Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Four Thieves Vinegar

Legend has it that in the 17th century, during the re-occurrence of the bubonic plague in France, nearly a million citizens succumbed to the disease. As the cities were ravaged, a group of thieves somehow managed to survive the dreaded plague. It is said that this group of people doused face masks with an herbal concoction that helped them with their immunity. The thieves (originally grave robbers) were able to enter the houses of those who had died and rob them of their valuables. The combination of antibacterial and antiviral herbs and vinegar kept them from suffering from the same fate as those they robbed.

I made Four Thieves Vinegar last  year. To me, due to the combination of herbs, it tastes a lot like Thanksgiving dinner. I, personally, can't stand vinegar, though, so I still had a hard time getting it down. I need to try to mix it with warm water and honey.

Currently, our winter has been incredibly mild. Subsequently, germs have not been killed off, schools have not been closed due to snow, and the spread of colds and flu have drastically reduced my class sizes. And, quite frankly, I'm paranoid anytime a student comes up to me asking for a nurse pass.

Obviously, it is time to make more elderberry syrup and a new batch of Four Thieves Vinegar. We are currently healthy in my house and I will do whatever I can to escape the "plague" of 2017.

Depending on where you look for the recipe, there are several variations. Ultimately, the most important aspect of the recipe is that you use good quality organic raw apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg's) and garlic.

Other herbs that I add to the mix are:
- dried rosemary
- dried sage
- dried thyme
- lavender
- ginger
- dried hibiscus

**As always, I am not a physician. Please check with your doctor if you have any questions.
Be careful if you use wormwood - Those who should be cautious are anyone who is nursing or pregnant, or suffer from a kidney disorder, a seizure disorder, porphyria, or a ragweed allergy)

Four Thieves Vinegar Recipe

- 1 quart raw, organic apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons fresh garlic, chopped
- Your choice of other mixed herbs. Options are: rosemary, sage, thyme, lavender, wormwood, ginger, mint, black pepper, cayenne pepper, coriander, chilli pepper, rue
Use approximately 1-2 tablespoons each

You have several options for making the concoction. I've used both methods, depending on need and time.

Option I:
1. Peel and crush the garlic cloves and boil the garlic in the vinegar for a few minutes.
2. Add the rest of the herbs and allow to simmer for another few minutes.
3. Allow to cool down on the stove (steeping further).
4. Store them in a clean bottle and allow to sit for a few days.
5. Give a good shake before you use! Store in the fridge to ensure the vinegar doesn't turn sour.

Option II:
1. Combine all the vinegar and herbs in a clean jar.
2. Store in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks, allowing all items to steep. Shake daily.
3. Strain out the herbs and return the vinegar to the jar.
4. Store in the fridge!

The vinegar can be stored for up to 6 months.

When I got home this evening, I made both my elderberry syrup and the Four Thieves Vinegar.

If you feel illness coming on, or if you're around those who are ill, or if you've been suffering from a cold or virus for a few days and are tired of feeling sick, take a shot of this in the morning, or mix it into a mug of warm water with honey and lemon.

Happy brewing, everyone! Let me know your thoughts!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Thoughts on Aging and Hiking Sharp Top Trail

"Life is not about the destination, but the journey."
I have always been a mid-line outdoorsy girl. I grew up camping with my family and we used to go on hikes a lot in both Wisconsin and Kentucky. When we moved to Virginia, there were trails and roads that went through 'hollers' we would travel frequently on our bikes. I loved it all.

But time moves on and things happen and I'm usually more caught up in obligations than in taking pleasure for myself. Now that my son is 7, though, I am able to once again enjoy more on my own, since his Daddy can do more with him.

