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My Life in Sandwiches

I grew up in the sandwich business. My brother and I used to wear these t-shirts advertising our dad’s shop that said “best damn hoagies in town” under a giant hoagie which fit me right over my growing chest. Considering I also sported a short curly perm and had a penchant for weird hats and corduroy knickers, this  t-shirt was probably not the worst of my early fashion blunders. 

Not surprisingly, sandwiches were the subject of my very first food memory. When I was four-years old, I can recall reaching into the screen door of our old house for a jelly and American cheese sandwich. For as long as I can remember, I’ve hated American cheese. My mother swears I loved jelly and cheese on white bread.  I firmly believe – and still do – that she ran out of peanut butter and concocted a story about me loving this sandwich combination as her cover.   

With a family in the food business, we ate a lot of hoagies and sandwiches growing up. From daily bologna sandwiches to the old hot dog in a thermos, I longed for something simple and meatless like peanut butter and jelly (minus the American cheese).   And while the smell of bacon still hypnotizes me as a vegetarian, the sight of boiled ham, salami and bologna makes my stomach turn. 

My husband loves sandwiches. In fact, the only thing he can cook well is an egg sandwich. Not sure how he does it – or why it takes him 45 minutes to do so – but his egg sandwiches are quite good. Recently, he challenged me to create a holiday sandwich for him. Last year, he asked for a sandwich dinner on his birthday and I ended making Seitan Reubens that were surprisingly authentic and delicious. Last night, I surprised him with a “Christmas Sandwich” to ease the pain of the Steelers’ loss.  With whole grain bread, cabbage and seitan in stock, I decided to make BBQ Seitan Sandwiches with cole slaw.  

Earlier this week, I picked up some seitan at Reading Terminal. Ray’s Seitan is a local food item made on Ontario Street in Philadelphia. I shredded the seitan slices with a fork and sautéed them in a pan with a little olive oil and then added the bbq sauce. While I think this would be best served on buns, my husband is recently obsessed with a three-seed, whole grain bread from the Fitlers Square farmers market. Try it with some homemade BBQ sauce recipes found @ http://www.chow.com/recipes/10631.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                            
Now there is nothing really “Christmas-y” about this sandwich other than the fact that we ate it surrounded by our tree and other holiday decorations, but it will just have to do for now. Depending on your preference, you can add the cole slaw mix to the sandwich or serve it as a side dish. And if you prefer meat you can swap out the seitan for pork or chicken.

Cole Slaw

Ingredients

  • 1/2 head cabbage small
  • 1 carrot small
  • 1 tb celery seed sprinkling, light
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tb organic sugar
  • 1 tb cider vinegar, or more to taste
  • 3 tb vegan mayonnaise

Directions

Remove outer leaves of cabbage, core, and shred in 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide shreds with knife. Peel and trim carrot. Grate on coarse side of grater. Combine with cabbage. Sprinkle celery seed, salt, black pepper, and granulated sugar over cabbage mixture, tossing with fork to combine. Sprinkle vinegar over mixture and toss again to mix. Add mayonnaise and toss to mix. Turn slaw into covered storage container and refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

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