This recipe for Spinach Pie is by Rhonda Hetzel, a retired journalist who lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, and who has been practising and writing about simple living for years. In addition to chronicling her retirement with husband Hanno on her blog, Down To Earth, she produced a lovely hardback book, Down To Earth, in 2012, followed by The Simple Life in 2014 and The Simple Home in 2016.
When Covid struck in 2020, her message about the joys of simple, sustainable living suddenly had a whole new resonance and meaning. Hetzel thought about writing a new book to show how simple life could help people thrive when Covid is active in the community.
“But when I thought about it, I’d already written it – Down to Earth is all about living in a safe and comfortable home, providing as much as you want to produce in your home, cooking wholesome food, growing, fermenting and preserving food, mending and recycling, slowing down, keeping your family close and being comfortable in your own skin.”
So instead of writing another book, Down to Earth has once again appeared on bookshop shelves, this time in paperback, published by Viking. The book is a manual to simple living, happiness, growing food, home cooking, baking, sewing, mending, recycling, family, homemaking, and slowing down – all the requirements for creating a home that provides safety and comfort during these uncertain Covid times.
Recipe ‘should be in everyone’s meal rotation’
The book has a selection of appropriately simple recipes, like the Spinach Pie featured here. It’s the kind of recipe that should be in everyone’s meal rotation, she says: cheap, healthy, easy to make, delicious, and can be eaten hot or cold.
Hetzel shares a great deal of practical information, from growing tomatoes and baking bread, to making soap and preserving fruit. But more than that, the book is an accumulation of the wisdom she has gained – a realisation that happiness was not “out there” but rather “inside my home and inside my heart”.
“I was pulled into simple living before I knew what it was. It crept up on me using the smallest of steps and didn’t reveal its true beauty and real power until I was totally hooked,” she says. “I was searching for a way to live well while spending very little money. What I found was a way of life that also gave me independence, opportunity and freedom.”
Buy your copy of Down to Earth: A Guide to Simple Living from Book Depository (free delivery worldwide).
Buy your copy of Down to Earth: A Guide to Simple Living from Australian-owned Booktopia.
RECIPE FOR SPINACH PIE (OR SILVERBEET PIE)
20 leaves spinach or silverbeet or
2 × 250 g boxes frozen spinach
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
250 g ricotta salt and pepper
1 cup grated cheese (parmesan, cheddar, mozzarella or any cheese you have)
4 sheets filo pastry
Preheat oven to 180˚C. Add spinach/silverbeet, onion and garlic to a frying pan with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Cook over medium heat until the leaves wilt. While the leaves are cooking, mix the eggs and ricotta together. Add salt and pepper to taste, then mix in the grated cheese. Add the cooked spinach/silverbeet mixture to the egg mixture and combine well.
Using a pastry brush, take each sheet of filo pastry and brush some of the remaining olive oil over it. Fold each sheet in half and place it in a pie dish. Cover the base of your pie plate with all the sheets and fold the edges under as they reach the sides. You need to work quickly with filo as it dries out fast. If you need to leave for any reason, cover the pastry with a clean, moist tea towel.
Pour the egg and spinach mixture into the pie dish and bake until the top is golden and the pie looks set. Don’t overcook as it will make the eggs rubbery. Serve hot or cold with a salad or vegetables.
Recipe and image from Down to Earth: A Guide to Simple Living, by Rhonda Hetzel, published by Viking. Reproduced with the publisher’s permission.
This story originally appeared in PS News.