Thursday, March 4, 2010

This is What I Do

Hmmmm - don't know if I can claim éxito, but I can claim much improvement on the
tortilla front . I did some combing of various Internet recipes and then just decided to combine them all with my own desire to use butter (as opposed to lard, shortening or oil) as the fat and ended up with some pretty tasty whole wheat tortillas. When I whipped them up yesterday I was super excited about this - I ate one (or two) right out of the skillet with butter and they were perfect. The sun was shining in my kitchen window where I look out at beautiful Caribbean flowers and hear the pool pump (yes, my husband is an Entry Level Officer and we have a pool - don't blame us, we just showed up and there it was) and wind chimes (always blowing with the nice sea breeze even though we are about two miles from the water). Life was good. I wasn't rushing. I had plenty of time to make the short walk over to the boys' school to pick them up. I was singing happy songs in my head.

Then I reheated the tortillas for dinner and they were nice, but had dried out a little bit. This was to be expected - fresh tortillas are always better right off the skillet. Today I reheated one in the microwave with a wet towel. While I normally strongly disagree with heating tortillas in the microwave, it can be done if you wrap them in a damp towel. This actually softened up the tortillas quite a bit - I'm glad I tried it. We have about 6 left - that's how I'll reheat the rest of them too. They were tasty, but on day two they left me feeling a little disappointed.

Sometimes, in these cooking adventures, I feel completely satisfied with my creation - like yesterday around 11:00 AM. Other times, I feel like, "Ya cool. So what. I made tortillas. Last year I was helping people not commit suicide." I have been on a bit of a high the past couple of weeks. I feel like somehow I am finding my voice and my space; as a trailing partner, even with the most supportive of employed partners, you tend to have your career (and perhaps more) sidelined. It's not all bad by any means. I never dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom, but I wouldn't trade all of the time I have had with my boys in the past year (we reached our one year FS anniversary this week). In DC and here in Santo Domingo, we have had free reign of millions of adventures. In our family, I am the one who has ended up knowing how to navigate our new cities. And I can't imagine giving up the opportunity to live abroad. But, at the same time, I wonder if making tortillas is my best me. Perhaps I should be doing something more productive. Maybe I should be making more of an attempt to return to my professional life in some form.

The very recent truth is…and this is a reality that is, for some reason, difficult for me to admit…I actually really, really love my non-professional life (whatever that means). Making tortillas gives me great joy. I'm trying to remind myself to admit to the great happiness I feel with what I am doing now and not get hung up on what I believed would make me happy when we started this journey. Life is so teeming with unpredictability - especially in the Foreign Service - what an opportunity for reinvention. So, with my apparently successful bid at making a likeable tortilla, I am reminded of the need to embrace the wide-open space ahead, spoon in hand and possibly a dash of reinvention here and there. These things make me happy. My life is good. I make tortillas.

Oh, and if you want to make some too - here's how.


  • 2 cups all purpose flour (I used bleached because (1) that is what most of the flour is here and (2) it has a lower gluten content which I read is good for tortillas, but really, who knows)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup soft or melted butter
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
Mix everything together. Pull off plum-sized chunks and roll into balls. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Roll out the first dough ball onto a floured surface - get it as thin as you can without tearing it. Using your fingers or a spray bottle, slightly dampen the top of the flattened dough. Place the raw tortilla, damp side down, into the skillet. Use a spray bottle or your fingers to spray a little bit of water on the up side of the tortilla. When the tortilla starts to bubble, turn it over using tongs. Roll out the next tortilla while you are waiting for this one to cook. When it looks done (a few golden brown spots), place in a basket lined with a dish towel and keep covered. Repeat the steps above until all the tortillas are done.


  1. As you work on your tortillas, Ken is plotting tonight how he can make an Oscar shapped cake to take to Marlene's big Oscar bash this weekend. Must be something about being a trailing spouce that leads you to cook.

  2. Yep, it's the Julia Child Effect I think. Perhaps Ken could use this : )

  3. Does your pool pump run 24 hours a day? Sometimes I appreciated the (frequent) power outages just for the quiet.

  4. Great post. It's good to appreciate where you are, in life...and to recognize that you are appreciating where you are. And it's good to be in the moment, and happy. Difficult to do sometimes.

  5. Thoroughly enjoying your blog. Have you ever tried using a tortilla press? I haven't tried making flour tortillas, but after trying my hand at a few corn tortillas, I think I'm going to have to invest in a press before I reach Mexico.

  6. David - When we got here I tried to find one. They have these mashing things they use to make tostones (fried plantains) and I was working on how to alter it and turn it into a tortilla press, but it just wasn't happening. I still haven't gotten around to ordering one, but it's rapidly rising on my Amazon order list. Glad you're enjoying the blog - "igual" as they say here - which means - I enjoy yours too.

  7. It's Friday, and that means that the Third Weekly State Department Blog Roundup is up - and you're on it!

    Here is the link:

    (If I quoted your text or used your photo(s) and you would rather I had not, please let me know. Please also be sure to check the link(s) that I put up to you, in order to verify that they work properly. If you would rather that I had not referenced you, and/or do not want me to reference you in the future, please also contact me.)


  8. I am definitely trying your recipe! When we first heard we were coming to Amman, the first thing our son asked was "Do they have tortillas?" Only after I told him that I had a recipe, just in case, did he approve :)