Heirloom Tomato Sandwich

Clearly, the baby has not yet grasped the concept of “sleeping-in.” In my semi-conscious state, my mind barely registers that he is speaking to me. “Mom?” Pause. A little louder, “Mom? What animal sleeps during the day?” As I try to break through the fog that has not yet lifted from my mind in this pre-dawn hour and make sense of the question, I do manage to perceive the familiar, soft fur resting against my arm. As I begin, with the smallest of motions possible, to gently pet our seventeen-year old cat, I reply, “I don’t know. Which animal sleeps during the day?” To which he replies back, “Mom. Just think. What do you think?” “A cat.” Silence. I begin to drift back toward slumber land.

“Mom?” Pause. A little louder, “Mom? What if there was a slide from heaven to all the way down here? What would happen? What do you think would happen?” Snapped out of my dozing, once again, I sleepily reply, “I don’t know. What would happen?” “Mom. Just think. Just what do you think would happen?” “I don’t know. Granddad could come visit us?” Silence.

“Mom? Mom? What if a real missile…a real one…got shot in your eye? What would happen then?” “I don’t know.” “Mom. Just think. Just what would happen? What do you think?” “If a real missile shot you in the eye, you would die.” Pause. “What if it just shot you in the arm?” Gads. At this point, I throw the towel in and say to the baby, “I don’t know. Let’s go downstairs.” He follows after me, crying out, “Just think, Mom. What do you think?”

I am not a morning person. I would, however, love to be a morning person. I have close friends who are morning people and I deeply admire their spunk and energy at the beginning of the day. The way in which they can rise at 5:oo am, rattle through emails, check off To Dos and fit in an hour-long yoga class all while I’m still in a deep REM sleep.
Lunch boxes
Because of this, breakfast is never a grand affair in our home. For all my affinity toward food and cooking, if you are a guest in our home, you will never be served eggs, bacon, waffles or sticky buns. Instead, I will point you toward the counter where I have, with great effort, managed to lay out granola, yogurt and some fruit. Sometimes you will get coffee and sometimes I will direct you to the nearest Starbucks. And take note: if you are actually served pancakes made from the Snoqualmie Falls Lodge NutraRich box mix with real maple syrup on the side, consider yourself royalty. It takes me a good hour or two to become fully conscious in the morning and unfortunately, it is during those couple of hours, that Monday through Friday, nine months of the year, I have the job of assembling school lunches.

With the baby stumbling down the stairs behind me trying to keep up, I head for the pantry. I grab a tea bag. Take my favorite mug out of the cupboard. Pull back the water on the insta-hot. Set the timer for three minutes. And, just stare…out the window. The buzzer manages to bring me back to full-consciousness at which time, I pull the bag out of the mug. Take the honey from the cupboard. Put a dollop in the mug. Stir. Sip. And, feel the hot liquid make its way down my throat and begin the very difficult task of waking me up.

I’ve realized over the years, that because of my impaired mental state in the morning, I have to tone it down. Simplify the lunches. I am a big fan of sandwiches. I find them to be a well-balanced meal all in one tidy package. And, I find I am not alone in this thinking. An article in the Aug/Sept ’09 issue of MIX – Portland’s Magazine of Food + Drink - declared 2009, The Year of the Sandwich. I do try to vary the type of sandwiches and the bread over the course of the year; however, my 10-year old would be perfectly happy with peanut butter and jelly every day. So, I try to make sure he gets the best possible peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Dave’s Killer Bread, organic peanut butter (we like the kind from Costco) and Nana’s homemade blackberry jam which we look forward to receiving every Christmas. (Not to be greedy but…we just wish she would make a little bit more of it since we always seem to run out before the end of the year.) Today; however, I decide to mix-it up a bit.


