For the last week, I have been reflecting on what the focus of my blog would be for this week. T words floated into and out of my brain. I thought about tomatoes, tuna, tacos, tenderizer, tomatillos, turnips, thyme, and even tequila. Ultimately, I kept coming back to tortillas. They are a staple in our home and something I often times make by hand. Making corn tortillas is a bit easier, then flour ones, but both are simple to make and much tastier then most of the tortillas you buy in the store. Although there is a wonderful little Mexican store about 20 minutes from me and every other week the truck comes in filled with cheeses, salsas, tortillas, and a diversity of other staples used in the Mexican cuisine.
It is at this little store that I got my tortilla press and learned how to make my own corn tortillas. Although a tortilla press is not necessary, it does help to ensure the flatness and consistency of your tortillas and I recommend one of the heavier cast iron or metal tortilla presses. I always put a Ziploc bag over the top and bottom parts of the press when making them and that makes clean up a breeze. While they can only be used in making corn tortillas, it is still one of the best investments I have made in terms of my kitchen equipment (next to our waffle iron and immersion blender).
Making corn tortillas is very easy and requires three ingredients: masa harina, water, and salt. Masa harina is a very finely ground corn flour. To make corn tortillas, you mix two cups of masa harina with ¼ tsp salt, and 1 – 1 ¼ cups water. Mix the ingredients thoroughly for about 2 minutes to form a soft dough. While you can stir this by spoon, I find it best to stir it by hand because you get a better feel for the dough and can tell when it is the proper texture. I always start with 1 cup of water and then add water 1 tablespoon at a time until it is soft dough that holds together and is not crumbly or sticky. When it feels dry, I add more water. I always give the masa harina time to absorb the water, before determining if I need to add more.
Then I take the dough and divides into 16 equal balls. I always cover the dough with a damp cloth to keep the dough moist. I then take the balls, one at a time, placing them on the plastic covered tortilla press and press down until tortilla measures 5-6 inches in diameter. I remove them from the press and cook them in a preheated skillet for about 50-60 seconds on each side and then set them off to cool if I am going to use them later or cover with a cloth napkin or towel to keep warm if I am going to serve them right away. It’s that simple.
What I love about making corn tortillas is that they are so manual and so much of me is involved in the process. The ingredients are simple as in our spiritual lives (faith, experience, and trust). We can tell by our interaction with the dough when it is the right time to make the tortillas. It is that same kind of interaction and human experience, which enables us to know what feels right for us spiritually. When we read a sacred text, does it resonate with our Spirit? When we are attempting to learn a new skill or way of connecting with Spirit, does it feel right (i.e. tarot, runes, reiki, etc.)? Just like the tortillas that need time for the masa harina to soak up the water, we need to give ourselves time to ingest the new information and understandings we are receiving spiritually, or we will experience spiritual indigestion.
With the tortillas, there are numerous ways they can be flattened and pressed. Some people roll them manually; others like me use a press. Some use plastic presses, I prefer cast iron. Whatever method, one uses the results are the same, the tortillas are flattened and can be cooked for use now or later. We are the same way. We each have tools that we use in our lives to assist us in our spiritual journey (Bible, Bhagavad Gita, Koran, reiki, tarot, oils, angel cards, etc.). The tools that we use to assist us in our transformation from a ball to a tortilla may vary, but at the end, we emerge from the skillet, transformed and ready to be used now and in the future.
And that’s just the corn ones. Flour tortillas are an entirely different journey, but that is another blog.