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Friday, February 28, 2003

Have I recommended ginger tea? Ginger tea is GREAT. A must try. Get some now!
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:07 PM


Ah. Soup and a salad for dinner. The soup is a recipe my mom gave me, though I'm not sure where she got it.

Green pea and barley soup

1 carrot, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 potato, diced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons canola oil

1 bay leaf (I use three or four)
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons salt
a few dashes of pepper
1 cup green split peas, rinsed
1/4 cup barley, rinsed

7-8 cups water

Saute the veggies in the oil. Add the spices and sautee a bit more. Then add the remaining ingredients, and simmer for about an hour.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:05 PM

I was told that buying a pizza stone would change my life.

I had always thought that it was supposed to change my life for the better. But no. It's not working out. Though it could be the rapid-rise dough I'm using, which doesn't rise as much as the normal yeasted dough I use, and just doesn't seem to come out quite right. When I use an ordinary cold cookie sheet, my crusts come out crisp and cooked through. But the pizza stone makes them come out gummy in the middle.

It's SO discouraging. I had considered myself a mistress of the dough before this, and was getting smug and making things like foccacia. But this darned "stone" (which, no matter what it says on the box, is hard to clean) is a real let down.
posted by Arlene (Beth)1:00 AM

Wednesday, February 26, 2003


Two tablespoons of vindaloo paste + 4 cups steamed potatoes/cauliflower + a cup of water + a long simmer = yum!!

Well, that and marinated eggplant mixed with kalamanta olives in pasta salad.

And now, back to eating...
posted by Arlene (Beth)8:51 PM

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

I'm home with a cold, napping and waiting for a very simple miso soup to finish simmering. But before I return to bed, I thought I'd mention that I've set up a separate web log for purely political clippings, of which I have so many: Peace is more than the absence of war.

Mmmm. Soup...
posted by Arlene (Beth)12:01 PM

Monday, February 24, 2003

Vindaloo paste is a magic thing.


I think I should write a cookbook for lazy vegetarians. But perhaps they'd be too lazy to buy my book? There are many healthy vegetarian foods that are very easy to make or assemble from simple ingredients. I'm thinking about it. Especially on days when cooking anything with more than 4 ingredients sounds too complicated.


I've updated my peace page, now devoted to anti-war information in addition to economic peace and justice, plus I've set up a separate blog for anti-war forwards, links, and related news commentary at, which I'll start using tomorrow.

I have someplace special to place all those forwards, snippents, and other fun things that people send me somewhere, without losing my food-related trains of thoughts. (Which are always long freight trains. With those bright, swirly deer-lights on the front, winding along the tracks through the coastal mountains on starry nights...
posted by Arlene (Beth)11:06 PM

The rain hasn't quite started this morning, but it is threatening to. I'm trying to decide on the organization of soon to be released my anti-war page (an update to my peace & justice page), since I have so much material. My cousin's photographs of SF's most recent protest are great. I hope to have a new page up by the end of the week. In the meantime, I'll write about it more here.


Recent US policy reminds me of a conversation I overheard on the bus a few years back. A mentally troubled older guy announced that someone on the bus had looked at him funny, therefore he had to kill him. As his friend tried to persuade him to let it slide, the troubled guy announced that 'if I don't kill him, I'll be a coward.'

He saw two choices: kill or be a coward.

The troubled guy's friend had to rather painfully point out that there were MANY choices. And the best one was to go about his business, which was not the same as being a coward: rather, it was a choice to act dignity appropriate to the situation.

And so we come to this: Bush disagrees with protests against his war plans (duh), and says
...such a war remains a final resort, but "the risk of doing nothing is even a worse option as far as I'm concerned."

He sees to choices: bomb a nation where half the population is under the age of 15, or do nothing.

