eat my pie (project picnic.1)

One of the best perks of being self-employed is having fairly nice control over my schedule. It doesn’t always work out perfectly, but in general, I can tweak it when necessary. And so last week, when my husband Mark was on holiday from teaching biology to his darling sophomores, I planned accordingly. We decided to go all out and head to the exotic locale of Duluth, MN. Crazy, I know.

I booked a couple of nights at the historic Fitger’s Brewery Hotel overlooking Lake Superior. Unlike most times we travel, we chose our accommodations precisely for the room. We were banking on spending some time there. I requested a lakeside room that had high ceilings, picture windows that actually open, brick walls, lake view – certainly not the Caribbean, but there was hot running water. It would work for me. I packed a novel, a few cooking magazines, the backgammon board, and our well-stocked travel bar that my friend Linda made for us years ago (think vintage sewing suitcase decoupaged with bar-humor and other happy artwork).
We did our fair share of roaming the city, but, as planned, we also spent a considerable amount of time in the historic hotel. Lazy morning coffee morphed into gin and tonics. We sat in front of the picture window, pretending it was spring as we watched for big lakers passing though beyond the frozen bay. Mark kept the daily paper open to the shipping news, announcing which vessel was due when, binoculars at the ready. This year’s shipping season began on March 17 with the departure of the James R. Baker from Superior. On our last morning over a game of backgammon, Mark announced that the largest boat on the Great Lakes (the Paul R. Tregurtha at 1,013 feet, 6 inches long) was due into port around noon. It’s been a long winter. It doesn’t take too much to excite us.
The rest of the week we spent at home. I did do some work, but I also managed to squeeze in some playtime. We had our annual “baby goat happy hour” with our friend Michael up the shore at Sassy Nanny Farmstead Cheese. This is the time of year when Michael is overflowing with baby goats (this year’s season total was 34). And every year I forget how funny they are. They exude mischief and playfulness. It’s contagious. I didn’t even mind when Delilah, a nursing mom, came over and took a large pull on my gin. She’d earned it.
Now don’t laugh, but we also did marathon viewing of Project Runway – a fashion based reality show. We don’t watch many movies or television (we are television free with a computer monitor for DVDs) and I can honestly say that I have never seen a single episode of any reality show. But when my friend Julie handed over a season’s worth of Project Runway a few weeks ago, I was intrigued. She has never steered me wrong in any avenue of life, and she stayed true to form on this one. I was instantly hooked. Entertaining, but also inspirational. I wish I had that amount of passion and confidence for something. Plus, I need a little glam in my life. I’ve already professed my love of Tim Gunn to Julie and asked her for the next season.
And, speaking of projects, we had the first picnic of my 12 month project picnic goal! March was fickle this year. Our yard still has a good foot of snow. Overall it has been grey, cloudy, snowy and wet. I’ve sort of been twiddling my thumbs, waiting for a chance to break out the picnic basket. So when the sun finally decided to pop out last week I thought we’d better give it a go. I sent Mark out to the fire pit to shovel out and get things going. Meanwhile I pulled together a simple lunch. Carrot seed salad, homemade salsa and chips, dill pickles, and a chard pie (leftover from dinner the night before). I packed up the basket for its inaugural voyage, and before I headed out to the fire, I stuck a lovely little lemon cake in the oven. Picnicking at home has its advantages.
Now I know chard pie does not sound all that exciting. But trust me. It is so tasty. And so easy. I won’t even mention how good all those dark leafy greens are for you. That’s like an extra secret bonus. Really, you should eat this pie.
I make this all summer when the garden is overflowing with chard. Sometimes I also mix in spinach, kale, beet greens, etc. It travels well and it is great served hot, cold, or at room temperature. This recipe is an inspiration via Laurel’s Kitchen.

Popeye Pie

2 cups ricotta cheese (I’ve also used cottage cheese)
2 eggs beaten
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large bunches of chard (about 2 pounds) lightly cooked, stems and all
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
paprika (I prefer a hot smoked paprika)
fresh, dried, or roasted tomato slices for topping
To cook the chard, chop it coarsely, keeping the stems separate. Discard any really tough stem ends and finely dice the remaining stems. Start the stem pieces cooking about 5 minutes before you add the leaves. Cook the leaves until they are just tender and wilted, but still bright green. Drain the chard into a colander and squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
Beat together cottage cheese, eggs, lemon juice and salt. Fold in the chard and press into 8×8 baking dish. Sprinkle with panko and paprika. Bake in a 350º F oven until set, about 1/2 hour. Let stand to cool for several minutes before serving. Serves 4-6

3 Responses to “eat my pie (project picnic.1)”

  1. 1 Julie April 5, 2011 at 11:03 am

    What a perfect week.

  2. 2 dani April 5, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    oooh, I’ve been on a chard kick. Can’t wait to try this!

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