Friday, March 29, 2013

Plants, Tacos, and Names

Can you believe it? My computer is finally back. Still has a little glitch I have to see if I can fix myself but at least I have my own once more. Hopefully I will have an easier time blogging. Maybe not this week for we've had grand kids every day. Not the entire day but most of it and all but one day we've had the youngest. You know how much you can get done with a eleven month old -- not much.

I've managed with difficultly to finally get some seeds started in pots for the garden. We are putting them under grow lights on a rack in the window this year. Before they were in a dark basement under lights. I'm hoping to save on electricity and improve thickness in plant growth. Maybe I can even get a decent crop of onion starts and lettuce. Two things I've yet to do successfully.

And I finally tried out my cousins tortilla shell, hot press. Not successfully though. The outcome looked more like a starched crocheted lace doily. The press squealed and popped as I pressed down the lever spreading out the dough leaving holes and a stiff brittle shell. That's okay because after three doilies, and trying to press lighter each time, I hand rolled a few to great success. Something that hasn't happened in all the years I've tried making them. Not that that is a ton of times but I bet I've tried over ten times over the course of twenty years and nodda, zilch success. You see I'm picky. I like my taco shells thin, thin and flexible. To do so without having to buy a press at over fifty bucks is even more exciting. My cupboards are groaning as it is with equipment.

Now my cousin swears by this machine so I wouldn't dismiss it all together. You see different methods for different folks. That is why reading about something or listening to advice is nice but doing it is essential for success. So follow along with me as I develop a series of recipes. It might just be the ticket to success for you too. That is unless you are already make your own.

I've got to tell you though. Ever since I made these shells I can't get them off my mind. My husband loved them and now I want to start making some with flavors. Remember the beets, zucchini, spinach, tomatoes, pumpkin, and carrots I dried, turned to powder, and use in noodles. I'm thinking spices and powdered vegetables are on the menu to try next with taco shells too. In the store you can get some with tomato and basil, another with spinach, and a third I think has avocado and a hot pepper. I can't remember for sure but I know I like the flavored ones best.

Not so sure I want to try beets or pumpkin and I'm sitting on the fence about carrots but they might not be so bad put in the taco dough if the taco shells were used for sandwich wraps. I'm thinking less bread and more taco shells might be a good calorie reducer. I know it will increase the nutrition level.

How much the powder will change the recipe I'm not sure as it will dry the dough out as the powdered vegetable reconstitutes. I'll have to add a bit more water to compensate, I'm sure.  

My cousin was right about the heat part though. Heat is the key only hot water instead of a hot press. I searched quite a few recipes on the Internet but finally found one I'd saved from good ole Cooks magazine. They've got to the science of the matter. I learned that hot water keeps the gluten in the flour from developing. The very thing I wanted to know. The recipe also calls for 6 tablespoons of shortening and a teaspoon of oil which also coats the flour and keeps the gluten from developing, so it must be a biggy. Don't develop your flour's gluten.

I was in a huge hurry needing lunch for the kids and a jump start on supper for Kirk so I admit I didn't read the instructions through. Just a quick glance. You know how well I follow directions anyway so with three little kids begging for their lunch I threw caution to the wind and just used oil. I hate using shortening unless I really have to. I consider it just above toxic waste.

The dough rolled out like a dream on my granite counter tops. I didn't have to even use flour to keep the shell from sticking. It was awesome. I'm thinking lard or ghee would be a good option next time because I'm wondering if using that will make a difference. I know many Hispanics use lard in their shells. It makes a mighty flaky pie crust so hm.... will it change thing? Got an answer anybody?

Sorry about the lack of photos but my days have been full to over flowing but the next batch I promise photos and a more detailed recipe.

Last but not least, the list of names for our new little yak. She let me come within ten feet of her today. Of course it was on the safe side of Gracie but hey, it is till progress.  

Stella, Esther, Essie, which all mean star. Then there is Sweat Pea which won't do because our close neighbor has a goat named that and we wouldn't want to confuse them. Other suggestions are Sunny, Annabelle, and Faith. I kind of like Faith. Others suggested Elly, which is cute, and Schatzi, Belle, Bella (but we named a goat  Belle last year) and Tashee and Nyima which I'm not totally sure how to pronounce. Kirk's brother suggested Wyoming White Star but she won't be registered so she doesn't need something quite so fancy. And my talented goat naming friend said we should call her Willow. I like that too. Kirk suggested Faye so there we have it. Sixteen names and Kirk and I have been so busy discussing other things we haven't had a moment to decide.

Some of which of course has been about the kids. Our four year old went to the high school play of Little Mermaid Monday night with her sisters and mom and said, " How they going to pull that one off Mom?" Because you  if you will recall, Arielle is naked when she comes up out of the water and becomes human. You know they can't have her naked. Not that our four year old shows much modesty on her own, running around in her underwear between dress up changes but she does get the lecture at least once daily, "Put some clothes on!". That of course ends up being a t-shirt of Grandpa's because she must be allergic to clothes. Or is it they take too long to put on and she's just going to take them off again to put on another set of dress up clothes.  

Somewhere in between watching kids and dyeing Easter eggs this weekend, we just have to come up with a name so I can quit calling our yearling yak, "Oh you cute little thing." She is going to think that is her name. Like the wild cat I accidentally named Sue when HE finally tamed down enough to begin coming to HIS name I discovered it wasn't a she after all but it had taken so.... long to tame him I didn't dare change it.

This is your last chance to pipe in and influence us or make another name suggestion. Who knows your name might get used after all. I've got lots of goat kids due in May and Gracie's calf will need a name also when it arrives. I

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