This is a false dichotomy. He has a large menu of options: diplomacy, having nations like Russia coerce Iraq into a better posture for the sake of oil revenue, allowing inspections to actually determine what the real problems are, providing political support to dissidents and allowing them to work on their own terms, bringing Hussain to the International Criminal Court (oh, wait, our government doesn't believe in an international justice system, skip that one), swaying public sympathy there by lifting sanctions and offering other economic rewards to the people if they throw off their current leadership, even technical sabotage...

But two options is all Bush is choosing to present or consider. That's not what I would call high-quality leadership.


In the "No really, though shalt not kill" department,

A group of church leaders will meet with Blair to promote support for non-violent resistance in Iraq. They see Hussein as vulnerable to civilian disruptions of the oil supply, and point out to past successful breaks in the machine of oppression.
A few years ago, in the city of Karbala, they say, civilians effectively encircled troops sent to control them, and similar uprisings on a national scale could stretch the regime's machinery of repression to breaking point.
But they also note that the US has been choosing not to aid dissidents.

This is the part I like best:
It will tell Mr Blair the choice is not between leaving Saddam Hussein in power and removing him through war, but that there is a third way.

Dan Plesch, of the UK's Royal United Services Institute, told BBC News Online: "What the delegation is pointing out is something very embarrassing, that the US is not interested in trying for peaceful change, but only in something more squalid and traditional.

Further to the pro-war faction attempting to grab the moral high ground by arguing for war, there's an Oxford bishop is opposed to the war.
The Bishop of Oxford, the Right Reverend Richard Harries, has supported British involvement in Afghanistan, the Falklands War, the Kosovo War and the Gulf War in 1991.
But he told the BBC: "I have consistently opposed military action in this case because I don't think the criteria for a just war have been met...." He said believing that decisive military action could put things right was "a great danger and a fantasy".

Oh, and the Pope opposes a US war in Iraq.

This is what happens when politicians claim that God just happens to support their policies: other people who also claim to have a monopoly on God's will speak up. I love it!


As always, food is important: a preliminary study suggests that certain foods protect against breast cancer. The study seems flawed to me, not just because eggs appear to be beneficial and I personally think eggs are nasty, but in that they're asking women what they used to eat when they were teenagers, and that's likely not very accurate. Regardless, it's worth studying further, because it's widely agreed that children immigrants to the US eventually take on our dietary health problems. "Figures from the US show low rates of the disease in many immigrant groups. However, studies have found that within a generation their risk of developing breast cancer has normally risen to that of the general population." And the main explanation for that is that their kids take on all of our bad dietary habits.

posted by Arlene (Beth)7:46 AM

Friday, February 21, 2003

So I had a lovely dinner of zucchini/mozzarella ravioli in a sundried tomato sauce, and then went to a cafe and had a glass of chai. But the chai was made with whole milk. And now I feel like I drank a WHOLE COW.

posted by Arlene (Beth)10:53 PM

Monday, February 17, 2003

It all comes down to food: my cousin tipped me off to the story that Google has acquired Pyra, makers of Blogger. And in the article, one of the founders at Pyra admitted that one of the major benefits of the deal is the Google menu. No, really. Who wouldn't want to join a company that serves "Sweet Potato Jalapeno Bisque with corn," "Organic Tofu Mushroom Ragout [with] domestic and wild mushrooms, vegetable stock, leeks and tomatoes," along with "Bailey's Irish Cream Cheesecake" and "Vegan Chocolate Mousse?"

Mmmmm. Google. I mean, vegan chocolate mousse.

posted by Arlene (Beth)10:55 AM

Sunday, February 16, 2003

When I'm not blogging, does that mean I'm out at some gorgeous place, relaxing? Maybe. I'm not telling. But you do know I'm eating.


After massive international protests promoting peace and in opposition to war, San Francisco had it's own rescheduled (to accommodate the Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown) anti-war protest event, which was rather well attended. Police skipped their 'rounding down' habits and estimated the crowd at 200,000. Yaaay for dissent!
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:39 PM

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Gee, Arlene, you sure write about food a lot.

Well, yes.

Gee, you must eat a lot.

