Homemade Tortillas: Making the Best of Our Tortilla Fail

We began our Cinco prep on Thursday, Quatro de Mayo (May 4th) as a way to teach Kaia about the meaning of Cinco de Mayo… and also make some amazing homemade tortillas for Carnitas Tacos, because Kaia is usually a really good tortilla chef. Cinco, in general, has become another good time holiday, but we wanted to honor Mexican traditions.

We have made flour tortillas before, and they were AMAZING! This time we wanted to explore corn tortillas. The main ingredient, Masa Harina, can be purchased in the your local supermarket. The package specifically instructs that you use tortilla press. The tortilla press flattens the dough into a very thin layer of corn tortilla delicious-ness. Sometimes, when the instructions specify a tool, we follow our Daddy Daughter Cooking mantra of working with what we’ve got, and sometimes you should just follow the actual instructions.

We recently got rid of our butcher-block table, which was large enough to roll out our doughs (pasta and others) when we cook together. In this case it would be have been a great replacement for the tortilla press. Instead we used a small butcher-block cutting board placed on the counter and one of our Calphalon soup pots. The soup pot is about 6 inches wide, and with some applied pressure becomes a great press… or so we thought.

Kaia was standing on her stool so she was able to apply more downward pressure. Physics in the kitchen, who knew?! This action was necessary to flatten the mix to a very thin layer. This is the same thing that a tortilla press would do. Only in our case, the tortilla mix stuck to both the pot and the cutting-board.

I became very frustrated, we must have tried 15 of them. After failing 15 times, we started oiling the bottom of the pan and wrapped the cutting board with parchment paper. We thought this would do the trick, but I was still pulling my hair out, and Kaia thinks its funny!

The use of the paper and oiled pan only worked about every other time. Still frustrated, we used every other tortilla.

At this point, I’m reaching my maximum frustration level. I’m standing in the kitchen wondering if anyone in the world has ever been through something as ridiculously silly as this…  I mean, I am literally about to scream and my loving daughter is just giggling.

So what do you do in this situation? You go into the bedroom, and curse the shit out of a big fluffy pillow. Friendly reminder, while jumping around in this fit of joy, make sure the bedroom door is closed. I don’t need my kiddo to see me lose my cool – it would really affect how awesome she thinks I am. Especially not over something as ridiculous as not being able to get tortillas right!

As a single Dad, I do not retreat into the bedroom as often as I should to hide my frustrations. In that moment, I also realized that today’s issues were not just about the tortillas. Life deals us some tough stuff to handle, and today was just “one of those days.” I find cooking with my daughter is one of my greatest getaways, my own personal in-home therapy, if you will.

I returned from my adult temper tantrum, flushed and slightly embarrassed. Kaia stood in the kitchen, in all of her innocence, lightly oiling one of our sauté pans and somewhat smugly said “Dad, these are very delicate, be careful!” I think in total we had about 5 tortillas that actually held together long enough to feel like we had made tortillas, but all-in-all they were pretty much unusable. I wanted to throw in the towel, clean up the kitchen and head to bed early. Instead, we brainstormed how we could use our delicious unfoldable tortillas and the carnitas that we prepped for Cinco the next day.

On the morning of Cinco de Mayo, Kaia and I successfully made some of the best chilaquiles we’ve ever had. When your tortillas don’t fold, you make chilaquiles! ; )

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A couple days later, Kaia actually referenced us making lemonade out of lemons. I have to believe that this came from making the best of our tortilla fail.

Daddy Daughter Cooking is not always successful in our endeavors. The point is that we can try. And in trying, we learned. In this case, we learned what not to do, and how not to do it… Despite my frustrations, we had fun and learned together.

Later in the day Daddy did make some tacos with some street corn and grilled jalapeno. And thanks to my pillow therapy, I managed to make 2 of the tortillas fold enough for said tacos…  Lemonade from lemons!

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Thanks again for following us, we really enjoy sharing our journey with you. Have any of your tried to make tortillas from scratch? Did you fail or succeed? We would love any tips and tricks as we will definitely try tortillas again.

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