I’m obsessed with road trips.
Both near and far, I love traveling on the ground. You feel the bumps and curves. Moving between cities allows the local AM/FM radio waves to drift from one station to the next. Between songs, the DJ’s make announcements about the current weather patterns or local homecoming festivities.
Sure, you can stick to taking bathroom and break stops at the exits immediately off the freeway, or you can take detours. More often than not, a 5-10 minute drive will lead you to the main street of a small town where you can find a coffee shop or cafe.
I’ve been trying to finish Neil Gaimon’s novel American Gods for months. One of the best parts of taking the Minne-RoadTrip was finding myself with time to read. Reading a book about an epic road trip through small towns in the Midwest while on a road trip through southern Minnesota felt right.
Wanderlust is real. It’s the constant longing to take a road trip. The moment you get back from one, you’re itching for the next. The desire constantly nags and all-consumes. If you can relate, you probably have wanderlust too.
This weekend, I took a miniature road trip to Mankato, Minnesota located about 1.5 hours southwest of the Twin Cities. This was not just a road trip, this was a literary quest.
Sometimes I get the urge to shout, “I’m not Josie Grossie anymore!”
For having grown up playing The Oregon Trail a lot, I don’t know much about the Oregon Trail.
Am I finally reaching the age where I can’t remember things well, or did we gloss over this in grade school? Anyway, this is what I thought I knew about the Oregon Trail: Pioneer people traveled by covered wagons pulled by oxen to Oregon and California in search of land and the gold rush. Many died of dysentery.
Please don’t make fun of me.
I randomly picked up the book The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck at the library and now I’m obsessed with the Oregon Trail. That’s usually how it goes, eh?
I just learned about the most lovely sandwich made with apples soaked in maple syrup.
In her memoir The Mud Season, author Ellen Stimson shares her family’s experience selling their St. Louis, MO business and moving to a small town in Vermont because it was pretty. They buy an old country general store and have misadvanture after misadventure with livestock, weather, and quarrels with local residents. In one chapter, Stimson discusses how her banker had to inform her people had stopped shopping at her store because she moved the bread to a different shelf, and, in another, the challenges of adopting orphaned lambs.
Although I can’t relate to running a rural general store in Vermont, I can relate to Stimson trying to fit into a new community. I love this piece of advice a neighbor gave her:
What captivated my attention the most was her description of a toasted sandwich layered with meat, Vermont cheddar, and maple syrup-soaked apple slices. The book is back at the library now and I can’t quite recall her exact recipe. I do remember Stimson recommending that one should try to soak the apple slices in maple syrup for at least two hours and describing how Vermonters prefer Grade B maple syrup because it has more flavor. I never find grade B maple syrup at the stores, but would love to try some.
This sandwich is so wonderful because of all of the contrasting flavors and textures; the mapley sweetness and crunch of the apples, melted cheddar, and salty ham. It’s like the best grilled ham and cheese sandwich.
Here’s how I recreated it at home:
Sharp white cheddar
Apples soaked in maple syrup
- In a small container, soak thin slices of apple in maple syrup.
- To assemble the sandwich, layer sliced ham, apples, and sharp white cheddar.
- Toast sandwich in butter until the cheese melts and the bread turns golden brown.
- Slice and serve.