I do... What are you getting at?

Aren't you, like, fat?

Like? Did you have to use a senseless filler word? Is that supposed to soften the question somewhat? Well, I'll tell you anyway. I'm "like" both the heaviest and approximately the healthiest I've ever been. Heaviest is unquestioned: I'm in the mid 160 pound range, which I find quite exotic and strange. (Long gone are the accusations of anorexia when I was an omnivorous 117 pounder at this same height.) Healthiest is debateable but likely: I bike an average of 35 miles per week now for fun/commuting and have a much healthier diet and water drinking habit than I did in youger years. Whereas as a mid-teen I swam laps 5 days a week for half an hour plus played in the water few hours each day, but didn't drink many fluids and ate a higher fat/cholesterol/fried things diet. I can't swim that much now, but I couldn't bike a fraction of what I do now back then. Most of my longest hikes and bike rides have been accomplished within the last few years, including several 60+ milers 1/3 day bike rides and 80 mile backpacking trips. And now my thighs are muscular enough to boss other parts of my body around.

When my pants seem to get a bit tight and I'm willing to accept that this is not the result of a dryer malfunction, I do go on one of two diets.

In the first version of the diet, I stop having thirds. I find this diet moderately effective in getting me back into my ordinary, only slightly dumpy, pleasantly padded shape. (Those of you who once bruised your abdomen where your hip bones protruded and have since become softer know of what I speak.)

In the second and more hard-core version of the diet, I stop having seconds. This is DAMNED difficut. I cannot even tell you. I'm attempting to segue into this diet now, but it's generally a challenge, unless I don't like what I'm eating. Which doesn't happen very often, because I know where to get the good stuff or how to make it.

On a similar note, I was entertained by Nigel Slater's fat loss tale, where he (a skinny guy suddenly sporting a tire) tracked what he ate, and chose to eat less rather than trying a "wacko" diet. I like his approach. I also find his tally of foods entertaining. It goes on for pages, but here's part of his list of fruit for a year:
I'm just showing off now: 175 apples, 33 apricots, 179 bananas, 1730g blackcurrants, 5.625g blackberries, 10 kilos of blueberries (yes, 10), 7 kilos of cherries, 64 clementines, 4kg of damsons, 1.25kg dates, only eight figs, 10.55kg of black grapes and 1.8 of green, 1kg of poached gooseberries, 40 kiwis (I must be quite, quite mad), 250g loganberries, 1kg lychees, 67 mangoes and 38 papaya, 194 oranges not counting those squidged up for juice, 42 passion fruit, 66 peaches, 148 pears, 11 pineapples, three persimmons, 100 plums (I am so regular they could set Big Ben by me), 430 strawberries, three pomegranates, 120 portions of raspberries, 2kg redcurrants, three portions of whitecurrants from the garden and nine melons. That's about 191 kilos a year, which works out at 525g a day.
Not bad, eh? I think it's amusing to see what other people eat (even when the descriptions are British and I have no idea what they're talking about.)

At a greater extreme, I read that some early American rich southern guy kept an obsessive journal of every scrap he ate over decades, which is now fodder for researches looking at habits from that time period. (Wouldn't that be a funny thing to research? I find it interesting and amusing, but there are some pilgrim-style cookbooks coming out, theoretically representing recipes used before the US was founded by the folks who came over from Europe, and I'm sure it will sell with a certain crowd.)

posted by Arlene (Beth)8:49 PM

Wednesday, February 12, 2003


San Francisco in the rain smells rather nice. Also, the city lights seem even brighter when reflected in so many shiny, wet surfaces.


Because it's raining, I didn't ride my bike in today. :-( Waaaah. So while sitting in the overheated BART train, I was able to study people on BART.

A lot of them sure look unhappy. I'm not sure why, aside from the overheating part. I've walked to meetings out of the office with colleagues, and they've also observed on t he generally 'bummed' demeanor of many fellow workers. If it's that bad, perhaps they should look for another line of work?


