HUERFANO- Mary (Santistevan) Andreatta, age 83, of Walsenburg developed her own recipe for tortillas 40 or 50 years ago when married and raising kids on the family ranch out on Yellowstone, 28 miles west of Walsenburg.
The ranch was homesteaded by Mary’s grandparents on her mother’s (Rosana Martinez) side. Her grandfather was a sheepherder and her grandmother died there while cooking supper on the wood stove, when she was hit by lightning, “I guess it came down the stove or something.” Mary first lived out on the ranch when she was just a little girl of five or six years old. Later her grandfather sold the ranch and moved to the mining camps to become a miner at the Alamo mine.
Mary then lived in town for 18 years, until when she married Ermer Andreatta, the son of the folks who had purchased the Yellowstone ranch from her grandfather.
Mary went back out to the ranch, moving in with Ermer and his mother, Rosina Andreatta. “She was a good mother-in-law, I’ll tell you. She used to make me take her here and there. We would leave Ermer home. We had a good time, we never fought and she helped with the kids. She raised Emilio- after he was born she said, ‘you have a nice little boy, but he is going to be mine,’ and she named him Emilio after her husband and took him everywhere with her until he was about 6. The other girls were kind of jealous of him. We got along real good. Then in 1966 she died, and I had the house for myself.”
Mary says, “The house at the ranch was very simple. It was an adobe and rock house, and was built by Ermer’s dad. There were four rooms- a kitchen and three bedrooms. No dining room, no living room- that’s how I raised my kids. We had well water, and just an outhouse,” until 1983 when they added on another little room for a bathroom and a big room for a living room.
“My mother in law and I cooked on a coal and wood stove and used Coleman lanterns until 1955, when we got electricity to Yellowstone. “
Mary says, “I really made the tortilla recipe myself, and I have passed it on to different people who wanted it. My mother-in-law gave me the idea to put the dry milk in because we had a lot around all the time. The dry milk makes a world of difference so they don’t get too hard. It makes nice fluffy tortillas.
The first time I made them, there was something missing. I went to Pueblo and there was a man that had a little restaurant on Main Street in Pueblo. He made the best pizza. He told me what was missing was a little pepper in the dough. And after that it came out perfect.”
Mary serves her tortillas with beans and red chile.
8 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
5 tablespoons shortening
3 cups lukewarm water
1 cup dry milk
1/2 tsp pepper
Mix all dry ingredients & shortenings. When well blended, add water. Knead into dough. Make balls and roll tortillas. Cook on a hot cast iron flat grill. Put a little oil on the griddle with a paper towel so they don’t stick.
Makes 18 tortillas.
In 1989 Mary moved back to Walsenburg and now lives with her daughter Elisha. “I miss the ranch- it was a different life. Now everything is going so fast, over there you just took it one day at a time. It was nicer, a better way to raise kids.”
Mary and Ermer Andreatta were married 31 years until his death in 1984. They had six children together there at the ranch; Joe, Shirlynne, Linda, Emilio, Kathleen (died as an infant), and Elisha.