Cider Mill Donut Grilled Cheese Bites

20151015_161549(Customer service announcement – I’m still not a food blogger. Anyway.)

Guys, I invented A THING. At least I think I invented a thing. I’m not sure, I haven’t googled this… so we’ll go with I invented a thing.

I LOVE this time of year. AUTUMN IS THE BESSST. (Side note: It’s sad that fall only gets two months in Michigan. It’s perfect here in fall and anything beats the endless misery of winter.)

Part of my quintessential autumn activities is going to the cider mill. I don’t know if this is a thing for all regions, but in the Midwest, you drive out of town for about an hour, heading for your favorite mill (you WILL have a family favorite). Once you have arrived, you will stretch your legs and saunter into a long line of folks waiting for the same thing you are…

Cold apple cider and hot donuts.

It’s like peanut butter and jelly. Salt and pepper. Breakups and a half gallon of ice cream. THE TWO GREAT TASTES THAT TASTE GREAT TOGETHER.

sackofdonutsToday was the day I made my pilgrimage. I ended up with a sack of donuts and a half gallon of cider. I couldn’t help but sneak a fresh donut in my car. The donuts are usually of the cake variety and cinnamony and/or sugary in some way. Some places toss the hot donuts in cinnamon sugar. Some places offer many choices of different powered options. Today I ventured to a place that had the cinnamon in the batter, which blew my mind. I fully expected to have fingertips covered in sugar. But this was better.

This was better because I had plans.

I wanted to do something with these donuts. Something exciting.

Cider Mill Donut Grilled Cheese Bites. I KNOW, RIGHT?!

The idea is that maybe you’ll have people over for tea or a party or something and you want to mix it up with a new appetizer. We’ve all had it with candy corn and marshmallows decorated like mummies. This? This will be a hit. And you can’t get more fall than apples and cider mill donuts.

grilledcheesedonuts

Here’s what you’ll need:

Cider Mill Donut Grilled Cheese Bites

Ingredients –

  • One small/medium apple
  • A dozen cider mill cake donuts (cooled)
  • Cheddar cheese (I like sharp)

Equipment –

  • An apple corer/peeler certainly makes life easier
  • As does some kind of sandwich grilling device

Make the thing:

  1. Slice up your apple. You don’t want the slices too thick, about ⅛” is perfect.
  2. Cut up your cheddar into slices. I suppose you could go with shredded, but it might be a little messier.
  3. Cut your donuts in half. Usually a bread knife does a good job of not smooshing the donuts.
  4. Arrange the slices of apple and cheese inside your donut.
  5. Use your pan or sandwich press and cook those guys up! You don’t need to lubricate your pan, probably, because the donuts were fried in oil. That oil is in them, so it’ll be your lubrication for your cooking surface as the donuts heat up.
  6. Eat the thing!

As of this moment I am very full of donuts and apples and cheese. And I am happy, friends. I am happy.

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Sentimental thoughts about macs and Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs led apple to revolutionize the music industry, true. This is how millions first knew his influence. I do love me some music, but when I heard he had passed the first thing I thought of was my dad.

Let me take you back to the 90s real quick. My dad, a HUGE mac nerd, had been using a Commodore Amiga for all of his gaming and computering needs. But he’d read a lot about macs and this Macintosh Quadra sounded like some hot stuff. They were fast and graphically advanced. They also had a strong educational software component, which was important for my developmentally disabled sister.

My dad brought it home and a serious love affair began in our house. We’d have to book computer time. We’d do housework in exchange for time on the computer. I stopped writing papers for schools on our typewriter. I could play games all I wanted. I developed a strong love for pixelized art*. Our mac was a big deal.

And “Think Different” was a mantra I wholeheartedly embraced. It was kind of hilarious because I was only 12. But I loved it. I loved being the outlier. It was my first exposure to the concept that working outside the norm could be a deliberately chosen path. Of course, I WAS only 12, so it was more, “I can be weird! This is working for me! I’m THINKING DIFFERENT!” …ugh, god, I was so weird you guys.

As I sit here, I’m realizing this is probably part of the reason I like small businesses and non-profits as much as I do. We’re the underdogs. We want to “Think Different”, to bring change, to do things our way. I wouldn’t really describe myself as entrepreneurial but that’s what “Think Different” was. Steve Jobs took a different path, but he was true and authentic to it. People can really sense when you care THAT MUCH about a concept. Passionate people become your advocates. This is how, despite only having a little over 2% of the home computer market in 2003, Apple started to snowball into the brand it is today.

This is why I get excited when businesses engage using social media. (And I mean really engage, not this forced “Oh I’m sorry, did you call customer service?” @replies and facebook wall posts.) To me, a business says, ‘I get it’ when they go to where the conversation is happening. It’s a risky move, believe me! But that honesty and willingness to have the conversation… that’s what will connect with people. And I don’t think it’s just people like me, who are net savvy. I think everyone realizes it’s their duty to really vet where their dollars are going. Like little investments. Because a majority of us don’t have the luxury of wasting it.

Steve Jobs got it. His people got it. Apple got it. And no matter where your computer alliances lie, you have to respect that level of commitment and subsequent success. So here’s to you, Steve. You inspired me and (I hope) a generation of passionate people to “Think Different”. We could use more truly innovative minds.

*Seriously, pixel art is amazing. It lives in this fantastic sweet spot in my heart where nerdy meets color and beauty meets pastiche and kitsch.