From the food editor: Collecting pots and pans for families in need
I started spring cleaning the other weekend and realized I have some pots and pans that I haven't used in months, even years. It's not that I don't cook (obviously!), it's that I have so many -- too many, as my husband says. He's right, of course. I really don't need three 10-inch skillets and three 9-by-5 loaf pans.
Yet, I tucked them back in the now crumb-free cabinets thinking I'll want them some day.
Then I read about a partnership between Marcel's Culinary Experience in Glen Ellyn and World Relief DuPage/Aurora. Through the end of April, the kitchenwares shop and cooking school is collecting used cookware as part of the Well Loved Pots & Pans Exchange. The charitable organization will pack them into Good Neighbor kits that it provides to refugee families getting settled in the area. For donating, Marcel's will give you a coupon good for 20 percent off a piece of cookware in the store, from an All-Clad sauce pan to a Le Creuset Dutch oven.
Now I know some of you might not be able to plan a trip down to Glen Ellyn in the next week or two, so I've arranged for the Daily Herald Office Center to be a drop-off site. Beginning today, bring your pots and pans to our lobby at 155 E. Algonquin Road, Arlington Heights, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and our receptionist at the front desk will hand you a coupon you can use at Marcel's at a time when it's more convenient for you. There are so many great shops and eateries in downtown Glen Ellyn, you'll want to plan a day of it.
We'll collect pots and pans through April 30. My extra loaf pans and skillets will be the first thing in the box, and I'll feel good knowing someone else needs them more than I do.
Grilled and gooey: One of the pans I'm holding on to is my cast iron grill pan. Ridged on one side, flat on the other, it's my go-to pan for warm, gooey grilled cheese sandwiches. And I'm going to be using it a lot this month as my family celebrates April (National Grilled Cheese Month) and April 12 (Grilled Cheese Day). I had possibly the best grilled cheese of my life the other weekend at Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, Indiana. Mozzarella with pesto basil. Good God! I haven't quite duplicated it at home yet, I think I need to wait and make my own pesto with my garden basil.
If you think you have a great grilled cheese recipe, it could win you $15,000 in the Grilled Cheese Academy's Grilled Cheese Recipe Showdown.
Sponsored by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, the contest will accept original recipes from home cooks and professional chefs through May 12. To enter, submit your recipe that features Wisconsin cheese along with a photo at www.grilledcheeseacademy.com. (Sorry Fair Oaks, using your Hoosier cheese makes you ineligible).
Need a bite of inspiration? Try the 2014 Best of Show winner: The Limburger Leap made with Swiss cheese.
Sweet on bitter: We generally don't like bitter foods. But why?
That's the topic up for discussion Saturday, April 11, as the Chicago Foodways Roundtable hosts Jennifer McLagan, author of "Bitter: A Taste of the World's Most Dangerous Flavor."
We embrace bitter in beer and chocolate, yet despise it in kale and brussels sprouts. McLagan, an award-winning author and culinarian, will talk about the taste's split personality, the science behind it and how it's crucial for good cooking at noon at Kendall College, School of Culinary Arts, 900 N. North Branch St., Chicago. The program costs $3 and free parking is available across the street.
• Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at firstname.lastname@example.org or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend at Facebook.com/DebPankey.DailyHerald or follow her on Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter @PankeysPlate.