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belated TAMALE/CHRISTMAS update

My ancestors came from Ireland. All of them. It’s a source of great joy for me.

Another source of amazing joy is that I married into another culture, one that -- like my first one -- is also known for its warmth, generosity, humor and storytelling. And it doesn’t hurt that their cuisine is yummy. My mother-in-law was a sensational cook, and I more or less stalked her for years, shadowing her in her kitchen, soaking up every bit of info and lore I could.

She always made tamales at Christmas and menudo at New Year’s. Now, I do that.

This year we made tamales over a period of two days – 100 on Christmas Eve, 100 Christmas Day. It worked well given the schedules of my children, whom I rely on to spread the masa on the husks. It’s monotonous work, but they keep their eyes on the prize and do it cheerfully. They even get a little competitive about it! Visitors get to help too, as does my husband. He plays other roles also, like going with me to the Mexican deli to buy masa preparada, and cutting up all the bargain pork roasts I accumulated in the freezer during the year.

Even though we buy prepared masa, we augment it with broth from the simmered meat, and also with baking power and some whipped lard. Getting it to the right consistency is the most challenging part for me – or at least, the part I worry about the most. Another difficult part, but one I love doing, is making the sauce by simmering and then pureeing dried Anaheim and New Mexico chilies, and then forcing them through a sieve, adding garlic and herbs, and combining the result with the broth. This is what separates these tamales from most store-bought ones – the freshness and the sauce.

So that’s how I spent most of my Christmas. The rewards? A close, happy, well-fed family, a great tradition respected and cherished – and I didn’t have to make any meals for days thereafter, since tamales reigned supreme.

In other words, I had a lovely holiday. (Good thing I didn’t know my computer was just about to croak. Sheesh…)



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 6th, 2007 11:49 pm (UTC)
Recipe? She asked hopefully? : )
Jan. 7th, 2007 02:22 am (UTC)
You bet I'm willing to share, but I have to warn you, I'm a drill sargeant.

Are you willing to do whatever I say without question? If so, it's yours!

Trust me.

I'd love to share it. Write to me at katedonovan at hotmail dot com. Then set aside two days of your life. That's all I ask.

My guaranteee? It'll be worth it. If not the first time (I burned mine because I didn't have a good steamer) the second for sure!

I also have a fabulous enchilada recipe that's a zillion times easier and doesn't require exotic equipment or ingredients.

Jan. 7th, 2007 09:52 am (UTC)
Re: recipe
Believe it or not, I always follow recipes!

Well, that's not strictly true; when it comes to baking I have been known to deliberately go out and find a recipe that's close to what I want so I can modify it to be *what* I want, but if I'm going around asking people to share Sekrit Family Recipes, I'll *definitely* follow it! There is, in my opinion, no better way to get the Best Food In The World. :)

Enchiladas. O.O

Email on the way. :)
Jan. 9th, 2007 11:15 pm (UTC)
Re: recipe
Thanks for taking the pledge! LOL

Actually, tamales are so much work, and so tricky. I wouldn't want anyone to go through all that torment and not end up with -- well, at least one good dinner, so following directions is paramount for that particular recipe, at least until you've done it a couple of times.

Plus, you can get hurt! No one warned me about using rubber gloves when working with dried chilies, and I once rubbed my eye before washing my hands -- owwwwwie! It stung for a half hour at least.

The enchiladas are easier and they never hurt you.

I guess tamales are the "bad boys" of Mexican cuisine.

Jan. 10th, 2007 02:37 am (UTC)
Oh, yeah, my mom's from Idaho. My dad's from the Mesilla Valley in New Mexico. I think they grow a few hundred varieties of chiles there (I don't know how much of an exaggeration that is b/c they do grow a lot: NMSU is there and I think one department studies them).

Anyhoodles, yes, working with chiles was something that my mom had a few painful experiences over.

There was the time that my dad had had a business trip to Albuquerque during the harvest and came back overjoyed with a huge sack of anaheim chiles -- I was really little and have no idea if it was 50 pounds or 100 or what -- it was definitely bigger than the 25 pound sack of flour. Anyway, we had LOTS of chile rellanos that year. Made dad and us kids happy. Mom, not so much, LOL.

Penn, who is working on putting eulogies on pretty paper . . .
Jan. 10th, 2007 03:05 am (UTC)
Re: Chiles
We grow those Anaheims every summer, along with jalapenos. Yum.

You've got a spicy background, Penni!

So do you have a good chile relleno recipe? My husband loves 'em, but that wasn't one of his mom's specialities, so I'm stumped.

Meanwhile, how many Bombshell eulogies did you get? I hope there are some funny ones. I felt bad about getting so maudlin in mine, but I couldn't help it.


p.s. I should post the link to the Wake website. Wish I knew how to make a hot link on livejournal, but at least I can post the address.: http://bombshellwake.wordpress.com/
Jan. 10th, 2007 04:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Chiles & Eulogies
We don't have any "fun" eulogies yet, so send Kristie's!! Guess I better write a funny one . . .

I just received Tashya's and it filled my heart and my eyes.

I also have eulogies from:
Nancy Holder
Erica Orloff and

I don't know if we have a good rellanos recipe -- my mom got all healthy years ago and since the recipe she made when I was little was anything but -- breaded, egg-dipped, fried (although she might have moved on to baking), I'll have to look around for one.

Aug. 10th, 2007 11:55 am (UTC)
Hello, i new
Hello friends! i new on your forum!
see ya:))
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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