Miso-Brussels Sprout Quesadillas

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Logic tells me I was happier then – when I had a boy, six-figure income, and a saving account. Just before I started blogging. Like other poor girls, the pressure to marry and earn a living was so great that it became something I had to, so they’d stop bothering me about it. Once I got those out of the way I could stop living in books and daydreams and begin my real life.

The books are now in shelves along one wall, stacked up on the makeshift desk, and a piled on an old wood crate. There’s another lying on the pillow next to mine, bookmark resting on the page while I sleep. The cat screams in my face at 4 a.m. because she wants to snuggle into my belly. I snap into a half-sleep state, scoot to give her room, and throw an arm around her. Scratch her head while she snuggles closer. Couple hours later I’ll wake up, fingers still tangled in fur. It’s Saturday morning, so I’ll leave the apartment at 7:15 to be at the farmer’s market at eight. The city is still and quiet in this hour, the fog burned off by sunlight but the buildings still cast long shadows. The only people out at this time are a few runners in sleek pants and bright unscuffed shoes, and the people who don’t have permanent shelter, pulling their sleeping bags and blankets off the sidewalks before the tourists wake up. Only the grown-up marker-goers at this hour. I’ll bring home little brussels sprouts, cauliflower, fresh corn tortillas, and the most gorgeous little chicken eggs.

Truth is, this is “real life”, there’s nothing but. And what I once thought milestones of success were really just comparisons of the prestige of the university you attended, your potential future financial worth, the political correctness of your opinions and thoughts. A different, narrower set of expectations than those that I grew up with, those milestones weren’t anything at all. I never did learn to balance a cocktail glass and appetizer napkin in one hand. I used to lie to myself and think it would be have been easier if I made the right sort of sparkling, meaningless comments at cocktail parties, if the career and the boy had worked out, but honestly? I’d just be too busy climbing that ever-growing mountain sometimes called success to notice that I didn’t like that mountain, and mountain climbing doesn’t particularly suit my skill set.

Instead of pretending to drink cocktails, I cook. I make my favorite miso-braised brussel sprouts – the good slightly tart, wholly savory ones I could happily eat three days in a row without tiring of – and tuck them warm corn tortillas. The sparkling commenters sometimes asked me how I had the time to cook, sighing with satisfaction over their modern liberated busy-ness that obviously precluded old-fashioned activities like cooking. I find the time because it matters. It’s makes me feel real, whole..or something I don’t yet have the words to describe without sounding banal. I know is that it is the important thing for me, to cook, to write, to (struggle and try to) create images that say something.
 
It strikes me sometimes, how far I’ve come. How wise I was when I was six and ten and fourteen, wiser and braver than when I was twenty. I got lost. We stumble and sometimes we fall but the important bit is to get to work again. We find ourselves in that. This is true, although clichéd: you must following your bliss, DNA, talent, or whichever part whispers to you how it is that you should live your life. Go out there and happen to things and people. Be responsible and loyal to them.

 

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Brussels Sprout Quesadillas

1 tablespoon olive oil/butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ tsp grated nutmeg
1 lb brussels sprouts, sliced into ¼ inch rings using a mandolin/food processor
Generous ¼ tsp salt
Pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon miso, dissolved into 2 tbsp warm water
1 tablespoon thyme
Juice of ½ small lemon (1 – 2 tsp or so)

9 – 10 corn tortillas
1/3 cup jack or white cheddar cheese, grated
¼ cup parmesan/fresh cotilla cheese, grated
½ tablespoon of smoky chili powder (I used this)
Butter or olive oil, to preparing quesadillas
Lime wedges, and sikil p’ak or other salsa for serving

Heat a skillet on medium-high heat for one minute. Add olive oil, garlic, nutmeg, sliced brussels sprouts, salt, and pepper. Braise for 2 – 3 minutes. Add miso-water mixture, and cook for another 2 or so minutes, or until just bright green and tender. Add thyme and lemon juice.

To make quesadillas, soft corn tortillas by individually wrapping in clean, damp dishtowel and placing over very low heat in a heavy skillet/sauté pan. Warm through for about 30 seconds. Combine the cheeses and smoky chili powder in a bowl. Fill each by layering 1 tablespoon or so of cheese, scant ¼ cup of brussel sprout mix, and then another tablespoon of cheese.
Add a thin layer of butter/olive oil to a skillet/flat pan. Heat each quesadilla for 2 – 3 minutes per side, or until just golden brown.

Serve warm with lime wedges and sikil p’ak/salsa.

