Monday, July 25, 2011

Picnic Sandwiches at Home, Zucchini Bread for a Road Trip

For a long time now, I've been wanting to make Vegan Yum Yum's Picnic Sandwiches.  They just looked so good to me, and the idea of their epic portability reminded me of road trips and summer, and everything about them just seemed grand.  A sandwich that is MEANT to be wrapped in plastic or foil and saved for later -- wow!  Just the concept floors me.  It's got fried zucchini, a sun-dried tomato/toasted pine nut blend, roasted red peppers, and baby spinach.  All on French bread (or, you know, on whatever bread you dig).  Doesn't that sound soooooo good?

It is soooooo good.  But before I'd even tried it, I'd determined that it was the perfect thing for me to make to repay a minor debt I owed.  See, at work, I take the Thursday lunch orders, then order it.  Most people in the office are good about giving me their order in time.  But one attorney -- who happens to be my favorite -- often doesn't.  And then, at the last minute, I'll bug him about it, and he'll say, "Just get me something vegetarian!"  See, that's rad.  No one else in the office is like that at all.  But he wants to eat healthy, and to him, that means vegetarian.  That's not something you hear a lot of these days, I find.  One day, though, I talked with him about ordering him some mushroom quesadillas from the place we'd be going the next day.  Thursday rolled around, though, and he was out of the office.  The schedule had him at depos all day.  So I didn't order the quesedillas.  He came in pretty late, like 4 PM, and he was kinda upset about it.  I felt bad, and I told him I'd bring him something one day to make up for it, something he'd love.  And knowing his tastes, and its portability, I thought this sandwich would be perfect.  I wanted it to be something that didn't seem too difficult, either, because, you know, it's a work politeness thing, not anything creepy.

It was perfect!  He loved it, and so did I, and we had a long conversation about how to make it and how the local restaurants could do so much better with vegetarian cooking, and how his whole family loves zucchinis and can't agree on how they should be prepared each day.  Two days later, using the other half of my loaf of French bread, I decided to make them again when my friend Mary came over to my newly clean (yay!) apartment for dinner, because they were really that good.  I also made Vegan Yum Yum's Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta just because I had to prune my basil or it wouldn't grow a ton of new leaves like I want it to so that I can make tons of pesto and freeze it all winter.  I've made this pasta before, and now I have a bit of advice about it.  Don't put any of the water it calls for into it unless you need it.  My farmers market tomatoes were really juicy, and it didn't need the 1/4 cup water called for, but I just did it on autopilot like a cooking robot and I regretted it instantly.  It was still good, although not as good as it would have been with a bit of wine in it, like the recipe calls for if it needs more moisture.  Wine is better than water.  That's why Jesus turned water into wine: better sauces.  Trust me.

I put some salad on the side with CSA lettuce and cucumbers, and also some Bacos, the best vegan product ever!  Actually it's an imitation brand of Bacos.  But I just love that these crunchy processed bacon thingies are totally vegetarian.  We had a really nice summer dinner.  Eating with company, though,  I realized a problem with the idea of bringing Picnic Sandwiches on a picnic -- they require napkins.  Kinda messy.  Not horribly messy, not falling apart, but a bit drippy.  So please, consider that this entry's PSA.  Bring napkins on your picnic with Picnic Sandwiches!  And remember, nature smiles when you use cloth napkins.

I was still rocking the zucchini, though, from my CSA, so I made bread.  Can you believe I never made zucchini bread before?  I'm actually not sure I've ever even eaten it before!  But I'm determined that, by the end of this summer, I will make all the zucchini bread recipes I have.  This time, I made the Zucchini Poppy Seed Muffins in 500 Vegan Recipes.  What can I say, I like bread in muffin form. 
The day after baking them, I brought them along with my friends on an outing to this incredible Krishna Temple in Wheeling, WV called Palace of Gold.  We snacked on these in the car on the way there, and everyone declared them to be "Better than Bill's."  Bill being the driver of the vehicle, who, I gotta tell you, is the most incredible pizza-maker I know, so he's no slouch.  But he does that on his grill, and he did the zucchini bread on the grill also, and apparently, it was dry.  These were good and moist, though.  It's that soy yogurt, does it every time.  And then we got to the Palace/Temple in West Virginia!
Here I am standing among their lovely rose garden, which was completely in bloom.

This is the exterior of the Palace.

These swans were just taking it easy.  On the other side of the pond, there are peacocks (and peahens too, I'd assume, although they're less flashy and noticeable).  You can see in the distance these two dancing dudes that are meaningful to Krishnas, no doubt.
There they are, don't they look happy?  All the Krishnas were weirdly nice, it was hard to not say to them, "YOU'RE CRAZY THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS GOD!" I behaved, though, even in the Temple, where they sang Hare Krishna Hare Hare Krishna Krishna -- really great tunes, actually.  I can see why people would get into singing repetitious lyrics with a crowd to these great melodies, that seems fun.

I thought you vegan types would like this.  "Krishna is pleased by caring for cows" -- right on!  I'm not sure why only cows and not other animals, but whatever.  They don't eat meat, either, although no doubt, the food there was full of ghee and milk and so on.  I ate it, though.  It was free and it seemed really wrong to take some moral stand against these people who are living with such comparatively high levels of compassion.  This is why I don't label myself as vegan, I just cook vegan myself and mostly eat what I cook.

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