Viet-Texas Fusion Picnic

Okay, so it's been a little chilly for picnics the last few days, but I'm betting on a warming trend that will make this Tuesday's dinner a perfect one to enjoy in your back yard, at the ball field or the park.  My Iphone says it's true!

Tuesday, April 24th:  Viet-Texas Fusion Picnic
Roasted Pork Bahn Mi Po' Boy with Pickled Vegetable Slaw
Asian Spring Pasta Salad
Fruit Skewers
Vegetarian Option:  Marinated Tofu Bahn Mi Po' Boy
Kids' Meal:  Naked Roasted Pork Po' Boy ($6)
Dessert:  Camino Bakery Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins ($6)
Get You Through the Week:  Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole ($22)

As many of you know, my family and I moved here from Portland, OR, the City of Roses and natural beauty and delicious, fresh food, lovely parks and funky hippies.  And rain, lots of rain.  We were there for four years while my husband finished the approximately one million hours of training required to become a doctor.  We moved there from NYC with a 6 week old baby in tow, and while we were there we had another one.  The two small humans conspired against us at many turns during our four years there and often made us feel that we were not taking full advantage of all the city had to offer.  Friends would come to visit and ask where we liked to hike, or go hear live music, or see independent movies.  Not so much.  We were more into the playground scene out there.

People in Portland take food very seriously.  At all ends of the spectrum, people really care about what they eat, where it comes from, what's in it, and who made it.  Not surprisingly, there is some amazing food to be found there.  Occasionally, however, this zest can lead to disastrous results.  One of my super-crunchy neighbors (read:  no vaccines, spotty hygiene) once invited me to her 2-year old's birthday party and mentioned having made a carrot cake birthday cake.  I love carrot cake!  What a treat!  Alas, it was actually not a cake at all, but an actual pile of sugar-free! carrot shavings and grains formed into a cake-like shape.  Happy Birthday, 2 year old child-who-will-later-need-therapy!

However, not all of our adventures in food were so ill-fated.  We loved the super-fresh seafood, multiple pick-your-own fruit farms (including renegade blackberry vines all over our back yard), and creative ethnic cuisine.  This week's menu was inspired by a great food trend that really took root in Portland, the Bahn Mi sandwich.  We made it last summer to raves from our summer DOTP people, but we wanted to spread the good news to everybody this week!

If you've never had a Bahn Mi sandwich before, you've been missing something - I promise.  It's the Vietnamese version of a sub - essentially a big, crusty loaf of French bread spread with mayo and stuffed with meat and fresh, crunchy pickled vegetables.  All of the flavors sort of meld together in a wonderful way and you get mouthful after mouthful of yumminess.  They are becoming very popular around the country, so I'm sure you've noticed them for sale on every street corner here in Winston-Salem.  Just kidding, of course, but I do think our time has come to partake of the goodness.  Being that I'm from Texas, I've modified the whole thing a bit to my own Texas palate, adding homemade cilantro mayo and some Tex-mex flavors to the veggies (which we will pickle ourselves).  Just trust me, it's awesome.  Plus, it is the perfect picnic or outdoor dinner - portable, no-fork required, served cold - what could be easier!?

Since you can't really eat a Po' Boy without some tasty pasta salad on the side, we came up with a very delicious Asian Spring Pasta Salad to go with.  It's got noodles, crunchy veggies, and a yummy sesame dressing - you may find yourself fighting over who gets to eat the leftovers for lunch!

To finish off this fresh, light dinner, we're bringing back the popular family activity of making your own Fresh Fruit Skewers.  We'll do the boring part (washing, chopping, cleaning up), and you do the fun part - loading up skewers with your favorite fresh fruits like pineapple, watermelon & strawberries!

For dessert, or breakfast the next morning, you will love love love Camino Bakery's Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins.  I really love their Pumpkin Bread on it's own, and adding chocolate chips is just a divine little tweak that makes me very happy.  I will be hoarding these all for myself, but you might be more generous and share yours with your family - they will love you for it!

Finally, our Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole GYTTW meal this week is a new casserole that we perfected after several trial and error sessions.  It's a macaroni noodle based casserole, with ground beef, cheese, bacon & a sprinkle of pickles.  I have to say that it really does taste like a bacon cheeseburger, which is a very good thing!  It's an easy, very family-friendly dinner that will make some busy weeknight much easier than you could imagine!

That's all we've got in the works this week, y'all!  Hope you'll see something you like & get busy planning your picnic night!

Claire & Alex