Savouring summer abundance with a Chard, Choy, Cheese & Egg Casserole

It’s a bit crazy how fast things are growing at this time of year. It feels like little more than a week ago when I was transplanting the bok choy seedlings into the greenhouse, and already they’ve multiplied a hundred times in size. The livestock is as productive as ever, too, with a steady flow goat’s milk and our chickens and muscovy ducks laying all but too regularly. What’s a poor homesteader to do?? Why, bake a Chard, Choy, Cheese & Egg Casserole, of course!

This hearty dish is a delicious way to use up an abundance of greens, eggs, and cheese, and it’s as easy as pie.

  • 6 duck eggs (or 8 chicken eggs)
  • 1¼ cups whole-grain flour
  • 2-3 cups cottage cheese, ricotta, chèvre, or other soft curd cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2-3 cups any hard cheese, shredded (e.g., cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss)
  • ½ bunch rainbow chard, chopped
  • ½ head bok choy, chopped
  • handful of toasted sunflower seeds (optional)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and grease a large casserole.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and flour.
  3. Stir in all cheeses, and mix in chopped chard and bok choy.
  4. Mush up the mixture with a wooden spoon, or get right in there with your hands. You want it mushy but not runny.
  5. Pour mixture into greased casserole. If desired, sprinkle the top with toasted sunflower seeds.
  6. Bake at 350ºF for 45-55 minutes.

Enjoy right out of the oven. Tastes just as good as leftovers, too!

Now, the best part is, if you come to Farm-Gate Friday today between 4 and 6pm, you can pick up most of what you need for this recipe right here fresh from the farm. Or if you can’t make it today, come to market in Annapolis Royal tomorrow morning and pick up what you need there. See you soon!

The cheeses made at Snow Lake Keep

‘Tis the season of abundance. With week after week of warm summer weather comes the prolific growth of every vegetable we have in the ground. As if the gardens aren’t enough to keep up with, add livestock to the mix – livestock with udders – and you find yourself spending every spare moment just keeping all this goodness from spoiling! Time to get creative. What better way to preserve fresh goat’s milk than to turn it into delicious cheeses?

Soft curd

Deryk and Rodney have had practice making cheese from goat’s milk for years now. They start by making a simple Soft Curd – an acid-coagulated cheese that’s very mild in flavour. It’s great on bread, added to salads, or crumbled on top of a dish of hot pasta. It also makes for a good substitute for a fresh mozzarella.

Scarborough Fair

Deryk takes a lump of this fresh curd and crumbles it into chopped parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme – a classic herb combination described in the lyrics of a famous folk song. He calls his delicious herbed curd, appropriately, Scarborough Fair. This, too, is fantastic on a slice of fresh baguette.

Feta

Now how about an aged cheese for long-term storage? These two are fresh cheeses and probably won’t keep for more than a couple weeks in the fridge. Well, get this: All you have to do is take a lump of the soft curd, drop it into some brine, and allow it to sit for a few weeks—and presto! You’ve got a wonderful Feta that will keep for months on end, becoming harder and sharper the longer it ages. These boys are more than just pretty to look at!

Now, what about that cheese that most of us think of when we hear the words “goat’s cheese?” Chèvre, of course: that soft, spreadable cheese that’s got a wonderful goaty flavour.

Herbed chèvre

Well, yours truly has taken a crack at a Herbed Chèvre this summer, and I’ve received some pretty good feedback already. The seasonal herbs this week were garlic scapes, parsley, basil, thyme, and marjoram. I’m pretty excited about this chèvre and expect to be making it on a regular basis!

Meanwhile, I’m still currently trying to master goat’s milk brie, and a genuine fresh goat’s milk mozzarella. If I ever get those right, you’ll be the first to know!

Verdure verdi condite alla perfezione—or killer rainbow chard!

Laire and I are big fans of Jamie Oliver’s approach to cooking a side of greens, from his beautiful cookbook Jamie’s Italy. We do this with our gorgeous stalks of rainbow chard, kale, beet greens, and summer squash, and man! what a meal. We can’t get enough of the stuff, often finishing the greens before anything else on our plates.

It’s so simple, and I’m excited to share Jamie’s advice with you (in my own words).

Verdure verdi condite alla perfezione
Dressed up, perfectly cooked greens

I like how Jamie prefaces the recipe: “… in Italy, huge amounts of vegetables and greens are served as an antipasto just to get the tastebuds going. It’s because of this that the Italians are a damn sight healthier than us. So listen up. Let’s be like them and big up the greens. Cook them nicely, dress them with care and you’ll be laughing.” That just gets my mouth watering…

What you’ll need:

  • large pot of salted water
  • a very healthy bunch of greens (chard, spinach, kale, baby summer squash, broccoli, asparagus – whatever’s local and in season!)
  • 2-3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 3-6 tbsp. good quality vegetable oil, such as extra virgin olive oil, or a locally made alternative like Hillcreek Family Farm’s non-GMO canola or camelina oil (for sale at D’Aubin Family Meats in Bridgetown)
  • salt and pepper
  • minced garlic or garlic scapes, or one finely chopped chili pepper (optional)

Get the pot of water to a boil with the lid on. If you’re cooking chard or kale, chop up the stalks from the leaves first, then drop them into the boiling water. Then coarsely chop the leaves and after about a minute, drop them into the water, too. Boil them for 1-2 minutes. To tell if it’s done you can take a piece out and taste it, but the trick is to not overcook!

So cook them with your full attention (Jamie’s words), then drain them well into a colander and lay them on a clean kitchen towel to let the steam escape and soak up excess moisture. While still warm put them in a bowl and dress them with the vinegar or lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper. Add your garlic or chopped fresh chili for some heat and colour.

As Jamie recommends, try to get into the habit of this! It’s so delicious, good for you, a great way to use up what’s in season, and you won’t get tired of it.

Perfectly cooked greens

Summer Returns to Snow Lake

A long winter and reluctant spring are quickly fading in the rear view; flowers are blooming, fireflies are buzzing, and the forest is once again busy with the sounds of life. The sun has returned to the North Mountain and we’ve been quick to take advantage of the long days to make some planned improvements to the Keep.

The Barn begins

Wayne gives us a lift.Timbers cut, stacked and ready for the build.

Work has officially begun on a large, central barn. We’ve hauled all the timbers to the site for construction of the frame, thanks to help from Wayne and his John Deer. The Barn will be the new home for our goats, complete with water cistern and drive-in hay loft – and an extra stall for future work horse. Stay tuned for updates on this build (and maybe even an invite to a proper barn-raising later this fall!).

A raised bed, built to last

Solar electric fence charger

This week, we poured the first stone-wall raised bed. This medieval addition to the Lower Garden will host a small crop of potatoes for its first season. The forms come off in a couple days and we’ll be sure to post a photo or two of the results. This project also served as a dry run for foundation work on Thor’s Den later this month.

Farm-Gate Fridays

Fresh produce every Friday!
Farm tours every Friday!
Just a reminder that Farm-Gate Fridays are a great way to beat the rush at the market, have first pick at our freshest harvest, and come tour the farm! 4-6pm every Friday. Stop by and say hello!