Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Comfort Food for Thought

As it turns out, believe it or not, having three small children – two of whom are on summer vacation and one who is a newborn – greatly eats into my blogging time. Who would have thought? So, here I am with this long list of potential posts and things keep happening so the list keeps growing. I need to make some of these things priorities – like is it tortillas or vanilla extract that wins? Cookies or the garden? Perhaps a recap of the killer Indian I had out at a place called Le Terrace Exotique?

First things first I guess. I did make those tortillas from The Homesick Texan. They were fine. Actually, they were good. It’s just that it is so incredibly messy and time consuming to make flour tortillas and in the end they just never turn out quite perfectly. They always turn out good – it’s flat bread, best eaten hot with salted butter – but I am increasingly feeling like it’s not exactly worth the effort. Here is what I believe to be my tortilla truth – until I can find out how to make a flour (or whole wheat) tortilla that identically mimics Central Market tortillas I will not have found my tortilla Zen. Is this a challenge or am I giving up? Not sure.

 Now, on to the vanilla extract – success! I made these cookies this week (only without the chocolate chips). This vanilla extract smells perfectly and my cookies were a hit at home and with the few people on whom I forced them. Our nanny was the only one not impressed – when I offer her sweets she laughs and says, “I am not child.” I’m not sure what this means and I have decided not to investigate further – we’re only seven weeks into our relationship and I sense a discussion of her culinary tastes would only result in me being more confused…and with three kids I can’t spare the brain cells. Anyway, the extract looks to be the correct color and we didn’t get sick so I think I can totally file this under recipes.

You know, I have one more thing to say about the tortillas. We actually really enjoyed eating them and had a perfectly wonderful dinner of roasted veggie and black bean tacos with fresh avocado and pico de gallo. Although allotted one, we opted not to do a consumables shipment this tour and instead just packed the few consumables we purchased into our HHE. We bought things like ketchup and soy sauce and tahini, but not a ton of any of them. The only thing we brought a two years’ supply of? Black beans. Black bean tacos are our ultimate comfort food and that night we ate them – with gusto, our boys asking for seconds and then thirds. No complaints…and I ordered a bunch of corn masa to start on making corn tortillas because (1) I think that will be easier and (2) that’s what you need for fish tacos. 

Standards – such a funny thing. From post to post we learn to live with inconveniences and without the things we most love. And yet, the reality of this is that at each new door we are presented with opportunities to alter our standards and seek out something a bit different. I guess I like to think we get better at it. Could it be that less than perfect tortillas are the yang to the yin of my vanilla extract? Or maybe we just get better at problem solving….which I can only take to mean that I need an inside connection to the Central Market bakery and their secret tortilla files. Anyone?


  1. Those tacos would look just fine on a Torchy's advertisement. Nice work.

  2. Okay, we just moved to VA from Laredo, TX- the quintessential Mexican food hub and home of many tortilla factories. If Laredo does anything well (legal side of things) it is tacos, elotes and mangonadas (oh man, when I wrote those words my mouth started to water for home cooking!).

    I also share your love and patronage of all things Central Market! I often drove up to San Antonio just for some CM goodies (their macaroons) and I agree, Central Market tortillas, specifically the butter tortillas are incredible. They are so stretchy and buttery that they personify tortilla perfection, but darlin' I gotta say, your comment that the only way making home made tortillas is worth the mess/time is to mimic those beauties from CM is setting the bar just way too high... Keep making them until you find Zen again.

    I say make the tortillas and the mess, but make sure you invite someone else for dinner so that they can clean it up, like maybe a friend who so loves your tacos that they are willing to roll their sleeves up and get wrinkled fingers from doing all the dishes. Btw, the tortillas in the picture look AMAZING! My home made tortillas never look anything close to that- ever!

    Can you have someone in Texas send you White Wing tortilla flour? That's one product I have found that gets me pretty close to tortilla zen. Hot, hot water and real butter... that's it.

    There are also Guerro tortillas that come fresh, just need a hot skillet and you're ready to eat. I bet they stay fresh when shipped. Worth a try anyway.

    http://www.tortillasguerrero.com look for Tortillas de Harina Fresquiricas

    Keep making them, Please don't let the mess keep you from the love!


    1. Thanks L - for the great comments, support and ideas! Yes - CM tortillas - you hit the nail on the head - it's the stretchy, buttery combination that make them so wonderful! I worked at CM for 4 years and people would come in who had moved away and totally stock up. At the time I thought they were crazy, now I think they were the sanest people around. Good luck in VA - probably some of the worst Tex-Mex east of the Mississippi, but a pretty state nonetheless!

  3. I vote for corn over flour any day. Hard to buy good corn tortillas in NYC, and I've been thinking about trying my hand at making my own... So if you succeed in making some you feel happy with, please share how you did it! -SSJ

    1. I've done corn tortillas a couple of times now and it's super easy - actually way easier than flour. I'm going to post about it soon...or, relatively soon, that is.