You see, there was a backpacking trip where I knew a bunch of the people and he knew a bunch of the people and all those people met up at a trail head in Olympic National Park on October 20th, 2000. I was pulling my gear out of a friends car when a big red truck pulls up with the famous (infamous?) SARboy. That's short for Search And Rescue and that was his trail name at the time.
I was told that upon seeing me he said to his fellow passenger, "Man, she's cute - too bad she's taken."
That's me with the monster pack!
Yep, I was not single. Was not looking. So that this all happened was a bit of a shock. What happened? I'm getting to that. We donned our enormous backpacks (Did I mention this was to be a gourmet backpacking trip? Someday I'll have to share the menu and recipes.) and headed up the trail.
Switch back after switchback after switchback. Eventually it was noticed that someone had fallen far behind, it was their first time on the trail since they had gotten out of the army and that was a couple decades earlier. A bunch of folks decided to wait for them while myself and one other girl headed on to secure the campsite. We had gotten about a half mile or so shy of the campsite when my companion went down. She had slipped on a root that had made a step in the trail and had come down on her ankle at a wonky angle with her full weight and the 75 pounds or so she was carrying. (I told you, heavy packs!) So we dropped her pack and I assisted her along at a hobble till we got to camp. Eventually everyone else showed up along with the dropped pack and went about setting up camp while I and SARboy took a look at the injured girls ankle. You see, we were the two with medical training on the trip and so were thrown together to care for (or torture if you asked her) the injured party. First thing was to get that ankle into the icy cold creek and set up people to make sure it stayed there. For some reason it kept popping back out of the water seemingly of its own accord.
It became obvious to me that there was a fracture along with the severe sprain so once it was thoroughly iced I slathered a bunch of herbal salve (a slimy green murky looking thing that works wonders) onto the ankle and we got it wrapped up nice and sturdy.
The injured party decided to stay for the remainder of the trip and just keep off the foot and keep it elevated and gripe at us when we insisted it go back into the icy water. And so SARboy and Trail Artist (yep that was my trail name at the time, I had a way of making art out of random objects along the trail) were thrown together for better or for worse.
We worked well together with little or no effort and ended up falling hard. (Yes, there is way more to this story - but this is a food blog so I will be moving along now -maybe I'll tell more on This Northwest Life at some point - like how Mark almost caused me to break my own ankle on the way out or how he had threatened I would have to marry him if I asked him to hold my coffee mug one more time.)
It took us a few weeks of talking online and on the phone to figure it all out. Then came the very painful part, for me, of ending a 6+ year partnership with an awesome guy and one of my best friends. Not fun, not easy.
Eventually Mark and I agreed to meet up again for a snowshoe backpack trip near Mount Hood. We had a blast.
When we came off the trail we had our first meal out together at a local McMenamins. We knew it was meant to be when we both ordered Reubens and Beer. Reubens are one of my husband's favorite things and those two things put together were why I chose a form of Reuben as the special meal for my husband of 9+ years. (Yes, we were married 3 months to the day after meeting. Go figure.)
Now that we have a more vegetarian bent on our eating we didn't want regular old reubens and I had seen several references to Vegan and Vegetarian Reubens. The ones that intrigued me most were those using tempeh. None of the recipes seemed quite right, so we winged it, as usual and ended up with a delectable, rich and amazingly messy Tempeh Reuben. It rocked!
Here's the recipe. The marinade was adapted from an adapted Vegetarian Times Recipe.
8 oz package tempeh, I used multi-grain, sliced in half and then down the middle to make it thinner.
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup water
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Marinade the tempeh for several hours to overnight.
Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.
3 Tablespoons mayo*
3 Tablespoons ketchup
3 Tablespoons chopped dill pickle
Combine the above and set aside.
To put the reubens together:
Slather the dressing on 2 slices of really good artisan bread - rye or a multi-grain, or a sourdough. Layer slices of tempeh on two of the pieces of bread,spoon a little of the marinade sauce over it, top with a slice or two of swiss cheese* and a goodly pile of sauerkraut. Put the other side of the bread on top of that. Repeat for sandwich number two.
Heat a griddle or skillet lightly coated with oil over medium heat and grill the sandwiches on both sides till lightly browned.
Serve with a juicy dill pickle and big cloth napkins.
*This could easily be vegan by using veganaise in place of regular mayo and using a vegan swiss cheese or other vegan cheese option.