I heave the cutting board up onto the counter. Walk the two feet from the counter to the refrigerator, open the door and stare. With the door held wide open (as I’ve instructed the children not to do,) I try to remember what it is I need from this appliance. Oh, yes. Cream cheese. Goat cheese. Pesto. I grab a heavenly perfumed tomato from the bowl. A baguette. And go to work assembly these simple yet delicious sandwiches. For the 10-year old, I spread a layer of cream cheese on his sliced baguette and goat cheese on my daughter’s. Next, a slathering of pesto. Today, I happened to use basil pesto from Pesto Outside the Box which I picked up at the Farmer’s Market – and can I say, the way they make this pesto with pistachios as opposed to the usual pine nuts creates a pesto with such full, rounded flavor, I could eat it with a spoon – although, you could use pesto from your local grocery store or go hog wild and make your own. Thick slices of heirloom tomatoes, just at the peak of their harvest, come next. I place the other half of the baguette on top of the creation, put the sandwich into their containers and then, drop them into their respective lunch boxes. Next, I go to work slicing up the Maryhill peaches whose season has almost ended and a few plums, which are just arriving on the scene. I gave up giving the children chips, pretzels, crackers and the like years ago because it was just one more decision for me to make in my grogginess. Now, I just give them double the fruit and they are thrilled. I break off a piece of dark mint chocolate for each child, toss it is in a wee container and slap it in the lunch box. I fill their “canteens” with water. Yes, water. I stopped giving them anything but for the same reason as the chips – too much for my decision-challenged mind – and really, what else do they need? And furthermore, it’s free. By now, I’m starting to pick up steam. I place the lunchboxes by the door. Holler to each child that it’s time to go. Kiss the tops of their heads…well, in the case of my daughter who is as tall as me now, the side of her head…and send them and my sweetie out the door with a “Have a great day! I love you.”


I close the front door, turn back into the suddenly silent house and sigh. Fully awake and energized, I can now begin my day. Walking back to the kitchen, it dawns on me that there still remains the presence of a little person in the house. A little person who has been sitting on the couch, through the entire morning frenzy. Patiently waiting. Watching my every move like a stalking cat. Just waiting for the right moment. And, then, as if we were still back upstairs, snuggled up under the covers and hadn’t just sent everyone out the door, he says to me without missing a beat, “But, Mom. What would happen if a real missile shot your arm? Just think. Just what do you think would happen?”

All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009

Comments

  1. brilliant, my friend.
    xo

  2. @Mara: Thank you, my friend.

  3. Joseph Michael says:

    I'm sleepy at Noon, wide awake at Midnight. Always have, won't fight it.

    I have 9 – 100yr old+ apple trees on a lot up a valley in Missoula. This year, the apples exploded. I'm told that because June was so wet, we were rewarded with big apples.

    They are a McIntosh apple, complete with wrinkled and faded reds and grees and worms holes, but no worms.

    I picked one tree clean on Sunday, and the total amount of apples filled TWO wheelbarrows! And Ive got 8 more!(?)

    There's kinda time pressure because bears come down into the valley in the early fall to feast on apples, pumpkins, cats and little girls. So the sooner we can get the apples picked, the fewer trips into the valley bears will make.

    Erin has made two huge pies with double apples. Ive eaten three apples a day for over a week. We're borrowing an apple press on sunday for juicy juice.

    Would you like two of them? (Now that I look, they look like the apple on your banner…)

  4. Angie Muresan says:

    Yummy! With sandwiches like that, your kids don't need chips or any beverage other than water.

  5. Even though I've been up since 5am and have gotten in an hour long Yoga class and some e-mails (but surely you were referring to another friend?) please don't look inside my sons' lunch boxes today as they are loaded with a bevy of snack size bags from Costco. I am inspired!! My sons won't know what hit them when I pack their next lunch, and I'll blame Auntie Carrie's blog on the blatant lack of sugary snacks and chips. But they'll live longer and feel better, so thank you. Your writing is amazing and loved the story – teared up at the end picturing the little dude waiting patiently to finish his story on missles. Beautiful!

  6. @Joe: Frothing over your good fortune. Please send apples my way now.

    @Angie: Thank you.

    @Julie: Thank you. Glad you were inspired and definitely….blame it on me.

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