Sweet Potato Quesadillas, Among Others

Inspired by a gift this summer from my young friend and her mother – a three-ring binder with colorful painted cover and a generous number of plastic pages – I set out to organize my recipes.

When we moved down here, I bought a pretty tin recipe box, complete with three by five cards. I planned (I think) to record recipes carefully on those cards – and file each behind tabbed alphabet cards.


I write this surrounded by the exploded contents of my failed recipe box. At some point, I started just folding pages into quarters and sticking them in the tin – I have to pry them out to use. And now, released, they teeter in a disorderly pile of recipes – from the Internet, the newspaper, friends, the CSA – most are crumpled and water-spotted with splotched ink and textured with faint traces of olive oil or smudge of squash.  Many have scribbled notes for the blog.

What was I thinking copying out “Mocha Tofu Pudding?” but “Penne with Portobello Mushroom Ragu” sounds good. So does “Baked Brie” from an old newspaper clipping. Here is “Kale with Caramelized Onions and Balsamic Vinegar,” recently mentioned by a reader as a favorite. This version of the Bittman recipe is handwritten, I must have carried it down here before I shipped the book.

Oh, and an email message from my daughter-in-law with “Sweet Potato Quesadillas” from the original Moosewood Cookbook. She says: “Sauté an onion until translucent, add garlic, add grated sweet potato. Season with oregano and LOTS of cumin, salt & pepper. Cook on med/low covered for about 10 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking, until sweet potato is very tender. Then, just make the quesadillas like normal with the sweet potato filling and some cheese.”

I want to make those.

This box archive preserves only the last few years – I haven’t even opened the battered, stuffed, Herald Square “Record Book,” a wedding gift from my sister-in-law. On the first pages, she’s written in her familiar hand, in blue fountain pen, recipes for “String Beans with Mustard” and “Chocolate Angel Pie.”

A few pages along I find a recipe from my old neighbor (Icelander married to a Greek, admired mother of four little boys) for “Pastitso.” Water spots render it unusable. But taped onto the next page is my sister’s recipe for “Sopa Seca de Tortilla,” and a note saying she thinks I’m more likely to make this than carrot cake.

Then, in my youthful upright handwriting are several Thanksgiving Day “to do” lists, and a recipe for food to help a dog with an upset stomach. On the front of a piece of thick green card, a picture of Paddington Bear, and on the back a list of fourth grade spelling words.

One piece of paper titled “Special Requests” is a grocery list prepared by a temporarily home son, it includes “instant rice (Minute brand – must be white for this recipe but I would like some brown rice also).”

I think I’ll just close this historical volume, but I’ve not given up on the exploded box. Tomorrow I will find some order in the newly plasticized pages – and cook something – I surely have possibilities!

5 thoughts on “Sweet Potato Quesadillas, Among Others

  1. As long as those possibilities don’t include cooking Paddington. What a sweet drawing to find amongst the bits and scraps of paper from the past.

  2. Mine have escaped their careful stapling-into-categories and have successfully migrated from their yellow file folder to the drawer more generally. Any day now I’ll get to them. No doubt “any day” means any day when I am 97.

  3. I treasure the recipes written by hand by family and friends over the years….they evoke strong memories of the people who wrote them.

    One recipe is a 25-year-old, five page, hand-written description of how to make Apple Strudel. You stretch a small ball of dough on the backs of your hands over a 6 ft. x 4 ft. table covered with a sheet (our dining table) to make a paper thin, filo-like dough, then spread the apple filling on top, roll it up, bake it, and cut it into serving pieces. The very good friend who wrote the recipe has since died, but I can picture him so clearly as he makes this wonderful Austrian/German pastry.

    Katy, your blog has inspired me to make it again for our family Christmas brunch this year. (Our little 6 and 9-year-old granddaughters will be delighted to help me make it, I’m sure!)

    Note: I still have Uncle Alex Bryner’s recipe for sourdough pancakes!

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