One such item is a hike to Sharp Top near the beautiful Peaks of Otter in southwest Virginia. On the last day with Mommy before school began, I took Sydney to Abbott Lake - it has a 1 mile, paved path around the lake that was perfect for a then-6 year old to explore. We examined plant life and butterflies - took pictures that focused on texture and color, and just enjoyed ourselves tremendously. I realized that Abbott Lake was at the base of three hikes that I'd heard of frequently but never climbed and decided that while my boys went to football games, I'd try my hand at these.
Abbott Lake sits nestled at the base of three mountains that offer beautiful views of the entire region. Sharp top isn't the highest mountain, but it is the steepest climb at a shorter distance. I knew it had been awhile since I'd been hiking, and even though I'm active, I'm not as consistent as I should be. It is because the hike is shorter that I chose to do this one first, even if it is steeper. Knowing that it has been years since I've actively hiked, and that I am a bit older than I used to be, I knew I needed to be careful.
I was... shocked. I expected to get winded. I expected to be a bit achy afterwards. But I did not expect to struggle as I did while actually hiking. I turned 40 this year. My knees aren't what they used to be. And I had thankfully thought to bring a hiking stick, but there were moments where my knees and my mind were definitely not in agreement. I don't feel 40. And I'm terribly stubborn. And I know there is a tremendous amount of 'mind over matter' in aging. But I cannot deny the fact that I had to go slower than I expected. It makes me wonder if I'll be able to accomplish some of the others that are longer hikes in a day.
I love this picture - it shows Abbott Lake at the base of the three mountains. I am at the top of Sharp Top. The mountain on the left is Harkening Hill. The one cut off on the right is Flat Top. I needed to take this picture because, from the lake, Sydney and I had made a point of looking up and identifying which mountain was which. It is the alteration in perspective that I wanted my 7 year old to see.
Ultimately, I had to recognize the difference in my abilities and my stubbornness. I had to make peace with certain aspects of my life. But I will never stop. Because I refuse to allow age and the human body to keep me from doing that which I enjoy and which brings me peace.
"It is not about the destination, but the journey." What realizations have you reached as you grow and mature? What have you had to make peace with in your life? Where will your journey lead you in life?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Tomatoes, Hornworms, Braconids, and Robert Burns

To a Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With a Plough - Robert Burns

Wee, sleekit, cowran, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi' bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murd'ring pattle!

I'm truly sorry Man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An' fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave 'S a sma' request:
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' wast,
An' weary Winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee-bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald.
To thole the Winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar'd wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

For the first time since my son was born, I planted a garden. We decided, together, to plant pumpkins, peppers, beans, and tomatoes. My pumpkins fared well enough. The peppers never produced. The beans did ... poorly. However, my tomatoes took off. I was able to eat my fill this summer, can for this winter, and am still getting viable tomatoes even though the vines appear dead. This has made me rather happy and I am anticipating doing more next summer. 

However, as I was examining the garden this evening, I found hornworms - the bane of tomato growers everywhere. Or, at least, gardeners who do not use pesticides. The hornworms will eat the leaves and stems and weaken the plants. 

My photo is horrible.

But when you see a hornworm that looks like this - leave it alone. The white "spikes" are cocoons of the braconid wasp - a natural enemy of the hornworm. By keeping this worm here, in my overgrown and tired garden, the wasp will ensure I have fewer hornworms next year. Yay!

It was through this image, though, that I thought of Robert Burns and his poem. You can see, I still have a tomato waiting to ripen, while two that were damaged by, probably our groundhog, hanging and rotting behind it. I had a prolific crop. Why worry about the few that were sampled by the groundhog, or damaged by the hornworm, when I have enough for myself? I love Burns' lines: 
I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve; 
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live! 
A daimen-icker in a thrave 'S a sma' request: 
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave, 
An' never miss't!

"I doubt not that you may thieve;
What then? Poor beast, you must live!

Words to live by. It drives home the fact that, in teaching my son that he needs to distinguish between what he needs and what he wants, I am asked to consider that on a daily basis, as well. We should all consider it more. Share more. Love more. And don't sweat the small things like a solitary hornworm on your tomato plants. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Keeping the Damp Out - Homemade Split Pea Soup

Last weekend, after a veritable drought this summer, my son was supposed to have his 6th birthday party outside at a putt putt park. We had a the first real rain we'd had since early July. And it was a cold, windy, rain-coming-sideways rain that eased up at times, but fell in absolute sheets moments later. Fiddlesticks.

