Sep
07
2010

  Tortillas

I've been making my own tortillas for a week or two now, and I'm surprised by how easy it is. I saw somebody making them on the cooking portion of a "Victory Garden" show I'd tivo'd, and it looked easy-- all you needed was Maseca and water. I got a bag of Maseca last time I was at the grocery store, and just followed the directions on the bag.

I don't have a tortilla press (but neither did the guy on Victory Garden), so I just put the dough between two pieces of plastic and roll it out with a rolling pin. Then cook it for 50 seconds each side on a hot skillet.

Usually, I've just been making them for lunch for W and myself, to make tacos out of leftovers. Tonight I made tacos for dinner; I made the tortillas from scratch (as described above), used tomatoes from my garden to make some salsa fresca, and just used a packet of "taco seasoning" in the beef. I'm sure it's not hard to mix together whatever spices are in that packet, but I just wasn't feeling like doing it today, so I spent the $.87 on the packet. It's strange how I won't mind at all making tortillas from scratch, but I can't be bothered to mix a handful of spices to season the meat. But that's how I felt, so I just went with it. I don't question my motivations. I certainly wonder about them sometimes, but I've found it's usually not worthwhile to override them through logical thinking. I suspect one day I will want to mix my own spices, but won't be bothered to make my own tortillas, who knows?

With the fresh tortillas, it's a texture thing more than a flavor difference from the ones I usually get. I usually get flour tortillas from the grocery store, the kind that need to be refrigerated. They don't have a lot of flavor on their own, and neither do the ones I've been making. But the packaged ones have a uniform thickness and size. I make mine thinner, and they're whatever size they turn out to be, since I don't measure the dough balls as I flatten them out. The texture is similar to the purchased tortillas, but I find the slight variations in the finished item desirable. Plus, mine are softer, more tender, less durable. Which I consider a good thing since I'm not making burritos or packing them in a lunch bag, but eating them fresh with a meal.

I don't envision going back to purchased tortillas any more than I envision going back to buying bread. My own fresh homemade bread is so much better than what's available at the store, I just look at the packaged bread and when I recall the flavor, it doesn't appeal to me in a way that makes me want to buy it. Although T still insists I keep sliced white bread in the freezer, since he prefers to use that to make french toast, he says my bread doesn't absorb the egg as well. And sometimes I'll get english muffins, but that's only until I figure out where to get the metal baking rings I need to make my own. I've even gotten the hang of making sandwich rolls out of my regular dough, so they turn out the right size for hamburgers (I made them too big my first few attempts).

So now I'm self-sufficient for bread, rolls, tortillas, and pasta. Also for cinnamon buns, although I don't make them regularly. I think the next breads I'm going to try are that spongy Ethiopian bread made from teff grain (I forget what it's called), and Indian nan. I'm getting bored with whatever I'm coming up with for dinner (I need to watch more cooking shows, I'm always inspired for a week after I see one. . .), so I'm trying to work more ethnic dishes into the mix (hence the interest in tortillas. . .).