Tag Archives: Flora Medellin

Give Us The Tortilla Recipe!

Well, I received a few requests for the flour tortilla recipe that I use. I’m sure you can find a recipe anywhere on the internet, and some may look familiar to this one, yet, folks tell me they didn’t come out right or they were in the shape of a football or Texas. Well, it can happen.

The key to tortilla making is confidence! And the ability to laugh at mistakes and salvage what you can. (And a heated tortilla press!) In other words, funny-shaped tortillas are still edible! Just get a pat of butter and go to town on them.

Anyway, the recipe passed down to me and the siblings by Flora Medellin and put on paper by my sister, Toni, is this:

Homemade Flour Tortillas

2 c. flour; 1/2 tbsp baking powder; 1 tbsp salt (to taste); 1/2 c. shortening (to taste); 3/4 c. hot water.

In a deep bowl, mix dry ingredients. Cut in vegetable shortening, with pastry blender, butter knives, or fingers, until mixture resembles medium/coarse cracker crumbs. (I have also used 1/4 cup of canola or vegetable oil instead of shortening). Add hot water slowly to form soft dough.

Knead the dough until well blended and pliable. Form dough into 12 small rounds. Roll out each round with a rolling pin, or flatten with a heated tortilla press, to desired thickness (1/16 to 1/8 inch).

Cook on nonstick griddle on medium/high heat until done, flipping occasionally. If tortilla puffs up while cooking, do not attempt to flatten (it might cause a steam burn), just keep flipping until done. Serve immediately or allow to cool on flat service covered with a tea towel before storing.

So, Friday is your shopping day to buy the ingredients. Wear a mask and gloves, and avoid people. Get to it. Then, Saturday morning, it’s time to make the tortillas. You have a weekend project for DIY Tex-Mex!

24 Hours in Cristal

flopopeyeI spent a day in Crystal City, TX this past weekend for my mother’s funeral mass. Yes, THAT Crystal City that’s been in the news after the indictment of its mayor, a couple of councilmen, and the city manager. Recently, another councilman was indicted for human smuggling. And, then, it made national news again when the water turned black and dirty.

Crystal City has a political history in Texas. What most Chicanos see as a history of political involvement and self-determination, others saw as a bunch of young brown-skinned radicals that Texas’ then-Democrat Governor called communists. Other Dem leaders pushed back against migrant farm workers (including activists from my hometown) marching to Austin to demand higher wages. They didn’t seem to get that in the process of political change, Chicanos in South Texas saw an increase in higher education attainment and Chicanos were finally part of the political process at various levels–and by their own doing, not through political favors from the establishment Democrats who preferred docile, unquestioned loyalty.

It was during this time that I was born and grew up. A lot of these newly degreed Chicanos and Chicanas would become my teachers. I was reminded of this when two of my former teachers that I had not seen in decades attended my mother’s funeral mass. I was reminded that the History of our little town was indeed a positive one and not one worthy of blame for any problems that were actually caused by a power structure that demanded Chicanos be politically and economically (cheap workforce) subservient. Cristal was punished, no doubt, for its activism. In a sense, it’s still being punished.

When an anglo Republican, a few years ago, somehow finagled his way into the city attorneys and then the city manager’s job at a salary almost equal to that of the Mayor of Houston, a lot of people began questioning what was going on. That the guy’s salary took 1/2 the city’s operating budget was questionable enough. But now that indictments have come about because these guys were getting [allegedly] bought off to ensure a gambling business’s success, among other things, the city has gone through a lot of embarrassment that somehow has called into question the City’s political history. What it did show was the town’s vulnerability.

Then, the water turned black, according to a few pictures and internet memes. For sure, the water had some sort of contamination. While the town’s water tower and system has always been under some sort of repair, there’s no doubt that there has been a need for major investment in the town’s infrastructure. Streets have been crumbling, pipes have been bursting, and leadership (state and federal) has been lacking. Surely, the town’s tax base couldn’t cover the costs of infrastructure development since major businesses have avoided Cristal for other area towns. Even the fracking boom mostly missed the town for other localities, while some of my friends gained a few jobs in the field. Still, we’re talking about a town of 7,000 souls who should have a right to drinkable water. A town whose population grows older and infirm. But this stuff isn’t reported in the news. (And we’re still awaiting the results of water tests from TCEQ.) And the needs of these South Texas towns, even with billions of dollars being made by oil companies, have gone largely ignored.

sawsBut I was also reminded that there are a lot of good people in the world. The San Antonio Water System sent a semi with 5,000 gallons of drinkable water to give out to the people. An environmental services company and the neighboring town of Carrizo Springs sent several pallets of bottled water to give to the elderly and homebound. Volunteers came together to make sure this happened. I felt a bit of pride in my town while I watched some of this happen.

