A SandwichQuest Origin Story

I started SandwichQuest to find the perfect sandwich in Los Angeles, but I already knew that the perfect sandwich existed in Chicago.

The sandwich of my dreams comes from an unassuming storefront in lakeview called Panes Bread Cafe. They make their own bread and everything I’ve ever ordered there has been incredible. But nothing compares to the Turkey Turkey. It’s a simple turkey sandwich with avocado, roasted red pepper and chipotle mayo on a soft/crispy tomato bread. And as with all the simplest things, there’s nothing simple about it. The favors meld in a way that’s cosmically transcendent, and I thought about the sandwich so much that I started SandwichQuest to replace it, like rebounding to get over an old lover.

I used to love this sandwich when I lived in Chicago, and as with all old loves, I was afraid I was building it up the more I pined for it. It would be never be able to live up to the sandwich in my memories.

My friend Cynthia humored my deep love for this sandwich and we hit Panes almost immediately when I got to Chicago this week. To my relief, amazement, and delight, the Turkey Turkey was just as I remembered it. SandwichQuest continues, but this will always be my sandwich.

Grade: A+

Spiritual Wholeness Quotient: On par with discovering a box of old photos that should be faded and discolored, and finding that instead they are even more vibrant than you remembered

My Deepest Secret: How to Make Anything a Meal


Hello, loyal readers. Being a successful lifestyle blogger is not as easy as it looks. In order to share my self-actualized, spiritually whole lifestyle with the masses, I need to be willing to let you into my life. You come here to get the secrets of the universe, and there’s a lot of pressure on me to deliver.

Well, now that we’ve known each other for a few months, I feel like I finally trust you enough to divulge my most adequate secret. The cardinal rule of an adequate lifestyle:

If you put it in a tortilla, it’s a meal.

For example, if I put cream cheese, spinach, and salad dressing in a tortilla? That’s dinner.

Nutella and craisins in a tortilla? Also dinner…AND dessert.

Tortillas are easy to keep on hand, and any combination of ingredients from the dregs of last week’s grocery trip will co-mingle inside. That’s right, ANY ingredients, whether it’s leftover sauteed veggies or the last shavings from the bottom of a bag of shredded cheddar. No matter the ingredients and/or sauces, if you wrap a tortilla around it, it qualifies as a “wrap.”

You’re welcome.

 

 

Exercise Hack: Develop a Habit

I get it. It can be really hard to stick to an exercise plan. I had the same problem, until I finally found something that matches my life and motivation levels.

Every day, I put on my workout clothes. That’s it! That’s the plan. Sounds easy, right?

But usually, when I put on my workout clothes, I at least feel guilty enough to run around the block or do a couple sun salutations. And getting started is half the battle. The other half is quitting immediately.

My Competent Guest: Office Fitness

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Camille does her exercises.

I’m extremely adequate. But that doesn’t mean I can be adequate at everything, all the time (I’m only human!). Sometimes, I need to seek the help of someone who is just as adequate as I am. So I’m pleased to present my first interview with a Guest Competent Person!

Work days are long, and sitting kills people. So when I wanted to learn about how to get more exercise at work, I talked to my friend and fellow blogger Camille Campbell.

Camille has been a dedicated assistant since she graduated from college (she declined to say when she graduated). When she started life as an “office drone” she was worried that she would have to sacrifice her physical well being in order to earn a paycheck, but then she created a revolutionary ‘stay fit at work’ program. I met up with her at her favorite donut shop to discuss her body goals and office fitness, or as she calls it, Offness™.

Julie: Tell us about your Offness™ routine.
Camille: The core of my practice revolves around breakfast. Every morning I have breakfast at my desk, usually some Lucky Charms and then two hard boiled eggs with 5 tablespoons of Cholula, and to carry all that food involves a lot of delicate balancing, shifting weight between arms, while engaging my core. Then once I make it to my desk, I don’t get my coffee until later. That way I’ll get up from my desk to get my coffee. That’s the beauty of Offness™ – it’s subtle and smoothly blends in with your day.
J: I don’t think I could commit to anything that makes me delay coffee, but maybe I’ll get there someday. Besides breakfast, what are some other ways you practice Offness™?
C: There are so many ways to creatively enjoy Offness™. Yesterday, I printed all the reports I needed at a printer in another building. Then I went and looked for them. Took me twenty minutes, so that’s almost one of the three recommended 30 minute workouts doctors suggest you do every week. To get those other two workouts in, I’ll drink a lot of water to increase my trips to the bathroom. People think I’m speed walking to the bathroom because I really have to go, but it’s just a part of my program.
J: Wow. I’m lucky to get five minutes of cardio when I’m running for the bus! What about strength training? Flexibility?
C: My desk is in a very public area, so there’s a limited number of socially acceptable movements I can do. I tend to do hourly leg lifts under my desk. I just lift one leg up and then the other. It keeps the blood flowing in my legs. Or I’ll print out copies of my favorite gchat conversations, so I’ll need to refill the printer more. We keep our paper on a bottom shelf in the supply closet, so that’s one squat, and the paper acts as a three pound weight, more if you take two reams. Exercise is all around us once you look for it.
J: Thats a beautiful mantra. Do your coworkers support your efforts?

