lemon jelly

Modest Steps

Contrary to popular understanding, philosophy is a pretty modest enterprise. The days of grand, architectonic metaphysics are pretty well over. No one today is going to sit down with a pen and try with a little a priori deduction to convince you that God exists. One of the hallmarks of any grounded method or mode of inquiry is its practitioners’ recognition of the method’s limitations. Without it, you end up with embarrassments like St. Anselm’s folly. I think it’s safe to say that some hard lessons have been learned and that philosophers generally don’t entertain those kinds of pretensions anymore.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally get tripped up by overambition. I realised last night that I’ve probably been having trouble with my thesis because I’m not quite ready to settle the ongoing debate in liberal theory in twenty pages. So, today I’ve been scaling back and taking modest steps – in food and in philosophy.

A few nights ago, I made Daniel Pattern’s honey-glazed apricots, but lacking the requisite vanilla ice cream, I’ve been smushing the lovely sweet-tart apricot halves on toast for breakfast. At lunch today, I decided that that gooey goodness would work well with some old cheddar too. Grilled cheese, anyone? Unpretentious and completely doable.

Gooey Grilled Cheese with Smushed Apricots

  • two slices multigrain bread
  • softened butter for slathering on bread
  • thin slices of aged white cheddar
  • 2 honey-glazed apricot halves or 1 tbsp of apricot jam (see above)
  • a pinch of sucanut or brown sugar (optional)
  • 5 or 6 medium basil leaves
  • fresh ground pepper
  1. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Butter each slice of bread on one side and flip over. Top one slice with half the cheddar. Layer with apricot halves and smush with a butter knife until fruit breaks out of skins. Spread fruit evenly over cheese. Sprinkle with sucanut if using.
  2. Smash basil leaves with the end of a wooden spoon to release oils. Stack leaves one on top of the other, roll up from stem towards tip, and slice thinly to get curled shreds. Layer basil on apricots. Add pepper to taste, followed by the remaining cheese. Top with second bread slice, buttered side up.
  3. Grill sandwich on skillet, 3-5 minutes per side, flipping when bread is golden. Slice on a diagonal and serve immediately.