Writing Switch: Grateful Belly — Picnic in style with these Earls of Sandwich | AspenTimes.com

Writing Switch: Grateful Belly — Picnic in style with these Earls of Sandwich

Benjamin Welch and Sean Beckwith
Exited middle aged man in his underwear, watching the game on tv.
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto

For like, a year, Ben has been trying to convince Sean to incorporate favorite breads into … well, anything. “One day I’m going to call your bluff,” Sean says, but since our poker night is still yet to come to fruition, Sean doesn’t realize Ben is always holding the nuts (and oats). This week, from the kitchens of our respective bachelor pads, we’re grippin’ grain and unveiling our favorite homemade sandwiches, “Naked Chef”-style.

PBJ CRUNCH

SB: Bread: If you aren’t using generic white bread for any PBJ, you’re doing it wrong. This is not the kind of sandwich to be fancied up using artisanal* bread with gum-ripping crust. Give me Wonder Bread or the 99 cent Kroger brand white bread. You want the peanut butter and grape jelly to shine; the bread is just a vessel for it.

Filling: This is easy — creamy peanut butter and grape jelly. The crunchy part of the sandwich doesn’t come from weird chopped peanuts. Chunky peanut butter is for those artisanal* places.

Grape jelly is the only jelly. Preferably Welch’s Grape Jelly — the popular brand, not something from Ben Welch. Don’t ever buy food products from Ben. That’s not fair. You can buy food products from Ben and let me know how they are.

Special twist: The best thing to put on a PBJ to make it crunchy is Doritos. You may say, “Cheesy chips on a PBJ, that’s weird.” Is it? Because I guarantee anyone who has ever eaten a PBJ has at some point had a side of chips. If “innovative” cooks at restaurants can do weird shit like put fries on a burger then I can push something I came up with as a child. However, unlike kitchen sink burgers, a PBJ with Doritos on it is actually delicious.

*I feel like places use “artisanal” wrong in the same way that people use “literally” wrong. Saying your special sauce that’s just a 10 can of Costco ketchup mixed with mayo is artisanal is not what that means. If you’re making artisanal food, it’s made by hand in the traditional manner and I know you’re not making special sauce from scratch, Bobby Flay.

TV DINNER DELIGHT

BW: Sean and everyone else still living in the stone age who doesn’t own a microwave, stop reading now because you won’t be able to complete this recipe.

Like most people halfheartedly trying to lose weight, I often stare at my Lean Cuisine and wonder “how can I add 200 calories and 40 carbohydrates to this meal?” The answer is to convert it into a sandwich.

The main reason to do this is because you don’t want to dirty a fork, or perhaps all your forks are already dirty. You’re not going to just scoop enchilada sauce into your mouth with your disgusting hands, so give yourself something to hold by plopping dinner between two girthy slices of a bread such as multigrain wide pan.

Does it look weird? Yes, but it’s not like you’re eating TV dinners in front of people. Turkey and stuffing is already a thing — it’s called a turkey sandwich when it comes in different packaging — so don’t be grossed out.

Salisbury steak and mac ’n’ cheese? Load it on a sesame bun. Meatloaf and potatoes? Hoagie roll. Three-cheese ziti? Um, baguette. Country fried chicken patty, watery corn and brownie? Seven ancient wheat. You can’t stump me.

CHEESE FRENCHIE

SB: Bread: I’m not sure how to make this sandwich, so I don’t know the bread used. This is essentially a plea to Don and Millie’s to open a franchise in Aspen. They’re based in Omaha and even though they have multiple locations, it’s not your traditional chain.

I believe the bread is like a Texas toast? But, again, I don’t know.

Filling: It’s just cheese and mayonnaise I think. Honestly, I don’t even like mayo. People who love Subway treat it like chocolate syrup and it gave me a phobia. However, hear me out because it’s not like you’re getting some cold slab of cheese on white bread with mayo even though I know it sounds good to some of you sick f—s.

