Tuscan Vegetable Sandwich

As children, we were all teemed with youthful hopes… ambitions… desires.

From eating cake for dinner, to one day becoming Judge Judy, to simply owning a kitty cat that would love and adore you.

Some are fulfilled, some never will be, and some… we learn why Mama & Daddy tried to prevent from ever coming to pass.

As we inch into adulthood, and likewise the power to fulfill some of these childish urges, we learn…

We learn that just because you can scrape that crusty top skin off of an entire pan of brownies with a butter knife and then proceed to eat it, doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

Even when things still sound like super great ideas in our big fat grown-up heads, they may so not be.

Ever since I was that 3-year-old eating sand on the playground, I had this dream…

More than anything, I wanted to be a cowgirl.

Oh geeze. I wanted to speed across wide stretches of open earth, my blond curly hair flying in the wind –because all cowgirls have blond curly hair, if you didn’t know–  my glorious cowgirl hat perfectly stationary on top.

In reality, I had poop-brown, straight-as-a-board hair, a vivid imagination and accordingly wore a large Sunday sun hat (in lieu of the coveted cowgirl hat) to preschool on a regular basis.    Former classmates still remember.

Whether my ma was just trying to allow me freedom of expression, or legit thought it was cute, I don’t much know.

Either way… seriously Mother?          Seventeen years later and people still remember.

Sweet Jesus.

Finally,when I was like 12, my parents enabled me to pursue the dream further than wearing inappropriate head accessories to school as they sent me to the stables around the corner from our house one summer.

I was to enter the rodeo arena.

It was a short-lived endeavor.

After being named a goat-roping champion, I knew my career had peaked. Thus was the end of my westward path. I walked away with dignity.

It was time I move on to chase other dreams… I was the illumination of school spirit and a temporary valley girl accent as a cheerleader, a graceful stage giraffe as a ballerina, and then came food…

But , yesterday morning I awoke with a wild hair. Actually, I woke up with a head of wild hair, but one particularly crazy strand told me to be spontaneous, it told me to embrace my inner curly-headed blond, it told me… “Darcy, go be a cowgirl.”

Really, I just had this notion that riding a horse  would be this relaxingly wonderful Saturday outing. And in theory, it was.

Before I knew it,  I was stepping out of my car at Sun City Stables and directly into a large pile of… something I didn’t want to be standing in.  Gross

After that, I met Clyde.

Clyde was to be my ride and my guide. I would so share a pic of my pal Clyde right now, except standing stationary made him rather antsy. Clyde was what the staff liked to call an “advanced” horse… all the nice easy-going, non-bipolar ponies were taken.

But hey, I was after all a goat roping champ.

It’s all good.

So me & Clyde head out into the wilderness. He’s obviously raring to go, but I’m kinda like “Hey look  Clyde,  I haven’t done this in a while…couldn’t we just ease into things, take it slow?”

Of course after having 500 angry insects devour my soaking sweat wet  flesh within 5 minutes in the jungle,  I concur with Clyde that we need some wind going. Yes, okay, we’re tearing through trees, all is well, the dream has temporarily been revived when 2 things happen: my butt starts aching real bad and we come up on another group of riders.

I tell him straight up, “Alright Clyde, I’m not gonna be able to last like this…we need to just calm it down, my ass hurts. Plus ya know we’re totally about to be on top this here group, and uh, I’m not really trying to go there today. So um…woah.”

Being the control freak that he is, Clyde is all “hmmm, nay.”

Getting a little agitated, I have to be like, “Well, I vote yay. I’m paying to be out on you right now, so I kinda hold the reins so to speak… just stop for a minute, I think we should work a few things out here.”

Clyde’s apparently not in to slowing down once he’s all revved up, cause he  very audibly stands firm in his “nay.” Then, the jerk tries to throw me off. Not like little bit of playful bucking… no, this beast is up on two legs flailing and hollering and junk.

That was it. I’m just sitting here, with great effort, like “Are you for real right now? Seriously Clyde? When someone is on top of you, you generally don’t attempt to throw them off. That’s just not how this works.”  And so, when we return to earth, I pull his head around to his booty just like weird horse whisperer staff dude told me to do if Clyde starts getting rough. He said that would just make him turn in circles until he chills out. Well, that’s just what Clyde did, he spun in vicious circles…on his back legs again… with me still seated upon him.

This horse is a freak.

Overly forgiving soul that I am, I gave him another chance once all fours were back on the ground. But it was totally one of those unpleasant situations where he’s still all moody and begrudging and that makes me tense and so the whole affair was ruined. Low and behold, what would happen except a wee tortoise should cross our path. And I reckon Clyde’s one of those guys who doesn’t want others to witness his relationship issues, because he’s all spazzing over this turtle and we’re up in the air again.

At that point, I’m done. I say, “Look, I’m sure you’re a nice fella, but this isn’t what I was expecting at all. You’ve got issues my friend…we’re over.”

I’m so glad I non-refundably paid for a  2 hour magical horseback experience, because my sore sweaty butt was stomping past the goat pens within 45 minutes.

I bought a number of significant lessons though. Namely… horses and hot don’t mix. And being that we grow as people, sometimes it’s simply best to let the old ambitions die peaceably.

That being said, there are plenty of passions fostered in youth that are perfectly safe to carry with us into adulthood. Better yet, allow those passions mature alongside us.

For example, I’ve always really loved sandwiches. Back around the same time I was rocking formal brimmed hats to class, my all-time favorite sandwich was a scraight up cheese sandwich: white bread–Kraft American single–more white bread. The end.

One fateful Saturday morning, I was the first one awake, so I was just hanging out watching Johnny Bravo with a cheese sandwich in each hand. My dad came out shortly thereafter and I was worried he’d be way mad at me for eating 2 sandwiches; but he so wasn’t…rather,  the good man introduced them to ham. Thus, we grew. Both me and my sandwich.

These days, when I come home reeking of wild animals and frustration, I still fancy a good cheese sandwich. Only now, I enjoy it with fresh vegetables and toasted crusty bread.

To wrap all this up, supposing there ever comes a day when I try to make you be spontaneous with me… if you’re smart you’ll just walk away. Go make a sandwich.

And if you love me, take me with you.

Tuscan Vegetable Sandwich

for 4 sandwiches

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium eggplant, halved & thinly sliced (peel if you wish)
  • a handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 8 ounces provolone cheese
  • course sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 medium vine-ripened tomato
  • fresh spinach
  • 4 crusty ciabatta rolls, slice lengthwise

I first toasted the inner faces of my bread slices in a pan to get them nice and toasty, this step is completely optional.

Place 2 ounces of the provolone cheese in an even layer on the bottom slice of each roll. Set aside

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook until the begin to soften. Add in the eggplant, then mushrooms. Saute until all is tender. Stir in the fresh basil and oregano and cook a minute or so longer. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the hot vegetable mixture between the four cheese layered bread pieces. Adding a bit more olive oil if necessary return these bottom slices to the pan until cheese begins to melt. Place each onto a plate, top with tomato slice, fresh spinach and the top portion of the ciabatta roll. Serve warm.

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