Crystal City has turned out many survivors and fighters. And even folks like me who left the day after high school graduation who will still advocate for it and the people. The town has been through much while people who had been stepped on for decades pressed forward–at times successfully, if only temporarily. When other forces pushed for its demise, the town and its people survived. Crystal City can and will survive this.

The wheels, ever slow, are in motion as, hopefully, some good people without any self-interest will be elected to a new City Council after all the business of recalls and court dates is done. All new management will be hired to hopefully put the city on a better path. For now, though, it’s inevitable that the town will see a bit more turmoil and drama while it works out the kinks. “No hay mal que por bien no venga,” as my momma Flora used to say.

My mom loved her pueblito. She was born there, grew up there, and she and my Daddy made their family there and ran Medellin’s Texaco for decades. They even switched to La Raza Unida after conservative Democrats defeated Sissy Farenthold for Governor. Through all the changes and turmoil, we survived on love and friendship. We experienced that all over again as we returned for a day to give mom the Catholic funeral mass that she deserved. A lot of family and a lot of friends joined us, including the Flo-Fans from Facebook. Thank you for a wonderful experience. ¡Que Viva Cristal!

 

RIP: Florencia (Flora) Medellin

floFlorencia “Flora” Medellín was reunited with the love of her life, Anastacio “Tacho” Medellín, in heaven on January 13, 2016, surrounded by her children, grandson, and son-in-law at Methodist Hospital West in Houston, TX. She was born November 5, 1930 to Jesus Serna and María Teran Serna in her beloved home town, Crystal City, Texas.

She grew up in Crystal City, traveling as a migrant worker, with her family, to the cherry orchards of Wisconsin, the tomato fields of Indiana, and the agri-fields of Texas and North Dakota. In the summer of 1949, her family pulled up their Texas roots and relocated to Decatur, IN, in search of a better life. While living in Indiana, she worked as a chicken plucker in a poultry processing plant, steam-press operator in a dry cleaning shop, and even considered training as a nurse in neighboring Illinois. Alas, her mother’s tears stopped her from pursuing her dream of becoming a healthcare worker.

flopopIn the Spring of 1959, while she was visiting relatives in Crystal City, she reconnected with her childhood friend and neighbor, Tacho Medellín. It was a whirlwind romance, with them spending entire days at the Popeye Baseball Tournament, at a carnival (where he won so many stuffed animals for her she had to give many of them away), and driving around Crystal City—with his sisters, Mary and Concepcion, acting as chaperones. As promised, he traveled to Indiana to ask for her hand in marriage and make plans for the wedding. They were married October 17, 1959 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Decatur, Indiana.

They returned to Crystal City where they raised their children, were active in the community, and were co-owners of Medellin’s Texaco for over 30 years. Aside from running their business and raising their kids, Flora and Tacho were avid sports enthusiasts, often willing to travel throughout south Texas to support the Crystal City Javalinas at football and baseball games—a hobby they traced back to their courtship.

flopop2After her husband’s untimely death in 1990, she lived with her children, Sylvia and Tacho Jr. in Austin, then moved to Fort Worth with Toni, Ben and Benny. During the twenty one years she lived with the Briseños, helping to raise her grandson, she lived in Philadelphia, Tulsa, Kingwood (Houston), Denton, and Cypress, where she made lifelong friends along the way.

Once she had the opportunity to travel, she took full advantage, visiting family in Decatur and Fort Wayne, Indiana several times and took a road trip through the Smokey Mountains.

During her time in Pennsylvania, she enjoyed hiking through the snow at Valley Forge Park, visiting all of Philly’s wonderful museums (the Ben Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Museum of Art were her favorites). Touring Pennsylvania Amish Country, visiting Hershey Park (where she ate all the chocolate bars she could get her hands on), and visiting Atlantic City, NJ were all items that she was able to scratch off her bucket list.

