I know it’s been a little quiet ’round these parts lately.
A lot quiet.
So quiet in fact that if Small Kitchen Chronicles where a chicken, it would be a Brahma.
(Sorry about the obscure reference, everyone, the chicken obsession continues).
You see, with Brahmas, still waters run deep. They’re known as giant, lumbering, Zen-like chickens who quietly putter around the yard while the rest of the flock buzzes busily on around them.
Now I’m not saying I’ve achieved Buddhist-like Zen-dom, packed on the feathers and gone off and joined a monastery, but like my good buddy the Brahma, I’ve slowed down a bit. Okay, a lot.
It has been a real choice and it has not been easy.
Keeping with the chicken references, you could say I’ve been more like a Rhode Island Red hen most of my life.
I.E. Not arguably descendant from the Tyrannosaurus rex, but a super producer, super productive and go-go-go. All. The. Time.
This Rhode Island Red-ness has served me well, allowed me to achieve much and produce a lot.
But what it’s also done is feed the belief that “I am what I produce” and left this lingering, omnipresent question of “who am I and what value do I have if I don’t?” hanging over my head like an ominous storm cloud of mythical proportions.
It hasn’t helped with enjoying life itself all that much either.
So I’ve scaled back, way back and done like a Brahma chicken.
I’ve stopped obsessively checking my stats. Stopped spending so much time online and on the computer. Questioned my reasons for posting and if guilt or feeling like I should or have to have anything to do with it, I go off and do something totally unproductive instead.
The Rhode Island Red hen in me has been having an aneurysm, but it’s been good.
When we choose to do more of what we actually want, rather than what we think we should, we wind up having more of a life we actually want rather than the one we think we should.
And as hard as it has been, I am learning to define myself and my value as a person these days not by what I do, but by who I am.
And like a Brahma hen, that means just being me.
And slowly learning that that is, and has always been, enough.
Forget the shoulds. Want the best grilled cheese sandwich you’ve ever had? All crispy, buttery perfection on the outside and gooey, cheesy heavenly-ness on the inside? It’s all in the technique. Do like a Brahma chicken and don’t rush making these and you’ll be very glad you did.
Inspired by my dad, Papa Lazarakis’s technique
Makes 2 large sandwiches
6 slices mild cheddar cheese (or your favorite melt-y cheese)
4 large – 1/4-inch thick slices artisan bread
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt for serving, optional
Make sandwiches by placing three slices of cheese between two slices of bread. Repeat step to make two sandwiches. Set aside.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt enough butter — about half the butter and a scant drizzle of olive oil — to coat bottom of skillet. Swirl to coat bottom evenly.
Note: Adding a scant drizzle of olive oil will prevent butter from burning.
Arrange prepared sandwiches side by side in skillet and — pressing down firmly on both sandwiches with your fingers — spin clockwise and counterclockwise until all melted butter in skillet has been evenly absorbed by both.
Cover sandwiches with a dinner plate — top side up — and press down firmly. Cook for 3-5 minutes on one side, until golden brown.
Note: Dinner plate acts like a press and is key to making an awesome grilled cheese sandwich, so don’t skip this step!
Using a kitchen towel from here on out — ’cause plate will be hot! — careful remove dinner plate and set aside. Using a spatula, transfer half-browned sandwiches to plate.
Add remaining butter and a scant drizzle of olive oil to skillet and swirl to coat bottom evenly again.
Transfer sandwiches back to skillet — browned sides up — and again, pressing down firmly on both with your fingers, spin clockwise and counterclockwise until all melted butter in skillet has been evenly absorbed by both.
Cover sandwiches with dinner plate again — top side up again — and press down firmly. Cook for 3-5 minutes on other side, until golden brown.
Divide sandwiches between two clean plates, sprinkle with sea salt — if desired — and serve immediately.
- Raclette Grilled Cheese (applelopez.typepad.com)
- Poutine Grilled Cheese Sandwich (uniquedaily.com)
- The Grown-Up Guide to Grilled Cheese (flycandydc.com)
That sounds amazing. I never thought to use Olive Oil. I will definitely try this weekend with the Aiden.
Excellent and enjoy, Bethany! Thanks for stopping by =)
Christina, I love reading your posts! And grilled cheese sandwiches. I usually use a very smelly camembert and apricot jam for mine, and cheddar is not the easiest cheese to come by in France, but I find it is one of my favorite “comfort” foods. I am sure your grilled cheese sandwich, with both butter and olive oil, must be delicious!
Thanks so much, Darya; I’m so glad!
Oh, smelly Camembert and apricot jam sounds perfect! And the way I see it, if you use your favorite melt-y cheese, you can never go wrong =)
Hugs to you, Darya!
So glad you’re back (obscure references and all!) This grilled cheese looks absolutely mouth-watering–yum!
Aww, thanks, Erika, on both accounts! =)
Welcome back! Loved reading this post. We took a month off from blogging around Christmas time. It wasn’t planned- but it just ended up that way. Sometimes it’s good to sit back and adjust yourself… Only blog when you ‘feel it’. Those are the best posts anyway. (Like this one!) ;). Yummy grilled cheese… it’s such a comfort food. xx
Thank you, Julie C, I appreciate that! You’re so right, lady — sometimes it really is good to sit back and adjust yourself and only blog when you “feel it”. Quite essential, really. I find that life is a learning lesson and can teach you a lot of great things if you give it the opportunity to =)
The grilled cheese sounds delicious and your post much enjoyed.
Thank you so much, Sandra, and so glad to hear it =)
Christina! I love this post in so many ways…I soooo relate to this. And you are so right. The pressure we put on ourselves is often so much heavier than any others do. I’m in the process of electronically slimming down too ( as you probably guessed from my blog absence) and ignoring my inner voice who says, “you can’t combine all of your blogs because then it will be a big mixed bag and have no niche!”
