An Excellent Sub Sandwich


a submarine roll (I prefer white over wheat just because it usually has a better crust)
Genoa salami, deli sliced
deli sliced ham (fresh from the deli or at least without preservatives)
provolone cheese
spicy mustard
pickles (I prefer Vlasic sandwich stackers)
sliced hot peppers
salt and pepper

1. Slice submarine roll lengthwise, making sure to leave a hinge on one side so that the two halves are still attached. Lay it out open-faces and spread spicy mustard on one side and mayonnaise on the other.

2. Layer on Genoa salami, then ham, and then a few slices of provolone cheese.

3. Place sandwich, open-faced, in a toaster oven. Toast for about 5-10 minutes, or until bread is lightly crispy and cheese has melted. This is a good time to slice the onion and tomato.

4. Once sandwich is toasted, layer on sliced tomato, pickle(s), onion, hot peppers, and lettuce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. Fold over sandwich and enjoy! I usually end up dripping tomato juice all over myself and the plate.

Note: If I’m packing this for my lunch the next day, I leave off the lettuce and tomato and wrap the whole contraption tightly in saran wrap. I find that letting the sandwich sit in the fridge overnight helps the flavors intermingle within the sandwich. I especially appreciate the way the juice from the hot peppers works with everything else.

Cooking Disaster

I’ve been taking my lunch to work for a while now. Eating at work not only saves me gas (I don’t have to drive home or drive somewhere to eat out), it also gives me more time to relax during my break. It’s been a big part in helping me fulfill my goal of reading 52 books in 52 weeks.

I’ve got a small collection of meals that I bring with me. I used to bring a lot more frozen food, stuff like pot pies or pizza pockets, but I’m also trying to save money lately, so any time I can cook for myself instead of spending a lot more money on something that only feeds me for one meal is always good.

Usually, though, when it comes to cooking for myself, I tend to fall back on pasta or an Asian noodle dish I improvised when I was trying to recreate food from Pho Hoang. I’ve also been cooking larger frozen dishes and bringing the leftovers for the next few days. That at least seems to work out pretty well, although I still felt like I could recreate a frozen dish on my own for cheaper. Ah, hubris…

To make a long story short, a few nights ago I decided to make tamale pie from a recipe I found online. My first mistake was to only read the reviews they included down at the bottom of the page… if you pull up the full list of reviews, you get reactions much more like my own…

The first kind of odd thing is that this recipe calls for 2 lbs of ground beef. This seemed like an awful lot, so I started off with 1 lb in my pan and as soon as I started crumbling the meat, I could tell that it would fill up the 2 qt casserole dish without any problem. The next odd thing is that the recipe calls for whole kernel corn, but tells you not to drain it. I would learn to regret this later. The final odd thing is that it calls for waaaaaaay too much salt. Far too much. I didn’t realize this, of course, until I had already put in the salt.

The resulting mixture ended up burning on top (cheese should not be included as a crust on top of this dish) and being undercooked everywhere else. The corn mush didn’t magically turn into crust, probably because the meat/corn/etc mixture was full of liquid.

The resulting concoction is edible enough… it mostly resembles chili with corn meal in it, although it’s way too salty. Adding salsa helps the flavor a lot, but I’ll be surprised if I can convince myself to eat the huge amount of leftovers I have in my fridge. It’s a shame, too, because the ground beef looked and smelled delicious before I put it into the casserole dish.

I sincerely doubt I’ll try this particular recipe again, although I may try to create my own tamale pie from a combination of a good cornbread recipe and basic chili. One of the biggest problems is that this kind of recipe makes an unholy mess. I really do not look forward to cleaning out the dish once I’ve gone through the leftovers…

I did have some cooking successes this week, however. I put back into rotation a recipe for pan bagnat sandwiches that is fairly easy to prepare. It’s from Alton Brown’s Good Eats, one of my most favorite shows on air right now. (It occurs to me that it’s a bit odd to constantly watch a cooking show when I don’t actually cook much myself…) Alton is pretty happy with his sandwich… check it out:

Alton’s Pan Bagnat

I do tweak his recipe a little bit. I use single-serving sub sandwich rolls instead of a giant roll, simply because I couldn’t find a place that sells sandwich appropriate bread of that size. HEB sells a four pack of sandwich rolls that are absolutely perfect. I also don’t let the sandwich sit out at room temperature – my mother reacted in horror to the thought of eggs sitting out like that – I just wrap it and put it in the fridge overnight.

I usually make this sandwich using tuna – one can of tuna fits nicely if packed into the bottom half of the bread roll – but I’ve also tried it with chicken and turkey lunchmeat, and it works equally well. I think I’m going to try using salmon next. Beau swears by Central Market’s 365 salmon, and it sounds like a delicious idea.

The other really nice thing about this recipe is that if you wrap the sandwich tightly in plastic wrap, it becomes very portable. If you’ve pulled out some of the breading before making the sandwich, the bread roll will fit together nicely and keep everything from falling out.