C: I was questioned about my use of office paper. But I just let our Office Manager, Jared Krakowski, know that it’s part of my fitness plan, and I have every right to take care of myself. He was very understanding. He’s been trying to walk to his car in the parking lot more, and I can tell it’s made a difference for him. This is why Offness™ is the best kind of fitness – it forces you to express who you are and fight for your rights in the workplace.

J: What about diet? I notice you’re eating an apple fritter right now.
C: Offices are not known for their healthy food, so if you’re going to adapt and thrive in an urban office fitness environment, you have to be able to eat whatever and whenever. This donut keeps me training on a Saturday.
J: Yes, speaking of Saturdays, how do you practice Offness™ on the weekends?
C: This is one of my two rest days. All fitness plans have rest days.
(Camille then stared at me for an uncomfortably long time.)
J: I see… Well, how many calories do you estimate that you burn per day practicing Offness™?
C: Offness™ isn’t about burning calories. Because when you turn the whole office into your gym, it’s impossible to count how many calories you’re burning. I mean how many calories do you burn typing? Your fingers do a lot of lifts and crunches, but how do you measure that? No one knows, so we don’t count those calories, which is a sizable loss if you’re trying to count calories. So you can’t measure Offness™ with calories. You have to measure it with results – how does it make you feel.
J: I like feelings. How does Offness™ make you feel?
C: Before I started Offness™ I never moved – I just sat, counting the hours until I could go home and sit and watch “Call the Midwife.” Now I feel alive and filled with zest, and I’ve done that without disrupting my life with jogging, yoga or any other aggressive form of exercise.
J: Has your body changed since you started practicing Offness™?
C: I think it has, but until Jared agrees to buy scales for the bathrooms I won’t really know. And on one level I’m okay with that. Because like I said, Offness™ isn’t about results. It’s more about surrender and compliance.

A SandwichQuest Mirage

In case you’re new to My Adequate Lifestyle, I’m on a quest to find the perfect sandwich in Los Angeles. A sandwich that satiates my body and also my soul, that makes me feel spiritually whole. It is a SandwichQuest, and it is a serious matter.

Sandwich.

The Melrose Cafe was not on my SandwichQuest spreadsheet. I’d never even heard of it before (and haven’t since…hmmmmm). But my friend Eric and I were looking for a place to have lunch, and we walked there because it was nearby. The storefront is unassuming and easy to miss – almost too easy to miss.

As we were waiting in line to order, we started to wonder, “Aren’t these sandwiches pretty cheap for everything that’s on them?” They were. At the counter, the woman asked us which side we wanted – it was included with the sandwich, so she said. Highly questionable that a $7-8 sandwich would include a side. Something wasn’t right. Still, we both ordered salads.

Then two of these arrived at our table:

 

Side salad.

 

Immediately, we were suspicious. Two kinds of cheese? Three kinds of peppers? What’s the catch here? Did we actually walk into an unassuming storefront, or is this a deal we made with the devil? Were we even at a restaurant at all?

Then the sandwiches came out. I got the toscano panini, which featured turkey AND chicken, plus pesto and tomatoes and…avocado? Very Italian. I’m not complaining. It was a little too much meat for me, but overall was nearly perfect. It almost felt like a sandwich I’d made up myself. But…did I?

We each packed up more leftovers than should ever come from a light lunch, and stepped out into the bright sunshine. Had we just experienced a collective sandwich hallucination? WAS there even a Melrose Cafe? I guess I’ll never know unless I drive by or go back again or look it up on the internet. But some things are meant to be mysteries.

