Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ham and Asparagus Quiche

Ham and Asparagus Quiche ::

I just finished reading The Hound of Heaven at my Heels, a fictional version of the lost diary of the great poet Francis Thompson, "a heart-breaking and soul-lifting account of his spiritual, psychological, and physical regeneration. It is the story of a young man who finally finds his soul and his vocation." (<-- taken from the back cover of my edition)

It includes Thompson's poem, "Daisy," an ode to a little girl he met as he walked one day. From the preceding section: "I spoke to her gently; she confidently spoke of the flowers, the birds, and brothers and sisters--nothing, surely, to interest any man, yet I listened, enchanted. How simple and strange and wonderful and sweet. All this exquisiteness ordinary men take for granted, like the daisies they trample underfoot, knowing not what daisies are to him whose feet have wandered in grime." Isn't that just how we feel now, having lived through the cold and dark winter, just to see flowers and grass, and trees with leaves budding again?

A lot of adults are intimated by (or think they hate) poetry, and that's probably largely due to the way it's approached in school - not a lot of appreciation just for the beauty of it, and tons and tons of picking apart and analyzing. In the latest episode of my favorite podcast, Julie Bogart talked about her marvelous idea of poetry tea parties - weekly sessions with her kids in which they share tea and treats, and each one brings a poem to share. I am not not NOT wishing away these sweet toddler years, but oh my goodness. I can't wait for poetry tea parties to be a part of my life!

Ham and Asparagus Quiche ::

Here's the whole poem, if you want a little more to savor.


Where the thistle lists a purple crown
Six foot out of the turf,
And the harebell shakes on the windy hill--
O the breath of the distant sift!--

The hills look over on the South,
And southward dreams the sea;
And with the sea-breeze hand in hand
Came innocence and she.

Where 'mid the gorse the raspberry
Red for the gather springs,
Two children did we stray and talk
Wise, idle, childish things.

She listened with big-lipped surprise,
Breast-deep mid flower and spine:
Her skin was like a grape whose veins
Run snow instead of wine.

She knew not those sweet words she spake,
Now knew her own sweet way;
But there's never a bird, so sweet a song
Thronged in whose throat that day.

Oh, there were flowers in Storrington
On the turf and on the spray;
But the sweetest flower on Sussex hills 
Was the Daisy-flower that day!

Her Beauty smoothed earth's furrowed face.
She gave me tokens three:--
A look, a word, of her winsome mouth,
And a wild raspberry.

A berry red, a guileless look,
A still word,--strings of sand!
And they made my wild, wild heart
Fly down to her little hand.

For standing artless as the air,
And candid as the skies,
She took the berries with her hand,
And the love with her sweet eyes.

The fairest things have fleetest end,
Their scent survives their close:
But the rose's scent is bitterness
To him that loved the rose.

She looked a little wistfully,
Then went her sunshine way:--
The sea's eye had a mist on it,
And the leaves fell from the day.

She went her unremembering way,
She went and left in me
The pang of all the partings gone,
And partings yet to be.

She left me marveling why my soul
Was sad that she was glad;
At all the sadness in the sweet,
The sweetness in the sad.

Still, still I seemed to see her, still
Look up with soft replies,
And take the berries with her hand,
And the love with her lovely eyes.

Nothing begins, nothing ends,
That is not paid with moan;
For we are born in other's pain,
And perish in our own.

Ham and Asparagus Quiche ::

Ham and Asparagus Quiche

I got a 10-pound ham for Easter dinner, and there were 3 adults and 1 toddler in attendance, so you can imagine that we have eaten a lot of ham lately. Let me be clear: this was totally intentional, and is in no way a complaint. I made the obligatory (and awesome) split pea soup, and lots of sandwiches, and lots of ham 'n' eggs, but this was my favorite use for the leftovers. Maybe because it's light and springy, or maybe because it can be eaten at any time of day, or maybe just because it was so delicious. Make it, and you can decide for yourself!

One 9-inch pie crust, store-bought or homemade (I always make this recipe)
4 large eggs
3/4 cup half and half
salt and pepper
1 cup cubed ham
1 bunch asparagus, chopped into 1-inch sections
4 ounces grated Swiss cheese
2 scallions, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together the eggs, half and half, and salt and pepper. Stir in the ham, asparagus, scallions, and cheese, and pour into the pie crust. Bake 50-60 minutes, until filling is set and golden at the edges. Allow to cool slightly (or completely) before slicing. Serve with a simple green salad, dressed with oil and vinegar or lemon juice.