“JudyLucy, would you and Sarah make tortillas while I bake a cake?”
“Sure, Mom. Is the recipe in this book?” JudyLucy took down a scrapbook of recipes we were putting together and flipped through the pages looking for the tortilla recipe.
“Yes. Under ‘Breads.’ You will need to triple the recipe. Can you do that?”
“Yes. Found it.”
Sarah was already loading the flour, salt, baking powder, and oil on the table. The girls had made tortillas with me several times before. Usually I let them do the fun part of rolling out the tortillas and cooking them. I had always done the mixing of ingredients. I watched JudyLucy (8) covertly to see if she could accurately triple the recipe. It read:
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of oil
3/4 cup of hot water
Mix first 3 ingredients. Add oil and mix. Add water slowly while mixing. Knead just until smooth. Let sit 15 minutes. Separate into balls, roll out on floured surface and cook on both sides in a skillet on low heat. Place hot tortillas in closed container or between towel folds to keep hot and soft. Serve immediately.
Without hesitation JudyLucy tripled each ingredient until she got to the hot water. I saw her hesitate and then start to put 3/4 cup of water into the bowl three separate times.
“Wait a sec,” I said. “You can do it that way. But there is a way to add fractions like that very quickly and find out the exact amount.”
She paused while I leaned over next to her. I flipped the recipe card over and wrote the fraction 3/4 three times in a row.
“How many threes are there?”
“Three,” she said, “Equaling nine altogether.”
“Good,” I replied. “The four represents the whole cup, right? Three parts of a unit of four. So, the question is, how many wholes, or fours, can you get out of nine? How many times will four go into nine?”
She nodded and calculated quickly in her head.
“Two times with one left over because four plus four is eight… with one extra left over.”
“Right. And this is how it looks. You write the two, which is the two wholes, and then you write the leftover one on the side, and you put a line and write a four under it because it is one part of a whole.”
“2 and 1/4?”
“Yep. Got it?”
And that was that. Adding fractions, making tortillas… we're all that.