Archive for January, 2011

Make it easy, make a sandwich

January's post-holiday letdown, cold weather and short hours of sunlight gives rise to a craving for comfort foods. For many, that means soup. It does for me, too, but what's soup without a sandwich? Everybody loves a sandwich and it is the one food that's as welcome in a lunch box as it is at a party.

My mother threw the best parties. In the music department of the college where my father taught, there were always post-concert gatherings, most of them stuffy little affairs, but not at our house! Great platters of sandwiches or cold cuts were laid out on the ping-pong table, along with a few sides and lots of beer. The laid-back atmosphere put everyone at ease and the fun lasted well into the night.

The sandwich is said to have been invented by John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, also known as "Jemmy Twitcher," a nickname given by alleged association with pirates. A noted gambler, he often went from pub to pub in London on gambling marathons. He would order slices of meat between two pieces of bread in order to satisfy his hunger, while continuing to gamble.

The sandwich was introduced to America in 1827 by cookbook author Elizabeth Leslie. A recipe for a ham sandwich was suggested as a main dish; reassuring because wince we're having grilled ham and Swiss for dinner tonight!

Sandwiches became very popular in the American diet when soft white bread was introduced in the early 1900's. I have memories of visiting my grandparents in coastal North Carolina in the 50's and 60's. Saturday night was sandwich night – usually banana sandwiches made with soft white bread, mayo and sliced bananas, washed down with a Pepsi Cola. My grandpa was always grumpy on those nights, but the rest of us were ecstatic. As my mom used to say, "I love me a banana sandwich." 

There are endless sandwich recipes: tea sandwiches, po' boys, muffelettas, clubs, wraps, pitas, subs, Cubans, Panini and croque monsieur are just a few of the types that have become famous through the years. For most southerners these days, pimento cheese is a favorite.

But you don't need a recipe to come up with a memorable sandwich; sometimes the best ones are created from a spontaneous concoction of leftovers you find during a late night rummage through the fridge. Extra grilled chicken breasts can be chopped up and turned in to chicken salad, roasted veggies and cheese could be slipped into a pita and broiled; just keep a loaf or two of good bread in your freezer to help you be prepared for a hunger attack or last minutes guests.

Why not take a cue from the salad bar and have a sandwich bar party? Platters of meats and spreads, sliced fresh or slow roasted tomatoes or other favorite veggies form the foundation of the menu. Offer the standard cheese selections but jazz it up with slices of brie for the decadent and make or purchase red pepper sauce, flavored mustard and mayo.

For an easy Super Bowl get-together, try this simple recipe for Barbecue Beef Sandwiches.

Anne Tomforde's Crockpot BBQ Beef

Ingredients:

3 lb. boneless chuck roast cut into chunks

1 cup light brown sugar

1 medium onion, chopped and lightly sauteed

Directions:

Combine and cook in crockpot for 4 hours on High setting. Remove all. Return 1/2 cup liquid; add 1 bottle chili sauce and 1/4 cup ketchup, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 1 hour on high. 

This is an easy recipe for beginning cooks and may be changed up to give it your own signature touch. Feel free to add your favorite seasonings or hot sauce. Makes enough for 10 big sandwiches.  Cole slaw is the perfect topping.

THE LAST BITE:

The best hostess is a relaxed hostess, so why not make it easy on yourself the next time you have guests? Ok, so maybe not banana sandwiches, but some great ingredients tucked into wholesome bread and I guarantee your guests will be relaxed, too.                                                                                                                                                              

Comment and it shall be given unto you

I've chosen a winner to The Shared Table's first Giveaway! Congratulations to Brian Adornetto, whose winning comment to the question "How do you plan to share your table in 2011?" has earned him a copy of "Breaking Bread, the Spiritual Significance of Food."

 

Brian definitely knows his way around the kitchen: he's a Chef Instructor at Wake Tech Community College as well as a Chef Instructor at A Southern Season in Chapel Hill; he also serves as Food Editor of the Raleigh Downtowner. Read his comment here to see how he plans to share his table this coming year. I love how Brian wants to shift his focus and hope he will consider doing a guest blog about it in the future and perhaps share a few of his fabulous recipes!