Special twist: This sandwich is deep-fried. I’m not sure if they dip it in breading or what’s up but it’s a hot, gooey piece of fried goodness that goes great with a cold Coke, french fries and a side of cheese sauce, which are for the fries.

I don’t know if that’s any better but dipping a deep-fried grilled cheese in nacho cheese — which I may or may not have done before — is next level fat kid even for Omaha.

TWO-TIMING TUNA MELT

BW: Panini press missing the cord again? Assault the olfactory senses of your entire office with this quick and easy tuna melt.

The most important step is to not be duped by a sneaky “tuna fish in oil” can. The contents of that shelf mix and mingle like grandma’s chest of costume jewelry; read the labels carefully. Nobody likes the kid whose mom makes tuna-fish-in-oil sandwiches, so even if it’s just for your progeny to save face in front of their friends, purchase the tuna fish in water.

Instead of using Miracle Whip or mayonnaise to zestify your lunch, substitute ranch dressing. For this in particular, but nothing else, I recommend Sir Kensington’s cucumber ranch. Next, add half a can of black beans (drained), two slices of pepper jack and a squirt of mustard. I’m finally at the age where I can appreciate that not every mustard is French’s, which turns your lips yellow and stains your shirts. Also, “poupon” remains one of the most fun things to work into a conversation about food.

Now sizzle it in the skillet, bake it in the oven or — and I hate to say it again — radiofry it in the microwave. Inhale and enjoy.

ARUGULA ANYTHING

SB: Bread: Dealer’s choice. Ideally something suited for savory, so no weird cinnamon raisin stuff.

Filling: Your favorite deli meat, condiment and cheese.

Special twist: Add arugula. I mean good lord, there are more options for greens on sandwiches than just shredded lettuce or spinach. It doesn’t even necessarily need to be arugula, just give me something with flavor. Mustard greens, well-dressed and chopped kale, anything.

An arugula, pesto, chicken and mozzarella sandwich is so much better than the same but substitute shredded Taco Bell lettuce. Up your greens game because it can elevate a sandwich.

KNUCKLE SAMMICH

BW: Minuscule-level bureaucracies, and I’m talking even smaller than City Hall, are the worst. Nothing embodies that sentiment more than homeowner’s associations and Boy Scout leaders’ roundtables. I wonder if the 65-year-old men with facial hair, representing every U.S. president since whomever the fourth one was, wear their dainty uniforms to these grown-ups meetings — sew-on badges and handkerchiefs and brown, knee-high socks oozing from their outfits like stolen valor at the shopping mall food court.

Anyway, the only hell more fierce than “HOA board meeting” is “I need a rental with three carseats.” If you ever hear me utter either of those phrases, kill me immediately because it’s not actually Real Ben, but rather a replica like in “Animorphs.” My Animorph would be a Bulbasaur.

According to reports, this month, I parked too close to other vehicles and The Clash-inspired woman above me is tired of listening to Riley Reid on full blast in the middle of the night. OK boomer, like you weren’t already awake ASMRing to old QVC reruns.

You’re just picking on me because I’m the youngest person who lives in the building by like, 30 years. I don’t give a shit when they want to scrape the ice off the parking lot — I’m not revolving my entire ski bum life around some random five-minute window when a guy upstairs hears the Bobcat driving down the road and frantically tries to contact me. You’re knocking on my door at 7 a.m. when I’m with some Peruvian chick because you want me to move my car into the street? The plow’s already come and he’s about ready for a third lap, go do a crossword puzzle. I’m operating on 45 minutes of sleep here.

Just build an igloo around my Renegade, whatever. I got four-wheel drive, backup cameras, a heated steering wheel and a crippling monthly auto payment — pretty sure I can stomp the gas and bust out of 3 inches of snow if I ever decide to go anywhere before the July thaw. If you don’t get it, that’s because it’s a Jeep thing.

What’s this column supposed to be about, again?

Come and see Ben and Sean at the locals’ comedy night at Silver City on Sunday, Feb. 9. They’ll be the ones in disguises. bwelch@aspentimes.com sbeckwith@aspentimes.com


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