I don't consider myself much of a cook, but we do eat 3 meals per day at home most days of the week. My sweet mother, who is a great cook, haves us to lunch after church on Sundays and our church eats together on Wednesday nights, but other than that it's up to me most days. I've posted before about the kind of cook I am so I won't bore you again with that. Let's just say I enjoy eating the food a whole lot more than I enjoy preparing it so I try to keep things as simple as possible.
Recently as Big D and I have been attempting to transition from the realm of helpless consumers to competent producers, I've been experimenting with a few things. I use the term "experimenting" literally. While earning my doctorate in Cancer Biology I had to learn all kinds of cellular and molecular protocols and I needed them to work the first time (though they rarely did). If I can do a cell migration assay then I can do anything, or so I reasoned. I decided my first grand experiment in the kitchen was to be whole wheat flour tortillas. You might wonder why I picked tortillas. Well, for one thing we eat lots of them and for another I've been noticing the long list of ingredients for what seems to me a very simple recipe. I thougt if we could avoid the additives and preservatives then all the better. So I bought all the ingredients (yes I had to buy wheat flour and crisco) and excitedly copied down an amalgamation of several recipes I found online.
As soon as we finished morning read aloud I got to work. The mixing part was easy enough then came the simple instructions to knead the dough until smooth. Knead? I thought back to a youtube video on making bread that I saw once and hoped kneading would come naturally to me. All seemed to be going well until it was time to roll the tortillas. My housekeeper had watched all this with great interest (she would regret this later), having informed me early in the process that she had never made flour tortillas. Then came my disappointment. My tortillas were not turning out round. Big D even tried his hand at it to no avail. They were irregularly shaped at best. My housekeeper, feeling sorry for me I'm sure as I'd already botched a batch of bread that morning, stepped in and started helping me roll. Ok, she took over the rolling. We settled into a kind of routine with me wetting the dough (our theory being my dough was too dry), her rolling it out, and me frying the tortillas. After about 30 minutes of this my housekeeper says to me, "You know where you can buy these?" She looked at me kind of funny when I said, "I know, I know I can buy them for $1.33 at Walmart." She's thinking to herself then why in the world are we doing this?! Because darn it, I want to learn to make tortillas. So there.
When my Bible study friends came that night they asked me how my tortillas tasted. (I had chronicled the project on facebook.) "Healthy and authentic" was my rehearsed reply. In other words, they didn't taste all that great, but hey they really were healthy. We ate carnitas for dinner and breakfast burritos the next morning and poof they were gone. (Not one member of my family asked for the back-up tortillas I had bought just in case- though a few may have sneaked them behind my back.) All that work and they didn't even make it 24 hours. Will I make them again? Maybe. Did I save money? No, not even before having my housekeeper help out which ended up making them the most expensive tortillas ever.
Back to the point in my previous blog post on production versus consumption. Sometimes the bottom line is more than just dollars and cents. I may not be to the saving money phase of production yet, but I still enjoy the final product. My mom and dad are going to a seminar on becoming ranchers next weekend in Austin. Go figure. My parents want to be ranchers, my husband wants to be a farmer, and me? I'm still trying to figure out how to bake bread with my $60 family-size bread machine. It may not be cheaper, but it feels good knowing exactly what's in the food we eat. And who knows? I may learn to love the process as well.