One day of a break between that system and the next. And we got hit so hard with the second system that flooding became an issue. So much so that after school activities were cancelled several times, and we got out of school early on Friday. 

This second system was to blow through just as Hurricane Joaquin was then supposed to hit. Joaquin has not turned out to be the beast initially expected, but we're still recovering from floods and the skies have not cleared. It's dank, gloomy, and the perfect day for a bowl of soup.

Growing up, my Mother used to make split pea soup on a regular basis. As a child, I hated it. Something about the texture just turned my stomach. Or maybe it was because she blended everything and it had only one texture - I'm not entirely sure. But as an adult, I tried it again and fell in love with it. Thankfully, my husband enjoys it as much as I do. 

My recipe is very easy - it can effectively be made with nothing more than the peas, carrots, and ham. However, I also add onion, garlic, and basil. I use plain water, not stock, as the salt in the ham is usually enough to flavor the soup, and any added salt can make it too salty. It is very healthy and filling, too.

Homemade Split Pea Soup
Start with a bag of dried peas. Slowly pour the bag into your hand, allowing the loose peas to slide through your fingers, keeping watch for stones or clumps of dirt. The peas are sorted in the warehouses, but it never fails that the time I think I don't need to look through the peas are the times I later find a clump of dirt or a pebble the same shape as a pea.
Add about 6 cups of cold water and bring to a gentle boil. At this point, you want to get the peas to begin to open up.
When the peas look like this, turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for about an hour. The foam will dissipate somewhat, but after the hour passes, rinse the peas and drain, stirring up the peas to release the hidden gasses and the greenish foam. When the peas are relatively clear, add more cold water and put the pot back on the heat.
I add about a shot glass of flax seed - flax is very good for your health, but it is a hardy seed, not releasing the healthy oils unless chopped up or boiled for a long time to open the hull. Something like this soup is a perfect way to release healthy oils. I add about a cup of chopped carrots, 2-3 cloves of garlic, about a tablespoon of basil, and, in this case, about 1/4 of an onion. My husband doesn't care for the texture of onion but I love the flavor. I usually use dried onion for that reason, but my 1/4 onion was beginning to look a little sad, so I chopped it very finely.
Add the ingredients, and bring back up to a gentle boil. You may be tempted to taste the soup here. That's fine, but focus on the flavors of individual ingredients, not the need for salt. It will need salt, but the ham will add what you need.
While the soup warms up again, cut up the ham. I buy a single slice with center bone. Trim the fat, but make sure you put the bone in the soup. The marrow is very healthy and adds a nice richness to the soup.
Make sure you stir regularly. After the peas begin to thicken and break down, turn down the soup to low. I half cover the pot with the lid to allow it to cook down but also keeps it from splattering the stove. When your soup looks like this (see below)...
...begin to stir on a regular basis. This is where you have the possibility of the soup burning. The peas thicken up and clump on the bottom, and require diligent supervision. I don't mean that you're a slave to the stove, stirring constantly, I just mean that as you putter around, or, as I made drop biscuits to accompany dinner, I would pause every once in awhile to stir up the clumps.
The soup is ready when the peas show very little form individually. Taste it to make sure it suits your palate. The process takes some time, but I promise you won't be disappointed.
If you make this recipe, I'd love to hear whether you like it!

Homemade Split Pea Soup
1 bag of split peas, examined
 -Gently boil the peas for about 10 minutes, then cover and let sit for an hour. Rinse well and refresh     with cold water (about 6 cups).
1 cup of chopped carrots
1/2 an onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
 -Chop the vegetables and add to the peas. Bring it all to a gentle boil.
1 slice of ham, fat trimmed, chopped. 
  -Add the ham to the soup and let the entire mixture cook down

Low and slow is the way it goes from here on out. Stir frequently and turn down the heat. 

It is perfect on a day like today, dank and gloomy, or even better in mid-February when the wind is blustery and cold. Enjoy your soup!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Making My Witchy Brew - Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Approximately two years ago, trying desperately to find something that would help my son breathe better and survive seasonal allergies, I heard about elderberry syrup. Now, I was raised in a home that practiced some herbal homeopathy. My mother is a very good cook and she would not only make teas and poultices for illnesses and injuries, but would also use herbs in cooking that served many purposes. I have continued that tradition.

