It was pretty much guaranteed there’d be Kraft Singles in the deli drawer. Processed cheese product, Pepperidge Farm soft whole wheat bread and butter was my the three ingredient go-to dinner when I didn’t feel like cooking.
Grilled cheese sandwiches. Crunchy on the outside, melted goo on the inside. I would put butter on both sides of the bread so the cheese would be buttery as well.
Balancing the buttered bread as I assembled the sandwiches was the hardest part. (This worked out poorly if I left the butter in the fridge. I usually kept it on the countertop. Except for that time period when the dog was on his butter diet. The other dog, when the kids were young.)
I’d butter two pieces of bread and lay the cheese in, put the bread together, then butter the top. I’d flip the top to the bottom when I put it on the grill and butter the piece that was now on top.
Actually, buttering the sandwich really wasn’t the hardest part. Fact is, I would regularly burn the grilled cheese. The toast would be black and gross on one side. Sometimes both sides, but usually after I burned one side I’d be much more mindful and avoid burning the other. I’d scrape the bad side and serve it burnt side down. Artful presentation can go a long way. They’d still notice, though.
Fact is, burnt isn’t always the same. Sometimes it just burns right at the surface–just the coating of butter. It looks bad but tastes fine. The bread under the crust is soft and the cheese nicely melted and buttered. Sometimes it’s burnt through so the bread is hard and shiny like plastic and you know this because someone at the table knocked on it like a door with a little knuckle to prove it’s lousy. When you bite in, it definitely does not taste fine.
Because of the latter disasters, the kids would not trust that the former could occur. Always twice shy, they began to turn the sandwich over on the plate to see if it was actually burnt. Woe unto me that it was not good. To make it through dinner, I’d take the one that looked most burnt. It was fine. Almost always.
And that’s what I’d do when I did not want to cook dinner.
I think I may have burnt this one as well. It will be better next time. Probably.