Lessons from the grilled cheese universe

The bread was burning. The smell was unmistakable, so I grabbed the turner and flipped the sandwich over to see if it was salvageable. It was not. Nor was its compatriot, blackening merrily next to it in the pan. I flipped them anyway and, as I ruefully considered whether I could scrape off enough burn to make them kid-edible, I burned the other side. Thoroughly.burned sandwich

Two grilled cheese sandwiches, straight into the compost.

I took a deep breath, closed my eyes briefly, realized this is as close as I get to meditation most days, and started over. Butter the first slice of bread; slice the cheese; arrange the orange strips on the bread; place the second slice of bread on top; butter again; into the pan. Repeat.

These two didn’t burn.

How many hundreds of times have I made grilled cheese sandwiches? How many times have I made *these* grilled cheese sandwiches? Same bread, same cheese, same pan, same stove. How on earth did I manage to made such a mess of something so simple? I watched the second batch like a newly-minted chef. They did not burn. My house was brimming with 7- and 8-year-olds making the most of another glorious summer day, so I started another batch. Nothing burned.

As the boys charged in and scarfed down the sandwiches, I tried to get rid of the lingering acrid smell. I opened the door and turned on the range fan. Still the question remained, like an accusation, “How many times have I done this? How could I burn them?” And then, suddenly, I started to chuckle. Yup, how many times? How many hundreds of times have I made these? How many more will I make? Most will turn out, and some will undoubtedly burn.

Ah, but the universe communicates in funny ways, and here – thanks to some sandwiches – was my end-of-summer lesson. Sometimes, the sandwiches burn for no reason at all. Sometimes, I can do everything right and it still won’t work. Sometimes, I just need to throw it away and start over without judgment or blame or worry.

This is exactly what I needed to remember as I head into the new school year: Sometimes, the sandwiches burn; I can always make more.



26 thoughts on “Lessons from the grilled cheese universe

  1. Ah, the smell of burnt grilled cheese! It brings back memories of my daughters learning to cook, me smiling as I bite into a blackened sandwich….mmmmmmmm. 😀

    What a great way to treat the mistake. Just like my daughters, they learned and eventually made some great sandwiches! And you have learned that sometimes, mistakes happen, you deal with it, and go forward!

    Thanks for this crispy slice! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This post reminds me that I need to begin the year with the expectation that I will make mistakes, and that this is not necessarily a bad thing. I learn and grow from mistakes. And sometimes, like your grilled cheese, we can just try again! Thank you for getting me ready for the new year (which starts in a few more hours)!


  3. Yep. I’ve burned my share of literal and metaphoric grilled cheese, and I’ve scraped the ashes of a lesson into the garbage. Still, I crave grilled cheese and know I’ll devour many this school year. With a little luck, I won’t burn any. And sometimes the kids think those burned remnants taste mighty fine.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The catchiest of titles – and what a philosophy! But we laugh because it’s real and we’ve all been there … if not with grilled cheese, something… what a fun piece about shaking it off and moving on.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, such a great post! I love the burned grilled cheese metaphor. I have certainly been there! You are such a lovely writer, Amanda!


    1. Thanks! I just read yours – too funny! I’m having a little trouble commenting (I’ll try again) & I don’t see you on the Slice of Life page. Feel free to get in touch if you need help getting on there 🙂


  6. Hi, Amanda. I baked scones recently and TOTALLY burned them. What was that all about?! I’m with you. Cooking is an inexact art and a reminder that what works today (in the oven, in our lives) might not work tomorrow. (I ate the scones anyway, BTW).

    Liked by 1 person

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