After living on the South Shore for more than a decade, I have ordered take-out sandwiches from Stateline to the "Y" and off the beaten track. Also, all-natural, store-bought tapioca has comforted me on a few occasions. Today, as I look at the weekend forecast, I realize that we're coming into a cold spell (again). I paid a visit to the Safeway deli with my heart set on a submarine sandwich aka a "sub" - a popular sandwich that uses a long roll chock-full of cold cuts, vegetables, spreads, and spices.
In my late 20s, I vacationed here for one week. (It was the time that I got the first vision of me living here one day.) Back then, it was me and my black lab Stone Fox. It was going to be seven days in sunshine paradise by the swimming pool and the lake. My plan was to get golden brown and enjoy long walks with my beloved traveling companion. The glitch was, gray skies were part of the trip because of the wildfire surrounding the Lake Tahoe Basin. (Ironically, the Topaz Ranch Estates fire is currently affecting Nevada and its air quality.) We couldn't leave, nor could people get in. Trapped at Tahoe (minus sun) my male canine pal and I bonded. And returning to our modest motel room each day after long walks (despite the ash and surreal environment) we shared sub sandwiches and water. It was a time to cherish because time was running out before I had to go back to San Francisco Bay Area and hit the books.
These days, I feel things are different but the same. Instead of one loving sporting dog, I am blessed with two canines. Rather than studying for exams and writing essays, I'm promoting books and writing more books. What's more, super sandwiches keep me fed during busy times when I don't want to cook all day but crave real food - exactly the way I like it. And there's an uncanny feeling of the past while this weekend the temps are supposed to drop and snow showers are in the forecast. So, I created a sandwich and fruit custard that can be served hot or cold.
Gourmet Chicken Sandwich
2 whole-grain French sandwich rolls
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
3⁄4 cup organic baby spinach
2 slices each of Swiss cheese and provolone cheese
4 slices oven roasted chicken breast
2 teaspoons gourmet mustard or mayonnaise (omega 3)
Ground pepper to taste
Open rolls and top with cheeses and chicken. Place in microwave till cheese is melted. Spread one side of roll with mustard or mayo. Top with tomatoes, lettuce. Slice diagonally. Serves 2.
Coconut Custard Blackberry Cups
2 cups organic half-and-half
1⁄2 cup 2 percent organic low-fat milk
3 large brown eggs
1⁄3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sweetened coconut, shredded
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups fresh seasonal blackberries (one for baking, one for topping)
Nutmeg (for topping)
Premium vanilla ice cream
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs. Add milk. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Fold in coconut and berries. Pour custard in small glass cups. Sprinkle with coconut and nutmeg. Place custard cups (ramekin dishes are nice) in a rectangle pan filled with water. Bake for 45 minutes or till firm. Cool and place in fridge to set. Top with fresh berries and/or a dollop of premium vanilla ice cream. Serves 6-8.
While Subway and other sandwich outlets around town make a nice sandwich, making it at home is a cut above because you get it exactly the way you want it - in the comfort of home. I chose whole-grain bread, extra Roma tomatoes, spinach lettuce, premium chicken and cheeses. Also, the coconut berry custard is fresh and taking it out of the oven is worth the effort. Once chilled, the textures of chewy coconut, creamy custard, and cooked, tart blackberries are a spring delight. You can heat it up this Memorial weekend if it snows, or serve it chilled if the sun comes out. Either way, you're covered for lunch or a light dinner. And it's got health perks with a touch of European class. P.S. I still love sub sandwiches at Tahoe. I still have Stone Fox with me at Tahoe. (He's in the living room inside a small wooden box.) Nothing lasts forever but sweet memories linger like the last bite of a sandwich for two.
Motto: Keeping life simple is the road map to happiness. Good food without frills is good for the body, spirit, and soul.
- Cal Orey, M.A. is an author and journalist. Her books include "The Healing Powers" series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, and Coffee) published by Kensington. The new book "Animal Attraction: A Collection of Tales & Tails" will be released this summer. Her website is www.calorey.com.