South of the Border


By Gini Rainey

It’s probably not surprising for you to find out that my husband and I started a love affair with Puerto Vallerta, Mexico, about 25 years ago.  We traveled there every summer with our good friends Kathy and Joe Tucker, and it’s safe to say that the same goes for PV as it does for Las Vegas – what happens in Mexico stays in Mexico!  Except that a lot of our adventures were told and re-told over the years.   We have lots of fond memories of good times with good friends while south of the border.

One of the things we enjoyed most when we returned to the states was recreating some of the good food we had on our travels.  Our poolside fiestas were always a blast, and as Kathy and Joe’s son Jeff reflected on at Joe’s funeral, if we weren’t planning a trip to Mexico, or in Mexico, we were reliving our experiences in Mexico and usually with a nice supply of Tequila.

On one such evening (complete with a beautiful, star-filled  sky) I attempted to make flour tortillas – I had even bought a mix!  Unfortunately (or possibly, fortunately) this was also a tequila-fueled experiment,  and as much as I rolled the little balls of dough, they never got to be as thin as the thickest tortillas I’ve eaten.  We even star-gazed while I pounded the dough on our patio and were reduced to hysterical giggles.

It probably would have been a good idea that night to have had “Tex-Mex Cooking,” a lovely cookbook that was edited by Jillian Stewart and published by CLB Publishing in 1994.  Not only does this book have some good Tex-Mex recipes, including one for flour tortillas, but it is also filled with amazing color photographs and a history of Tex-Mex cooking.   I actually am going to tackle the flour tortillas this afternoon and see how it compares to my adventure several years ago, possibly without the tequila.

Tortillas are indispensable in Tex-Mex cooking and provide the base for many dishes such as tacos, enchiladas, chalupas, and so much more.  So, here’s how it’s done!  Sift 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, and a pinch of salt into a bowl.  Cut in 4 tablespoons of vegetable shortening until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Now, add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of hot water, mixing until absorbed.  Gently knead and add more flour if the dough is too sticky.  Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.  Divide the dough into 10 even-sized pieces and roll into balls on a floured surface.  Cover and let rest for 20 minutes, then roll out each ball on a lightly floured surface to a circle of 7 inches.  Place a lightly oiled skillet over high heat and fry the tortillas, one at a time, on both sides till bubbles form on the surface.  Stack and set aside until you are ready to use.  Oh, and if all else fails, I hear Mission© makes an excellent flour tortilla!

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