Elderberry syrup was something I had not heard of before, which surprised me, but I researched it and found quite a bit that seemed to validate the fact that elderberries had medicinal qualities. I then began to look for recipes, knowing I was merely gathering ideas and that the final result would be my own.

I found one that seemed to suit my wants and needs. I followed the recipe the first time, and found the result to be delicious. Consistent use while coming down with a cold, or after suffering from one also showed that it worked. And this past fall's horrendous ragweed season proved the point even further, when I made it and gave it to the entire family on a daily basis. Within two days, we were all breathing much easier.

Ironically, last November, I had the distinct pleasure of attending a talk at a local college to hear Dr. Michele Tarter, a professor at The College of New Jersey, speak about Witchcraze - the history of witches. Essentially, the original definition of 'witch,' prior to 1486, is something to be proud of - it is merely a wise woman who helps others - either medically, emotionally, etc. The original witches were doctors and teachers. They cooked and counseled. They used homeopathy and lent a shoulder to cry on and offered hugs and hot tea.

I am a witch. As a teacher, I counsel, I educate, I offer hugs with advice. And, some days, I even offer hot tea. And at home, I certainly use healthy cooking and lots of love, listening, and herbs to try to take care of my boys. I am proud to call myself witch, and found great delight in having my students who accompanied me to hear Dr. Tarter call me a hag - a wise woman who offers advice.

That being said, I am making use of my 'witchy wiles' to share my recipe for homemade elderberry syrup. It seems proper that my first blog in the month of October be about a brew that anyone can make, and that can help you survive the re-awakened ragweed after Hurricane Joaquin passes us.

You can buy elderberry syrup in your local health food store or co-op. But it is ridiculously expensive, and if I make it homemade, I can use local, raw honey, which  provides increased protection against our local pollens.

You first need to obtain elderberries. I did some research, and found these to be priced well, organic, and the customer service is consistent. I buy in bulk, which will last us a few months, depending on colds and viruses we bring home to each other.
Put about 1 cup dried berries into a large pot. I am really tempted to buy a cauldron to make my elderberry syrup, but haven't given in, yet. I add 2-3 cinnamon sticks, 2-4 pieces of ginger, and approximately 8-10 dried cloves. All these spices have known antimicrobial or antibiotic properties, which can help a great deal if you're drinking this to get over a cold or the flu.
Add about 6 cups of water and bring to a soft boil. Simmer for at least 40 minutes.
Here's where you need to take note - Elderberries naturally have cyanide in them. Boiling the berries for this length of time removes the cyanide present in the berries. Just make sure you keep away from the steam when the mixture first begins to boil.
I tilt the lid, leaving space at the back of the pot so the steam is never in my face. And I do not allow my 6 year old near the stove when I first start making the syrup. After it has boiled down, allow it to cool. I have begun boiling in the evening and letting the pot sit overnight with a lid. By day, it has fully cooled and any other nutrients have leached out of the spices and into the water. Then, use several layers of cheesecloth to strain the liquid. Squeeze the detritus to get as much "good stuff" as possible. The remains can either then be composted or put in the trash.
Rinse the pot to make sure no pieces of berry or cloves are left, and pour the liquid back into the pot. Add local, raw honey to taste - I used approximately 1/3 of a cup to sweeten the mixture. One would think the berries would add some sweetness, but it is actually quite bland until the honey is added.
Store in the refrigerator. I give everyone about 1 tsp (using the medicine cups that come with children's medicines) once a day when you're treating allergies or protecting everyone from illness. I usually give 1 tsp every 6 hours when I am actively treating a cold or viral infection.
If you'd rather not take a teaspoon directly, it can be used on ice cream, pancakes, within tea, etc.! Happy brewing, my little witchy friends. If you try this recipe, please let me know how it turns out!
Elderberry Syrup
1 cup dried elderberries
2-3 sticks of cinnamon
2-3 pieces of ginger
8-10 cloves
6 cups of water

***Update: I now also add dried Thyme and dried Hibiscus flowers - both are very good for upper respiratory infections. I also have begun to make honeysuckle syrup and can that, and I use the honeysuckle with the local honey to sweeten the elderberry concoction. Honeysuckle is also very good for upper respiratory infections. 

