He walked in and froze.
“Hi.” His wife looked up. “What?”
What, he thought. His wife, at that moment, was sitting at the kitchen table. The kitchen table which was scattered with cereal from breakfast, plates from lunch in the center, and plates from dinner closest to the edge, the ones most recently eaten. She sat in one of the faded yellow chairs, one foot propped on a second chair, one shoe off and one shoe on. One hand outstretched and rocked the baby carrier on the floor where, inside, their infant son slept. Slung across his wife’s chest was their two-year-old daughter, also asleep, her arms bandied around her mother’s neck, her bare feet and legs wrapped around her mother’s waist. If it wasn’t for the wild curls that hung down their daughter’s back, he would’ve thought that a koala bear had swung into the kitchen and mistaken the woman in the chair, the one with the wild curls that matched their daughter’s, for a tree limb.
His wife’s other hand was outstretched too, and occupied. She had somehow found a way to reach their daughter’s plate, the small plastic, purple plate that had seen better days, and held the remnants of a grilled cheese sandwich, the crust cut off, white cheese and not yellow, the top specked in ketchup, a bite or two removed from the sides. He watched her take a bite and when she sighed, their daughter sighed too, a rumble against her chest. “We’re having grilled cheese for dinner,” she said and he nodded, wondering if there was another sandwich somewhere unseen, wondering if they would just share that one, wondering if it was possible that someone could look so loved and so lovely, so lost and so found all at the very same time.
I have an imaginary therapist. His name is Dr. Strathairn (because, hi) and he’s very, very good. Or, at least, I think he’s very good. (He doesn’t exactly get a lot of reviews on Yelp.)
Lately, I’ve been making a lot of appointments (his schedule’s wide open), more so than usual. Not that anything’s wrong in particular but, you know, sometimes it’s just good to check in on yourself. Have a conversation with a handsome, calm, older gentleman who’s holding a notebook (and who takes your insurance). Who lets you go over your appointment time. Who sometimes interjects with stories about what it was like to make The River Wild (you know, typical therapist stuff). I find it comforting. And very revealing.
Summer requires its own sort of comfort. Why should fall get all the comfort-fun? There’s a lot to be stressed about in the summer, after all. Here’s a short list:
- People at work who are on vacation while you are decidedly not on vacation
- F.O.M.O. (there’s something about SUN and OUTSIDE that makes you feel like you’re not doing enough to take advantage, no matter how much you do)
- Sun (why does it make you so sleepy?)
- Sand (why does it get everywhere?)
- People who roll their eyes when you complain about summer REMOTELY (but not Dr. Strathairn. He totally gets it.) (I swear I’m not crazy. Please don’t call my mother.)
SO. We’re going to make a caprese grilled cheese sandwich. We’re going to make them summer appropriate. We’re going to make arugula pesto. We’re going to be embracing of butter and oil. We’re going to weigh the kinds of melty mozzarella cheese we want and then say things like ALL and YES. We may or may not broil freshly picked, ripe tomatoes. We may or may not leave off the arugula. But we will enjoy all of it, every bite.
Caprese Grilled Cheese with Arugula Pesto
Good sourdough bread or rustic bread
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Arugula pesto ( see below)
Butter and olive oil for the pan
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Layer fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and pesto between two slices of bread.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy bottom oven proof skillet. Lightly brown each side of bread and place in the hot oven.
4. Bake until cheese is melty, about 10 minutes.
Arugula Pesto (Makes 1 cup)
2 Large garlic cloves
1/4 Cup of smoked or roasted almonds
1 Cup of packed basil leaves or flat-leaf parsley
2 Cups of packed arugula
1/3 Cups of olive oil, plus 1 Tablespoon
1/8 Cups of fresh lemon juice
1/2 Teaspoon of kosher salt (use less if your almonds are salted)
1. In food processor, place first 4 ingredients and pulse until finely chopped.
2. Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pulse until combined, scraping down sides as necessary.
Note from Sylvia at Feasting at Home: This recipe is intentionally a little salty and a little lemony, if eaten on its own. It’s meant to flavor the sandwich, or could be tossed with pasta, or even mixed with a little mayo (or veganaise) for a flavorful sandwich spread.