagine my surprise when the folks at the Field Station asked me to come and prepare the salad course! I’m excited, and a little nervous – but I think we’ll have great fun! It’s really an honor to be in the kitchen with the chefs and farmers/producers they have lined up…go buy your tickets!

Anywho, I’ve long been a fan of ESCR and their coffees. So to get to know Kristen and Jamie, and to have them take the time to show us a roast from start to finish – was just such a treat! And then, to end it all with an amazing treat like this iced coffee tonic – well, that was just the icing on the cake for the day! If you’re local, look for their coffees at Poseidon’s Pantry as well as Wine, Cheese & More (downtown) here on the island,

Kristen used their Marsh Mud cold-brew blend, which is phenom. But whatever your favorite method or brand for cold brew is will be fine. Look for a post on that here soon! So, about 3/4 parts cold brew to 1/4 cup tonic or seltzer. I kind of liked the slight “twang” that the tonic water lent, but have since made it with seltzer and it was equally delightful.

A little sugar or simple syrup. And maybe a splash of half & half, if that’s your thing. I’ve also added a splash of coconut milk, and it was absolute perfection! Garnish with some sort of herbacious sprig – we used rosemary, and really enjoyed that little herbal note lingering in the background.

The perfect summer sipper to put a little pep in your step during these warmer months!

Source: I get by with a little help from my friends at ESCR. Thanks, guys!

2I don’t know if it’s the time shift, or the fact that I often fall asleep on the couch at 8 PM – but I find myself getting up before the sun these past couple months. Have been trying to be a little bit more productive with it. Getting up for a walk or run, snapping a few pictures of the sunrise along the way.

I thought that sharing my favorite photos I’ve snapped in the past month, along with a short blurb about what’s going on would be fun. I’m very fortunate to call such a magical place home, and I thought you guy might enjoy a little taste of that! So, we’ll see how it goes.

1Whiskey sours. This is a funny story! So, last summer I went to this fun blogger event sponsored by  the folks at Maryland Tourism. Local breweries and distillers were on site schmoozing with a variety  of local area bloggers. I got chatting with the folks at Louthan Distilling, who are out of Baltimore – but use grains harvested from the Eastern Shore. I mentioned that I lived on Chincoteague…would you believe the father of the distiller (who is the co-owner) literally have a vacation home one door down from me here on the island? It never ceases to amaze me how small of a world this is!

Naturally – we’ve become great friends. Len & Nancy have been over a couple of times for dinner, and drinks on the porch are quickly becoming a favorite pastime when they’re in town (who am I kidding, that’s always a favorite pastime around here!). The whiskey is phenomenal, wonderful to drink over a bit of ice or to use as a cocktail crafting agent. Santa brought the husband a nice collection of assorted bitters this year, so we’ve been fun experimenting with those!

3My morning walks I mentioned have been getting me a little more off the beaten path lately – which really says something for a girl who’s always got marsh mud stuck between her toes. Often, literally. I love to find a new perspective on things that I view on a daily basis!

4 Or, sometimes I’ll find myself more on the beaten path. Literally. For instance, this boat that’s on the side of the causeway (the long stretch of road over the marsh coming from the mainland to the island). I’ve driven by it a million times, always framing a shot in my mind – but never stopped to take the picture. Finally got around to it a couple weeks ago, and I love it. I need to get out there with my big girl camera soon and take some real photos!

5 Whenever we get a chance we love to take a drive up to the Dogfish Head Brewpub on a weekend for lunch.  It’s still the “off-season”, so they’re not quite as busy as they are in the summer months. The food and beer are always wonderful, and they’re very family friendly – which is a major plus with our crew!

Whenever we go, we always have to try a sampler of their brewpub exclusives – which are brewed in small batches right there at the brewpub. It’s always fun to see some of those brewpub exclusives materialize into beers that they then decide to bottle and distribute!

6 Speaking of good beer…guess who had a recipe in American Homebrewers Association’s Zymurgy this month? This girl! As a homebrewer and avid craft beer lover, this was a huge honor for me. And, if you haven’t made the Beer-Candied Bacon yet…stop reading this and go make it. Like, right now. We’ll wait.

7If you know me in my private life or through my Instagram feed – you’ll know that I’m obsessed with beachcombing – primarily for sea glass. While most of what I find is tumbled glass, which is beautiful – my favorite finds are pieces of pottery that have been broken and worn by the tumbling surf. I love finding something with a pattern or marking, and then tracing it back to what it was in the former life.

Most of  pieces I find are from the 1920’s – 1950’s. I drive about 30 minutes to the Chesapeake Bay side of the Eastern Shore, as I never have much luck here on the ocean side. You never know what the tide will bring in from day to day! On this particular morning I found quite a few blue & white pieces.

8This year during the off-season months our little movie theater has been showing classic films on Friday nights for $5. A couple of weeks ago it was Gone With The Wind. I saw it on the big screen back in 1999 for the 60th anniversary, but couldn’t resist seeing it again.

My girlfriend and I went (I may or may have not smuggled in a little bottle of rum to add to our Cokes) and had a great time. The perfect way to spend a small town Friday night!

9Spring has sprung and these little guys are hatching and crawling all over the island. They’re Diamondback Terrapins – once endangered due to over fishing (they’ll eat anything around here, guys!), and now facing daily dangers of getting caught in crab pots. I try to keep my eyes peeled for them on the road and avoid them when I can. I brake for turtles, y’all!

10The arrival of spring also means that all my favorite spots are opening back up! Sea Star Cafe opened a few weeks ago – my favorite spot for lunch. Always fresh and amazing! Ray’s Shanty – for all my seafood needs (heading there today – shrimp & grits on the menu tonight!). Poseiden’s Pantry – my go-to spot for specialty ingredients and craft beer. And, Saigon Village – a phenomenal little hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese place right up the street. If you’re ever visiting Chincoteague, I highly recommend all of them!

Smith Island Cake

If there is one item that’s long been on my baking “bucket list”, it would be the Smith Island Cake. Baked by the wives and mothers of waterman on Smith Island to send off with their husbands and sons, who headed out to dredge oysters for days at a time in the fall and winter on the cold waters of the Chesapeake Bay. It’s legendary here on the Eastern Shore, and was named the official cake of the State of Maryland back in 2008.

It’s traditionally 10-layers, individually baked, and then layered and covered with a rich, fudge-like frosting. It’s spreadable when it’s warm, but then solidifies helping to hold the layers together as well as to seal in the moisture. Keeping the cake fresh and moist for the hard-working boys on the water who were out there digging up oysters for people’s Thanksgiving tables.

I finally tackled it for our 10 year anniversary a couple weeks ago, and I’ve gotta say – I don’t know why I was so scared. I used Francis Kitching’s recipe, the legendary hostess and cook of Smith Island. I only ended up with 9-layers, I should have used a little less than 2/3 cup, but I was still so impressed with myself I could barely contain my excitement. The cake baked up nicely, and the fudge frosting was easy to work with. So happy I gave this one a whirl and can finally say I have it under my belt. I look forward to experimenting with new flavor combinations in the future!

Add it to your bucket list , but do yourself a favor and don’t wait as long as I did to make it. It’s so impressive, a perfect cake to make for the holiday season!

Source: Mrs. Kitching’s Smith Island Cookbook