Grade: A

Spiritual Wholeness Quotient: On par with stepping through a wardrobe and finding Narnia, only instead of Turkish Delight there are sandwiches.

My Excruciating Morning Routine

 

Start every morning with a smile!

I’ll admit it: I have a tough time with mornings! That sinking feeling when I remember that I have to face another day? It’s nearly unbearable.

I think we all know that getting out the door in the morning can be tough. Until the first cup of coffee, my worst enemy is conscious thought. I find that having a little structure is the key to an easy, painful morning. Here’s mine:

6:45 – First alarm goes off. I try to remember who I am.

6:52 – Second alarm goes off. I try to remember where I am.

7:00 – Third alarm goes off. I reset this alarm for 7:05.

7:05 – Fourth alarm goes off. The last alarm. This is a terrible moment.

7:07 – I think about getting out of bed.

7:08 – I actually get out of bed.

7:09 – I brush my teeth and curse the world.

7:12 – I gather my clothes out of a pile of work-wear that lives on a table in the corner. I get back into bed and curl into a little ball.

7:15 – I think, “I should really put on these clothes.”

7:16 – I debate calling in sick, changing my identity, and starting a new life on an island.

7:17 – I put on those clothes.

7:19 – I look for my purse and curse the world.

7:20 – I stumble to the bus stop.

It’s that simple – just those exact steps every day, and I’m out the door in 35 minutes flat. Easy! Breezy! Miserable! If I divert by even one minute, I will never go to work again and my bed will swallow me up forever.

Now it’s your turn! What helps you get going in the morning? 🙂

Life Gave Me Lemons

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There’s a lemon tree in front of my house. After months of looking at sad green bulbs, beautiful yellow lemons appeared all at once. Which means….immediate stress! A desperate need to binge on lemons! Over-saturation of garden delight! So I came up with a plan: a massive lemon day, where I would pick all the lemons and then cook and bake lemon-related things with them. It was going to be grand. There would be lemon bars and meringue pies! There would be potions and teas and lemonades! There were some hurdles.

Lemon trees have thorns. I didn’t know that until one stabbed me. So the momentous lemon harvest turned into picking six lemons and then going inside to wash my wounds. It’s okay though! Cooking with six lemons is totally respectable. I “cook,” but “baking” isn’t really a doable thing, so my friend Jen came over to assist with the “following directions” part of baking.
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My first recipe attempt was a (misguided) Lemon Spaghetti. Does that sound weird? It was. But I don’t cook meat, and vegetarian lemon recipe options were sort of limited. And then….the substitutions! (I can’t follow a recipe.) I thought heavy cream sounded too unhealthy and subbed in “fat free half and half” aka chalk water. Also, I already had mozzarella cheese so I used that instead of parmigiano reggiano (whatever that is). So something about the flavors wasn’t quite right, and instead of a sauce, it was more of a cheesy lemon stew. It needed vegetables, and I had none. And I might have left out another thing? Parsley, maybe? It was totally fine, though. Very edible.

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Jen’s contribution was this recipe for a Lemon Yogurt Cake. This one got off to a strong start because we had all the ingredients (thanks, Jen). It hit a rocky middle because I don’t own a mixing bowl. We made it work, though:

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This is a pitcher.

There’s actually not that much to report about the baking experience. I stayed out of the way, and it went off without a hitch.

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No hitches here.

The cake was a total success. And I ate leftover lemon spaghetti for the rest of the week, so that wasn’t technically a failure either. 🙂

What else should I “make” with a bunch of lemons? Tell me in the comments!

If You Don’t Know Much About Curry, Then Yes I Made Curry

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I went to the store the other night because I wanted a pizza, but then I thought “I should buy groceries, too.” I am very responsible! So I bought a bag of sliced mushrooms and a bottle of wine.

Did you know it’s hard to cook with only a bag of mushrooms?

I planned poorly. But I still had part of an onion in the fridge – remember when I sliced my finger chopping it last week?? It’s the same onion, but it’s probably still fine. Those were the backbones for what I’m going to go ahead and call a curry.

You’ll need:

Mushrooms, Onion (sliced), Can of diced tomatoes, Can of corn, Curry powder, Cumin, Garlic (all measurements are imaginary)

Instructions:

Mix together in pan over heat. End of instructions.

It tasted pretty good! Calling it curry is really a stretch, and putting it over rice would probably improve it a lot. Maybe we’d call it a stew? But there’s one thing I know I’d call it: a success 🙂