It seems like it is going to be awhile before my earliest crops are mature and dried down. The weeding pressure has relented but there is no harvesting to be done yet, so a few weeks of breathing time (camping, hiking, and planning for next year) have arrived. I am anxiously awaiting when the grains, soup peas, and garbanzos are ready so I can have a harvesting and threshing workshop. I think that will be loads of fun.Meanwhile, I have been too busy lately to make more tortillas and I crave them immensely. I had purchased a new Estrella masa grinder a few weeks back at the Mexican grocery store down the street and have been looking forward to trying it out. So I finally spent a few hours this morning making tortillas. I made about 70 tortillas from 8 cups of my Mandan Bride dent corn. Here are some masa-making instructions for those of you who are interested in making your own tortillas:
Dissolve 4 Tablespoons of "Cal"/Slaked Lime (can be purchased at a Mexican grocery) in 12 cups of water.
Add 4 cups of dent corn kernels and slowly bring to a boil over a half hour. Let it boil for a few minutes, then turn off the heat.
Let sit overnight.
Rinse the corn until the water runs clear. Use your hands to briskly rub the kernels to assist in removing the cal. Drain in a strainer
Grind in a masa grinder as fine as you can get it (it won't be fine like flour and you will get a wet, coarse dough).
Make the dough into a ball. Add a bit of water if needed for it to stick together. It should be just wet enough to be able to make a golfball sized ball hold together.
Use a plastic bag to line either side of your tortilla press. Put a bit of oil on each side. Press tortillas and carefully peel them off the plastic.
They should be fried in a cured but dry cast iron pan on high enough heat so that they turn slightly brown on each side in about 30 seconds, but the pan does not smoke.
Note: if you do not have a tortilla press, you can make little patties with your hands, or you can press the dough between oiled plastic sheets with a heavy pan or other flat-bottomed object that you can press down on. But believe me, a good tortilla press is invaluable if you are going to do a lot of this!
Good Luck and happy masa-making.
So far I'm enjoying the summer immensely. Working hard, no doubt, but every day brings new treasures and introspections and simple beauties of nature. The field blows me away every time I walk out there. Most of the crops so lush and vital, the peas and garbanzos are thinking about starting to dry down, the beans still vivaciously filling in the paths so that there will be nowhere to walk come harvest time.
I decided to irrigate this year. Normally I've practiced experimenting with dry farming, but a few dousings is what I will apply this year. Last week I helped Dusty move the 40 foot long aluminum pipes to my upper section of field and we ran the sprinklers for 3 or 4 hours. Celt and I hooked up several hoses and ran them from the nearest spigot to the lower field and hand watered our squash, half the wilting buckwheat, and her beans. Everything has responded so well, and the lushness was beautiful to see afterward. The potatoes still struggle, the soybeans have barely recovered from all the bunny pressure, and the corn is tasselling so short. But I'll have my hands full in another couple weeks with harvest. I better go camping now while I still have the chance!
A few friends joined in today for some light weeding and we got a lot accomplished. It feels so good to be able to have fun, gossip, laugh, and be productive at the same time. I love the idea of having gardening partners in my life regularly, growing food is a joyous thing to share, and a key component to my own happiness.
Krista is a life-long resident of Whatcom County, Washington State. She has been gardening and farming in the area for over 15 years.