-Bring the ingredients to a boil, but stay away from the steam, as elderberries contain natural cyanide that will cook off.
-Allow the mixture to cool. 
-Strain the liquid through several layers of cheesecloth.
-Stir in local, raw honey to sweeten (about 1/3 cup)

Store in a large jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor. And I still make ready use of western medicine when symptoms and common sense tell me it is time to go see a doctor. Use your head! Seek professional help for any questions to be safe!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Declining the Beauty Invitation

What is beauty?

I was raised to understand that beauty was internal - the light that shines from your eyes and the personality that draws others to you. Of course, that didn't stop me from, at one time or another, believing I wanted to be a model when I grew up - so glamorous - such an exciting lifestyle.

Years later, I have a much more mature outlook on beauty. Yes, there are times I wish I had been 'blessed' more, but I understand now that beauty is, first and foremost, subjective. What I find physically beautiful does not always register with what others believe to be physically beautiful. And what I deem beautiful in personality, in maturity, in mien does not always correlate to others' definition of beauty. And heaven forbid we forget just how much those magazine covers are touched-up before they go to print.

It has taken me a long time to understand and accept that, not only will certain things about myself, physically, never change to what the 'accepted' norm for beauty in our society is, but also that there is no real 'accepted' definition of beauty because it is, in fact, all subjective. And the stronger my voice is for acknowledging this absence of a steadfast norm, the more accepting of myself am I, as well as a good lesson and model for my students.

So, why the blog post on beauty?

Lately, on social media, there seems to have been a ridiculous surge in beauty products that 'will help me feel beautiful and reach the standard of beauty for which I've been striving' (my quotes are more sarcasm than any advertising). And it hasn't been just one or two independent sales reps who have been trying to make money on the side - I get that. I'm a public school teacher. There have been times I've considered becoming a consultant for one thing or another in order to make money, especially during the summer months.

But I've been included in, without permission requested, two groups for various wraps, groups for various beauty products, groups for exercise regimens, etc. I followed a woman on Instagram because we seemed to have the same interests. She has two young sons near the age of my son. She is active in her life and offers tips for the working Mom. It made sense that, considering all we had in common, I make that connection. But then she started pushing her private business more than posting her daily life. It began to feel like I was scanning through an online infomercial rather than seeing her life as a mother of boys. So, I unfollowed her. Why should I deliberately accost myself with her advertisements when I have the power to eliminate them?

I went on a 'cleaning spree' at that moment, and unfollowed another mother who was doing the same thing. And then I went to Facebook and disengaged myself from the various groups who had drafted me without my acknowledgment. Within 5 minutes, one of those groups added me back in, again without asking if I wanted to be part of it.

Here's the deal - I don't want to be part of it.

I am, by MY standards, not gorgeous. I am, however, beautiful. I am loving and accepting and loyal. I take care of myself as best I can with what I have and am determined not to live outside my means to suit what is currently in style just to fit in with society or to make myself more beautiful. I have a delightfully precocious and entertaining son, a loving husband, a job that keeps me on my toes and an active life that involves all of these aspects. I do not have extra time or money, or energy for that matter, to dedicate to wraps and creams and peels and anything else that makes me feel unworthy.

So, I'm fighting back. I am enough.

I applaud anyone who wishes to participate in any of these endeavors. But only if you're doing this for yourself and not because of peer pressure or guilt or generally feeling unworthy. Because you're not.

You're not unworthy. You're beautiful. It takes all kinds to make this world the glorious mix that it is. I felt that we were moving in the correct direction recently - that the airbrushing was being made known, and that body image issues were coming to light. And then this surge hit. And I want everyone to know that it matters not what you think is wrong, because you are right. You are beautiful.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Endometriosis Diet - Gluten-Free Spinach Quiche Casserole

I grew up with my mother making a quiche recipe that is very comforting - it was made often enough to reside in my memory and remind me of home, but not so often that it seemed overdone or too common for a weekly meal repertoire. I've made this often over the years for my girlfriends when they come over to talk over a pot of tea, and I've made it to take to school for pot luck lunches. And then I had a child, my endometriosis grew worse, and I wanted to determine a way to made the quiche gluten-free, after learning just how badly gluten affects my health.

