When your soul needs replenishment, head for the hills. If it's a cool autumn day, even better. Pack along water, a sandwich and a few snacks, and you're set. The mountain air will provide the appetite. Here's a recipe for a how to make a great basic sandwich - with some tips on how to layer it to keep it freshest. (Skip to recipe.)
Last weekend, as a blizzard was slugging its way through our corner of the world, we headed south and drove out of it. Edmonton was a miserable winter scenario, yet a three and a half hour trip south to the mountains took us into a breathtaking world of craggy Rocky Mountain peaks, sparkling cold autumn days, and glorious fresh crisp air. Yes, my soul needed that.
I've been working full-time this fall, teaching grade one, and some days I don't know whether I'm coming or going, awake or sleepwalking; it's been a very steep learning curve. Technology has changed so much in the last few years, with complicated new systems to learn. Assessment protocols, baseline data, student learner profiles, planning meetings, sifting through mountains of educational material; so much to keep on top of. In addition, the sheer amount of work that is required to bring a classroom of diverse lovable little monkeys with wildly varying needs into a cohesive group of learners is incredible. In grade one you are teaching them how to be students.
They are teaching me how to be a teacher. It is overwhelmingly exhausting and spectacularly rewarding.
A weekend in the mountains did much to recharge my soul. A weekend with my family; my great big wonderful, goofy, thoughtful, loving kids. It was what this mother needed. They all rearranged their lives so Mom, Dad, and our four big baby birds could be back in the nest together again, celebrating their dad's birthday. One postponed a trip to South America so he could have this weekend with us. Another came down from Edmonton and took time away from building a busy business. One flew in from Atlanta to surprise us. Another shuffled her move to a new city to make this weekend work. They all came to make some precious memories, and this mother couldn't have been happier. My heart was filled with love.
We went on a fantastic mountain hike together. We explored the town of Canmore and poked around the shops. We strolled and warmed our hands with good coffees. We shopped for groceries. We played board games, had laughs, and cooked meals. Our time together was short but so special.
As I looked at my four big kids, I wondered, 'Where have the years gone?' It was only yesterday that they were the size of the little first graders I'm teaching. They had scruffy knees and dirty fingers and gave the best sticky hugs. The house was full of Lego and Beanie Babies. A few years later it was full of friends, curling irons, and sports equipment. And suddenly today, those four munchkins have become these grown-up adults who start companies and travel the world. Now, the house only stores their old school projects and crates of mementos. I need to shake my head and think how this can be.
I'll fight the lump in my throat.
And I'll tell you how to make a sandwich; a plain ol' basic sandwich (with a few tricks to keep it fresh).
How to Make a Sandwich (in case you didn't know!)
The order you put it together is important.
First you grab two slices of bread. Then you smear one with mustard and one with mayo.
You layer lots of your favourite meat or cold cuts (or boiled egg or avocado slices) onto the mustard side.
You add a few slices of your favourite cheese, then several layers of crunchy lettuce (make sure the lettuce is dry). Then you add the mayo-smeared slice on top of the lettuce. The mayo keeps the lettuce from getting limp too quickly and from making the bread soggy; if you put the lettuce on the mustard side, it'll draw out the moisture and make the lettuce get soggy more quickly.
Then you cut it in half and enjoy . . . or wrap it up and head for the hills.
If you're packing sandwiches for a hike, wrap them in wax paper or plastic wrap, then pack them into an old cardboard box left over from something else - tissues, cereal, etc. The box keeps the sandwiches from getting squished in your backpack, and you can flatten the box when done, slide it into your backpack, and take it back down the mountain to dispose of.
* * * * *
Kitchen Frau Notes: You can freeze sandwiches. Just don't add the lettuce or any other fresh veggies. Wrap individual sandwiches securely, freeze them for up to two months. Pack the lettuce separately when you put the frozen sandwiches into your lunch box and add it to the sandwich at serving time.
- 2 slices fresh bread for each hiker - good whole wheat, basic rye, or your favourite soft and toothsome gluten-free loaf
- a generous tablespoon full fat, good quality mayonnaise
- a heaping teaspoon dijon mustard (or prepared mustard if you prefer)
- your favourite chutney, hummus, or relish (optional)
- 3 to 6 slices good quality, thinly shaved deli cold cut of your choice (roast beef, chicken, or ham, or a good salami). Substitute sliced hard boiled eggs or sliced avocado for a vegetarian sandwich.
- 1 to 2 large slices cheese; havarti (mild) or aged cheddar (strong)
- 1 large leaf of romaine lettuce or several leaves of crunchy iceberg lettuce
- crispy apples; 1 for each hiker (Honeycrisp, Jonagold, or Pink Lady are good)
- trail mix; a good handful for each hiker
- bottles of water; 1 for each hiker
- 1 rigorous hike, 2 hours or longer
- a good dose of fresh, cool mountain air
- 3 to 6 close friends or family, ready for an invigorating mountain hike
- a good supply of corny jokes, old farmer sayings, and silly stories
- leave all technology at home (this recipe tastes much better with pure, outdoor fun, good banter, and a touch of sweat)
Spread one slice of the bread with the mayonnaise, making sure you get it right to the edges of the bread. Spread the other slice of bread with the dijon mustard, making sure to use enough to get right to the outside edges of the bread. Add a smear of chutney, hummus, or relish if you wish.
Lay a thick layer of cold cuts or meat slices onto the mustard-spread slice of bread. Top these with the cheese slices. Break the lettuce leaves into sandwich-sized pieces and top the cheese with them. At least 3 to 4 layers of lettuce make the best sandwich. Then plop the mayo-spread slice of bread (mayo side down, of course) on top of the lettuce. This order is important. The mustard will flavour the meat, and the mayonnaise will keep the lettuce crisper if it is next to it. (Mustard placed against the lettuce tends to speed along the sogging factor.)
Here's the order, top-down or bottom-up, to build your sandwich for maximum freshness:
chutney or relish, if using
Cut the sandwich in half if it is large. Wrap snugly in wax paper or sandwich wrap.
Pack into your backpack - I like to place the sandwiches into a box or sturdy container to keep them from getting squished. Add a few crisp apples, a bag of trail mix, and enough water bottles for everybody.
Head out and enjoy your day.
Sign up here to receive new Kitchen Frau recipes directly to your email inbox, and get a handy and useful kitchen tip with each recipe.
Don’t forget to PIN IT to save the recipe:
You might also like: