Tackling Tuesday

Tuesday is a tough day for The Taste Bud. In fact, it usually turns out to be the toughest day of the week, not just for me, but for folks everywhere. Let’s analyze the rationale behind this for just a moment.

On Monday, you still have good memories from the weekend at the forefront of your mind. This helps ease the transition back into the work week and gives you comfort as you sip the first cup of java in the break room. On Wednesday, you have the satisfaction of knowing you are halfway through the work week. It’s all downhill from here! On Thursday, you know that the next day is Friday. Some folks have even been known to call Thursday “Little Friday.” On Friday, well, it’s Friday! This one is pretty self-explanatory. The weekend is no more than a few short hours away and the commencement of your weekend escapades is quickly approaching.

This brings us back to little ole Tuesday. There’s seemingly nothing special about it. It’s not the beginning. It’s not halfway. It’s certainly not the end. The weekend still feels light years away. You never hear anybody say “Yeah! How about that Tuesday?” It’s for that very reason that I sometimes rely on a food pick-me-up to give this day some extra pep and pizazz. With this in mind, I think of my favorite three-word phrase. Treat yo self.

Three little words that encourage a bit of indulgent behavior. Three little words that encourage me to throw caution to the wind and satisfy that urge for something that will give me a much-needed push toward the Friday finish line. Three little words that help me find inspiration and motivation on even the most desperate Tuesday mornings. So let’s get into the kitchen. It’s time for us to treat ourselves.

It always starts out innocently enough. I take a look into the refrigerator and just happen to notice some beautiful strawberries that I had found at the store. I think I’ll have a few of these luscious, sweet berries for my Tuesday treat. Yes, that should do the trick!

Wow, what a healthy, good-for-you snack I have chosen. I’m treating myself and not even feeling guilty about it. That’s what I call a win-win situation. Then I seem to remember that I have some chocolate-hazelnut spread in the cabinet. I convince myself that surely just letting one of the strawberries take a dip into the chocolatey goodness couldn’t be too bad for me. After all, we are treating ourselves today. It’s Tuesday!

Dipping things in chocolate just makes them taste better. That’s a scientific fact. Plus, it’s just one little strawberry. What could be the harm in that?

I’d say that combination was a success, judging by the berry brutality that has just occurred on my plate. I’m treating myself and things are staying under control. This is wonderful! Then I seem to remember that I have a loaf of ciabatta bread over on the counter. The gears in my brain are turning and my gut is growling. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

I cut off two slices of the fresh, airy bread.

I’m quickly realizing that my innocent Tuesday treat is suddenly turning into an increasingly crazy and calorie-laden creation. As my will power slips out the window, I carry on with this act, almost as if in a treat-yo-self trance. Getting more and more chaotic and frantic, I grab a knife to smear and slather both slices of the bread with the chocolate-hazelnut spread.

Hazelnuts are good for you, I keep reminding myself. Plus, it says on the jar that this spread is made with skim milk. This isn’t so bad. PLUS, I’m going to generously layer some strawberries on one of the slices of bread – as soon as I quit shoveling spoonfuls of this chocolate-hazelnut spread in my mouth.

A not-so-healthy sandwich is now smiling back at me from the plate. It’s all because of you, Tuesday! You’re doing this to me. It could be worse though, right? Of course it could. It’s time to eat. But wait, I seem to remember that I have some butter in my refrigerator. All right, when don’t I have butter in my refrigerator? In a zombie-like state, my hands reach for the butter and drop a tablespoon or so into a frying pan that has magically made its way to the stove without my knowledge. The butter starts to melt. My mouth starts to water.

I’m a sucker for butter and when it’s melted, all the better. The golden liquid will be perfect for frying up my increasingly unhealthy Tuesday treat. This whole endeavor has taken on a mind of its own. I place the two pieces of bread together and gently ease my sandwich into the melted butter.

The sound of the sizzle when the bread hits the pan is pure bliss. The smell of the melted butter browning the bread is one that drives my nose crazy with anticipation. After a few minutes on one side, my nose is telling me that it’s time to flip this sandwich over and get the other side just as golden.

After a few minutes on the other side, we are ready to get down to business. With both sides perfectly golden brown, I remove the sandwich from the pan – as soon as I quit shoveling spoonfuls of this chocolate-hazelnut spread in my mouth. With the sandwich perfectly done, let’s plate it up!

Now it’s time for the big reveal. It’s time to cut our Tuesday treat open and stand in awe of the goodness inside.

Oh my gosh.

It’s so pretty.

It’s time to eat – as soon as I quit shoveling spoonfuls of this chocolate-hazelnut spread in my mouth.

So it wasn’t the healthiest thing. But it sure tasted good. At the end of the day, that’s what treating yourself is all about. Now with my sweet tooth satisfied and my belly nice and full, it’s time for me to tackle this Tuesday head on – as soon as I quit shoveling spoonfuls of this chocolate-hazelnut spread in my mouth.

When you are treating yourself, what’s your favorite food? Or do you sometimes just follow the whims of your own desires and cupboards as I did on this particular Tuesday?

Happy treating (and eating),

The Taste Bud

Sandwich Struggle

Confession time. I have a problem. Sandwiches have always been a struggle for me. Such a pity, since I love nothing more than the idea of a sandwich. What could be better than a bounty of wonderful ingredients slapped between two thick pieces of bread? Maybe it’s toasted, maybe it’s not. Either way, it’s sure to be delicious as you bite into it and your taste buds are overwhelmed with a flurry of flavors. For me, this is the moment where the train grinds to a screeching halt.

I have a condiment conundrum. Going all the way back to when I was just a tiny little Taste Bud, sandwich condiments have repulsed me. Mayonnaise? Forget about it. That thick, creamy white substance will never touch my sliced bread. Uh-oh. Do you hear that? That music? It’s getting louder. Could it be? It’s building in a slow, but definite condiment crescendo. It sounds like the music from the shower scene in the Hitchcock classic Psycho. This could only mean one thing…

AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Horror of horrors! Don’t even think about getting any of this stuff within a 50 foot radius of me. Simply taking this picture was enough to make me break out in a cold sweat. I’m not meaning to direct all of my disgust toward the bright yellow mustard. I’m an equal opportunity hater when it comes to any mustard. Dijon, spicy, whole-grain, German, English, Chinese, Bordeaux – I hate ’em all. My dilemma should be quite clear at this point. If I can’t stomach any of the popular condiments, how am I able to eat sandwiches? I have one word. Dry. Think Sahara Desert dry. Perhaps even Atacama Desert dry – the driest desert in the world.

Yes, I’ve choked down many a dry sandwich in my day, much to my own displeasure. Thankfully, there is one sandwich that solves my struggle. A sandwich that stands out above all of the rest. A sandwich that requires no condiments to be absolutely and utterly fabulous. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the grilled cheese sandwich has arrived to save the day and take me out of the doldrums of dryness forever.

Like a sandwich symphony, the grilled cheese has it all. Let us take a moment to marvel at its beauty.

My hero! What’s not to love about this? Two thick pieces of bread oozing with cheesy goodness. Even better, these wonderful creations are grilled up using lots of one of my favorite ingredients – butter! Everything is better with butter. I should print bumper stickers with this slogan. Now back to our grilled cheese…

The options are overwhelming. You can experiment with the type of bread. You can experiment with the type of cheese. If you’re feeling especially feisty, you can even mix and match your cheeses. Don’t be afraid to add other ingredients to the party. I’ve been known to put bacon in my grilled cheese sandwiches. Why? Everything is better with bacon. I should print bumper stickers with this slogan. Why do I keep getting sidetracked with visions of bumper sticker grandeur today? Back to our sandwich! Let your imagination run wild. See that ripe avocado on your counter? That could make a wonderful addition to your next grilled cheese creation. How about those juicy tomatoes that will be coming in by the bushel this summer? Why not add a slice or two? Do what tastes good to YOU.

Most importantly, the grilled cheese sandwich beautifully solves my condiment conundrum. No condiments are required, because these culinary creations were made for dunking! Grilled cheese and soup go hand in hand. They’re a match made in heaven. Bellying up to the table with a grilled cheese sandwich and a steaming bowl of soup sends my taste buds into hysterics and gets my heart all aflutter. What kind of soup should you use for the dunking experience? Use your favorite, of course. There are no rules. If it is appetizing to your taste buds, then you have made the correct soup selection.

As I pick up the grilled cheese and give it that satisfying dip into my bowl, I see it soaking up even more flavor, while getting a nice dose of hydration and moisture. Your soup becomes a spa for your sandwich, accentuating its intrinsic beauty. That first bite is pure bliss. No condiments needed here. Mayonnaise and mustard can take a hike! Grilled cheese, I salute you!

What’s your favorite grilled cheese and soup combination?

Happy dunking,

The Taste Bud