Last year Thanksgiving was a time when I spent the day cooking a big bird or little game hens, cornbread dressing, homemade cranberry sauce, mixed vegetables, and pumpkin pie. But this year I decided to rebel making the traditional dinner and postpone the big meal until Christmas. And that's when I decided to get my turkey dinner fix and leftovers with a twist of the Mediterranean.
Back in the day when I was in my late twenties I was living in a townhouse in Mountain View (north of San Jose). Sitting in the sun, getting tan by the swimming pool I was reading and dog-earing one of those go-to-Europe-on-a-budget books. It was my dream to go to Tuscany that fall. I was going to stay at hostiles, take a backpack and sleeping bag, and experience several countries. But my boyfriend announced that if I left on a trip while he had to work he wouldn't be there when I returned. So, I changed my plans and opted for graduate school to get a master's degree in English (Creative Writing). Europe was put on the back burner.
Decades later, it seems like everyone I know is traveling to Spain this season. I would love to sip a cappuccino at an Italian bistro and try a chocolatier's fresh chocolate in France. I have watched Julia in "Eat, Pray, Love" a dozen times to the point where I can taste the pizza she eats and speak Italian, sort of. But in real life I am here on the South Shore living my life as an author writing and promoting my health-cookbook series. So, this week feeling a bit overworked without taking a real vacation I pondered, "If I can't go to Europe I can bring Europe to me."
Hot Turkey and Provolone Sandwich
2 tablespoons European style butter
4 red onion slices
1⁄4 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
4 tablespoon green bell peppers, chopped
2 sourdough rolls, split (whole grain preferred)
2 slices turkey (I used roasted turkey breast from Safeway deli.)
2 slices provolone cheese
1⁄2-1 cup spinach lettuce, chopped
3 Roma tomatoes, sliced
4 tablespoon black olives
Extra virgin olive oil
Red wine vinegar
Ground black pepper
In a frying pan melt butter and saute onion, mushrooms, and peppers. Put aside. Put bottom halves of rolls on parchment lined cookie sheet. Top each with turkey and cheese. Bake in 375 degree oven till cheese melts. Take out from oven and top each roll with lettuce, tomatoes, and onion mixture. Drizzle with olive oil and a splash of vinegar. Add a dash of pepper. Cut sandwiches diagonally. Serves two.
Chunky Mashed Potatoes
4 medium red potatoes
1⁄2 cup 2 percent low-fat organic milk
European style butter
In a saucepan boil potatoes. When tender put potatoes in bowl; mash. Add milk until consistency is smooth and chunky. Add butter to taste. Add chopped chives. Serves two.
For dessert the plan is to savor a cup of gourmet Sugar and Spice flavored coffee and a square of dark chocolate while sitting in front of a freshly made fire and cozying up with the two dogs and cat while watching a film. True, it isn't Rome (and the boyfriend is history) but this nontraditional "family-style" mini meal has its health perks. (I'll save the second sandwich for the day after.) And there will be no gaining unwanted Turkey Day pounds. My plan is when I make my appearance at Barnes and Noble bookstore in Reno on Friday for a signing of my new book I will be able to fit in my size 4 skinny jeans. And that is going to be Thanksgiving for me.
Motto: Things happen for a reason. If you're thinking you should be somewhere else, maybe it's time to rethink where you are and be thankful.
- Cal Orey is an accomplished author and journalist. Her books include The Healing Powers series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate and Honey) published by Kensington.
Her website is www.calorey.com.