May 31, 2010

Apologies and Grilled Cheese

I'm sorry I've been neglectful. Here: have a grilled cheese!

I know that I haven't posted anything lately, but life has been truly insane these past few weeks. Without going into too much detail there was an interview that lead to a series of (emotionally draining) interviews that have resulted in a new job. I am no longer at the museum--which makes me very sad--but I am now a proud member of AmeriCorps: I will be working as an AmeriCorps member through the Bay Area Local Initiatives Support Corporation at the Richmond Main Street Initiative. This move was completely unexpected and came to fruitition through the generous, and unwavering, support of my aunt and uncle, and an amazing informational interview with one of their contacts. Negotiating a new schedule at the bookstore (I'm still there because the AmeriCorps position will only last through September), figuring out the logistics of travel and making everything official was a bit of a nightmare, but I am very happy with my new work and the experiences and opportunities that I will gain from it.

And after all that, I will be even more busy until I fulfill my 450 hours of service: a typical day will mean that I either work in Richmond all day, or start at the bookstore at 8am, travel to Richmond at midday and get home around 7:30pm. I am not worried about getting my crafting done (I can do that on the bus and on BART); its just finding the time (and good light) to photograph my projects and energy to write about them.

But I've pulled through it all for what will hopefully be a renewed commitment to sticking to a (semi)regular blogging schedule. And for staying loyal and forgiving me of my brief, unannounced leave, I give you a tale of a delicious grilled cheese sandwich:

I love grilled cheese sandwiches. Just about any kind will do. I, of course, have an affinity for the good 'ol American standby of 2 Kraft singles melted between white bread. This classic of my childhood (and occassional adulthood) will forever remain near and dear to my heart. However, my palette has grown more sophisticated and my urge to experiment with various flavor combinations has grown. I find myself wondering what types of cheeses would taste good melted together between two slices of bread. As I walk home or absentmindedly shelve books I daydream about various pairings of cheese, condiments and bread.

One of my favorite combinations is provolone, chicken breast and a quick, homemade kalamata basil tapenade. And it goes a little something like this:

Two pieces of whole grain bread with a little bit of butter to aid in delicious browning. (Freebie tip: a cold stick of butter rubbed directly on frozen bread results in even disbursement of said browning agent.)

2 sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil), 4-5 pitted kalamata olives, a generous handful of basil and some vigorous chopping=easy peasy homemade tapenade good enough to eat by itself. But don't; its much better in between melted cheese and crunchy bread.

Open face grilling produces evenly crispy outsides and perfectly gooey insides. I like to set the range to medium heat and cover the pan with a lid; this way the direct heat from the pan grills the bread and the residual indirect heat melts the cheese.

TA-DA: The finished product.
Unlike fast food commercials and recipe books, my cheese does not ooze profusely...but believe me, its more than enough to satisfy any grilled cheese junkie.

Another gratuitous shot for all those cheese and crispy bread lovers.

Now go make your own and be merry!

P.S. Despite the craziness of these past two weeks--and the months to come--I will be able to indulge in some sweet, sweet time off this week. Evan and I are flying to Maine so that he can visit his parents/metropolitan hometown of Monmouth and I can satisfy my appetite for touristy activities, salt water taffy and lobster. A post from Maine to come (most likely when I get back).

May 2, 2010

Thrift Store Haul: Part Deux

This weekend was far from fun: I worked both days (Saturday at the bookstore and then a reception at the museum) and came down with a cold. Accordingly, I will be blogging vicariously through the decidedly more fun activities of last weekend.

My first thrift store success story came from a trip to Urban Ore, a mecca of all things used, outdated, vintage, and bizarre. And while it often hopelessly panders to the tragic hipster (read: overcharges for vintage oddities and employs trendy folk) they have some great stuff, especially if you aren't opposed to doing some rummaging.

Evan, myself and our friend Louis stopped by Urban Ore last Thursday afternoon. The menfolk had their eyes set on the used vinyl and CDs section. Meanwhile, I headed straight for the kitchen wares department. I was pleasantly surprised to find that someone had recently organized everything, which made finding what I was looking for so much easier. I'm not opposed to having to dig through mounds of stuff and really look through everything, but I do love organization. Much as last time I was hoping to find some large mason jars (for storing dry goods) and found two.

And as always, I kept my eyes peeled for any Pyrex or Corning ware. As luck would have it, I found a lovely 13" round Corning casserole dish. Despite some rust colored stains along the crevices of the handles, it was in great condition and totally worth the $3.50 that I paid.

I was also looking for a glass that would be suitable in both style and design for my DIY cake stand project. I knew that I wanted something old, sturdy and preferably antique looking and/or colorful. After scouring the kitchen section three times and leaving disappointed, I spotted some vintage, rose colored cocktail glasses in Urban Ore's "Vintage Boutique" section. There were six glasses in total, and I thought about buying them all, but at $4 a pop, I settled on just one. I felt bad about destroying the set, but know that I couldn't afford all six and that I probably wouldn't ever have a use for them.

I also picked up a scrap of cloth for a buck and a small blue and white plate, which brought the grand total to $13. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

On Sunday we walked to the Laney Flea Market--an open air bizarre that I can only describe as truly bizarre. The general consensus about the Laney Flea Market is that there it is mostly full of junk and/or merchandise of questionable provenance or quality, but it also has its diamond in the ruff moments--if you're willing to pay the $1 to get in and work for it. As with every other thrift store and flea market, I shop at Laney with the express purpose of finding anything antique, Pyrex, vintage or unique. On my first trip there last fall I found an amazing bohemian, maroon scarf/shawl and a gold, leaf necklace that I absolutely adore.

power drill, anyone?

This time I found three items: a squarish oval Corning casserole dish, a hexagonal shaped bowl...and a medium sized, vintage Pyrex mixing bowl. I was so excited about the Pyrex bowl that I even haggled a little bit, which is something that I rarely do because it makes me feel uncomfortable. But the man was very nice and I'm sure very tired of lugging it around. (He also had two larger Pyrex bowls that were very similar to the one that I bought, but they were badly scratched.) Needless to say I am well on my way to amassing a hodgepodge collection of dishes...I like the sound of that.

Although the color palette is different, the motifs on the bowl matches that on the divided casserole dish that I bought a few months ago.