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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Introvert by way of Anxiety

I am an outgoing person. Always have been. I’ve done theatre since I was a kid. Improv shows were my favorite. I like to travel, even going on little vacations by myself on occasion. I put on silly faces, sat at the front of the class, always raised my hand, generally had something to say.

But there’s this terrible juxtaposition I put myself in when I do this. Because I have two narratives going on at once. As an example, I went to a play tonight. The show was One Man, Two Guvnors. Funny show with a fair dose of audience participation. We sat in the front row and when they asked for a volunteer, I was thinking, “OH pick me pick me pick me!”

And at the same I’m thinking, “OH GOD not me not me not me.” Just thinking back on it, I have an ache in my chest.

It’s weird, right? I feel them both, at the same time, at the same intensity. Because I like to play along and have those experiences. I like to be brave and say yes. But it is always so scary.

This is because of how I am wired. I am ruled by anxiety. I can’t even say I’m living with it functionally. The above described is, I think, as far from functional as you can get.

Girl wants to do a thing.

Girl gets excited.

Girl gets to do a thing!

Girl gets worked up and nervous and shakes like a bobblehead doll playing a game of Jenga.

Girl vividly plans for every disaster scenario her brain can imagine for herself (in technicolor!)

Girl does thing totally successfully, not at all a big deal, while onlookers notice she might be “maybe nervous or something”.

This is me. It suuuucks. It drives me to be introverted, which is odd because it’s not my desire. I like the dog and pony show! (Did you hear, there’s a pony!) But my animal reaction in my brain is to do the mental equivalent of pacing back and forth until I wear a ditch down into the earth. AND MOST OF THE TIME THINGS ARE FINE.

I’ve been trying to combat this for years, but I don’t know how I would because there’s not really much of a road map for people like me. I know extroverts and introverts. My introvert friends would rather be at home reading a book. Extroverts want to go to a party and talk about the movie they saw based on the book. I want to read the book, go to a book club to talk about it, but then not make eye contact with anyone until I’ve eaten enough cheddar cheese to get me to a comfortable place where I can explain that the book is really an allegory for man’s struggle to understand himself and did you have a restroom I mean of course you do what a ridiculous question well this has been great but I’m going to the bathroom now I mean unless someone else needs to go I can wait oh god why do I always do this

I know where it comes from. Uncertainty mixed with some good old crummy brain stuff at a formative age. But where can it go? The things I do and try haven’t gotten harder, really. But even after all this time, I am still plagued with self doubt. I want to run outside. I want to say hello. I want to do new things. But if I open the door, how am I going to screw this up?

Sigh.

BEERS!

I’m going to warn you at the start: I’ve been drinking. (NOTE: I wrote this post last night. I mean, it’s casual friday, but not THAT casual.)

Now, when I say I’ve been drinking, I don’t mean like, “WOO! Let’s tie on a few more, boys!” like crazy woah. I mean I’ve had a beer. One beer with dinner. I know, I’m a lightweight. It’s sort of sad and adorable (or so I’ve been told). Remind me to tell you the story of how I drank ‘four beers for AMERICA’ one fourth of July. Actually, nevermind, that story ends like you think it does.

I like beer. Our beer of choice is called Shiner Bock. It comes from Shiner, Texas. The brewery is like 100+ years old, started by this German and Czech family. The beer was pretty well known in Texas when I was living there, but not really outside of it. Bocks are lagers, but this isn’t like your Bud Light or your Labatt or other really popular lagers. Bocks are darker. Actually, darker makes me think of Guinness. It isn’t like that. It’s just a well balanced beer. Very tasty, especially cold.

We drank and enjoyed our Shiners. It was the beer of choice at parties. We went to a five course dinner at Ruth’s Chris that had a Shiner pairing menu. We visited their brewery. We even bought some bar art and had it framed.

shinerart

When we got married six years ago, we were shocked and excited that the inlaws were able to find it and have it at our wedding. It was pricey but the guests enjoyed it and we were happy to have a little bit of Texas in Michigan.

Note our delight as we are handed cold Shiner beer on a summer night where we are wearing like four layers of clothes.
shinerwedding

As the years past, we started seeing reports of friends from all over the country who had found Shiner and enjoyed it in their home state. Eventually we could find it at Kroger and Meijer here in Michigan. We were floored. I’d like to think that the wedding had something to do with it.

rubyredbird

This evening, I’m enjoying Shiner’s Ruby Redbird. Shiner does seasonal beers and this is their summer jam. IT IS TASTY. There is NOTHING better on a hot day than drinking an ice cold Ruby Redbird. The flavor is Ruby Red Grapefruit (from Texas, natch’) and ginger made into a delicious beer that is crisp and refreshing. I hate grapefruit, but I love this beer!

