Often, on Sunday evenings, when I should still be relishing the weekend, I find myself beset with pre-Monday blues. I am grateful for my job, and I love my job. But when the week ahead is filled with IRB forms, papers to grade, and a conference (which is triply exhausting for this introvert: travel, presentation, and networking), those pre-Monday woes are hard to ward off. My instinctive mental and physical response is inertia – a response I have tenderly honed to an art form, even. As I was practicing inertia on the couch, Daniel and I theorized that these feelings are a result of the abstract nature of teaching and research – in that the results are rarely immediately visible, the processes are often exceedingly long and painstaking, and the expectations and outcomes are always shifting. We both find ourselves drawn to working with our hands as a relief. For Daniel, it’s gardening, brewing beer, and, as of late, refashioning a canoe into a sail boat (photos forthcoming!); for me, it’s cooking, decorating/organizing, and, when it’s not 5,000 degrees out, training for road races. I guess the latter is technically not working with hands.
Tonight, cooking was the remedy. Sometimes (and I did say sometimes, so as not to suggest that I engage in this process on a daily basis) I really want to chop lots of veggies and cook in multiple steps, with multiple pots . . . you know, the kind of cooking that gets the entire kitchen outrageously messy. And it’s worth it, because the glorious thing about battling Mondays with cooking is that I can control the process, and there’s a definite end result. Bonus: it’s edible!
Enter veggie quesadillas: plenty of things to chop, check. Multiple pots, check. Multiple steps, check. Big mess in the kitchen, check. I used some bell peppers and hot (serrano? We’re not sure what they are, but they are hot) peppers from Daniel’s garden, along with mushrooms, squash, zucchini, and garlic. I was inspired by the wonderful veggie quesadillas at Oscar’s (a local Mexican restaurant), so I had a vision. I was prepared to resist my inexplicable urge to overfill quesadillas. And I had a plan. Go.
It took years of soggy and/or unevenly cooked stir-fry meals for me to realize that veggies need to cook at different times and should be cooked separately, accordingly. (For another stir-fry that utilizes this approach, check out my tofu and mushrooms version.) I keep it simple here: a skillet thoroughly coated in sprayed olive oil, veggies also sprayed with olive oil, medium heat, frequent stirring and spraying. (I’ll add a dash of vegetable stock every now and then to lighten things up.)
Once the stir-fry is complete, all the veggies go back in the pan, which is set aside. Then I browned two tortillas (in a new, ungreased skillet) and stacked them. I knew these quesadillas would be hard to flip, plus I’m no good at flipping, so I cheated. Then came the cheese.
I added just a bit more cheese on top of the veggies to help that top tortilla stick, in the hopes that it’d feel a little more like a flipped quesadilla. As I have also been practicing the art of cooking for two without having leftovers, I had just enough veggies for two quesadillas. I cut them into the requisite fourths and managed to snap a few shots before we ate them, right there in the (still) outrageously messy kitchen.