I have such food ADD. I was at the grocery store to buy… BUTTER. Just butter. And I walked past the produce section where they had honeyscrisp apples for sale. So then I thought about how much I’d like to snack on cheeses, apples, salami, and wine for a meal this coming week. So I went to trader joe’s for cheap cheese & salami, and found myself at yet another grocery store later that evening for some cookie ingredients, and once again went through the produce section and saw pears on sale. This is also part of the reason that our grocery bill is so high. Equipped with some amazing homemade bacon in the fridge, plus brie and some tasty bread in my shopping bag, I determined that the only moral thing to do would be to make grilled cheese. So I did.
See my new knife? Wusthof Sandwich. I have no practical purpose for it except it’s narrower than my chef’s and longer than my paring which makes it a compromise of both, but hopefully more convenient for larger OR more intricate jobs. Probably a waste, but I’m super excited about it!
You start by coring your pears. I use a melon baller for minimal loss of fruit. Then you slice and sauté the pears. Unless yours are super ripe and juicy, then maybe leave them alone and add them to the sandwich raw. These were slightly unripe, which is just how I like them raw, however on a sandwich, they benefitted from a few minutes on low with a little butter.
Then you’ll want to get your bacon fried up. Thicker is better IMO, but if you don’t have what remains of an 11lb slab (after feeding BLTs to about 8 people) in your fridge, just go with meat counter bacon, that’s usually pretty decent and low cost.
When it’s done, drain it, then slice up into smaller pieces, just so you don’t pull a huge piece out of the sammich and have to endure several baconless bites. I’m looking out for your taste buds here.
An aside about my homemade bacon… Craig detests the whole “bacon movement” but simply adores my homemade bacon. His explanation; it’s porkier. He LOVES my bacon, but every time I’m out and use storebought bacon he gets all pretentious and usually says something to the effect of “this tastes like grocery store bacon. What do you take me for?” So I encourage you, make your own bacon. It’s easy, delicious, and usually cheaper than buying it.
Of course, don’t forget to slice up the brie. You may think that huge slabs are the way to go, but they take too long to melt. Lots of thin slices reign in this regard.
Butter up the outside of a couple pieces of bread, then make your layers. The assembly should go as follows:
bartlett pears (had to keep in the “b” theme)
Apply low heat. I used a cast iron pan to avoid swings in temperature, but had my electric range set on 2 out of 10. It took quite some time for the bread to begin to brown, which was good, because it gave the cheese lots of time to melt into every nook and cranny. I flipped a few times.
Remove from heat, allow to rest for a couple minutes so the cheese isn’t so molten, then slice in half.
I was going to have it with a bowl of creamy tomato bisque (I make double and triple batches of soup and freeze leftovers in 1 quart containers so I can have preservative-free and delicious soups on hand whenever necessary), but halfway through my meal, our new dog who has not yet learned doggie food etiquette snatched the second half of my sandwich(!!!!) off the plate and in the process knocked the bowl of soup all over our carpet. Awesome. At least he didn’t get any of it. While I was grumping at him, Boris finished off everything. Grrrrrr.
You like bourbon, right? RIGHT? Well then, make something fancy looking with bourbon as a base! Killingtime.com’s Pegu blog calls the Manhattan a “broad’s drink” not because it’s particularly girly (serve it in an old fashioned glass if you’re concerned), but because it’s not a bitch drink.
“The Manhattan is perhaps the quintessential broad drink, to go back to one of my hobby horses. A woman who drinks Manhattans, especially a younger woman, is someone to be reckoned with. Should you see a cocktail glass of clear amber before a lady, it is a good indication that her sense of self is centered on her humanity, not her femininity. She will likely be as comfortable socializing with men and women. This is a huge (and modern) stereotype, but it seems to work in this era. A woman who drinks so bold a drink as a Manhattan is not a chick. Like the Manhattan itself, she is true to herself, not the whims of her surroundings. In fact, this last applies to both men and women in this era: There are precious few (but magnificent) watering holes on Earth where ordering a Manhattan will make man or woman part of the herd.”
