Celebrating good old-fashioned grilled cheese

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Grilled Cheese Sandwich (Photo credit: powerplantop)

This probably seems odd. The woman who proclaims herself as “…waging a one-woman war against cheese” is excited about National Grilled Cheese Month. First, let me clarify: I’m not opposed to cheese itself, just the overuse of cheese, such as when every item on the restaurant menu includes cheese;  and the use of “cheese-like food” being passed off as cheese.

But grilled cheese? That’s the ultimate Mom food. I relish my childhood memories of Mom making us grilled cheese sandwiches on Fridays. Having grilled cheese was a treat, a departure from our usual tuna or egg salad. Mom didn’t really like to cook, and getting out a frying pan to make grilled cheese bordered on cooking, so it didn’t happen often. I’d watch the process with anticipation. First, she got out a stick of margarine, and set it on top of the gas range near the pilot light for a few minutes to soften. Of course we had real, old-fashioned margarine, not the light buttery vegetable oil spreads like we have today. She’d slather two slices of soft white bread with margarine while the frying pan was heating, then peel off a thick slab of American cheese from the package. Real American cheese, not  the slippery, plastic wrapped “cheese-like food slices” of today. If I was really lucky, I’d get to have chocolate milk, and maybe even potato chips, but the sandwich was so good alone, that really didn’t matter. I liked my sandwich well-toasted, pretty close to burned. I’m still not sure if I developed that taste on my own, or just expected it that way, as Mom tended to over-cook most things on our ancient gas stove. I’d sit at the red kitchen table, my feet swinging far above the floor, and enjoy my greasy, drippy cheese sandwich on a special Friday afternoon.

Since I’ve  developed a dairy allergy in adulthood, I can’t join in the National Grilled Cheese Month festivities. But if I could, I’m be making a grilled cheese sandwich today just like Mom used to make.

What’s your favorite grilled cheese memory?

© Huffygirl 2012

What’s in Your Lunch Box?

My granddaughter started preschool this week and her parents reported that she happily carried her new lunch box all the way there. What is it about lunch boxes that make them special? It starts with the trip to the store with mom or dad to pick out the one you want. There’s so much to choose from – Buzz, Woody, Cinderella, Princess Jasmine, Star Wars, Transformers, Mickey. And if you don’t want a “character” lunch box, there’s plenty of great colors and designs. It’s one of the first things we’re allowed to pick out as a child that says “me.” It needs to be special and just what you want because it’s the little part of home you take with you when you venture out into the big scary world of school. Even if you’re not feeling brave, that special shiny piece of home reminds you that you’re going to be okay and mom and dad will be there to hear about the adventures of your day when you arrive home, lunch box in tow.  When you open your box at lunch time, there’s the food lovingly prepared by your mom or dad. In my day it was peanut butter  sandwiches on Wonder Bread. Now a days it’s more likely to be a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread, fresh sweet grapes,  a granola bar or cookie. Sometimes there might be a note or picture tucked in by mom or dad. Later the lunch box becomes a repository for crumpled food wrappers, leftovers and errant school notes. Once home, moms and dads look through the lunch box detritus for clues of the day – food not eaten, playground treasures and often that very important note. By the end of the school year the shiny lunch box is scratched, dented, or maybe even lost, but still a sign of a year well done.

Remember your first lunch box? Or the first one you helped your kids pick out? The next time you pack a  lunch for yourself or someone else, don’t just throw in a Hot Pocket and  a pack of cheese and crackers. Put in some food lovingly prepared, somebody’s favorites, and tuck in a note, photo or a little piece of home to help them get bravely through the day.

© Huffygirl  2010