san antonio and tortillas

Warning: this post has nothing to do with food. I mean, food will certainly make an appearance—and there’s even a homemade tortilla recipe at the end—but this post is reserved for a single person and her incredible family, which just got a little bit bigger last night with the long awaited arrival of their son, Asa. Welcome to the world, handsome!

World, meet Bekah.

Bekah is going to have several showcases on this blog down the line, as the sum total of her worth in my life is far too complex and cavernous to condense into a single line of thought. But such should be the case when it comes to talking about one’s best friend.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I have several individuals I refer to as my best friends. They’re the people I consider blood relatives without the “blood” part. Whose phone calls mean more than any task at hand. And whose significant others and children are family by extension.

Bekah is one of these people.

I wish I could explain in a nutshell where she belongs in my life. She isn’t a college friend or a study abroad friend, despite the fact that I met her while in college and living abroad in London. She was receiving her Masters at LSTE while I was pretending to study music at Goldsmiths. One mutual friend introduction later, and here we are.


Our only picture in London together, eating chocolate of course

After just one pint—over which I proceeded to pour out my heart to a complete stranger—we were meeting up every Tuesday for fish and chips and cider. We binged episodes of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and the Office [2006 anyone?]. We exchanged CDs, replacing song titles with relevant topics of conversation. We commiserated about our destructive and idolatrous love lives. I brought her all the pain and self-pity of my college-level drama, and she brought me Christian healing and perspective when I needed it the most. I still have all 20 pages of our post-London email correspondence saved as its own journal and often recall how she was perhaps the first person I whole-heartedly revealed the darkest parts of my life to… such was [and still is] her gift of love and compassion.

Since then, we’ve traveled to Uganda together, we’ve biked the San Antonio missions, we’ve gallivanted around DC, we’ve stood up at one another’s weddings, and we’ve even worked as colleagues at the same company.


Uganda, 2008


San Antonio, 2008


Maid of Honor, 2013

So two weeks ago, when Bekah and her husband Lewis called and asked me if I would act as standby family during the impending arrival of their second child, there was absolutely no hesitation in my answer.

Four days later, I was on a plane to San Antonio for an entire week with my friend and her beautiful family in a city I once called home.

We quickly settled into a routine—one that helped pass the time as we laid in wait for Baby McNeel’s arrival. Mornings working from one of the city’s new, cool coffee shops [special shoutout to The Fairview and Local Coffee]. Silly lunches at home with Moira after school. Quiet afternoons while mom and daughter napped. Engaging playtimes full of French books, octopus videos, and song-and-dance sessions to Cats the Musical. [I swear, Moira’s range of interests surpass even those of Jason.] Leisurely walks around MonteVista and the Trinity campus in search of long lost memories. No-fuss family dinners around the table [plus a night out for some much-needed Tex Mex fajitas]. And late nights sipping on Torrontés and talking all things motherhood, family, and community.

All the while twiddling our thumbs hoping that each day would be the day Baby McNeel would make his appearance.

local coffee at the pearl

Local Coffee at the Pearl

taco taco breakfast tacos

Taco Taco Breakfast Tacos – oh how I’ve missed you!


Attentively watching Cats the Musical [a girl after my own heart]

trinity university

Strolling around Trinity

tomatillos cantina

Tomatillos fajitas

I’d like to say that I was there to greet him on his day of birth, or that I actually helped in some tangible way as they had, I’m sure, hoped I would. But unsurprisingly, they ended up serving me much more than I was able to serve them during my stay.

Not only did they indulge all of my San Antonio whims—namely, to shop at an HEB, to visit all my old haunts, and to eat tortillas and queso for lunch just because I could—they also introduced me to so many other aspects of the city that had boomed since I was last there. They even played full-on caretakers when I was hit with a particularly nasty case of food poisoning on my last day in town, feeding me Pedialyte and Saltines and not judging me for my ghastly constitution. [Texas ice cream, I’m still mad at you.]

No, I didn’t get to meet Baby McNeel as expected. But I’m thrilled to announce that he finally made his grand entrance into the world last night as I wrote this blog post, which I couldn’t help but deem perfect timing in its own right.

So this is for Asa Maverick McNeel, his big sister Moira, and their loving parents Bekah and Lewis. I love you, and I love that we are family. Today, I eat tortillas in your honor!


Homemade Corn Tortillas

I married a Texan, so tortillas are a staple in our house. We will sometimes buy them from the store or smuggle them in our luggage back from Texas, but more often than not, we prefer simply making them ourselves if only because it’s a fun shared activity in the kitchen—Jason mixes the ingredients, I roll and press the dough, and he cooks the final product.

So it’s no surprise that after returning to Denver with 3 pounds of HEB fajita meat, this was one of our first forays in the kitchen… to celebrate our reunion after a week apart and to transform our home into its own version of a San Antonio tortilla kitchen.

tortilla kitchen

San Antonio Tortilla Kitchen


Frels Tortilla Kitchen

Homemade Corn Tortillas

You will need:

  • Tortilla press [just do it, you won’t regret it]
  • Cast iron or non-stick pan
  • 2 c. corn masa
  • 1 ¼ – 1 ¾ c. water
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt


  1. Combine all ingredients, adding enough water until the mixture has the consistency of play dough.
  2. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Roll into 2 Tbs. size balls and place on the center of a tortilla press and press down to flatten. [We prefer to line the press in plastic to prevent sticking.]
  4. On a hot cast iron skillet, cook each tortilla for 2 minutes, flipping every 30 seconds.
  5. Fill with your favorite taco fillings. [For this meal, we went with HEB marinated steak fajita meat and broiled zucchini and onion from our garden.]

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