While residing in Oklahoma she enjoyed visiting several reservations, the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, attended PowWows, and picnicked at Lake Tenkiller. Taking a trip to Cheyenne Frontier Days and attending the Daddy of ’Em All Rodeo was one of her favorite western road trips.

On her many trips to New Mexico to visit her grandson at college, she visited Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and made a pilgrimage to El Santuario at Chimayo. In a life filled with highlights, watching Benny graduate from college, perform at the Greer Garson Theatre, and sing with the Santa Fe Opera were amongst her proudest moments.

When she could still travel, she also enjoyed visiting friends and family in Crystal City and San Antonio.

Flora was an active and committed Democrat, working through social media to “Flo the Vote.” She loved holding court at political events, attending Senate District and State conventions, and staying up late on election night to watch the returns. She and her family hosted political fundraisers for various candidates for public office (even some Republicans attended and donated just so they could have some of her famous tortillas). Casting her ballot by mail every election was a priority—even when she was being wheeled in to surgery or recovering from a serious illness. As she grew older and more frail, she would remind her kids to order her ballot by mail as soon as she could because she wanted to cast her ballot and have it counted in case she “didn’t make it” to Election Day. She was an active member of the Kingwood Area Democrats, Democratic Women of Denton County, Stonewall Democrats of Denton County, ROADwomen, and South Denton County Democratic Club (SoDeCo).

In 2012, she embarked on a new adventure in Assisted Living where she made many new friends, took up new hobbies like oil painting, jewelry making, and pokeno, and enjoyed her new found independence. Her final residence was at Solera at West Houston where she loved the crafting, gaming, sing-a-longs and therapy pet visits.

Left to mourn her passing and celebrate her life are her children, Anastacio Medellín Jr., Sylvia Medellín, Maria Antonia “Toni” Medellin; son-in-law Benjamín A. Briseño (all of Houston); her grandson, Benjamín Alejos “Benny” Briseño and her great-grand-cat, Beatrice of Los Angeles, CA; adopted daughters, Veronica Gamez and Charlene Valda Tanner; adopted granddaughters, Ariadna “Ari Hayek” Orozco and Andrea Ramos; brothers Jesus Serna, Louis Cerna, and Hector Serna (Karen) of Decatur, IN; sisters Maria de Jesus Serna Espinola, Guadalupe Serna Garza, and Herminia Montalvo (Jose) of Fort Wayne; brothers-in-law Manuel Medellin Jr (Beatriz) and Manuel Cerna (Regina); her aunt Virginia Teran of Crystal City; her best friend Elena “Nena” Puente of Crystal City; her comadre Maria Ana “Nena” Vera Guzman of Corpus Christi; numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, godchildren, and fellow DWDC alum Judith Banks Ford and Jan Marie Goode. She also leaves behind friends from coast to coast, numerous Bingo Buddies, and Crafting Comadres at Solera and at Seven Acres Jewish Senior Care.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Jesus and Maria Serna; her beloved husband, Anastacio Reyes Medellin; adopted son, Mike Kelley; sisters Aurora “Lolly” Serna and María “Maruka” Serna Ortiz; brothers Rodolfo Garcia, Elias Casiano, Eriberto “Beto/Bob” Serna, and Jose Z. Serna; beloved sisters-in-law Consuelo “Connie” Serna, Tomasa “Tommy” Mendez Serna, Olivia Coronado Serna, Mary Medellin Juarez, and Concepcion Medellin Garcia; brothers-in-law Olegario Medellin and Joaquin Medellin; pets Poochie, Lobo, Precious, Chico, Sugar, Chato, Steven, Guero, Gertie, and Jackie.

In lieu of flowers, we ask that memorial donations be made to the following, or to your favorite progressive organization, in her honor:

Because Flora never could stand to see anyone hungry: The Houston Food Bank 535 Portwall Street Houston, Texas 77029 713-223-3700 HoustonFoodBank.org

Because Flora believed that everyone deserved to live the American Dream: FIEL Houston 6610 Harwin #214 Houston, TX 77036 fielhouston.org

Because Flora was convinced that they key to success for women was the ability to understand and control their reproductive system: Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Inc. Promotoras Program (community health workers) 4600 Gulf Freeway Houston, TX 77023 713.522.6363 ppgulfcoast.org

Because Flora wanted to see a Democratic President supported by a Democratic Congress: James Cargas for Congress Cargas for Congress 2450 Louisiana #400-777 Houston, TX 77065 713 581 0072 jamescargas.com