Volumes of Tortillas

By Cathryn Shea

Like tomes. Stacks like pages and pages of writing, corn tortillas are what I crave, what keep me writing. My husband brings home Mi Rancho “Pure Tortilla Joy” stone-ground whole kernel corn. Organic tortillas. Gluten free! Eight count. What? Eight. Not even ten or twelve, which would still be too few. I will burn through this elite eight before lunch. When I shop, I bring home the Mission Yellow Corn Tortillas 30 ct. at $2.10. Sometimes Mission White Corn Tortillas 80 ct. All I need to go with them is butter. Even better are pepper jack and regular jack, maybe pace picante mild. Yeah mild. But the perfect mix is 50/50 pace picante mild and medium. So depending on how many tortillas and how much cheese I’m hoarding, I will spring for two jars of pace picante. Sorry to sound like I’m plugging brands here, but these are the actual products I use for the exact taste and food experience that I want during my typical days and days of writing.

All that’s required for the task of cooking is a hot cast-iron skillet. Heat on medium high. Generously butter one side of one tortilla, or even two glued together if you want, and throw it in the pan, buttered side down. Immediately place one or two slices of cheese on top. Then almost immediately place one or two buttered tortillas on top of that, buttered side up. Turn the burner down to medium, and you are just about ready to turn the tortilla sandwich over with a spatula. Let it sizzle a few more minutes, but watch so nothing burns. Slide all onto a plate and top with a couple of tablespoons of pace picante. Cut into fourths and place on the TV tray with your writing implements. Do not turn on the TV.

Depending on the largesse of the pantry, I might add avocado, sour cream, or shredded meat. That could be overkill, however, and I typically just stick with cheese and picante sauce. For variation, I use salsa verde (preferably Herdez), in which case I really like to have some sour cream on hand. The ingredient that must be in the fridge at all times, though, is corn tortillas. Even if I’m out of butter, cheese, or salsa, I can at least heat up a tortilla and feel satisfied. I can add an egg, another kind of oil, maybe a stray jalapeno, or bacon (!), and I will always feel like I’m having a good snack if not a meal. The simplicity also always leaves plenty of time for writing. No fuss, no muss.

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