44 comments:
  1. I’m glad you found your way back to this blog again. And those look delicious.

  2. Natasha,

    Yes, to all of this. I know the bottom of that mountain well. I’m still contemplating the worth of the climb. In the meantime, I bake, because it feels good and real and all those things you described so well.

    These quesadillas sound perfect – I love brussels and will have to give this a try!

  3. Hi Joyti, what beautiful writing, the description of your real life, and its particular rhythm, complete with a cat and Brussels sprouts quesadillas! (genius recipe.)

    Logic may inform you that you were happier “before”, but your heart knows better.

  4. Emma,

    Your lovely lyrical words came at such a good time for me. So glad to see you back :)

  5. dixya,

    after working in a clinical setting for the past two years, i feel like i am tired of that ladder of success already..however its nice to see the steady income that supports your lofty dreams aka traveling and eating healthy food. i am so proud you have found your way back to blogging..you words make me so happy!!

    • Joyti,

      I know how you feel, that push-pull, money-versus-dreams.

      I guess, for me, it’s more accurate to say that I’m taking a break, ’cause I went back to (law) school.

  6. Pamela,

    This so mimics my own experience. You write so beautifully!!

  7. Christina,

    I’ve never made Brussels Sprouts quesadillas, but I think I’ll have to try it!

  8. Tanvi,

    Leaving family, a busy corporate career and my country, I am learning to station myself in this land. Still trying to find my feet ever single day. You know you want to do a thing but then life happens & you are caught in the routine – things you need to do but not sure if you want to. But its all about trying I guess.
    You have an amazing voice Jyoti & I m so glad to be reading you again.
    Can you believe I haven’t tried brussel sprouts till now!
    -xx

  9. Dear Joyti,
    I finally found my way back to your blog and changed the URL in my blogroll so my readers can find their way back as well! I always enjoy reading your posts so much! And you know, I may even try brussels sprouts again because your recipe sounds so good!

    Wishing you a lovely day,
    Betty

  10. Beautifully written.. Awesome job!!

  11. Beth,

    I never mastered the art of sparkling and meaningless party talk either. That’s just not who I am. You have some hard-won insights, and you’re absolutely right – we can’t really be who we aren’t, and still be happy.

  12. Gintare,

    Your writing is beautiful, have you ever considered writing a novel? I’m sure you’d excel in it :) Funny, I’ve left corporate world last year too unexpectedly, but it was the best decision I have ever made.

  13. you have a gorgeous website.
    and thank you for visiting mine.
    :-)

  14. What a wonderful piece of writing! So glad you visited my blog :) I have a Jack Russell who loves to snuggle every morning. I am making Brussels sprouts tonight so thank you for sharing this recipe :)

  15. Mallika,

    Beautiful narration Joyti, it speaks of life, of growth, which in essence is true in each of our lives. I draw similarities in what you have spoken. I love the way you write and never miss to read these posts, no matter how lengthy they may seem. They hook me on. And those Quesadilla with Brussel sprouts… awww… give me some pls!

  16. Amanda,

    What a beautiful piece. You write very well. I’m so glad you visited me so I could come visit you. You and I seem to have incredibly similar cooking styles, and even introspective writing styles. Your site is very beautiful. I just posted a very similar recipe and last week made the best green curry ever, not unlike your last post. So funny. Timing. Enjoy your week.

  17. What a beautifully written post…your writing transported me to early Saturday morning at the farmers market with you! Your line “Instead of pretending to drink cocktails, I cook” I can so relate too!
    BTW, great idea for a quesadilla!

  18. Juliana,

    Very nice writing Joyti…yes, I learned that I can only be happy if I am true to myself…
    The Brussels Sprout with miso sounds delicious…I would very much enjoy this quesadillas.
    Hope you are having a beautiful week my dear :D

  19. Joyti! I just checked out your blog after you commented on mine and I’m in love with the way your write! Beautiful, weaving, lyrical prose that leaves me imagining the scenes you describe.

    And you know what, I completely understand what you mean about the satisfaction you get from cooking – it’s something we do because we make the time for it, even when it might be easier to order in Chinese delivery or grab a burger at a fast food joint. we cook because there is something magical about creating chemistry in the kitchen; there’s a bubbling of expectancy as we peek into the oven door to see if the dough has risen; or in this case, if the brussels sprouts are soft and tender from the pan’s heat.

    I’m so glad I’ve stumbled upon your space.

