Not only has it been forever since I've written anything on here, it seems like it has been an eternity since I have had a minute to sit and take a breath and think, or just be. It's funny how life can get so full sometimes that you start to lose yourself if you're not careful...it's a dangerous spiral downward, and one that is so consuming that you don't realize what's happened until you've been sucked in and who you were starts to slip away. Priorities shift, and things that were important are all of a sudden disregarded or forgotten, like the people who matter, the hikes in the woods, the sunsets, the ability to take time and just rest. These are important things--the things whose significance or place should never waver, and I think I've really finally started to understand why.
It has been a great summer, but I think it's time to slow down a little, now that fall really is on it's way. It's time to remember and re-discover the things that make this life beautiful...time to find my creativity again. So here we go.
This post has been a very long time coming--it's not going to be current in really any way, but that's okay. I'm actually going to write about a wonderful trip I took earlier this year to southern California to visit one of my very favorite people in the world. Alyssa has lived in Pasadena for the past two years, and I finally had an opportunity to go out and visit her and see her world. The trip was lovely, refreshing and relaxing and just so good. Southern California is beautiful--there are flowers everywhere, just growing as they please, the sun shines nearly every day, and there are always peaches at the farmers market. I've always found that nothing renews my appreciation of God's creation quite like traveling. It is so amazing to see the different parts of the country and the world, and see how different nature can be. There is so much to see, so much to be in awe of. I had the sweet opportunity to go off on my own for a day and explore, so I headed to Santa Monica, got on Highway 1 and just started driving. The Pacific coast is gorgeous...the ocean is stunning. I could sit on the beach and watch the waves for days, I think. It's crazy to think just how big the ocean is. Made me feel so small.
This has been lengthy already, I know, and I apologize. I'll get to the part about the food soon, I promise. To preface that, though, the reason I had a day to myself during my "visit-Alyssa" time was because she had planned to spend that day with her man, to celebrate their anniversary. I'm not one to mess with love, so I had no trouble giving her up for such an occasion. I love being on my own sometimes anyway, so it was perfect. They had an entire day planned, and Alyssa had informed me that a picnic on the beach was one of the things they were going to do...so of course I asked her if she'd let me make them a picnic lunch. Luckily she trusts me.
I don't remember everything that made it into the picnic basket, but what I will share is the sandwich I made for Alyssa and Nathaniel--something called a muffuletta. He loves olive tapenade, and for some reason I knew that was one of the defining characteristics of a muffuletta, so I think that might have been where the idea came from. I had never made or eaten one before, it was just something that I had apparently tucked away in my mind along with the rest of my random food-geek knowledge. The sandwich used an entire loaf of sourdough bread, lots of tapenade, and plenty of meat, cheese, and arugula. It was gorgeous, and it was really easy to cut into wedges and wrap in foil for the picnic basket...I'm totally making this for a picnic sometime. Oh, and if I remember right, they liked it quite a bit. I think I might get another chance at making them dinner sometime...I sure hope so. I'd love to go back for a visit.
recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
You can be awesome and make your own tapenade from scratch, but since I wasn't in my own kitchen, I opted for the pre-made Trader Joe's stuff, which was still really great. Just saying, there's always the option if you're feeling ambitious.
1 (1lb) round bread loaf, preferably sourdough
4 oz thinly sliced ham
4 oz thinly sliced mortadella
4 oz thinly sliced salami
4 oz sliced provolone
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
prepared olive tapenade
Cut the top part of the bread off (about the top 1-inch or so) and set aside. Hollow out the bottom and top halves of the bread loaf to make room for all of the goodness. Spread plenty of tapenade onto the bottom of the bread and also onto the cut side of the bread top. Layer the meats and cheese at least twice in the bread bottom. Top it off with the onions, arugula, and more of the tapenade.
Carefully replace the top of the bread loaf and either refrigerate or cut into wedges immediately for serving. I think the sandwich might actually get a little better with time as the oils from the tapenade have a chance to soak into the bread a little bit. Either way, enjoy!
"Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places, where others see nothing."