Monday, October 19, 2009


Cinnamon Sugar flour tortilla chips with fruit salsa
I'm not Mexican, or Hispanic of any kind, so I'm not an expert on tortilla making. But I am a person who consumes tortillas. I think it is a good policy to know how to make some of the foods I buy. One reason for this is because there may be a day it won't be available at my local grocery store. Another reason is that I can decide if I want to keep buying it, or I can choose to make it from scratch from now on. It's a good feeling knowing how to make things, especially those things that come out much better than store bought.
My oven broke. Very sad for me, but alas, it will be repaired soon. Nevertheless, I had to decide what to talk about on my radio show on BTO. Anything that involved an oven was out. Last time I talked about flatbread and how wonderful it is. Elena did mention corn tortillas during that discussion, but I didn't know much about making them then. Now I do. I wanted to know how to make them, and now I want to share how wonderful it is to make them!
First I made flour tortillas. Flour tortillas are not that much different from the flat bread I talked about last week, pretty basic. You do need to roll them pretty thin to resemble tortillas. But it's easy and they make great chips. I fried these babies up, sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar and served them with fruit salsa. This dish is a real crowd pleaser. I think I'm going to make this for an appetizer for Thanksgiving dinner.

corn tortillas
Then I made corn tortillas. I am so happy I decided to make these. These are extremely easy as well. 2 ingredients, that's all it takes.Masa Harina which is corn flour, and water. You almost don't need directions, mix to make a dough, roll them up, cook them and they're done.
They have a great fresh corn taste, much better than store bought. My plan is to become a pro at making these. Never again will I have to run to the store for tortillas, with the Masa Harina in the cupboard, I will be ready at a moments notice to make these scrumptious treats.
Flour Tortillas
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tablespoon softened butter- or lard if you have it
3/4 cup water
Whisk dry ingredients together in bowl. Mix butter or lard into the dry ingredients with your fingers or 2 knives until it resembles cornmeal. Add water and mix until a dough forms.
Place on lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, just a few minutes. Then divide the dough into 12 equal portions. This is an easy task when you divide it into 2, then divide that one in half, then in thirds. Roll the portions into a ball.
On the floured surface, use a rolling pin, (or something that resembles a rolling pin) to roll out the dough into a thin round tortilla, about 6 inches across. If the dough is too sticky, use a little more flour. Repeat until you've rolled out all of the dough balls.
Preheat a sturdy pan to med high to high heat, or use a griddle. (I used a griddle on the highest heat it would go which was 400 degrees.) You want the pan hot enough so it blisters the tortilla to form little brown dots on the surface.
Cook the tortillas one at a time in a dry pan. (on my griddle I could do 2 at a time.)
On the first side cook 1 minute or so. Then flip it over and cook for about 30 seconds on the second side. Don't cook them too long, or your tortilla will become hard. If you aren't getting any color on them, (the little brown spots) you need to turn up the heat.
I made chips of mine by cutting them into triangles using a pizza cutter, then frying them in hot oil for just a minute or 2 until crisp. Then I sprinkled them with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar when just out of the oil. I flipped them over and sprinkled the other side as well.
Alternately, you can brush the tortillas with some butter, and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture then cut into triangles with a pizza cutter and bake them in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until crisp.
Fruit Salsa
This recipe is really just the fruit of your choice, try to use fruits that complement each other while being different, (i.e. sweet and tart) mixed with a little jam to bring the flavors together, some sugar if you think it needs it, and some lemon to keep the fruit from browning. Here's what I used this time.
1 apple
2 kiwi fruit
some strawberries
about 1 tablespoon of jam (whatever flavor you like that you think would meld well with the fruit)
1/2 lemon

Dice up the fruit into small bits. Add the juice of the 1/2 lemon. Add the jam and stir. Taste it to see if you think it needs anything else, it may need sweetener, add sugar or honey or whatever you choose. Let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so to let the flavors meld and serve.
This is wonderful the next day on yogurt or cereal.
Corn Tortillas
Since this recipe is only 2 ingredients, it's best to use good Masa Harina. I used the Bobs Red Mill brand which can be purchased at a health food store, or some grocery stores. Mexican or Hispanic markets will carry other brands as well. Try to get a brand where the only ingredients are corn and lime.

There are directions on the back of the package of the Bobs Red Mill brand, that's what I followed. I will put them here with some notes.

