E and I had little time to ourselves last week. We worked, we entertained, and we passed out every night too exhausted for pillow talk. I also got so caught up in making sandwiches that I was leaving little time for E outside of the kitchen. I spent every morning writing or cooking. I bossed him around –“Eat this.” “Try that.” “Can you grab that?” “Babes, hold that there while I get a photo.” I also crawled into bed wearing a scraggly t-shirt and shorts that were either giveaways from an event gift bag or comfy cotton rags borrowed from E’s closet most nights, not my cute nighties that I purchased to entertain, and seduce, my boyfriend.
I decided to refocus on him for a bit. We took off in our new car to go to a friend’s house in the country for the weekend, during which we had most of our meals made for us. Roasted chicken and panzanella salad made way for leftover chicken sandwiches the day after (E made his own sandwich. Didn’t count towards my tally). We got to cuddle, talk about the news, watch tennis on cable and think about our next vacation. And because I wore a silk nighty that didn’t have any sport team logos on it and actually fit me like a body skimming slip should, we had pillow talk. And we had what comes after pillow talk.
After a rejuvenating weekend, I was ready to continue sandwich making. I’ve gotten some perspective on this whole challenge and realized something very important. If I spend most of my time in the kitchen, then I won’t have any time left over for E in any other rooms in our apartment. And let’s be real, E won’t buy me anything, ring or otherwise, if he doesn’t feel loved.
Still, I wanted to make E something comforting on our first night back. I chose the Reuben. Something about the salty, hot and gooey combination of grilled corned beef, sauerkraut and cheese made it appealing. But it required Swiss cheese and somehow, we cheese hoarders didn’t have any Swiss in the 18 types of dairy we had in our refrigerator.
I had to go buy the goods, but it took me an hour to run an errand that should have taken me 20 minutes beause the F train decided to run slower than molasses today. And, it was raining outside, and my arms were sore from carrying a heavy purse plus an additional bag, and I was tired and frustrated that the lady in front of me at Whole Foods was taking so damn long to get her cracked pepper turkey, and drat, they don’t have corned beef so I had to buy pastrami, and the line is so long… cripes!
By the time I got home, I was in a gnarly mood. Of course, my happy-go-lucky boyfriend was there to greet me at the door. I snapped at him before he could pour me a glass of wine. So much for recharged. I was raging instead.
I opted to make a West Coast Reuben–the ones with Grey Poupon instead of Russian or Thousand Island dressing because I don’t like either one of them, and I knew we had several varieties of seedy Dijon mustard in the fridge.
I bought that healthy rye bread that was sold in that shrink wrapped rectangle that they stock next to the wheat germ and other wheat products. But as soon as I took a piece out of the wrapping, it fell apart. And so, I preach–do not screw around with that brick rye bread. Go and get a loaf of that real Jewish Rye loaf, the one shaped like a half moon. It’s so much sturdier. That’s what real reubens are made of.
Also, don’t try to be cute and flip the sandwich in the pan with one hand. When I tried to flip over the first sandwich (with the frail healthy rye bread) to heat the other side, it flopped apart in the pan. Bread and cheese scattered all over the place. Ack! I hate this bread! Two spatulas, people.
Since E found it unsafe to be around me while I felt the world was against me, he fled to the corner bodega to get me a fresh loaf of Rye bread. When he came back, he put on some dinner music to match my mood–“Into the Void” by Nine Inch Nails on Spotify.
“You’re funny,” I yelled. “And I’m sorry. It’s not your fault the bread was inadequate.” It’s so hard to be mad at someone who is always smiling.
When we put together the sandwiches with the real rye, it tasted like warm salty goodness. I made two sandwiches with Emmentaler, another with some gruyere we had left over from the Croque Madames. Both were delish. We could only take a few bites from each because they were so filling. I finally ended up smiling by dinner’s end. E flipped Spotify to “Sunrise” by Norah Jones to cater to my improved demeanor.
4 pieces rye bread (real rye bread, not that frail health food stuff)
1/4 pound corned beef or pastrami
2 tbsp Grey Poupon
1/4 cup sauerkraut
2 tbsp butter
4 slices Swiss cheese
salt and pepper to taste
First, butter one side of each piece of bread. Then flip the slices over and spread on the Grey Poupon. Next layer on slices of Swiss cheese. Then layer on slices of corned beef. Next spoon out sauerkraut and smooth a thick layer over the meat. Finally layer on another thin layer of Swiss cheese. Top all with the other slice of bread, mustard side down. Toast sandwich on skillet or on grill or in oven until cheese melts and bread is crispy. Flip once with two spatulas–one under, one on top. Lift sandwich and turn hands one over the other. Place sandwich back in pan. Toast other side, then remove. Eat while it’s still hot. Makes 2 full sized sandwiches.