Kitchen Therapy: Tortillas a Mano

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I’m blessed to have my abuela alive and 10 minutes away from me. She’s 93 years old (she thinks) and was born in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua Mexico. She came to L.A. as a teenager and worked as a checker in grocery stores for most of her life. She married my grandpa (R.I.P.), who lived in Chavez Ravine, and they eventually moved on up from East L.A. to Montebello, where she still lives today and what many people (who don’t know better) consider the Beverly Hills of East Los. The older I get, the more I want to adopt her skills in the kitchen, so my latest passion is cooking with her. My mom and I recently convened in her kitchen to make flour tortillas. The last time I made these with her I was five. Like most abuelas, she doesn’t follow recipes, but here’s the jest of how we made one of the yummiest staples on earth:

Flour Tortillas By Abuela Lupe

*Makes 12 tortillas*

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, lard or oil
  • About 1 cup lukewarm water
  1. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  2. Blend in shortening. Gradually stir in water until crumbly dough forms.
  3. Work dough with hands until pliable. Shape into a ball on a floured board. Knead ball of dough until smooth.
  4. Divide dough into 12 equal parts.
  5. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.
  6. Flatten each piece to about 4-inch circles and roll into 8-inch circles with a rolling pin.
  7. Lay flat on hot, ungreased griddle or comal, flipping twice when bubbles form.
  8. Enjoy with anything from butter (my guilty pleasure) to queso fresco, or with your favorite Mexican dish. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.