Do you want to know a secret?

It’s unseasonably warm here in the good old Arklatex. It’s a muggy, breezy, partially cloudy spring day. In November.

I’m dreading Thursday in a way. Apparently sometime during the day tomorrow the temperature is going to begin dropping drastically, leading to some ice and/or sleet in the evening. The online weather gurus say it won’t stick, but I really believe they just make shit up every now and then. I still don’t have the big, warm pea-coat I’ve been wanting. I don’t have gloves or a scarf. C’est la vie.

Oh, that wasn’t the secret. We’ll get to that later. And it isn’t really that great of a secret or anything. So don’t drool in anticipation.

Last night I retrieved my Extra Awesome Super Cool Donut Making Kit (I altered the name to reflect my feelings on the prodcut) from my parents’ house and decided almost immediately that I would wait to make donuts until after I can go grocery shopping and purchase tons of neat things to use in them. I had my specialty – oriental ramen with peanut butter – for dinner, watched some TV, and then the food crisis began.

My roommate wanted sweet stuff. Her boyfriend wanted sweet stuff. Hell, even I was starting to want some sweet stuff. So Jennifer and I mixed up indiscriminate amounts of flour, sugar, milk, vanilla, etc. and made an interesting batter. We baked it in the donut cups and made a “glaze” of melted chocolate chips, butter and powdered sugar, and we slathered it on the perfectly formed circles. On some we sprinkled coconut on top; on others, Heath bits. I didn’t have enough room in the regular-sized donut pan for all of the donuts, so I made two in the filled donut pan and tested out the FILLING INJECTOR! RARRR! I used the frosting to inject them. It was an experiment – what can I say?

Well, the “donut” part was interesting, and it wasn’t awful, especially considering there was not even an iota of recipe involved. The frosting was oh-so-yummy. If I had photographs, I could show you – they were prettier than they tasted. Fun times.

On to my secrets.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingDuring my short stint in Fayetteville, Arkansas, I worked doggedly at the local Atlanta Bread Company to make ends meet. As you can imagine, this made school pretty hard – I attended class from 8 a.m. to about 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I worked every other day of the week, usually from 5:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. My afternoons were free, but what good is a free afternoon if you’re worn out and want to go to bed at 7 p.m.?

Still, my coworkers were awesome, my managers were generally pretty awesome, and eventually I moved from the bakery to the sandwich line, prep position and then the weekend opening manager position.

When I did prep, I was only slightly amazed that ABC’s “gourmet” food was damn simple. You probably already know about most of these, but here are a few sauces/salads/sandwiches we made at ABC that would be ridiculously easy to replicate at home without the price tag. I don’t have photos for these things; apologies. Use your imagination. And if at some point while I’m writing this post I find some, I’ll include them. Yes!

SAUCES

  • Dill sauce – Use a whisk to combine equal parts mayonnaise and sour cream. Add dill to taste. I loved this condiment when I first started at ABC – it was featured on the California Avocado sandwich, and I’d put it on everything I ate. Unfortunately, stirring a bus tub of mayo and sour cream together to create this sauce kind of ruined it for me.
  • Pesto sauce – This is an obvious one. Take mayonnaise. Add pesto and stir. If it isn’t green enough for your taste, add more pesto. Keep going until it’s perfect. I still like this one on almost any sandwich. There’s nothing better than asiago cheese foccaccia, pesto sauce, turkey and veggies.

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SALAD

  • Greek salad – No brainer. Chopped romaine + tomato wedges + red onions + pepperoncinis + feta cheese + kalamata olives. And, of course, “greek dressing.” Pictured!
  • Chicken or tuna salad – It made me so angry when I heard people marveling over how wonderful our chicken salad and tuna salad are. Uh, all we did was take cubed chicken (or huge cans of tuna) and add some arbitrary amount of mayo, then we added a packet of spices. Voila. Ugh.

SANDWICHES!

  • California Avocado – Sundried tomato foccaccia + dill sauce + lettuce/tomato/onions + as much sliced (or smushed) avocado as you damn well please + provolone cheese
  • Chicken Pesto Panini – Split panini bread and put 1.5 slices Havarti cheddar on each side. Put 2 tomato slices on one side. Stir however much pesto sauce into fajita-style chicken strips, and put chicken on the other side. Put sides together. Grill. Yum.

I’ve revealed enough trade secrets for now, and unfortunately I’m starting to crave one of the creations I used to make for myself. I liked the turkey/pesto/Asiago creation, and I also loved making a sandwich with rye bread, hummus, spicy mustard, ham, cheddar and provolone. Oh lordy.

Ever been to an ABC? Want to know how anything’s made? Ask away.

And now for something completely different…

I have so so so so so so so so so got to try this recipe. It sounds so interesting yet wonderful. By the way, the link goes to Lex Culinaria’s Cheddar and Cranberry Cookies. Do yourself a favor and take a look.

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