  20. mjskit,

    Oh I can definitely relate to the kitty waking you up at 4 a.m. to snuggle. Mine does the same thing!! :) Have never thought of making a quesadilla with Brussels sprouts. I love the idea! These look great!

  21. Sissi,

    Unfortunately I cannot relate to being woken up by a cat (or anyone!) at 4 am ;-) , but I buy mainly organic produce and meat and agree that “no time” is not an excuse. People should be honest with them and say they simply don’t care enough about food. I often don’t feel like cooking when I’m tired after work or when I want to spend a very lazy Sunday but when I think about buying some awful fast food as an alternative or spending a weekly food budget on one average restaurant meal, I somehow get an immediate energy boost ;-) Home fast food also exists and it’s amazingly good!
    Your quesadillas look very unusual and delicious for the fan of Brussels sprouts I am.

  22. Winston,

    What a clever idea! I have always loved brussel sprouts but always run out of ideas for how to cook them very quickly. Will definitely have to give these a go. Thanks!

  23. Joanne,

    Sometimes the dreams we set out chasing aren’t the ones we’d ever thought we’d have. And that’s okay. I’m glad to hear you’re finding yours!!

    And brussels sprouts in quesadillas sound glorious to me. So out-of-the-ordinary, which is what makes it great.

  24. I love the flavors in this, and the unique vehicle of the quesadilla. I’ve only had cheesy tex mex ones lately, but this has inspired me!

  25. Louise,

    I too am so glad you visited my blog, Joyti. What a lovely, thoughtful blog you have. Delicious too! Those Quesadillas sound amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your words and this recipe…

  26. Really glad to hear you’re doing well, Joyti! I’m really happy seeing your positiveness and strong self happiness in you and your voice. :)

    I use miso almost everyday, and it’s too shame that I never thought of using it for my favorite brussels sprouts… what! Totally missing out, didn’t even realize such combination. What a great recipe to try on, SOON!

  27. Daniela,

    Great writing and a very meaningful post, Joyti.
    I spend many years attending cocktail parties because I had to, but found it always quite superficial. A good conversation compared to a cocktail conversation is like diving compared to snorkeling :)
    Beautiful pics!

  28. Wonderful idea to use Brussels sprouts as filling! Lovely write up, Joyti. Glad that you are back to blogging.

  29. This is all so lovely. The question about finding time to cook–I always think: how could you not find time to cook? And, with pretty brussels sprouts like these, how could you resist? The quesadillas sound fantastic!

  30. I loved this post so much and I totally get what you mean….I chose cooking, dreaming, being..This is my favourite part : ” Go out there and happen to things and people” LOVE! Have a beautiful day and I can’t wait to try this recipe. xoxo

  31. Lovely words and these quesadillas would stand us in good stead for conquering the world! :D

  32. Suzanne,

    Hello, sweet friend.
    I just love the heart
    you put into your recipes
    and this special spot in
    the blog world. I understand
    hard years–2013 was one
    of those for me. I wonder
    if you are still pursuing
    your law degree, or if you
    re-thought that. I have
    imagined you as a student
    and didn’t think you would
    have time for blogging, so
    thank you for the gift of
    your recent comments.

    Peace to you,
    xo Suzanne

    • Joyti,

      Suzanne, thank you for your lovely comment. I am still in law school, about 6 weeks before I graduate actually :)

  33. There is so much simplicity, beauty, and artistry in your life. Thank you for this. It’s exactly what I needed.

  34. Stephanie,

    Thank you for this. I visit your blog as much for your thoughts and insights as for your lovely recipes, and today I very much needed to hear this. It speaks so well to this time in my life as I discern my path. I’m so pleased you’ve returned! The world needs your voice. (And your brussel sprouts – yum!) Peace to you.

  35. Jasna,

    You have a beautiful way of telling stories; glad I visited your blog!

  36. Louise,

    Cooking is soothing to the soul Joyti and your Miso Brussels Sprouts Quesadillas are comforting to the tummy:) Thank you so much for sharing…

  37. Katerina,

    Everything you said is true and in our eagerness to acquire money and prestige we lose part of our soul. I love your sprouts’ quesadillas!

  38. Koko,

    Your writing is stunning. I’ve spent the last several minutes reading over your latest posts. I appreciate your honesty.

    I love miso…I would never have thought to pair them with brussels sprouts and definitely not in a quesadilla. I love this creativity! I will definitely be trying this :-)

  39. wow, what a healty option for snacking!!!
    western food with a touch of japanese miso, great job….

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