It's almost time for the Chinese (Lunar) New Year Parade. As a neat way of saying thank you to Bay Area United Against War for rescheduling their march to better accommodate the parade, the parade organizers set up a special peace march announcement window that opens when you visit the parade schedule site.

There are some nice photos at the parade organizer's site, including lovely dragon heads and the magic of Grant Street at night.

posted by Arlene (Beth)9:40 PM

Monday, February 10, 2003

I just overheard a television newscaster saying that there are 74 Starbucks in San Francisco alone.



Dinner this evening was from Venice Pizza & Restaurant on Mission near Geneva. We tried the Greek Goddess pizza: pesto, spinach, broccoli, black olives, feta cheese, and garlic. It was WONDERFUL. They have a long list of veggie specials. We'll be calling them again.


So over this beautiful weekend, on one of the first extremely warm weekend days of the year, my neighbors... washed their cars. No, really. They could think of nothing better to do.

Cars cars cars. A shield from the world. The American mental world of paranoia and fear that Michael Moore laid bare in Bowling for Columbine runs rampant in this NYT article on SUVs.
"The world is becoming a harder and more violent place to live, so we wrap ourselves with these big vehicles," said Ms. Collenette, a 46-year-old mother of two. "It's like riding a horse. You have more power."
How sad, especially since the vehicles aren't actually very safe.
But I like this part:
Sarah Jain, an assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Stanford University, said that the S.U.V. - a vehicle marketed for the independence it is supposed to provide even while posing serious social costs, like smog and rollovers - embodies many incongruities in the culture.

"It represents the inability of Americans to make a connection between consumption decisions and their social impact," she said. "The war - and the Huffington ads are giving voice to that frustration."

Perhaps someone can explain to Ms. Collenette that an SUV won't save her from the real threats to her existence: obesity, heart disease, cancer... Or even unreal threats, like terrorism. (Look back on the long history of terrorism in Marin. Oh, wait, there isn't any. Gosh...)


And now, it's time for clippings and links.

Mark Morford's essay on the inherent ridiculouslness of having "National Sanctity of Life Day" while preparing to victimize Iraqi civilians for their nation's oil, as declared by a president who doesn't hold many lives sacred, is classic.
It really is just the kindest, most conservatively compassionate sentiment -- unless of course you happen to be, you know, a foreigner, or an animal, or the environment, or gay or female or non-Christian or anyone who's not really, really white and wealthy and who doesn't know Dubya Sr. personally or who hasn't bootlegged a half-rack of Coors Light from the local Liquor Barn for Jenna.
It even has good links about the environment, maternal health, stem cell research, and other things that aren't part of 'compassionate [cough cough] conservatism.'


Today's bike trivia: there is a waterproof, bike powered computer that is being introduced to isolated villages of Vietnam. Here is more proof that bikes are great. (The computer runs Linux, of course.)


Yes yes yes! Title IX survived the Bush "re-examination"!!! "Title IX prohibits gender discrimination in programs that receive federal funding. Its effect has been profound: The number of girls participating in high school sports rose from 294,000 to 2.8 million from 1971 to 2002. The number of women in college sports increased fivefold during the same time frame."


While it's not surprising that The Pentagon wants broad exemptions from environmental laws, the wacky way they plan to go about getting them is just too far out. For example, their plan contemplates the "Creation of standards for invoking existing national security exemptions in environmental laws, such as declaring that certain protections for wildlife threaten national security."


Last clipping for the day: BBC collection of write-in opinions about Powell's speech. Most amusing excerpt on proof that Iraq has WMDs: "Why did that Colin Powell bloke bother with all the hot air at the UN? Why didn't he just show us the receipts? Doesn't the US keep any records of who it sells stuff to?"

posted by Arlene (Beth)10:53 PM

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Today was absolutely gorgeous. Warm, sunny, bright, clear. A marvel of winter, full of spring features.