Before Shiner started to be popular, you couldn’t get the specialty beers anywhere but Texas. A couple summers ago I found them here in a Meijer and I: a. freaked out then b. bought every six pack they had. It miiiight have been before 11am. I might not have cared.

I just finished my beer. It was good. If you like beer, you’d probably enjoy it. You can find it in most specialty markets, but sometimes it’s in the cold beer aisle in Kroger, next to the Shiner Bock. Give it a shot. And thanks for not being judgey about the whole ‘posting on my blog when I’ve been drinking’ thing. We’re cool, right? Yeah. So cool. Everything is cool. Except my face. My face is warm. What were we talking about again?

We’re those Lego people.

legodisplay

Growing up, I longed to play with Lego. (Lego being the proper pluralization of Lego – not Legos.) We didn’t have much of them, but one year on a family road trip we went to an FAO Schwartz and my grandmother told us she’d buy us anything we wanted. I bolted to the Lego section, as did my brother. We both knew what was up. I pulled out a lot of different sets but after being told over and over that my selections weren’t “for girls”, I proceeded to ask for one of the girly sets with the most bricks. On the drive back home, I converted the fun time “Beach Front Whatever” set into every variation I could think of and played for hours. The set came with a base plate, so it was perfect for building in the back of our minivan.

Jump cut to my adult life, with my husband. We love Lego. We’re known as adult fans of Lego, which makes me feel odd, but there you go. What it means is we have an appreciation for the engineering and amusement that goes into building these sets. Yeah, there’s a lot of Star Wars (see above) but we have other sets too. Look, there are plenty of other adults that dress up like comic book characters or spend time pretending they’re a dwarf roaming through a dungeon. We build Lego. It’s kitschy, it’s cute, it’s our nerd thing.

We’ve given each other Lego sets as gifts. I went to the grand opening of the Lego store in Houston. I still have my master builder certificate for helping build an eight foot tall R2-D2. I once carried a fully constructed Death Star II down the street we lived on from our old apartment to our new one. That walk went better than you’d imagine.

As far as fandoms go, we’re not overly excitable about it. We try to keep it to a dull roar. The display pictured above lives in our basement. At our wedding, Lego was involved, but it was subtle! Our cake topper was Lego. (And our card box, but to be fair that was actually a gift to us.)

legotopper

I mean, how cute is that?

I could go on about infinite possibilities at your fingertips when you’re building with these bricks. Or the importance of preserving a little bit of childhood. But really this is just about fun. Why wouldn’t you want to play with these and show them off?

Our Lego set building days have slowed down, but as Lego becomes more mainstream – what with that recent and popular Lego movie, as well as many geeky sets coming out… It’s a pretty acceptable time to be a Lego geek, regardless of your gender. If only I could have showed my grandmother this letter from Lego that’s been circulating online lately.

A lot of boys like dolls houses. They’re more human than spaceships. A lot of girls prefer spaceships. They’re more exciting than dolls houses.

The most important thing is to put the right material in their hands and let them create whatever appeals to them.

I’d like to think this message for boys and girls extends to adults too.

He and I like to make things. We just do it differently.

Husband Nick is starting a week of vacation. I am JEALOUS. A LOT. His plans are to bum around the house, relax, and maybe tinker with this place. He’s pretty handy. I think it’s why buying a house from the 1950s wasn’t intimidating to him. He has this wonderful mind where he can analyze and construct. Meanwhile, I like to research, write, and make puns with the word ‘fart’. We’re the two great tastes that taste great together. Or something.

We had a charging station for our cell phones. It was this number from Pottery Barn that I cannot fathom why they stopped selling it, because surely there are people who it would be perfect for. For us, we’d overgrown it. Observe:

oldchargingstationmess

This station worked well for years when all of our electronics were flat, shiny rectangles. But now I had a small netbook and a tablet. We needed something new. I saw this idea on Pinterest where someone turned a mail organizer on it’s side and used the slots for their electronics. GENIUS. But alas, I could not find a similar organizer.

Nick looked at the picture and immediately pieced together himself how to create one. There was wood and glue and slots involved. I was in awe. He had it together in no time.

newstationpieces1
newstationpieces2newstationpieces3

newstationfinished

newstationfinishedbackThe back has these openings, so we can thread the power cords down to the surge protector we have mounted to the bottom of the table this sits on. (A lot of surge protectors are mountable – just look on the back for some holes. You’ll put a couple screws in and slide the surge protector on to them.) We did use some cord organizers, leftover from a project we did with Ikea LEDs. (I should post that next!) Container Store has a lot of options for this, if you don’t think you have a way to wrangle them. Compensation free endorsement: I love me some Container Store. They need one in Michigan.

