So, I learned things today that did not involve coating pans with tinfoil. First off, I learned that peanut butter and banana on a whole wheat English muffin is an excellent breakfast. I could probably have drizzled some honey on there, too, but then I thought “No, Jennifer. No. Leave yourself some space to develop. You don’t swim the English Channel when you’re still learning to do a butterfly kick.”
You want a picture? Okay, here is a picture. No honey! Maybe honey tomorrow. I don’t know.
That picture was pretty blurry. It’s not going to change; I just thought that we could stare meaningfully at each other through the Internet and acknowledge that, yes, that was picture was blurry.
I had the Brussels sprouts I made yesterday for lunch. They were good, though, honestly, if you are instructed to use balsamic vinegar, you shouldn’t assume that regular vinegar is the same thing. Because, you know, it’s not.
Someone should have pointed that out.
So, they probably would have tasted better with the proper ingredients. Also, I’m hearing some rumors that the way restaurants make Brussels sprouts taste really, really comically good is by frying them. I also hear that I am the only person who wasn’t already aware of that.
When I got home, I tried to think about what I’d have for dinner if I could have anything (that could theoretically be duplicated by me. If anyone poses this question to you seriously, like, if it is an eccentric billionaire posing this question, the answer is always ortolan).
The answer was tomato soup with cheddar melt at The Smith. This is what it looks like:
Look, I already had problems making cheese melt on toast which people had pointed out could be solved by using the oven to bake bread rather than… leaving it in a pan and hoping it melts. A lot of people also recommended using a broiler to which I say – what are you, Russian aristocrats? There is no broiler. I have no broiler. Broilers are not a thing I have ever seen. I think you are playing a hilarious practical joke. I’m on to you.
You know what I do have, now? Cheddar cheese! Because I bought it. It’s the pre-shredded kind. I know people pointed out that kind isn’t as good as shredding it yourself, but I bought the kind that said “fancy” on the package. I think I paid an extra $1.19 for that “fancy.” Look at how elegant it is, though:
So, I set the oven to 450 degrees, and scattered it and pieces of gruyere – that I broke apart myself! – on a piece of bread. (I did not toast it beforehand; I don’t think it made a difference.) I put it on a cookie sheet – lined with tinfoil – and left it in there for around 10 minutes. It melted into something beautiful. It melted into this:
And then I put it on top of tomato soup (which I bought from a can, and cooked on the stove, like always). You will note it looks exactly like the picture of the one at The Smith:
It tasted identical. Really. I mean, okay, yes, there are probably some subtleties, but for my purposes, essentially identical. And this in itself, was amazing. I mean, obviously the one at The Smith looks much, much more appealing, and I guess to do that I’d have to get some little French onion soup bowl and do some magic, but this one was, in terms of taste, just as delicious.
And then I realized something.
I mean, okay, first I realized that this was amazing because it meant that in the future, when I want tomato soup with a cheddar melt, I don’t have to schlep all the way down to The Smith. Which is a good thing. That’s a strong perk there. Schlepping. Schlepping is rough.
But more than that, I suddenly thought, “It’s so great that even if The Smith closes I can still have this.”
Do you realize how cool that is? I can have this any time I want. Even if I move away. Even if I am somehow housebound. It doesn’t matter if The Smith closes.
I’ve never felt that way before. The restaurant turnover rate in New York can be pretty high, so whenever I find a menu item I really, really love, it’s accompanied by a sort of fidgety nervousness that I should go to that place as often as possible, because one day it will go, and that item will be gone, and there won’t be any more, ever again. This happens with a shocking number of places. Here. A list of foods gone forever I still crave, along with the ages at which I loved them:
Chili’s High And Mighty Ice Cream Pie (5-8)
Tortalacci with vodka sauce, La Bella Winnetka (8-18)
Baked Brie with jam and walnuts, What was the name of that place? (10-12)
Baked Brie Wontons, ???, (10)
Foie Gras Pralines with mango, Metropolitan (18-21)
Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Bungalow 8 (19-22)
Camembert Salad, Brasserie Ruhlman (21-25)
Calamari salad, Asia de Cuba (22-25)
Pretzel Milk, Momofuku (25-26 over all too soon).
All these things are gone. I know Tony Kushner says “Nothing is lost forever”, but I think the Camembert Salad is, indisputably, lost. Forever. There will be a day when a lot more things are gone. There is a good chance that day will be sooner rather than later.
That is how I feel about most things in life, come to think of it.
But not this. I know how to make a tomato soup with cheddar melt now the slings and arrows of outrageous be damned.
And, oh, dude, I get it. This is why cooking is a good thing to know how to do! So that you can have things that cannot be arbitrarily taken away by other people.
I can’t tell you the extent to which I now feel as though this tomato soup with cheddar melt is mine. This is fantastic. I could continue having this even if I move to Alaska. Probably especially there. How wonderful to have things that are yours.
So. That is a good reason to cook.
Then I wanted a dessert, and I found a leftover Cadbury Creme Egg from Easter in the back of my refrigerator. I ate it with a scoop of peanut butter. Like this.
We’ve got to come up with better recipes for peanut butter. I love it. What are good ones? Good ones that are not this (because, to be fair, this was kind of good for what it was, but what it was was discarded Easter candy at the back of my fridge).
I AM ON THIS COOKING BANDWAGON FOREVER, NOW, JUST FYI.