According to my father, when he was growing up it wasn't unusual to have pastito (a kind of Greek lasagna with white sauce, cheese, nutmeg, and ground lamb) AND cheese pies for dinner. The doctor told my grandfather: "if you don't stop eating cheese you're going to die" and my grandfather John did die of a heart attack. According to my father, his own cholesterol was in the 400s when he was a young man. That can't be right, can it? I mean, the numbers don't go that high.
As a very little girl, I don't remember engaging in many EX-Treme cheese indulgences. As an adolescent, however, I grew up in the late 80s/early 90s. If the 'naughts' are the era of bacon, the previous era was clearly the Age of Cheese, and I am old enough to remember when there was only one flavor of Doritos (the coolest salty snack to have in your lunch) and to have heralded in the era where cheesing it away with pizza-flavored Combos was one's birthright as an American. And cheese fries. With double cheeseburger or cheese-topped hot dogs.
The deep-fried mozzarella sticks I consumed at NJ diners are likely still lodged in my digestion system, somewhere.
My adult relationship with cheese as been somewhat manic-depressive, alternating between total absorption and total abstention. When I was living in the UK, I had a particular fondness for the jacket potatoes sold by street carts .
My favorite potato dealer, er, vendor was located in Convent Garden. He had a coal-fired oven that would leave the potatoes scorched on the outside yet the interior was always soft and creamy, with the very center of the potato almost like a mash. I would usually order it topped with Cheddar. The cheese was tossed on unmelted, but the heat of the potato would quickly soften it to the perfect consistency--pliant but not rubbery.
"These are the best potatoes," I told everyone until one day I noticed why the cheese was so creamy...
In addition to the shredded cheese, there was also a large clump of butter melting beside the cheese. Butter. Cheese. Butter. Cheese. Like the buttery goodness of every cheese sandwich squared several thousand times and stuffed into one perfectly cooked potato. I had to shift to Shapers diet lunches from Boots, the popular English pharmacy. Part of me wished I never learned The Secret.
|Flickr: ben p|
Monterey Jack Cheese Quick Bread
|Look at all of those cheesy, oozing hunks of yumminess!|
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 pinch of salt (approximately 1/2 teaspoon)
1 pinch of black pepper
4 tablespoons of olive oil (with extra oil to grease the pan)
1 cup skim milk
1 beaten egg
4 ounces of Monterey Jack cheese, cut into cubes
I didn't use them this time, but 1/2 cup diced jalapeno peppers or sun-dried tomatoes would compliment this bread well.
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Oil a 9x5 or 8x4 pan.
2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pepper
3. Mix together the oil, milk, and egg, fold into the dry ingredients.
4. Slowly add the cubes of cheese (and other add-ins, if you are using them) to the batter.
5. Bake for 45 minutes. Cool for 5-10 minutes, remove from pan. Cool for another hour before cutting. Best served the day it is made