During the summer my kids swim on a summer swim team. I did also as a child and again in High School. It’s a very fun summer sport with families setting up personal tents side by side to shield the beastly sun and catch up after the long chilly months of no contact.
There is a lot of waiting at swim meets. This past weekend my crew began a nostalgic chat about favorite childhood sandwiches of all things. I’m not sure what happens exactly between childhood and adulthood but there seems to be an invisible door that once passed through specific dishes are left behind to reside in the distant memories only occasionally to be recalled.
|It’s 98 degrees as I write this. Not to drag YOU to a swim meet but I could not resist the look of this water and the mention of an Otter Pop!|
My all time favorite sandwich was Peanut Butter and Banana with Mayo. I know it sounds completely revolting but it’s not. Something about the tang of the mayo interwoven with the sweet banana and chunky peanut butter made me swoon (and sometimes got caught in a huge wad in my throat but I overlooked that part). I’m sure all the peanut butter we ate had sugar added which probably deepened the flavor saturation of sweet, salty and tangy making it all the more perfect.
My step dad remembers Fried Egg Sandwiches his mother would make in the farmlands of Kansas, and pack neatly in his lunchbox for school. My first thought was ‘what was it like by lunchtime?’ Cold, of course but he described them with such fondness it almost made them sound edible. My mother remembered Lettuce Sandwiches with Sugar. I’m sure a bi-product of my Depression Era Grandparents. It reminded me of a frequent phrase used in a High Tech company where I was once employed ‘if you can’t fix it, feature it’. The company shall remain nameless and the sandwich lost in the annals of culinary history.
My husband evoked a favorite of Ernest Hemingway cited in ‘Big Two-Hearted River’. The Onion Sandwich. Bread, butter and onion slices. When I visited Hemingway’s home in Key West Florida years ago I saw the descendants of his beloved 6 toed cats. I now wonder if their deformity might have been caused by ingestion of leftover Onion Sandwiches? Overall, it struck me how everyone else’s sandwich sounded gross (as I’m sure mine did to them) however we each waxed nostalgic about our own. Perhaps merely a comforting vestige of childhood, as I’m unsure any of us would eat them now.
I moved to Northern California to go to college at the University of California Santa Cruz. Home of the Banana Slugs. Made famous by John Travolta in the movie ‘Pulp Fiction’ wearing an alma mater t-shirt. I was fortunate to live relatively close to my maternal Grandparents who by that time lived in the heart of Carmel Valley. We loved to take picnics on the windswept beaches in Carmel and Pebble Beach.
Some time after college I worked fairly near a fantastic local market in San Jose called Cosentino’s. It was a precursor to Whole Foods in that is was stocked with the freshest of foods and exotic canned goods with a deli that would knock your socks off. I discovered there my all time favorite Chicken Salad made with beautiful, succulent chunks of white chicken and elevated by the addition of dried cranberries and slivered almonds. My Grandfather in particular loved it and every time we’d have an outing or even just a visit I’d bring him some.
This recipe just popped back up on my radar about 4 months ago. I was thinking about it sure I could recreate it but feeling foggy about all the ingredients. In the last week I decided to call the store to see if they might share the recipe and key ingredients so I might relive the fantastic and unique chicken salad. Sadly I learned they’d closed in 2007. I’m sure with the onslaught of larger stores they just could not complete.
Being summer, a time for light eats, lots of outings, and a ‘season for sandwiches’ I decided I’d give the Chicken Salad a whirl and I must say with great results. I simply love the depth of flavor from the roast chicken, to the sweet cranberries and crunch from the almonds, green apple (my addition) and celery. It tastes light and fresh and is perfect for a summer sandwich.
CHICKEN SALAD with CRANBERRIES, SLIVERED ALMONDS AND GREEN APPLE
This recipe offers the perfect use for leftover roast chicken or for a rotisserie chicken from your supermarket. My market roasts free range chickens daily so I love the ease of picking one up for all sorts of dishes. I use dried cranberries sweetened with fruit juice which I buy in bulk in local healthier stores. Their texture is semi soft and the sweetness tastes more natural to me still allowing some tartness.
Yield: Enough for 3-4 sandwiches or approximately 3 cups
· 2 cups cooked chicken (preferably roasted and cooled to room temperature or chilled), chopped into bite size chunks
· ¼ cup dried sweetened cranberries
· ¼ cup slivered almonds, rough chopped
· ¼ cup Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
· ¼ cup celery, finely chopped
· ¼ cup mayonnaise
· Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Adjust seasoning to your personal taste. Pile on slices of your favorite sandwich bread and dig in!
My bread of choice is Gluten Free Pantry’s ‘Favorite Sandwich Bread’ with added chia seeds, diced sunflower seeds and diced pumpkin seeds. I make it a few times a week in my home bread maker and have found it the perfect sandwich size gluten free bread.
Lazy summer lunches certainly call for more colorful, festive but also simple food to me. With my sandwich I enjoyed Lazy Girl’s Cole Slaw, a cool, healthy, flavorful dish easily whipped up in minutes. Perfect for the hot weather. And a Lemonade Cocktail!
SUMMER PICNIC LEMONADE COCKTAIL
It doesn’t get any fresher than this and if you don’t care for the Lemon Vodka, just stick to the sparkling lemonade. Could be easily pre-mixed in mason jars for outings; just add ice and a straw.
Serves: 1 cocktail
· 1 ½ ounce of Homemade Lemon-Infused Vodka (click here for recipe) OR if you can’t wait, store purchased
· Sparkling Lemonade
Fill a Highball glass with ice. Pour in the Homemade Lemon-Infused Vodka and fill with sparkling lemonade.