Reading this post has given me the push I needed to do what I need to do and say fooey to the naysayer in my head!
Great post, lady…and the sandwich? Looks delish, I’m totally trying this technique.
Rebekah! A sight for sore eyes! So nice to hear from you, lady!
Thank you, I am so glad to hear you enjoyed it, and so glad that it was inspiring and encouraging. I think we have both been going through, it sounds, like much of the same thing. I am so glad to hear that you are ignoring that inner voice that tells you “you can’t” or to do what you think you should/must do and choosing instead to do what feels right for you.
I have been working through a book called “Finding Your Own North Star” and it talks about that very thing. It talks about the social self vs. the essential self; how most of us are out of balance with the essential self — that knows exactly what we want — and operate mostly from our social selves, which is among other things, about pleasing others. How vital it is to one’s happiness to get back in touch and back in balance with our essential selves, and not just operate through our social selves. Anyhow, it’s been unbelievably enlightening and thought provoking and I highly recommend it.
Keep on doing what feels right for you, Rebekah; you’ve got a fan with me =)
Thank you Christina! I’m going to order this book tonight, sounds like a read I need right now 🙂
Awesome! Let me know how you like it =)
These hens are too cute! Would be nice to have one at home 😉 You have a very nice sense of humor 🙂 Jp and the sandwich (without of hen) looks yum!
Irena! Hello, lovely one!
Yes, I would agree with you, it would be nice to have one at home, and thank you so much — I try my best 😉
Thanks so much again, Irena; have a wonderful week!
Hey hey 😉 I simply love your combinations of very nice photographed recipe & something funny that is or it is not related to the recipe. It is so nice when people still have some humor left! 🙂
Wish you a nice week too!
So glad, Irena, and thank you! =)
Hi Christina – I absolutely adore this post on so many levels. I completely hear you on the “what does it all mean” question we so often face as bloggers, and the constant cycle of feeling inspired, then uninspired. For me, like a lot of other bloggers, this was all meant to be a fun, creative outlet, and it usually is, but we all go through those times when the inspiration is just not there, and posting starts to feel obligatory. And self doubt creeps in about whether you are truly connecting with anyone, or whether your blog is lost in a sea of other blogs – I totally get it. But I think your blog is truly inspiring to so many people, including myself! I love what you say here, and I think how you say it is so unique. On a lighter note, I love the grilled cheese – I guess we must be on the same wavelength because I just worked on a recipe last weekend that I will be posting about soon! Take care and keep inspiring us! xo
Oh, Lindsay, thank you so much for that! It means so much to hear that, and so glad you enjoyed it =)
You know, I think that it’s just all a part of expressing yourself in this kind of way. The internet and blogging are such great vehicles to express oneself, but sometimes it just feels like what you said, i.e. am I truly connecting with anyone? … my blog lost in a sea of other blogs? … is what I’m doing even matter?, etc. But I think that if it matters to you, the creator, then it does. And if it matters to even one other person more, then what an amazing gift and blessing. I think getting feedback helps to remind one of that. I think sometimes I just wish that there was more face-to-face connection, i.e. where we could all connect, talk, share, and create our foodie-ness/creativity together in an actual, physical space/setting, not just through the internet. Maybe something to work on/toward … =)
Can’t wait for your next post! Hmm, what can it be? You’ve got me curious, Lindsay =)
Take good care as well, Lindsay, and thanks so much again — you too are truly an inspiration!
Yeah, Rhode Island Chickens!
Yes! Not sure if you knew this, MF, but we both share the RI Connection — I’m originally from Rhode Island. That’s right, representing! =)
Hey buddy, love the analogies to the chickens… bok bok bok!!!! Mmm grill cheese looks and sounds wonderful. Much love, Niko
Hey, Niko, so glad you liked ’em! Bok, bok, indeed, and I will have my own small flock one day (she says, with her fist raised up to the chicken gods in the sky …)
Thanks for the love, buddy, and can’t wait to see you this weekend!
Much love back,
Hi Christina–I loved this post. I loved the analogy with the Brahma chicken and Rhode Island Red hen (learn something new every day!) and I especially loved your thoughts about defining ourselves not by what we do, but by who we are. However, if I ever raise chickens for fresh eggs, I am definitely getting the Rhode Island Reds!
Hi Rose! So nice to get a message from you, and most importantly, so glad to hear =)
And, yes, I’m with you on those Rhodies … they can’t be beat for egg production! =)
Greetings from Things Taste Better! I equally love “SKC” (get it?!) x
Aww, thanks, TTB, I think I do! lol Thanks so much for stopping by =)
I love this post Christina. It’s actually my first visit to your blog and… wow. I definitely relate to your well-thought-out words, honesty and sentiment. I’m relatively new to the blogging world… it’s been less than a year since my first post. In this short time, I’ve experienced both frustration and excitement as I’ve seen my love for food and photography overflow onto the screen. It’s funny though. As time has passed I’ve developed a bad habit of comparing myself (or rather, my blog) to other people… noticing flaws, inadequacies and other negative things that frustrate me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s made me reflect upon myself and why I’m doing what I do. Thanks for letting us learn from your experience! xx
Welcome to Small Kitchen Chronicles, Laura! So glad you found it and thank you so much for your kind, lovely words and honesty, and thank you for sharing your story with me. I can so relate to you =) It is also so wonderful to hear when your work has positively impacted another person, so thank you also for that =)
Thanks for reaching out and connecting, Laura, it was a great gift =) And your blog is wonderful!