Hope you will take the time to read Timothy LeCornue's comment, too! Here's a single guy who wants to learn how to cook so he can open up his home to guests and take dinners to his community group – now that's a New Year's goal, for sure! Timothy, being that you're a close neighbor, I will lend you my copy of Breaking Bread, and offer to give you a few cooking lessons, although I'm sure you'd learn more from one of Brian's classes!

Stay tuned for more giveaways coming up soon! I mean, its all about sharing, right?!

 

You say you want a resolution?

THE SHARED TABLE is celebrating the New Year with a GIVEAWAY – the first ever! And yes, of course it's a book – but it's not a cookbook; I'm pretty sure you already have plenty of those. Read on to see what it is and how it can be yours!

We're already one week into the year 2011; that's plenty of time to have broken some or all of your New Year's resolutions…so, how are you doing with that?

The etymology of the word "resolution" comes from a word that means to "to loosen, dissolve, untie," which makes sense if you consider that before you initiate new habits, you have to "loosen" the bad ones that have kept you in bondage. What things keep you in bondage? For many people, it's food.

The significance of food in our lives is pretty obvious when you consider New Year's Resolutions; food and our relationship with it generally ranks pretty high on the Top Ten list. What if we decided to think about food in a different way?  What might happen if rather than studying every morsel of food we put in our mouths we studied food itself? Specifically, the spiritual significance of food?

Author Sara Covin Juengst took on that project back in 1992 when she wrote "Breaking Bread, the Spiritual Significance of Food." In the foreward of the book, author Parker J. Palmer notes that the author shows "how food is woven as intricately as faith into the entire fabric of our lives." Of Juengst's work, Walter Brueggemann says, "The book lets us retaste and renotice and reswallow our life from God."

Among others, the author covers topics such as:

  • Stewardship: Food as God's Good Gift
  • Hospitality: Expression of Grace
  • Bonding: Strangers No Longer

In the chapter titled Compassion: The Great Inasmuch, Juengst includes a poem she wrote after coming home from hunger-stricken Africa to affluent America:

I hear these words about “the poor”
and brush them into the corners of my mind.
I cannot think about them now
I am too preoccupied
     with the choice of hors d’oeuvres for my party
     and the color of my new shoes.
I am too anxious
     about the impression I make
     to decide for diminishing
     or to question the givens.
I am too cautious
     to risk the highway
     that leads away from safe places.
Convenience blankets me,
 stifles the clamor of a hungry world.           
 

The fact that I own a copy of this book is pretty amazing; prior to launching THE SHARED TABLE, I read everything I could get my hands on about the connection between food and hospitality – there's not much out there, by the way.

One day after futilely combing through the more than 500,000 used books at Steven's Book Store, I literally stumbled over a pile of books blocking an aisle, glanced down and there on top was the out of print "Breaking Bread."  At $1.95, it was a steal, being that I'd searched for months without finding a copy for less than $100.

Here's my well-loved copy:

This book has become one of my most prized possessions and now I've come up with a way for you to have one of your own. Recently I came across another copy, only this one is just like new, so I've decided to give it away to one of my subscribers as part of The Shared Table's First Giveaway. To enter for a chance to win:

STEP 1: Enter your email in the RSVP box in the upper right hand corner & click submit.  (If you've already subscribed to "The Shared Table", skip this step)

STEP 2: In the comment section, let me know how you plan to share YOUR table in 2011. 

One lucky winner will be chosen Monday night!

THE LAST BITE:

A little Google Search Trivia on the above subjects:

"FOOD" …762,000,000 results. Apparently people are interested in the subject.

"SPIRITUALITY" …40,800,000 results. Hmmm….

"NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS" …43,500,000

Maybe we could start a "RESOLUTION REVOLUTION" by changing the way we think about food. Who's in?