In the course of trial-and-error, I can tell you, very easily, that I've found corn noodles to hold up better for hearty meals - spaghetti, a casserole such as this recipe, etc. Use rice noodles for lighter meals - ones that will not be subjected to heating and cooling - pasta salad, etc. The corn pasta needs to cook a little longer to soften more, but be watchful of both corn and rice noodles, as once they soften, they reeealllly soften and can easily become mush.

First things first - set a full package of frozen spinach to thaw. After it is completely thawed (I set it out overnight), I poke holes in the bag and set a heavy pot on it to help squeeze out the extra liquid. Let this drain until you're ready for it.

Here, I cooked 3/4 of a package of corn macaroni. Salt the water very well. I would usually prepare all the other ingredients while these cooked and toss them together as soon as draining the noodles, but my son needed some help and distracted me - it happens! So, I drained these and tossed them in olive oil, which I think actually helped keep them moist as the casserole baked.
I chopped up about 1/2 cup of onion and two cloves of garlic - normally, in other meals, I would prefer to saute the onions and garlic in oil and then toss them with the other ingredients, but I actually really like the extra texture the crunch from the onions brings to the dish.
In order to keep with my endo diet, I used non-dairy cheese. The non-dairy cheese melts just like real cheese - if you're testing which foods affect you, slowly weed out triggers - red meat, gluten, and dairy impact the way I feel the most, so I try to severely limit my intake on those. I do indulge every once in a while, but it has to be negligent quantities or I will feel it much sooner. Here, I used my kitchen shears to cut up already-cooked bacon, the shredded cheese, and the onions and garlic.

I've also added chopped bell peppers, quinoa, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, etc. The leftovers in your refrigerator are a perfect way to make this yours! Or your imagination...
For a casserole this size, I use at least 6 eggs, but it honestly comes down to your preference for how moist you want your casserole to be. Whisk the eggs with about a cup of milk (I used rice milk, as my son has a nut allergy and I try to stay away from soy).

Add the drained spinach to the eggs and mix well. It is to this mixture that I also added some leftover brown rice. Make sure you salt and pepper the mixture well.
After mixing all the 'dry' ingredients together, and whisking all the wet ones, fold them together and pour over the noodles in a separate, large container. Mix well. Use nonstick spray on your baking dish, and spread the mixture evenly. Sprinkle more non-dairy cheese over the top.
Bake on 325* for about 30 minutes for this size of a pan. Keep an eye on it, though, as you don't want the noodles to dry out.
Doesn't it look delectable? Yum.
I've made this in a slow-cooker, too, so if you're thinking of a pot luck (I did last year just to make sure I had something I could eat at the luncheon), do not worry. Just watch the time and temperature it is cooking so you don't overdo it.

It is healthy. It is filling. And it keeps my blood sugar in check without exacerbating my endometriosis any worse. And I love the fact that I can toss in nearly any vegetables I currently have on hand with it.

Please let me know if you try this! I want to know how you liked it.

Gluten-Free Spinach Quiche Casserole

3/4 of a pound of corn noodles.
6 eggs
1 cup of milk (unsweetened soy, rice, cow's, or nut)
1 pound frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
2 cups of shredded cheese
1 package of already-cooked thick-cut bacon
1/2 a large onion
2 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the noodles (salt well) and drain
2. Whisk the eggs and milk together
3. Mix in the thawed and drained spinach (and any other vegetables you prefer)
4. Chop up the onion and garlic
5. Toss with 2 cups of cheese and chopped up package of bacon
6. Toss the 'dry' ingredients with the noodles in a large bowl
7. Add in the egg mixture and mix it all thoroughly
8. Use nonstick spray on your casserole dish
9. Spread the casserole mixture well, making the edges slightly thicker than the middle so it cooks evenly.
10. Bake at *325 for about 25-30 minutes.