olive oil, coconut oil, or vegetable oil
1 copy of Get in Trouble by Kelly Link
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 jar of your favorite salsa
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 package Mexican Four Cheese shredded cheese-food-product
approx. 1/2 cup of crushed tortilla chips
Feeds two, or one plus leftovers
(with apologies to Mark Bittman’s Baked Pinto Beans, Enchilada Style recipe from How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Use this as an excuse to read the first story in Get in Trouble and daydream about what the summer people might show you. Realize that the oven has been preheated for half an hour, return to the recipe.
Peel and cube the sweet potatoes. Or at least chop them up into small sizes and shapes. Mine were not even remotely cubes. Spread a couple dollops of the oil around on a baking pan. Then spread out the salsa and distribute the sweet potatoes as evenly as you can manage. Cover the pan with foil and put it into your extremely pre-heated oven for 15 minutes.
Put some tortilla chips in a baggie and use Get in Trouble to crush them. The cover side will give you a good general shattering; use the spine to deal with any precision-crushing needs. Read another story while waiting for the next step in the recipe. Make sure to set a loud timer to prevent burning and/or story-induced oblivion.
When the timer goes off, remove the pan from the oven and ditch the foil. Spoon the beans on top as evenly as you can manage, then randomly place bunches of shredded cheese around. You are supposed to use 1/2 a cup of cubed Monterey Jack or Chihuahua cheese and then top the chips with 1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco, but maybe your grocery store doesn’t have queso fresco and you’re too lazy to try to find one that does. Or maybe you are a kitchen ninja, and you are using cubed cheese and queso fresco instead of dubiously flavored cheese-food-product. Regardless, top with the crushed chips, then sprinkle a little more cheese over all of it, then drizzle with a little more oil. Then belatedly salt and pepper the whole thing.
Forget to close the oven door during this process because you are thinking about the demon lover. Put the pan back in the oven, uncovered, and set the timer for 15 minutes; do not forget to set the timer. Or close the oven door. I cannot stress this enough. Go back to reading.
Hear weird popping noises coming from the oven; become briefly convinced that your oven is possessed. Decide maybe it is just the pan shifting under the influence of heat and moisture. This is not even remotely right; it is actually beans bursting in the heat. Anyway, it eventually stops. Go back to reading and wonder why it is that the hotels you stay at never have interesting conventions going on, and how cool that Chess Conference you walked by that one time would have been if some of the people were also there to become professional sidekicks.
Check on the pan when the timer goes off. Does it look done? It kind of doesn’t. Reset it for four more minutes. Clear off the counter. Try to throw away a wrapper and realize the trash can is still in the middle of the kitchen from when you were peeling the sweet potato, instead of its rightful place under the sink. Realize you are completely unmoored in space and time. Go back to reading. Try to imagine being a single mom having a clandestine affair with a superhero.
Half-hear that the timer has gone off again. Rescue the pan before things really start to burn. Remember to turn off the oven and congratulate yourself for remembering. Plate some of the, what is this thing called anyway? let’s call it Get in Trouble enchilada mix, add some sour cream to the plate, sit down and dig in. It tastes fine and anyway you hardly notice — you have six more Kelly Link stories to read.
Finish your plate and realize that it is better than fine, it’s actually really good! Put a little more on your plate and stand in the middle of the kitchen eating it because you got too busy thinking about possessed giant dolls to make it all the way to the table. Decide that it tastes so good because a little magic has leaked out of Get in Trouble and into your food by dint of proximity. Do the dishes later; you have reading to do.