We gardened today. It was perfect weather to play with plants. Now that spring has come so very early, complete with plum and cherry blossoms and the first magnolias, plant obsession is in the air. The SF Orchid Society's largest annual show, the "Gems of Nature" Pacific Orchid Exposition, takes place February 20-23. The mansion and gardens of Filoli are opening for the season, showing off their 300 camellia plants. And in March, the SF Garden Show at the Cow Palace will be held March 19th through the 23rd.

Garden fever is upon us. I was tempted to rush out and see Sunset Magazine's Demonstration Gardens to tide me over until the shows, but the gardens are only open during the week. That's so wrong! Discrimination against the employed! Ah, well.

Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park should tide me over. Their next plant sale is March 8th.

(Oh dear god, they accept photographic submissions for their photo gallery. Oh my. Oh my. Do you have any idea how much film I use there, making obsessive, close-up plant studies?) (Speaking of Oh Dear God, have you seen their list of fancy trips you can take with botanists to places like China, the south of France, and Switzerland?)


What does gardening have to do with food? Everything. As an herbivore, I live on plants: tender opal basil, heirloom tomatoes, golden chard, Greek oregano, lemon cucumbers... All of which, and more, I have planted over recent weeks. It's fun to grow delicious food plants, and to pay close attention to the weather and the seasons.

And now, I'll pay close attention to my soft, fluffy pillow...

posted by Arlene (Beth)9:33 PM

Saturday, February 08, 2003

Have I said anything fabulous about the wonderful parody news weekly, The Onion, recently? I should.
Department Of The Interior Sets Aside Two Million Acres For Car Commercials
WASHINGTON, DC?Seeking to "safeguard our precious wildlands for future generations of SUV ads," the Department of the Interior set aside two million acres in Wyoming and Colorado for use in car commercials Monday. "If we do not protect this land," Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton said, "we may one day have no place for Dodge Rams to run wild and free."

posted by Arlene (Beth)8:04 PM

There's a scene in the film The Beach, where the small community living in a hidden paradise on a gorgeous Thai island need some supplies from the mainland. The main character has to handle their long lists of requests. Batteries, tampons, batteries, condoms, tampons, newspapers, shampoo, batteries... And then a woman sits before him and begins her list: 'ginger, cumin, saffron...'

And S and I turn to each other, and before I can get it out, S says, "It's you!"

And yes, it would be me. I would be asking for spices. What could be better or more important? (Well, birth control. But still.)

posted by Arlene (Beth)7:32 PM

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Oh, you wouldn't believe how beautiful it is tonight. The air feels fresh, the breezes are gentle, and the stars are out.

Biking home from work is WONDERFUL.


Let's see, food. I hosted a brunch last weekend. I had to serve breakfasty food, but was indecisive until the last minute. I would up making small crepes. Recipe:

vegan crepes (modified from the egg and milk crepe recipe in the Greens (restaurant) Cookbook):

  • egg replacer (vegan) equivalent to 2 eggs
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • a dash of olive oil

Whip with a hand blender, and let sit for about 15 minutes to thicken. When thick, ladle a small amount into a hot, well seasoned pan over medium heat, coating the bottom with a thin layer of batter, and fry like a thin pancake on both sides, or until lightly browned. Add a little oil between crepes to prevent sticking as needed.

Filling: fresh mushrooms, shredded well-washed spinach, half an onion, thyme, and ground black pepper, sauteed until tender.

Serve with home fried potatoes.

Arlene's home fried potatoes:

  • two potatoes per person, peeled and thinly sliced
  • one onion per 4 potatoes, thinly sliced into rings
  • canola oil
  • thyme, about 1/4 teaspoon per potato

Sautee potatoes in a small amount of oil in a non stick pan over medium-high or high heat, turning frequently, until they begin to brown. Cover and allow to steam, still stirring frequently. When about half the potatoes are brown, add onion and thyme. Cover and continue to stir, adding small amounts of oil if needed to prevent sticking, and continue to cook until potatoes and onions are tender. Serve immediately.