I haven’t given up on trying new recipes, however. I’ve got a cheap pasta/Italian cookbook that I bought at Barnes & Noble a few years ago, and I think I’m going to start pulling out some of those recipes. I think I may also try to find a good, cheap, Asian cookbook, just because I’m always craving Chinese or Vietnamese food.

Camellia Sinensis

So… I seem to have a new habit lately. Or maybe two new habits.

Habit #1: I think about writing something in this blog, lay it out in my head, then I don’t. I seem to have worked up some kind of aversion to writing in this thing (not that I’m writing much otherwise). This is probably a symptom of some sort of overall problem, no?

Habit #2: I have been drinking a *lot* of tea lately. Two or three cups a day. I’ve got a pretty good selection of different varieties, including (but not limited to):


…I’ve also got several more at work, including some loose-leaf varieties of “mate tea”:, some rasberry tea, and an excellent green tea from “Tazo”:

Part of the reason that I started drinking so much tea was because coffee just doesn’t seem to sit as well on my stomach any more. I can have it every once in a while, but if I have too much or drink it too often, things do not bode well for me. Tea, on the other hand, seems to go down pretty smoothly if I haven’t been abusing my esophagus.

reed’s extra ginger brew

On Saturday night, I met up with my mother and her friend Val (who has been a family friend for years). Val cooked a huge meal for the three of us, including chicken tenders almost breaded with onion, rice pilaf, some ratatouille (eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, and a whole lot of delicious) and a salad. It was probably the best meal I’ve had in months, other than the burritos at “Guero’s”:

Val had some “Reed’s Ginger Brew”:, and seeing as how I had never tried ginger beer before, I had one, and liked it a lot. Accordingly, I went to Central Market yesterday and bought a four-pack, the last of which I am now finishing. (I got the “extra” ginger brew, which seems to mean that drinking this makes my mouth burn a little bit in a very odd fashion. Still good, though.)

I finally began seriously looking for apartments this weekend. I only looked at one place on Saturday, but because I contacted an apartment locator, she did some searching for me and there are two or three places that she is going to show me tomorrow after work. I liked the place I looked at a whole lot – gas stove, dishwasher, garbage disposal, *central air* (which I appreciate much more now). The places she’s going to show me are all closer to work, but if none of them cut it, I feel pretty good about the possibility of going with the place I saw saturday. Already I feel like I’ve done a better job searching for an apartment this time around, just because of the apartment locator. She seems to know her stuff.

(I have noticed that I can’t seem to type as well lately… it’s like every keypress happens in slow motion and the keys aren’t where they’re supposed to be. I think it’s because I write so many emails at work. I probably need wrist supports or something.)

I’ve watched all sorts of good stuff lately, too. Tonight I watched “The Machinist”:, which is that movie Christian Bale lost 60 pounds for. Every once in a while he’d walk around shirtless and turn sideways and I’d shudder a little. The movie itself was a sort of Lynch/Hithcock psychological thriller. I was seriously creeped out/on edge for the bulk of the movie, which is, i suppose, a vote of confidence.

Other than that, I finally watched the second part of “Angels in America”:, which I have had rented from Netflix since late May. I just kept thinking that I wasn’t in the mood to watch it, but of course once I finally sat down and gave it a chance it was wonderful and engrossing. (Random: Apparently having sex with an angel makes your genitals burst into flame…)

I also finished the second season of Angel last week (so far I like the show a lot) and am now halfway through the seventh of Buffy (I have been putting off watching it because I don’t want it to end, honestly.)

Finally, all of you must go out now and get a copy of “Teenage Fanclub’s”: new album “Man-Made”. It’s absolutely fucking incredible. I’ve listened to it two or three times a day since I got it last week.

Alright, bedtime.


Man, i’m addicted to the stuff. I started off with the pre-ground Folgers cheap-ass shit, which was alright for a while, but then I started getting curious about the world of GRINDING YOUR OWN, so I made my way to the local Wal-Mart and dropped $15 on the cheapest one I could find so I could feed my ever-expanding habit in my own home. Living a few blocks away from Central Market is also a nice bonus, cos about a week or so ago I popped over there and moseyed my way into the “bulk foods” section for which they are famous. After a few minutes of consideration, I chose the “Rasberry Chocolate” flavored coffee – “flavored” coffees not having been within my realm of experience up to that point, this one seemed like a good place to start.

…And oh, if you could smell the grounds after a few pulses of the grinder. It’s amazing. The cup of coffee I made yesterday was probably the most delicious I’ve ever had.

Downside is, of course, that if I don’t drink the stuff I get cranky, and eventually have headaches. If I make it too strong or drink too much of it, my heart races and I get all twittery. And right now I kinda have a funky metallic taste in my mouth (I made it verrry strong this morning). But damn if the coffee doesn’t taste good and settle my stomach and help me be a little bit more alert.