Anatomy of a Really Good Grilled Cheese

So unless you’ve been living under a rock as of late, you probably know that it’s grilled cheese month. And if you think I’d pass up an opportunity to get in on the cheesy madness, you’d better think again!

I have some pretty strong feelings about what a grilled cheese should be.  And, at the risk of getting a bit up-on-my-soapbox-y, I’d like to share them with you. First: Butter that bread. No oils, especially if they’re “spritzed” on (good grief). BUTTER all the way! Second: Use a light, mild-flavored bread. Because the bread is just a crispy vessel that contains and delivers the delicious, melty cheese. Which brings me to my last, but most strongly-held belief: The cheese is the one and only star. I like a hot sandwich with cheese and other tasty things as much as the next person. But if you ask me if I want a “grilled cheese” and I reply, “yes!” (which I always will), I don’t want any of that extra jazz. No stringy greens smacking me in the face. No tomato chunks falling into my lap. And no, not even any delicious (but overpowering and tough-to-bite-through) slices of bacon. Just buttery bread and ooey-gooey cheese, please.

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Chile Relleno Quinoa Bites

So I really wish I could start off this post by telling you about my love of finger foods. And then give some serious props to Laura and her Chile Rellenos Casserole, which — with its two astounding and delicious pounds of cheese — has plagued my thoughts for over a month now. But I can’t. Because before I do anything else, I need to whine. Like a big baby.

Here’s why: This Saturday, fueled by some serious can-do-will-do ambition, I decided it was time for garden prep work. This was especially exciting for me, because this year I have ALL of the garden space to myself, thanks to my new neighbors who happily told me to have at it (yay!). And as I was ripping out weeds and dried-up remnants of tomato plants, I began to notice all of the other things I could clean up. Mainly, the leaves, which were still leftover from the fall. I’m guessing that’s due to the fact that none of us own a rake, which is kind of essential. But I was determined, so I set about clearing a 3′ x 15′ patch from the front of our house. And when I finished, I felt super proud. Hurray me. Then I woke up the next day and tried to walk.

Apparently, clearing a semi-large patch of leaves by hand is the equivalent of doing squat thrusts for 45 minutes straight. It’s two days later, and I’m still in pain. And I can’t decide if I should be proud of my groundskeeping-related aches, or slightly ashamed that two hours of yard work has rendered me an insufferable baby with the mobility of an old arthritic dog. So instead, I’ll just focus on the fact that my lawn is clean, my seedlings are planted, and I got some serious exercise in the process. And now, I’m done whining (thank you for listening!). On to the bites!

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Blackberry, Lemon, & Thyme Soda

Spring, for me, brings craziness. Every year. Without fail. My attention span plummets to 5 minutes. I walk to the kitchen and then stand there trying to remember why I did. I drink lots more super coffee. (To make super coffee, simply pour hot water over coffee grounds in your french press or clever dripper, then forget about it for half an hour. When you finally remember that you were making coffee, sprint to the kitchen, pour a cup, and add excessive amounts of cream and sugar to counteract the taste.)

The craziness also makes me do very ambitious things. Like deciding to prepare two kinds of homemade soda along with a giant Easter dinner, despite waking up late and lazily milling around the house for far longer than I should have. I experienced a couple moments of doubt (accompanied by an impressive variety of curse words), but in the end everything turned out great, including my ambitious soda.

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