Victoria's Vegetarian Victuals

To borrow from Faulkner, it has been a long, hot summer.  We've had a drought, and even the underbrush in the woods is getting thin...early.  Our 19-year-old lawnmower went to the great landscape in the sky, and we got a new one, but it has been so hot and dry here in the Middle Atlantic States that there has been no need to cut the parched and stunted grass.

As I see the yellow leaves drop from the Tulip Poplar in the corner of our front yard, it occurs to me that before long, shifts of kids -- from kindergarten to high school -- will be waiting at our corner for their various school buses.

I remember when I first came here to live.  I was nine years old, and my new mom and I viewed each other with a kind of mutual terror.  For the first three weeks after my placement, I stayed home from school, getting acclimated, purchasing a new wardrobe, including full battle dress to join the local Brownie Troop, lining up a pediatrician, pediadontist, nephrologist, the works. 

Eventually, it got all sorted out and I was off to school, resplendent in my new blue storm coat with the hood.  I did not have an article of clothing on my body that was not brand new.

After having had me in the house three weeks, my mom said that she missed me so much that first day of school that she could hardly stand it.  By then, we were a little less afraid of each other, I think.  She looked forward to my return from school.  So did I.

I liked school, but even more, I liked coming home in the afternoons to a loving welcome and whatever I wanted to eat -- and as much of it as I wanted to eat.

I have been trying to remember what some of my favorite snacks were. It seems to me that my tastes changed as I grew up, but here are a few that remained at the top of my list.

Easy Pizza

  • 4 pita breads
  • 1/2 cup garlic or onion mayonnaise dressing
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded low-moisture part-skim Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 thinly sliced tomatoes

Spread pita breads with mayo.  Top with cheese, onion and tomatoes.  Place on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 400F for 12 to 14 minutes or until cheese is melted.

  • Yields: 4 main dish or 16 appetizer servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

For this next one, try your local health store for vegetarian cold cuts, or use a paste of white beans.

Faux Turkey & Pesto Subs

  • 1 16 oz. loaf of French bread, split
  • 1/4 cup Basil Pesto Sauce
  • 2 packages, 6 oz. each, vegetarian turkey substitute, or white beans, mashed.
  • 1 large tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup alfalfa sprouts
  • leaf lettuce

Spread bottom half of bread with pesto sauce.  Layer with lettuce, faux turkey, tomato and sprouts.  Cover with top half of bread.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: About 10 minutes

Cheese and Jalapeno Nachos

  • 1 16 oz. jar of process pasteurized cheese sauce
  • 1 package (8 to 11 oz.) tortilla chips
  • Sliced jalapeno peppers

Microwave the process cheese sauce according to directions on the container.  Arrange tortilla chips on a serving platter.  Pour process cheese sauce over them.  Top with jalapeno pepper slices.

  • Yields: 4 to 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 7 minutes

Cranberry Crunch

  • 1 13 oz. box of cranberry almond crunch cereal (Post makes a nice one)
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Mix cereal, condensed milk and almond extract into a large bowl until well blended.  Press firmly into greased foil-lined 13x9 inch baking pan.  Lightly grease your hands to do this.  Bake at 325 degrees F for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Immediately lift from pan, using foil.  Cool on wire rack for ten minutes.  Remove foil.  Cool completely on wire rack.  Cut into bars.

  • Yields: 3 1/2 dozen bars
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes

These quick snacks were popular with me when I was a kid, and they are quick and easy for a mom.