Last week, due to the the pressures of parenting, puppy-raising, and work, I had made a deliberate decision that I would try to make my life easier by taking some shortcuts in the kitchen. I entered the grocery store and filled my cart with items I don’t normally buy, some of the kids’ favorite easy meals (ahem… macaroni and cheese in a box*) and time-savers like rotisserie chicken, all in an attempt to maintain my sanity and not put too much pressure on myself.
It was then, in the dairy section, that a very lovely fan of mine recognized me. As I was grabbing the heavy cream from the shelf for my Roasted Tomato Soup, she asked, “Do you have a blog? Alaska from Scratch, right?”
We chatted a while, having a very nice conversation next to gallons of milk and containers of yogurt, and then she asked me what was on the menu that particular week. I glanced down at my cart and I’m sure all the color drained from my face in embarrassment. I explained to her that it was kid-friendly fare for the next week, sheepishly pointing to my out-of-character, not-so-from-scratch selections.
Then I went on to explain that I had a plan to make some amped up grilled cheese sandwiches with sliced green apples and bacon along with some homemade tomato soup, because the kids all love a good grilled cheese sandwich.
No matter how many times I get recognized in public, I always get embarrassed. My face turns bright red and I hope, deep down inside, that the real me is not a disappointment. That’s the truth. On this particular day, this fabulous fan of mine caught me at a very real, very vulnerable moment. And I thank her for that, for having the courage to talk to me, for allowing me to be transparent with her about my real life moments.
*A special note about macaroni and cheese in a box. When I was young and food insecure, I survived on things like boxed macaroni and cheese and packages of ramen noodles. I have a deep sense of indebtedness to these inexpensive convenience foods for helping me make it through those tough years. While I try to cook from scratch most of the time for my family and blog about it, I don’t poo poo anyone’s decision to buy macaroni and cheese in a box. As you can see, I buy it myself sometimes. I just needed you all to know that.
Oh, and that rotisserie chicken I bought? It made a spectacular pot pie. Recipe coming soon.
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Green Apples & Bacon
Grilled cheddar cheese sandwiches with tart green apples, grainy mustard, and smoky bacon on sourdough bread. Inspired by Apple, Cheddar, and Pancetta Paninis in Homemade with Love by Jennifer Perillo.
Yields: 1 sandwich
- 2 slices sourdough bread
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons grainy mustard
- 2 big slices medium or sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 thin slices tart green apples
- 2 bacon slices, [crisp cooked|http://alaskascratch.wpengine.com/2013/01/16/how-to-bake-bacon/] and drained
Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
Butter one side of each slice of the sourdough bread. If using mustard, spread mustard on the interior side of one of the buttered slices of bread.
Place a cheese slice on the mustard, followed by apple slices and bacon. Add another cheese slice on top of that, and close the sandwich with the other piece of buttered bread.
Grill the sandwich until crisp and browned on each side and until the cheese is melted (if your cheese is not melting, covering the sandwich with a lid can help, but turn down the heat so that the bread doesn't over-brown). Remove the sandwich from the pan, slice on the bias, and serve promptly.