Chicken Marbella ~ Of Grilled Cheese and Fireflies

The Northwest: a 223ft, four-masted schooner sunk by ice in April of 1898. She lies at the bottom of Lake Michigan near the Straits of Mackinac, six miles west of the bridge.

The more curious of you may be wondering why Sister Madly knows this.

The equation is simple: Planks from Collapsed Dock + Blazing Inferno + the Promise of Fireflies + Pie Iron = The World’s Most Amazing Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

There was a time when Sister Madly was enjoying sandwiches instead of murdering them. It was a happy time in those days, a simple time, and the day she had her first Pie Iron Grilled Cheese she thought it would last forever.

It was years ago that Sister Madly found herself taking on the wilds of Northern Michigan, lured to the desolate locale by the usual great outdoorsmen through the promise of fireflies. Her lack of wilderness experience, however, did not go undetected by the Professors as she dragged her roller-luggage through the woods, tripping over roots and spaz-dancing through spider webs on her way to the campsite. But hey, at least there will be fireflies.

After a rousing game ofLet’s Pitch the Tent Before the Thunderstorm Arrives and the subsequent ‘Let’s Write Our Last Will and Testament Because We Sought Shelter in the Tent Instead of Someplace Safe,’ Sister Madly found herself somewhat peckish. Since there was no way of convincing her that a salad was typical wilderness fare- and oh, how they tried!- she was sent out to find some dry kindling for the campfire.

Though she was not expected to succeed, the Professors were interested as to what she would turn up after the recent monsoon- inexperience in a test subject seems to be catnip to this particular lot. However, the bits of driftwood she uncovered from the beach in the midst of her mosquito slap-dancing and ‘salad is not a celebration’ mutterings ended up being a smashing success.* And as this all took place in the great outdoors, Sister Madly didn’t have to contend with this terrifying, all too opinionated fellow ^.

*The antler-like thing, however, made the Professors uneasy.

But driftwood is only available in limited quantities, determined by what the lake is willing to give up and what remains unguarded by miniature, blood-sucking ‘fireflies’. This hunt along the beach went from ankle-deep waters to about mid-waist, which led to a swim out to the planks of a collapsed dock at the bottom of the lake.

Now the removal anything from the Great Lakes themselves is deeply frowned upon by the guardians of the land, so the absconding of the aforementioned dock had to be carried out with the utmost stealth. This is about the only field in which Sister Madly can claim expertise, as leaving zucchini and other goodies on porches require a certain level of discretion- and it was worth the risk, as the planks burned something fierce after they had a chance to dry out.

wilderness state park

It is amazing what one can accomplish with bread, a pie iron, a funeral pyre and shameful amounts of cheese. Sister Madly has had grilled cheese sandwiches before, but this was her first Pie Iron Cheese Sandwich experience and it was magnificent. Perhaps she had a knack for the wilderness life after all, despite the lack of genuine fireflies.

And so it came to pass that Sister Madly, who was once again cheerfully embarking on the road to delinquency, encountered a park ranger on the beach, one who had been using a liquid bronzer obviously not endorsed by the FDA, the BBB or any other initialed agency as he was not unlike the color of a highway cone. He began to talk, as these types often do, spewing out useless trivia about the Lakes- the width, the depth, etc., oblivious to the fact that a fantastic cheese sandwich was waiting in the wings. Still, Sister Madly must have looked interested because the Highway Cone kept on talking about the history, the settlers and oh, that isn’t a collapsed dock at the bottom of the lake.

It’s a shipwreck.


Officer Buzzkill, Park Ranger

It’s a three-masted schooner now. Grilled cheese can make you do crazy things.


~ The decision was made to revisit Chicken Marbella, the original of which vanished unexpectedly- something which befuddles Sister Madly despite the fact that she is, most likely, at fault. ~


  • 6 chicken thighs, whole or cubed
  • 1/2 head of garlic, cloves sliced or minced
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pitted prunes
  • 1/4 cup pitted green olives, whole or sliced
  • 1/4 cup capers with a bit of juice
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup honey *
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste

* Start with ¼ cup, add more at the end of cooking if you want it sweeter.

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook Low 6-8 hours.

POST’S THEME SONG: Lie to Me, Tom Waits


22 responses

  1. There is no such thing as a shameful amount of cheese. Also, I am absolutely going to make the chicken Marbella next week.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 5, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    • Sister Madly

      It’s only shameful if somebody ELSE is using that amount of cheese- and not sharing it. Which is what I was doing. Guilt-free, I might add.


      June 5, 2014 at 1:53 PM

  2. Bahaha! You forever keep me guessing and then make me laugh! Love the recipe… Must try!


    June 5, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    • Sister Madly

      Aww, Thank you! Historical relics make the best cheese sandwiches. Hope you enjoy the chicken, should you try it.


      June 5, 2014 at 1:57 PM

  3. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:


    June 5, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    • Sister Madly

      Hee Hee!

      …suddenly, that sounds really good right now…


      June 5, 2014 at 4:27 PM

      • Check my poem about on-the-job training! 😀


        June 5, 2014 at 4:30 PM

        • Sister Madly

          Was doing that just as you responded!


          June 5, 2014 at 4:31 PM

        • ORT-ORT! Then my strategy worked!!!! 🙂


          June 5, 2014 at 4:32 PM

        • Sister Madly

          Ha! 😀


          June 5, 2014 at 4:35 PM

        • Now you can do it too!


          June 5, 2014 at 4:35 PM

        • Sister Madly

          Indeed. I may be a novice now, but I will learn!


          June 5, 2014 at 4:41 PM

  4. WONDERFUL STORY AND ALL BUT….I don’t really like mushrooms. (Too bad, huh?)


    June 5, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    • Sister Madly

      I think there’s enough room on this planet for both mushroom lovers and shunners alike… 🙂


      June 5, 2014 at 4:24 PM

  5. That was adorable. The chicken sounds wonderful. I live in a house full of mushroom haters, so perhaps if I make it I won’t have to share.


    June 10, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    • Sister Madly

      The mushrooms can always be left out- still, it is an excellent way of claiming your territory!


      June 10, 2014 at 10:14 PM

  6. A pie iron? Not sure what that is or where it came from, but if works like the common household iron, I expect it makes excellent cheese sandwiches! And here I thought i was being original :).


    December 29, 2014 at 6:00 PM

    • Sister Madly

      I have the feeling that the common household iron works better than a frying pan. I will have to keep this in mind! 😀

      This is a pie iron:

      Primarily used when camping so one does not have to actually stand in the fire at the time (also known as a godsend…)


      December 29, 2014 at 6:19 PM

  7. “Fireflies “, …the species of small, black, backwoods insects whose bite causes your skin to burn like fire. 🙂 The chicken was great, Sis.

    Liked by 1 person

    June 2, 2015 at 6:35 AM

    • Sister Madly

      Is that what they meant by fireflies? There were plenty of those evil creatures, I assure you! I wanted little bugs that glow at night- next time, I’ll be more specific!


      June 2, 2015 at 10:28 AM

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