Elk Bacon Quiche - Farmers' Market -
The Beloit Farmers’ Market
“One good storm, and everything is wiped out,” muttered the farmer whose peas I was perusing. I had just mentioned that the weather for this growing season was shaping up to be much better than last. He had five small containers of peas, and was selling them for three dollars per container: a price well within my budget. However, being a farmer, he had no use for my optimism, instead warning of possible future calamities which could bankrupt all of the farmers in the area.
Back and forth the markets go: the prices and availability of produce is fluid and are a fair gauge for the temperaments of the market-goers. However, I like not knowing what I will find from week to week. It’s a bit like shopping in a second-hand book store; there will always be something good, even if it’s not what you went in for. I had a vague plan for what I wanted to cook in mind, but was happy to be influenced by the market vendors. Who knew you could make bacon from elk? I’ll take half a pound!
In the end, I wound up with asparagus, green onions, elk bacon, Amish swiss cheese, and fresh eggs. I also picked up a feta cheese/onion danish from Boomerang Bakery, thinking it might pair well with the ingredients. And since the day was hotting up nicely, I decided on something light. A crustless quiche…good hot or cold, for lunch or for breakfast. Yes yes, I know; real men don’t eat quiche–but this has BACON.
Bacon? Did you say Bacon?
The elk bacon was my biggest surprise. Much less lean than pork bacon, it didn’t shrink or curl up in the pan as I expected, and I ended up with quite a bit. It took every bit of self-discipline I had to not simply munch on it as it exited the pan. It also did not put out a great deal of fat, so I didn’t have to pour off any as I sautéed the asparagus and green onions in it to prepare for the pie pan. The lovely brown glazing on the vegetables gave another punch to the kidneys of my will-power, but I bit my lip and steadfastly kept my eyes on the eggs I was cracking.
The love of Free-Range
If you have not eaten good, free-range farm eggs, please do not buy any more from a supermarket until you do. As soon as you break them open to that rich, golden color, you will wonder what on earth you’ve been eating all these years. One of my eggs was double-yolked, which actually happens quite a bit with farm eggs. I poured in the milk as I whisked, watching that unbelievable froth rise. I played in my mind with comparisons — sunshine? chrysanthemums? — but gave up, limply.
The Finished Product
I suppose I should say something about the finished product. It came out of the oven a lovely caramelized color, and that combination of the bacon and asparagus flavor was light and well-matched. If I were a different type of writer, I’d use some sort of dancing metaphor here, but frankly, the images of vegetables waltzing through fields with sides of bacon just make me want to giggle. So let me just remark that they work well together, and it’s a combination I will likely use again.
I did opt to whisk the eggs with milk rather than whipping cream. If I were to do it again, I’d use the cream. The milk did not hold the proper *fluff* of the eggs, and the resulting quiche was not as lofty as I would have liked. At the risk of repeating myself, the loft was not missed for me…because it had BACON. I also liked the very light flavor of the Amish swiss. Next time, I might try a different cheese. The fun thing about cooking is experimentation, after all! All in all, I was very satisfied with the flavor and the texture. One of my friends who tried it doesn’t even like quiche, and she asked for a second portion after she had eaten hers. The general consensus amongst those of my friends who tried it was that although a bit heavier than a regular quiche (that darned whipping cream omission), the rich flavor more than made up for the lack.
One Never Knows…
The Famers’ Market, as you know if you are a regular denizen, is far more than produce. There is very little that I cannot get there, or in one of the shops along the street, for my week’s groceries. One never knows what tasty things one will find there. This week, I even entered a drawing to win free books from the Beloit Public Library; which although inedible, are nevertheless quite delicious.