Monday, September 12, 2011

Homemade Friday: Tortillas! (A few days late, obviously)

I apologize for not having this up on Friday.  I was too busy walking through a corn maze with the kids and a friend I used to work with.  (Hi Jill!)
We totally cheated to get out, which I’m fine with.  I’m not especially good at confined, confusing spaces so luckily the corn wasn’t very high and was sparse.  Plus 3 year olds don’t usually last in the amount of time it would normally take to find our way out of something like that.  So we walked over some barriers.  We were at Hinton’s Orchard – which is a really nice little place to get apples for a good price.  Plus they had lots of stuff to entertain Sebastian with and the people there are especially nice.  Highly recommended.

Also included - tractor driving.

So I wasn’t able to talk about tortillas.  (Darn, right?) 

My parents moved to a town near Austin, TX, in the ’70s, not too long after they got married, I think.  They brought back a lot of Mexican recipes, including one for homemade tortillas that my mom learned from the illegal immigrants she worked with sanding typewriters in a sweatshop.  Yes.  That’s right, though I think she refuses to believe that it was actually a sweatshop but I’m pretty sure it was.  At any rate, she learned how to cook some good food so we all win.

A couple of weeks ago we went to my parents’ house for our bi-monthly Sunday dinners and they were having potato and egg tacos.  That is basically fried potatoes that a couple of eggs are cracked in and you have it on tortillas with refried beans and salsa.  It may not sound good to some of you but I love it.  It’s one of my favorite meals.  

So imagine my disappointment when I got there and there were NO HOMEMADE TORTILLAS.  It’s almost a travesty.  I mean , sure the woman works 60-plus hours a week and commutes an hour each way, volunteers to teach religion at church, helps with the youth group, watches her grandkids whenever she’s asked, tends an extra-large garden, etc., etc., etc.  I don’t care.  Homemade tortillas are required.

So since my own mother was slacking on her tortilla-making, I figured it was time for me to learn how to do it myself.  I’d always helped cook them but had never done it all myself from start to finish.  She’d copied me the recipe she had from an old Mexican-Indian cookbook she had a while ago so I was all set. 

The instructions are a little vague, but I was sure I could figure it out.  I mixed the dry ingredients (4 cups white flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 ½ tsp salt) together, leaving out the garlic powder and oregano in the recipe since Mom never uses them.  Then I cut in the shortening (4 tbsp of Crisco but lard is much better) like I was making biscuits or a pie crust, added the 1 ½ cup of water and kneaded it a little until it all came together.  It's also a good idea to let the dough set for a few minutes.  I'm not sure exactly why, but that what Mom does.

I broke off pieces and rolled them out, then cooked them on a skillet.  I tried to talk my mom out of her cast iron tortilla pan this past weekend but she wouldn’t give it up.  But I guess that’s okay since I’d shamed her enough to make homemade tortillas on Sunday.  (Woops!  I promise I was just joking!  Sort of.)

And the cooking part came right back to me, since that was normally my job.  It’s a good idea to spin it around in the pan right after you put it in to keep it from sticking, then turn it over once that side is brown.  I of course used my hands because that’s the way all the cool people do it.  But you could use a fork if you’re a little wussy.  

Once the tortillas are cooked you put them between a folded towel to keep warm.  When all are done and right before you eat them you flip the stack over so you eat the ones cooked in the beginning first.

And they were so good.  Not as good as Mom’s of course, but still much, much better than the store bought ones.

You can’t see it but included in the recipe is this sentence:  An old Indian says of these, “After tasting flour tortillas the children cry for them as a man craves good whiskey.”

Hells yeah.

(I will probably never be a food blogger or stager.  I never think far enough ahead to make things look extra pretty.  Plus I always forget to take a photo of the the finished product with all the food together.  We ate these with a frittata, which I guess made it more of a breakfast burrito - fried potatoes mixed with eggs, tomatoes and ham and topped with cheese and chipotle sauce all smushed into a tortilla.)

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