Sunday I made something directly from the Greens Cookbook which was already vegan: Kale and potato soup with red pepper. It's lovely. Potatoes, many cloves of garlic, shredded kale, water, and a few dashes of crushed red pepper, simmered until tender and partly pureed. It's a lovely, and healthful, winter dish.

So is red thai curry, and I made that, too.

It was a good food weekend.


An absolute must read: Girlyhead Issue No. 4, the Romance Issue. It is a work of pure genius. It has articles with titles like, "Barbara Cartland: Queen of Romance or Wack-Ass Nut Job - You Decide." My favorite line: "Nothing says romance more than Incredibly Strange Wrestler, La Cingona trying in vain to seduce El Homo Loco with her famed Fish Tacos. El Homo Loco doesn't have much of an appetite for - 'fish tacos...'"

I nearly cried.

You must read this. Produced here in San Francisco by very witty San Franciscans. San Franciscans that come in different sizes and colors! (I'm always pleased to see at least one image of a big girl in this mag, just because.) Buy Now! Independent Bookstores are standing by!


Last night we had a pleasant Italian dinner at Puccini and Pinetti and went to see the play American Buffalo, performed by ACT. It was well done, though S didn't enjoy it as much as I did. It was, as he said, a play about "pathetic people doing pathetic things," and he's had enough of that in real life that he didn't have much tolerance for it as entertainment. But I enjoyed the dialog, which is why I've enjoyed excerpts of Mamet's writing. (Even though it's all conversations between guys.)

posted by Arlene (Beth)8:51 PM

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Oh, I'm so tired. Too tired to publish vegan crepe recipes. But soon....

This evening's Bike Plan meeting was great. Great turnout, good process... Wow, I'm sleepy.

Good night!
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:59 PM

Sunday, February 02, 2003

Friday I attended an anti-war benefit concert at the Berkeley Community Center in Berkeley. It was great! While there were wonderful bands performing for free to raise money for Not In Our Name and The Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, such as Ani Di Franco (quoting Chuck D., who also performed: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that George W. Bush is NOT the President"), the show was stolen by poet and spoken word artist Saul Williams. He is a genius that speaks passionately and brilliantly, using words in ways that could make an obsessed poetry fan out of anyone. Well, even out of me.

The organizers handed out booklets at the high-spirited, well-attended gathering, which included links to the following groups, listed here in no particular order:

It is still winter, so I'm not sure whether it makes sense to repost my enchilada web pages associated with summery sauces and guacamole yet. I'll think about it: there are a few avocado trees producing somewhere here in California and/or Mexico, because avocados have abruptly reappeared in the markets. But in the meantime, here is my archived page with regard to the ever important topic of tortillas.


Flour and corn tortillas are great things. Corn especially. Though they both have their merits.

Here in California, there are all sorts of fancy-schmancy tortillas available. You can get whole wheat, white flour, with lard, without lard, low-fat, fat-free, tomato-flavored, avacado-flavored, fajita-size, soft-taco-size, small-child-size... But the two most basic distinctions are corn and flour. And those are what I'm going to write about.

You're not about to read this in the middle of the night, when there's no food in the house, are you? Because it could be dangerous. Not that this has ever happened to me. Oh, no.

I plan to discuss:

The Merits of Corn Tortillas

Corn tortillas are the original tortilla. They can be made from any of many hundred varieties of corn (which, for various reasons, we don't get in this country), each with it's own distinctive taste. Corn tortillas are pleasantly flavored, are very tender when fresh, and smell ever-so-yummy.
They are wonderful for scooping up particularly messy fillings that stray from the safety of their enchilada, and are great for eating refried beans with salsa. (I tear off a bit of tortilla, spoon beans and salsa into it, roll it up, and throw it at whoever is sitting across from me. Just kidding! I eat them this way.)
They are wonderful under huevos rancheros. They are wonderful if you make them into chips, with which to eat guacamole. They make lovely quesadillas, too, which seem more substantial than flour quesadillas do.

