I spent the last weekend (for the most part) off the Internet, and in that time, I went shopping, walked through a cute little downtown, spent time with friends, watched a movie, almost finished a book, cleaned the entire kitchen and the bathroom, took two naps, reorganized all my drawers, braised lentils, roasted skinny asparagus, bought one of those Trader Joe’s pears for like fifty cents because I can’t turn them down.
While I didn’t get offline to prove anything or because the Internet is inherently bad in any way but rather just to simplify my life a little, spend time focusing on the holiday we’d be celebrating, I have to say: Who knew it’d be so darn nice. When Monday morning came (and with it, the end of my self-imposed fast), nobody was more surprised than me to learn I had less of an appetite for social media and more of a desire for life without it.
Now I’m wrestling with that strong contradiction of wanting to share while also wanting not to, of struggling with determining what is worth sharing versus what is worthless, of wanting to be more intentional about the things I do, and not just online.
But I guess contradictions are nothing new. I could just as easily tell you how weird it is that while I love today for its green grass and warm weather, I wish for tomorrow.
Or while I want to get physical activity into each day, I let things prevent it. Or that sometimes I have a lot to say but don’t. Or want to try new recipes but fall into what’s familiar.
Like, grilled cheese. Grilled cheese, like apple pie or sandwich platters, is familiar, I know.
There’s nothing super exciting or brilliant about having it for dinner. However, hear me out: there are so many (new to me! so look, I’m being creative!) ways to have it!
And at least I’m trying them. Over the last two weeks, I’ve made grilled cheese on homemade bread, Ezekiel bread, Breadsmith bread.
While I’ve always used gruyere, I’ve switched from crumbles to slices because they stay in the sandwich better when it’s time to flip. And I’ve added sliced apples and roast chicken for impressive results.
The grilled cheese that most recently won my heart was this one, though, for which total credit goes to my brother. It blends the best of familiarity with the best of invention.
Here is what makes it so good: sweet fig jam spread on one of the bread slices, with sea salt and freshly ground pepper sprinkled on top of the gruyere before grilling. You could probably use any jam you’d like; what works so well is the combination of sweet and salty, blended with the buttered goodness of the sauteed bread.
Oh, man. We like it with a salad of spring mix on the side, but I guess that’s me falling into the familiar again.
What can I say? I may be eating what I already love, but at least I’m trying new versions of it.
And I’d love to hear yours.
Homemade Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
This is just one of the many, many ways I’ve had this recently, but it is the latest favorite, and it is very, very good, complex in its flavors and easy to whip up on any weeknight (or, ahem, several of them right in a row).
2 slices of bread (such as sesame Ezekiel bread, for example)
Slices of Gruyere cheese
Fig jam (or whatever kind you like)
Freshly ground black pepper
Butter one side each of two slices of bread, and spread the opposite side of one slice with fig jam. Heat skillet on medium-low heat.
Place jam-covered slice of bread, butter side down, on heated skillet. Add cheese and sea salt and pepper, then top with other buttered bread slice, butter side up.
Let cook until brown on bottom, then flip until opposite side is browned. Enjoy!
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.