when my feet are chilly and no pair of socks seems to warm them up, my favorite way to warm up my whole self is a hot shower. when we first moved to this house and bought this showerhead, it felt so decadent and i almost felt bad for spending more money than was truly necessary for a showerhead (i think it was less than $40–good grief!), but i have to say that it was worth every penny. i love to stand under this showerhead and feel the water just envelope me. i love to turn the water juuuuuust a smidgen hotter and then stand there and feel the warmer water hit my head (with a buffer layer of hair so it doesn’t feel so hot on my skin right away) and then soak down to my scalp and then melt all the cold right out of me.

in the summer, i actually love to do the reverse to cool down. mr. happy stuff can not understand why i would possibly ever want to take a cold shower, but i know that if i’m just sweaty, sticky hot, the best way to cool down is to get into a lukewarm shower and slowly turn it colder and colder and colder. i think i first learned this when i was spending a summer abroad in the dominican republic, living with a local host family. the water there was not particularly reliable. in the home i stayed at for the second half of the semester, the water ran freely from pipes in the wall into large barrels about once a day. that was our water supply for the whole day (sometimes for two days if the water didn’t show up the next day.). it was used for cooking (when boiling was involved), bathing, flushing, whatever. i became quite proficient at “bucket baths.” it was so hot there that even the room temperature water felt cold, but a short term splash of water was easier to take than standing in a cold shower with hot skin. i soon learned that the easiest and most sure way to cool down (or at least feel less sticky) was to pour a few plastic cupfuls of water over myself.

but back to warmth. today’s second warm thing was….

homemade fresh flour tortillas!  looooooong, long ago, when i lived in oklahoma, my family once ate a very memorable (for me) meal at the home of some friends.  they were hosting a visitor from mexico (i think) who had made fresh flour tortillas for us to eat with our lunch.  i ate an embarrassingly large number of these tortillas and kept exclaiming over how good they were and would she please give us the recipe so that we too could make these amazing delicacies?  i don’t remember if it was my mom or the visiting woman who said that the recipe wasn’t that important–the reason they were so good was because she had been making them for years and years and had perfected the recipe and so there was no hope that we could ever replicate them at home without her personal assistance each time (okay, maybe i embellished the last part with my own interpretation, but you get the idea).  and so, i never even tried.  now that i live in the north, good flour tortillas are hard to come by, but i’ve found acceptable substitutes and we’ve gotten by with not great, but okay tortillas.  then, last monday, when i was visiting madtown mama she happened to mention that she makes her own tortillas since it’s so easy.

“what kind of tortillas?  corn or flour?” i asked.

“both” she answered.

i pounced.  “can you give me the recipe?”

she did.  the hardest part of the whole thing is that you have to let the dough rest for one hour before you cook them up.  so, a little planning ahead is involved, but other than that, these are easy-peasy, just like she promised.  we made a half-batch tonight and enjoyed them with black beans, cheese, avocado, salsa and a little lettuce.  and i made a “dessert” one with cream cheese, sugar and cinnamon.  look how yummy they look!  (yes, that top one had already been nibbled by me.  i couldn’t resist!)  and while they weren’t quite as good as the ones made by the woman who had made them for years, i still have lots of chances to practice and improve and they were still waaaaaay better than the sour, papery ones that come in plastic bags in the grocery stores up here.
i don’t think she’ll mind if i share the recipe with you in case you’d like to try making tortillas for yourselves.
flour tortillas (makes 16)


4 c. flour (you can substitute one of those for whole wheat flour if you want)

1.5 t. baking powder

1.5 t. salt

cut in:

1/2 c. (1 stick) cold butter

slowly add while kneading:

about 1.5 c. warm water, maybe less.  add it until the dough just sticks together.

let it sit at room temperature for one hour (very important!)

begin heating a cast-iron or non-stick frying pan.  roll out golf-ball sized pieces of the dough into flat circles.  use flour to prevent sticking if necessary.   when your pan is hot, throw one of the flattened tortillas into the pan for 15 seconds, then flip it.  let it cook on the second side for 30 to 60 seconds, then flip it again to finish cooking (it will begin to puff).  madtown mama assures me that this double-flip thing is essential to the tortilla not turning out tough.  i trust her because it worked for us.

i haven’t tried refrigerating these to see if they’re any good leftover, but… we may never have to test that question.  these are yummy and disappear quickly.  thanks, m.m.!

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