Summer in a Sandwich

     Food, ahhh the focus of the holidays it seems. I can't get away from all the pumpkin, spiced, roasted, mashed, baked deliciousness if I tried. And to be honest, I really don't try. It's the one time of year I feel hungry, through the heat of the summer I'm often content to eat small, light meals and drink lots of water. It's just too dang hot to expend a lot of energy cooking or chomping. Once the cold hits, I love to make warm, comforting food, spending time preparing and cooking, taking advantage of the need to be inside and thoroughly enjoying the social and tasty aspect of the holiday food scene. This year I started a new path in my life, going back to school to become a registered dietitian. This week in my nutrition class we learned about phytochemicals and their benefits, so I challenged myself to make my meals filled with different colors of the rainbow. This vegetable, hummus and cheese sandwich was one of my successes and made for a pretty photo, double win! And it’s light enough to balance some of the more wintery, comfort foods I enjoy. Below are the ingredients I used in my sandwich, in the order I layered them, because I like my hummus and tomato to touch and my avocado and cheese to mingle. I shopped for these items at our local grocery store, they typically have a great quality selection of vegetables available and with our extended summer it seems we have the benefit of plentiful vegetables in the early fall.


2 slices Whole Wheat Multigrain Bread

1.5 Tbsp Sabra Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

2 thick slices heirloom tomato (color choice up to you, I chose a deep purple red)

6 thin slices of English cucumber

¼ medium green bell pepper, sliced into thin slivers (choose orange, red or yellow too, I had green on hand)

1 slice swiss cheese

½ large avocado, sliced or smashed

Spread hummus on one of the slices of bread and the avocado onto the other slice. Layer your cut vegetables and cheese as you like.

It’s as easy as that, summer in a sandwich. And in the fall no less!

*This is a sample post, which is why I am talking about it being fall in February ;) 



Erickson Ranch September 2013

     The heat of the summer tends to linger in the valley. September in our little expanse of northern California does not signify the beginning of cooler weather. Whether starting school or celebrating a last summer camping trip on Labor Day, the heat is our constant companion.

     The nice thing about our extended warm season is the amount of time we get to spend outdoors throughout the year. Farm stands, farmer's markets and the like stay open well into October and some even year round. Fruits and vegetables fresh from the earth don't disappear just because school's back in or summer is "over". New seasonal crops of fruits, vegetables and flowers begin to appear. September brings the start of pumpkin season, promising that eventually the heat will fade and fall will make it's appearance.

     Erickson Ranch is still in full swing in September, peppers and pumpkins are the show stoppers starting this month. Ray and Vicky host a variety of events throughout the year. There is always some type of entertainment, ranch exploration and they invite local vendors to come and set up shop for the day.  While the work is never done, there is a sense of mellowing around the ranch in September and I gather Ray and Vicky feel a sense of celebration is in order over the fruits of their labor. The events to come still mean a lot of work, but there's a great sense of joy and community that emanates during these final months of the ranch being open to the public.

     One of the first things I discovered about Ray over the year, was his passion for birds. I clearly remember the first day I met him and how he drove me around the ranch explaining all about the fruit trees and the history of the ranch. At one point we got out and continued exploring on foot. I recall him stopping and pointing across the top of the orchard at a large hill, covered in trees and brush that borders their property, and telling me to look at the white tail far... far... far off! Surprised I thought, 'how can he see a deer THAT far away?!?'  But the better and the right question was 'How can he see a HAWK that far away?!' Growing up on the ranch Ray developed an appreciation for the birds that lived on and migrated to the ranch each year. He can tell a bird by it's song, knows when and where specific birds will appear, knows their patterns and all about their lifecycle. They have special bird houses high up on poles at the ranch and they work with the Napa Solano Audubon Society to bring awareness to the public. Which is how I got the beautiful photo of the owl above .. there was also a hawk! Both injured and taken care of by awesome volunteers at the Audubon Society. Over the course of my visits I was lucky enough to see a melange of beautiful birds. To this day I notice each and every different bird that comes into my yard and crosses my path. My little boy has grown a love for birds as well, perhaps it's innate or perhaps I have eagerly pointed them out to him. Either way, it's fun to see his eyes dart to the sky, finger pointed high.

     It's amazing and humbling to see someone like Ray, so in tune with nature, working their land, appreciating all that it has to offer and making it their life's work and enjoying it to the fullest. With all the go-go-go of our busy lives, it's a breath of fresh air to witness. He demonstrates a great lesson in slowing down to enjoy the things we each have worked hard to have in our lives and to notice, appreciate and take care of the things that nature has bestowed upon us. 

To see previous months from my 2013 year long project click on the month: JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJuly, August