2 cups Masa Harina
1 cup water
a little salt (optional)
Mix them together in a bowl until a dough forms. Add a little water if necessary. Shape into 14 balls. and cover with moist towel to prevent from drying out. (they mean this, it does dry out pretty quick, but it's also forgiving. If you add a little water you can rehydrate it again easily.)
Place 1 ball between sheets of plastic (a gallon size heavy duty freezer bag cut in 2 pieces works well for this and is stronger than plastic wrap) and flatten into 6 inch disc. If you have a tortilla press, by all means use that. You will get more consistent results. I don't have one so I used a rolling pin. You want to get them pretty thin (especially if you are making them into chips) but if you are using for a taco or something else, reasonably thin is fine. The more you do this the more you will get the hang of it and how thin you want them to be.
You can work the dough over and over again if needed. Corn does not have gluten in it, so it's not like a typical dough where it would get tough if overworked.
Continue to roll out the tortillas and keep them on a plate between 2 damp towels. Or you can roll them out and cook them as soon as you roll them. Then roll another and cook it, etc.
Cook on a preheated dry griddle, or sturdy pan on medium high to high heat, one side for one minute, then flip to other side and cook for 30 seconds more. They should be pliable when done. If they are crisp, you've cooked them too long. Store them in a tortilla holder, or between 2 towels.
Tortillas freeze well and thaw quickly so it's a good idea to make more than you plan to eat and keep them in the freezer for the future.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

A few months ago I made my own laundry detergent, and I am super happy about it! Yes, this is a baking blog, and this subject is off topic, but it's something I really like to spread the word about.

Making your own laundry detergent has many advantages. The biggest of them all is how much money you save. A typical American brand of detergent, Tide, costs about 20 cents a load. Homemade detergent costs 2 cents a load. Big difference. Also compared to Tide, it works equally as well. I have been using mine solely for months now and I haven't noticed a difference in the quality a bit.

The second reason I love it so much is it really cuts down on my consumption of using plastic. I used to buy liquid detergent. Of course, it comes in a plastic container. I wanted to cut back on my usage of these plastic vessels. I know they are recyclable, but recycling takes energy. I just want to cut back where I can, where it's easy for me. And since I'm the do it yourself type of a gal, this seemed like something I wanted to do. I saved my last bottle of said detergent, and now I fill it up when I need more. (from the bucket I made it in.)

Another plus is the ingredients are relatively easy on the environment, especially compared to a typical in store brand.

It's really easy to make, and when you make it you won't have to make it again for months.

I found the recipe at The Simple Dollar. I did re write the recipe below, but I recommend you go to his website, he has a step by step detailed guide to making it here as well as the cost breakdown and a comparison test he did with both detergents.

I will speak about the details of the ingredients. He uses soap, plain soap. I used Fels Naptha. It's a bar soap used specifically for laundry. If you use another brand make sure it isn't a brand that has a bright color, or has moisturizing cream or oils in it.

Another ingredient is Borax. This is easy to find at most grocery stores in the laundry aisle. He claims it's optional, I used it.

The next ingredient is Washing Soda. Washing Soda is very close to baking soda but not the same. it's processed differently, and a few atoms away from baking soda. More about that here at Planet Green. Usually it's made by Arm and Hammer, it's in a yellow box and reads, "Super Washing Soda." For the locals, the only place I've found that carries it, is the Fred Meyer store in Lacey, I think most Fred Meyers carry it because I've seen it at different locations. It is located in the laundry aisle next to the Borax and Fels Naptha. I've asked the Yelm Food Co op to carry it, but they told me their distributors don't have it available. I've also asked Safeway, but haven't received an answer.

The Recipe
1/2 cup Borax
1 cup washing soda
1 bar soap
3 gallons of water
First thing, put about four cups of water into the pan and put it on the stove on high until it’s at boiling, then lower the heat until it’s simmering.
While it’s heating up, take a bar of soap and cut it up into little bits. I found a lot of success using our box grater, which resulted in a ton of little soap curls.
When the water is boiling, start throwing in the soap. I recommend just doing a bit at a time, then stirring it until it’s dissolved.
Stir the soapy water with a spoon until all of the soap is dissolved. Eventually, the water will take on the color of the soap you added, albeit paler.
In the end, you’ll have some very warm soap soup.
Next, get out your large container and add three gallons of warm tap water to it.
To this bucket add a cup of the washing soda, the Borax the soap solution you made and stir.
Let the soap sit for 24 hours, preferably with a lid on it. At this point I poured the soap into the old detergent bottle I saved, and stored the rest in other containers I had. You may also store it in the bucket you made it in, covered. Then add it as needed in the detergent bottle.
The soap after sitting for a while may become seperated, mine did, in the storage bottles. I do shake the detergent bottle a little before using. If the soap in the storage bottles seperates, just use a long spoon the stir it up.
More links on making your own detergent

Stretcher talks about using homemade detergent with HE machines

10 different recipes for homemade laundry detergent