In conclusion, it’s nice to have someone handy around. I try not to invent projects for him, but I do want some shelving in our tiny bedroom closet. Is this a challenge for him? Or his wife’s way of punishing him for a week of luxuriating? Eh. Maybe a little of A and B.

I had had a better title, but ‘had had’ had had some issues.

I’ve been reading Singled Out: How Two Million British Women Survived Without Men after the First World War. It’s filled with stories that came out of the tragic circumstances of WW1. Challenges I would have never imagined for those left behind when their men went off to die defending them. For a society predicated on the idea that a woman’s purpose was to be married and have children, this was a huge problem. There just weren’t enough men. The book is dense and well researched. I’m enjoying it.

I guess having a text that is so academic (and British, which cannot be divorced from an association with propriety) is why this phrase stuck out so much: “had had”

A reference to the past where you possessed something. I can only imagine how infuriating the English language can be to non-native speakers when they see things like this. Heck, to native speakers as well.

I remembered my first encounter with the phrase so vividly. I was in the elementary school library, probably reading ‘The Giver’ or some other classic, and noticed it in my book. I read and reread but it made no sense! I ran up to my librarian, proclaiming that I found a typo in a book. She explained that wasn’t the case and that having the word in the sentence twice, right after one another, made sense because the meaning of each instance was different. I walked away thoroughly perplexed.

And of course there’s situations where the word can show up even more often. Because of the way it can reference possession, the past, AND ITSELF, there is a way to use the word “had” eleven times in a row. Here’s a widely circulated academic example:

James, while John had had “had”, had had “had had”; “had had” had had a better effect on the teacher.

Confused? Of course, because I look like a damn crazy person right now. But it is correct. Not that this is academically kosher, but you can head to the Wikipedia page dedicated to the subject. It contains this lovely bit of text:

See also – Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo

Now who looks crazy. THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. That’s who.

Tea + book = TIME TRAVEL.

These are books about the internet. I told you I was a nerd, yes?

These are books about the internet. I told you I was a nerd, yes?

I’ve had a cold, so I should also note that tea + NyQuil  = TIME TRAVEL as well.

This week’s blog post was almost pictures of horses with googly eyes. ALMOST. But I’ve rallied in time to bring you some musings about reading. I like to read! It is ‘hide indoors and read’ weather! And I like to read the dried tree paste type of books, not these newfangled electronic books that all the kids are reading. It probably has to do with the fact that when I’m on an electronic device reading, I’m also on the internet, which makes it easy to OH LOOK A CAT

What were we talking about? Books. Ah yes. So I like physical books. The problem, though, is that I am terrible about sticking with one book. Right now I’m in the middle of nine books. Just sort of shuffling from one topic to the other, going back and forth, book to book. You might say this is a terrible way to go about reading, but I read 90% non-fiction books, so it’s not as bad as you think!

This also dooms me never to use a public library. I always paid my fines as they inevitably came until I gave up on borrowing books entirely. I was never the friend you lent a book to if you wanted it back anytime soon, which stung at first when I realized it… but I’ve come to accept my affliction. It has a name: F.A.R.T. – Fickle Arbitrary Reader Thievery. To anyone that has been a victim of my F.A.R.T., I am sorry. I can’t help nature. I read as the wind blows.

What I do instead is use PaperBackSwap. The idea is that you have books. Other people want those books. You post them, people request them, and you pay to mail them the book. You get a credit of a book. You ALSO want books. You list the books you want and as people post those, they come to you in the mail. Circle of life and all that. A semi-permanent library. Perfect for me.

At this time, I’ve been a member of PaperBackSwap for seven years. I’ve gotten 235 books. The closest person I’ve sent a book to was 13 miles from me. The furthest I’ve mailed a book was 5,854 miles away. (They were in the military overseas and ordered How To Survive A Robot Uprising – a bit disconcerting but HEY I’m sure we’re all going to be fine.)

Not every book you’ll list will come around. There have been some books I’ve had on my list since 2008. But I do get a steady flow of books coming and going. If I really like a book, I can keep it. If after 40 pages I’ve decided it’s not for me, I’ll ditch it and move on to the next thing.

I’m not sure if there are other F.A.R.T.s out there. But if you’re a F.A.R.T. like me, you might give PaperBackSwap a shot. As for me? I’m going to start a new book, I think. Maybe The History of Salt?! (Yes, this is actually a book I have.) (Yes, I am a terrible dull person.)

Also: POST BONUS – sometimes you’re not paying attention and you order two copies of the same book, like this:

Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good