March Madness is upon me.
It’s my favorite time of the year, but there are so many college basketball games to watch that I lose what little resolve to cook that I had in the first place. I have usually at least two games on simultaneously: one on the TV and one on my laptop. On the first two days of the tournament, there is sometimes a third game playing on my iPad.
Who has time to feed herself in this environment?
Everyone knows that sports need snacks, though.
More than half the fun of March Madness is the license to eat snack food for every meal. Ten years ago, during March Madness, I could reliably be found wearing PJs all day and eating bowl after bowl of Fruit Loops with coconut milk.
My current March Madness routine no longer involves a sugar coma, but I am still snack-obsessed this time of the year.
Let’s pretend for a moment that I don’t live in a city where I can have any type of food I can imagine delivered in an hour. On-demand snacks have their allure, but sometimes I want to use the oven, just to prove that I can.
Garlic cheese bread has become my go-to basketball food for a few reasons:
- Its ingredients are simple (the requirement of all my favorite things to cook),
- It’s quick (I can make it during halftime), and
- It’s a renewable resource (I buy the ingredients once and can make garlic cheese bread for days and days; that’s what a renewable resource is, right?)
First, the ingredients.
I use only Aunt Millie’s Texas Toast, butter, garlic, and shredded cheese.
The Texas Toast stays in my freezer until I need it. It makes dreamy garlic cheese bread. It’s thick enough that it can get golden and crunchy on the outside while remaining white and fluffy on the inside.
I’m told garlic can be purchased fresh and then chopped in one’s own kitchen, but this is not the prairie. Someone has kindly minced it and put it in a jar, and who am I to snub their hard work? If adulthood were measured on a garlic scale, I am between garlic powder and chopping up a clove myself. I have a few decades of garlic consumption ahead of me so maybe I’ll get to the clove-chopping stage eventually.
In that same vein, you could get a block of cheese and shred it yourself, but why? For my inaugural March Madness 2017 batch of garlic cheese bread, I used a cheddar blend that I already had in my refrigerator from when I made baked potatoes last week. Three kinds of cheddar and no extra shopping? Yes, please.
Then, the process.
It isn’t even necessary to thaw the bread. I take it right from the freezer, put it on the baking sheet, spread the garlic butter on each piece, top them with shredded cheese, and pop the sheet in the oven. I usually bake this at 350F for ten to twelve minutes. It depends on if the bread was frozen and how much time I have until the game is back. Garlic cheese bread is a nuanced game.
Now, the end result.
I like to cut each slice into quarters (even though college basketball only has halves) because then I have bite-sized pieces. I can easily pop one into my mouth without taking my eyes off the game and without making a mess.
I am a lady, after all.
Katie Pruitt is not a chef or even a home cook. She is a writer with a lifelong passion for toast. Although she grew up just a couple miles from the Aunt Millie's bakery in Fort Wayne, she now has loaves of Aunt Millie's bread flown to her in San Francisco on a regular basis.