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Monday, May 11, 2009

toasted cheese sandwiches with red onions, sundried tomatoes, and crunchy romaine lettuce

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Bliss Yoga with Margo

So I’ve been writing to you lately about how I’ve been trying to take care of myself… by saying “no thank you,” and letting go of some obligations. We closed the bakery for a holiday in February, and after unsuccessfully trying to start a practice of sitting still and meditating to try and calm myself, I decided that committing to a daily practice of some relaxing yoga might be a better alternative. My goodness, it’s hard to sit still!

I’d been doing a little yoga now and then for the past couple of years with my friend Margo. She is an amazing teacher, and her lessons focus more on relaxation and body alignment than other classes I’ve taken. Rather than getting a workout from her lessons, I’d get an amazing sense of calm. My body would feel more aligned and healthy afterwards, like I’d just given myself a massage. But I wasn’t good about keeping up a regular practice—my life felt too busy and frantic, and I just couldn’t add one more thing.

But by February, with all the things I’d been juggling, this wasn’t an option. I needed something to help me relax and find some balance in my life! So I called Margo and asked her if I could take weekly lessons, and committed to doing my own daily practice during the week.  Luckily, she was willing! Our lessons are different than any yoga I’ve ever done. Most of them begin with shavasana, relaxation pose, lying down with my knees draped over a tall stack of blankets so my back slowly melts into the floor. After I’ve completely melted away the tension of the day, we begin doing stretches and poses that are designed to release tightness that I’ve inevitably created by running, biking, or cross-country skiing. Margo’s yoga is not about getting exercise, but rather, to relax from the exercise that I do at other times. And it’s about the mental relaxation, too.

Each week Margo prepares a little handout of our lesson to put in my yoga notebook, with the week’s sequence illustrated by little stick figures so I can remember the poses when I get home. That way I can use any of my lessons in my daily practice, depending on what I feel like doing. And Margo always says, if I don’t have time to do anything else, just do a 15 minute shavasana. (That’s her yoga recipe for busy moms.)

I have to say that doing a weekly private yoga lesson with Margo, and then a little bit from the yoga notebook we’ve created each day (even if it is just the relaxation part) has made a huge difference to my body AND my mind. I’m not walking around all stiff and sore and stove-up from running and biking—instead, my back is relaxed and feels strong and healthy! And the relaxation every day has made a big difference to my mental space, too. I’m more prepared to meet the challenges of the day, whether I’m baking hundreds of loaves of bread, dealing with a missing CSA vegetable box, or comforting a hungry and tired Meredith at the end of a long, busy day…  I have more resilience and calm with which to handle it. Thank you, Margo!

If this kind of yoga sounds like your cup of tea, Margo is teaching some small ten-week classes this summer in her little yoga studio in her house. Each class is limited to six participants, so you get a really wonderful and intimate experience. If you live in the Anchorage area, you can still sign up—she has a few spaces left for the classes starting at the end of May.

Bliss Yoga with Margo Sorum

Cost: $130 for 10 classes (classes are limited to 6 participants)
Tuesdays, 4:00-5:15pm from May 26 to August 4 (No class June 23)
Thursdays, 4:00-5:15pm from May 26 to August 4 (No class June 25)

Please email or call Margo for more information, or to register for her class: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 907-947-2030.

Since this blog is all about wonderful things I’ve learned from Margo, I figured I’d include a great recipe she’s shared with me! It’s a new way to make toasted cheese sandwiches! And are they ever blissfull!

toasted cheese sandwiches with sundried tomatoes, red onions, and crisp romaine lettuce with balsamic dip

You might think it’s silly to have a recipe for a toasted cheese sandwich, but this recipe is something else altogether. Since Margo made one of these sandwiches for me, I’ve not made a regular toasted cheese sandwich. Instead of the usual plain cheese filling, you grill the sandwich with sundried tomatoes and red onions in it (OK, so far not that different), but here’s the kicker: after the sandwich is completely toasted and the cheese melted, you open it up and pop in a wad of fresh romaine leaves. Then you close up the sandwich and eat it, crunching the lettuce leaves and enjoying the melty cheese, dunking each bite in a little dish of balsamic vinegar. It’s so easy, and SO yummy! It’s great for lunch, or you can serve it with any seasonal vegetable dish or green salad for a wonderful dinner.

slices of 100% whole wheat sourdough bread
softened butter
sharp cheddar cheese, or whatever cheese you prefer, sliced
oil-packed sundried tomatoes, thinly sliced (don’t put too many in)
thinly sliced red onions
lots of leaves of washed, dried romaine lettuce
good-quality balsamic vinegar (Costco brand is fine)

1.    Spread each slice of bread with a thin layer of butter. On one slice, on the unbuttered side, line up a few slices of tomatoes, then layer slices of cheese, then top with red onions. Top with the other slice of bread (buttered side out).
2.    Place sandwiches in a skillet over medium heat and grill slowly until the buttered bread is nicely browned on both sides and the cheese is well melted.
3.    Take the sandwich out of the skillet and set it on a cutting board. Open it up (try not to burn yourself on the hot cheese) and pack it with several leaves of romaine. Close it back again and carefully cut the sandwich in half.
4.    Put a small dish of balsamic vinegar on the table and dip your sandwich in as you eat it. We love trying the different vinegars at Summit Spice and Tea Co. (1120 E Huffman Road).


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