2-4 parts rye whiskey – or bourbon
1 part italian (aka sweet) vermouth
2 dashes aromatic bitters
Stir gently but extensively(or shake) with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
“Too old and too bold to ever be truly trendy again, yet as perfect an alcoholic construction as has been made, the Manhattan is like a rock upon the shore, weathering the forces of time, taste, and fashion, remaining an unchanged refuge for us all.”
The new doggah’s new name is Helo. That’s pronounced “Hee-Low.” If you don’t know what it’s referring to, then consider yourself among the many well-adjusted persons who do not. If you do, you should probably stop watching Sci-Fi and try to get laid in the real world.
They’re pretty much totally crazy and have become the best of friends.
Their wrestling may look vicious, but it’s completely in good humor. Right now they’re cuddled up under the table and Helo is licking Boris’ paw.
Can you tell who’s dominant?
Helo’s such a pretty boy. He has this magnificent mane.
And such striking markings on his face!
And a smile that makes you forget about him eating your $60 sneakers. Almost.
Ok, so we got this installed about 2 months ago, and I’ve been super lazy about sharing the photos. First it was because I broke the glass top of our stove when trying to put it back in after the countertop install ($360), and by the time we put the new one in, the kitchen was already kinda messy; plus I couldn’t bear to blog about how stupid I was in thinking that not measuring the stove against a newly installed counter would somehow magically work out with rainbows and unicorns. We netted more than $3000 in cash money from our wedding guests (glad I married into an Italian family!!!) and since the funds were raised under the guise of kitchen improvements(we needed them!), we spent them on a new counter.
The cabinets in the kitchen may be ugly, but the next project is to buy new doors, and paint everything a crisp creamy, warm, buttery white. We knew that we wouldn’t be replacing cabinets because we’re super-happy with the kitchen layout as is, and refacing would cost us a minimum of $5,000, which is just not worth it. I figure the new doors and paint project shouldn’t cost me more than $1,000, and I wouldn’t like refaced cabinets 5 times more than painted ones. Plus, in our neighborhood, painted cabinets will be peachy, and won’t price us out of the area. With enough to do a counter, we decided that it was going to be the best bang for our buck in terms of changing how the kitchen feels, and I was totally pumped about not having the old counter in any more of my food photos!
You see, the old counter was original to the house, and had this classy “leatherette” pattern pressed into it. Yes, our laminate counter was 3D. So not only was it a nightmare to clean on top if you did anything involving doughs, the edges of it that weren’t meticulously cleaned (as I had to in all of my prep areas) accumulated…debris.
The new counter is a granite slab. And yes, I’m aware that this is the most overused pattern, but it’s so good at hiding stuff!!!! I also (from a technical standpoint) would have preferred a zodiaq surface, but the granite looks prettier and is apparently better for resale value.
We also knew that with a new counter, we’d get a new sink. That was a decision that was making me very nervous. I know that stainless is pretty much indestructible, but it always looks dirty and we don’t have it anywhere else in the kitchen. If we were to get a cast iron with enamel coating, I’d have to bet on not damaging the enamel, which I can pretty easily bet that I WOULD do. I am extraordinarily clumsy. What we thought we’d have to do was do an overmount (yuck!) enamel coated cast iron sink so we could replace it when I inevitably damaged it.
But it turns out that there’s this new material called silgranit, that a company called Blanco makes sinks out of. As far as I’ve gleaned in my research, it’s similar to zodiaq in composition, doesn’t stain, is very difficult to scratch or break, and doesn’t look nearly as dirty as either stainless or enamel coated iron.
So we spent $400 on the biggest size that would reasonably fit within the cabinet dimensions. It’s glorious. $2500 in granite and installation, and $400 for a sink, plus about $275 for the faucet and various plumbing parts and my favorite part is the sink. I could probably bathe Boris in the sink if he’d sit patiently. It’s HUGE. 30″ wide, however far front to back, and 9.5″ deep. So far, there’s been nothing in the kitchen that doesn’t fit, between the deep sink and the tall faucet.
It’s gigantic. I can fit a 1/2 sized sheet pan in there AND have room to the side for a colander to drain pasta. The only downside that I’ve come across with this immense sink is that when it’s full of dishes, I can easily fill the dishwasher and usually have a few odds and ends to hand wash.