Archive | April 7, 2010

Tortillas and family history

I have conquered the flatbread!

Well, kind of.

Okay, a few months back Cari over at Life at #71 posted a recipe for pita from scratch.  I like pita bread, I like baking, and I like trying new things in the kitchen, so I gave it a go.  Three times.  I couldn’t make it work (although, the finished product that I came up with did make a wonderful pizza crust, with a bit of spaghetti sauce and cheese, then put put into the toaster oven until everything melted).

I decided that I was flat-bread deficient.  Then I got to thinking.  I don’t have any Mediterranean/Middle Eastern ancestors (that I know of), but my Great-Grandfather was born in Mexico. (His ancestors all came from England and Denmark, but dangit, he was Mexican!) So maybe I’d have better luck with tortillas.

I found a few recipes online, but mixing the fat in scared me a little bit.  I don’t know why, I have a pastry cutter, and don’t have any problems making shortbread or piecrust or the like, but yeah, I was a little intimidated.

While grocery shopping the other day, I found myself where the baking supplies meets the ethnic food isle, and saw this:

I know enough Spanish to know that “simplemente agrea aqua” means “just add water”  I didn’t look for the English instructions at all.  Yeah.

I made some last night, and they were easy and tasty, especially with my sister’s barbacoa pork recipe that mimics that of a popular local Mexican restaurant.

I have enough confidence now in my tortilla-making abilities that I’ll use the rest of the mix, then try them from scratch.

As for the family history–

I knew about this great-grandfather who was born in Mexico, but I wasn’t sure if he was great-grandfather or great-great grandfather, so I looked it up.  I clicked back a few generations to make sure I knew what I was talking about, and discovered a mystery.

My Mexican great-grandfather, one Johnathan Pratt Nelson, had a grandfather named Claybourne Montgomery Elder, who died and is buried in the tiny Central Utah town that my mom’s ancestors settled–the town where I lived until I was 8, and I’m related to almost every single resident of that town.

Now, here’s the mystery.  Claybourne’s wife died in Southeastern Utah in 1905.  Claybourne died in Leamington in 1912, at the age of 85.  Elder is not a Leamington name, so I don’t know why he went there, or when, though I think it’s safe to assume that it was sometime after 1905.

This is a mystery that I’d like to solve, and I guess that I have enough connections to Leamington that I could probably do it.

Honestly, this is the first family story that I’m interested in learning about.  I like to know the dates and places, and imagine what my ancestors lives were like, but haven’t really given much thought to finding out the stories.

But now, I need to know.

And–the crazy is back.

As I start to write this, it’s just shy of 4 am.  I haven’t been to bed yet.  What have I been doing all night long?  Absolutely nothing.  Okay, that’s not true, I’m playing SimCity, but as that’s a game that requires a lot of waiting, it amounts to absolutely nothing.

Anyway, a few hours ago, I decided that it was time to go to bed.  I was just about to take the dogs out for a walk, when I heard a loud pop, then another one, right outside my window.  That’s not a good sound at 2 am.

The crazy worrier in me starts thinking gunshots, but the calm logical part of me who rarely gets a voice reminded me that I was watching Law and Order earlier, and I live in a safe neighborhood.  Firecrackers, then, but I didn’t hear any talking or laughing–or shouting for that matter, sounds which experience, and the TV tells me often accompany things like firecrackers and gunshots.

So now, I’m too scared to walk the dogs, but also know that it was probably nothing and not worth calling the police over.  So I sit and do nothing, while the treasury of my fake city grows.

Then, an hour or so later, I hear a car drive into the parking lot, and I hear the sound again.  Only, this time, it seems distinctly metallic.  Like, a can or a sheet of metal that hits against the speed bump right outside my balcony after someone drove over it.

Yeah, I felt stupid.  But, in my defense, I’d been awake for like 20 hours at this point.

%d bloggers like this: