When I was growing up my mom would often make me a grilled cheese sandwich. Her method was to take two slices of white bread, spread each on one side with softened butter, put them in a large frying pan (buttered side down) over medium-low heat and put a slice of cheese on each one. When she lifted the bread with a spatula and saw it was starting to brown she would flip one of the slices on top of the other, creating a sandwich. She would continue cooking the sandwich until the bread was nice and golden brown. This is the way I make my grilled cheese sandwich.
In 1986 I married Kurt Weiler. Kurt and I decided to have grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner one night. We decided to each make our own sandwich. Same ingredients as above. White bread, butter, American cheese. However, Kurt composed his entire sandwich before setting it into a smaller frying pan, browning one side and then flipping the sandwich and browning the other side. We both looked at each other like the other one was nuts.
I once was catering a party and asked someone to add cucumber to the salad. I assumed they would slice the cuke into nice rounds. Instead they cut it into chunks. Again, I looked at them like they were from another planet.
I think how we approach food and its preparation is strongly influenced by our upbringing. Gone are the days of daughters learning to cook standing by their mothers and grandmothers, but there are still some vestiges of culinary inheritance left for the taking. I have been teaching my son (who is a picky eater and rarely eats anything we prepare) how to make chocolate chip cookies (the Tollhouse version). I have told him our family “secrets” for making the cookies thin and chewy. He enjoys helping me and swoons at his first bite of a warm cookie right off the baking sheet. Little by little I am trying to share some of my enthusiasm for food and cooking with him, in the hopes that he will become an independent adult who can cook for himself and be a relatively decent cook to boot. Even though he is completely resistant to trying new things, I still take him to the farmer’s market and have him help me pick out fresh fruits and vegetables, and teach him what the names are for each one. We both enjoy the experience, although I’m sure he’d say that going out for ice cream or to buy a new pair of sneakers trumps a visit to the farmer’s market.
So, regardless of which way you make your grilled cheese sandwich, I would opine that sharing with your child your method for making the sandwich is far more important than the method itself. Happy cooking!