In summary: wonderful.

There are a few disadvantages. Corn tortillas have a distinctive and pleasant flavor which sometimes battles it out with mild ingredients you may serve with them. For example, jack cheese is the second or third thing you taste in a corn quesadilla, because the cheese flavor is overshadowed by the tortilla.
If you really want to taste the cheese, this is a disadvantage. Also, corn tortillas dry out and become brittle, which makes them harder to use for enchiladas and other rolled items if they're more than a day old.

The Merits of Flour Tortillas

Flour tortillas are always soft and pliable (unless you've had them for a really long time), are easily rolled into even the narrowest enchilada shapes, and readily absorb the flavor of any sauce without competing with it.
There are more varieties of flour tortillas available (even if many of them are just too shi-shi), so you can amuse yourself with a constant variety of them.
They are readily available in even the most unimaginative supermarkets. They come in larger sizes than corn tortillas do, so you can create ridiculously large burritos, enchiladas (though you risk failing to cook them all the way through), biodegradeable frisbees, etc.

Flour tortillas are relatively uninteresting alone or with salsa, however, and when served without saucy ingredients, can feel dry. Despite these drawbacks, I prefer flour tortillas when creating my dangerously spicy enchiladas.

How You Can Make Corn Tortillas At Home

Making corn tortillas at home is so easy, you can do it while talking long distance! You'll need:

  • masa harina, a special sort of corn flour used for tortillas and tamales. The brand I have right now is Quaker. The ingredients are authentic, and there's something entertaining about seeing the Quaker's face above Spanish-language cooking instructions. The Quaker is hip after all!
  • warm water. If you heat some yourself, be sure you have adult supervision. Especially those of you who work in law.
  • a willingness to make a mess of yourself and your kitchen. If you don't have this when you begin, don't worry: you'll get into it.


  1. Put 2 cups of masa in a bowl.
  2. Add 1.5 cups of hot/warm water, and mix well, but not with much force or zeal. Unless you're REALLY hungry, in which case it's okay.
  3. Don't forget to breathe. The mix will start smelling good right away.
  4. Wait. You should wait somewhere between 15 minutes and one hour. Spend the time praying or writing me large checks. You'll be glad you did.
  5. Wet your hands a bit, and pick up the dough. It shouldn't crumble away, nor should it slosh out of your hands. You want something manageable.
  6. Divide the dough into a dozen or so balls. Attempt to flatten the balls into perfect, uniform disks, one at a time (for those of you who are in a hurry, this is an important idea.)
    Fail miserably. Wind up with thick, irregular shapes for which there are no names in geometry.
  7. Fry the tortilla in a non-stick pan, on a griddle or in a lightly oiled pan, until it starts to look and smell ready. It should not really brown. Take it off before it browns. I said, take it off before it browns! Now! Now! Do it!
  8. Fry the other side too, silly.
  9. While you're burning the first tortilla, attempt to form the second one.
  10. Repeat until you have several thick, heavy tortillas, which do not resemble anything you've seen in the store. Heat up your oven, put hot-pepper cheese between two of the tortillas, and bake for just a few minutes.
  11. Eat with lots of salsa. Mmmmmmmm....

I personally can't make round, thin, flat tortillas by hand which maintain their physical integrity long enough to be cooked. But all that may change. I bought a tortilla press! And hope to have the time and energy to perform
all sorts of tests of it very soon...

Why You Don't Want To Make Flour Tortillas At Home

Do you really have energy? I mean, can't you just buy them like everyone else? They're for sale everywhere!!! And if you don't cook them propery, they're gummy. Ick.
It looked easy enough for the women in that video on Sesame Street™ to make them, but they'd been practicing. I'm still jealous of their skill, and I haven't
seen that video for years.

How to Clean Your Kitchen After Making Tortillas

I recommend a flame thrower.

posted by Arlene (Beth)8:26 AM

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