I don’t know where my love of cooking originally came from, it was just something I was called to. We didn’t have big Italian family dinners or visit a Farmer’s Market every weekend, but we did have an orchard in the backyard that we would harvest cherries from to make pies and chestnuts to bring in to roast in a pan.
I remember driving to my grandma’s house one weekend and I had brought along the TV Guide to flip through and see what time the cooking shows were on PBS that week. We lived in the country and got 5 total channels so it was slim pickings as to what I could watch. Julia Child was on that day and I kept track of when we would get home walking in a few minutes after it had started. The show boring, painfully boring, but I still loved it because it was food and something I hadn’t seen before. It leads to another memory a few months later where I decided I wanted to cook something for my mom….
The rule was to not use the oven so I did what I thought was awesome. Two pieces of bread went into the toaster. Once they came out I put a piece of cheese between them and microwaved it until melted -voila, my first grilled cheese. I am 99% certain I served it with a microwaved piece of lettuce on the side (futuristic grilled romaine?). I called my mom down to try it and as shocked as she was that I had attempted this, she tried a bite. I am sure she wanted to spit it out and I am sure she wasn’t exactly happy I found a loophole way of making “lunch”, but she didn’t discourage it.
Over the next few years I continued watching food shows until “HALLELUJAH” we got cable and I was able to watch the Food Network the end of high school (like all day). It continued onto college and getting my degree in hospitality management complete with studying abroad in Europe at various schools and wineries. Food has been a passion of mine and is becoming one for my kids as well. I involve them in everything I can in the kitchen and think that there is no food a kid shouldn’t try at least once. It is not only something that is somewhat brave and courageous, but it teaches them to be open minded and creative, two very important things in life. We regularly have “chopped” kitchen showdowns and sometimes they even surprise me with what they come up with. This time is was no different as we tackled one of my earliest memories…… the grilled cheese sandwich.
I began by getting out every cheese we had in our home. I mean every cheese….every last morsel of bowel restricting dairy and cheese family relative I could find. From sprinkle cheese to spreadable, crackers and cheese curls all the way to leftover mac n cheese. It was about to go down. Each kid got to spread their own butter on the outside of the bread ( although Mayo also works ) and begin building their creation.
My daughter opted for a parmesean cheese and cheese curl base topped with bacon and whole cheese sticks. My son, on the hand, decided to do cheese it, cheese and cheese curls for a base with bacon and mac n cheese to top it off. I, on the other hand, we for olive oil and garlic on my bread with tomatoes and mozzarella on the inside……it’s a mom no brainer.
They put their sandwiches in the Copper Chef pan which is a must for cooking with kids, nothing sticks! Flipping it over just once is about as simple as it gets to cook and within minutes they had their own creations. They were able to be creative with their dinner and feel some pride when they were eating it, even if they did learn that moist cooked cheese curls may not be the best topping.
This is a great stepping stone to teach your kids how to cook and how much fun it is to explore in the kitchen. This is an example of gluttony obviously, but we also explore and have fun with fruits and vegetables as well as other healthier items. It is all about giving them choices and exposing them to more than they normally are to get excited to try new things.
I encourage to try your own grilled cheese cook off and to let me know what awesome creations you find!