Friday, November 29, 2013

my tamalada

As promised..a tamale blog post. And I will start from, somewhat of the beginning...

I married young..I was out of diapers but you get the picture. I was from the southeast - hubby from the southwest. 2 different cultures. 2 completely different heritages and all wrapped up in 2 young naive little teenagers..I had no clue what I was doing. My first holiday with my new cultured family, I saw and ate tamales for the first time. And  yes, I even attempted to eat the husk..when I say I was naive, I mean I was like the naive-est of the naive. I was too young to appreciate it then but looking back I'm so thankful for the grace and hospitality my in-laws showed me. They're 2 of the most wonderful people on earth and forever deeply dear to my heart. So after a short course on eating tamales, I've spent these last 20 years trying to make them! I'm definitely still no expert but here's my process:

  • I cook a roast (we prefer pork but use the meat of your preference), debone and pick off the fat then put the shredded meat into another stew pot and set aside. If you can't find the ingredients at your local grocery store, a Mexican store will carry them all.
main ingredients: cooked roast, chile pods, corn husks & masa mix
  • Corn husks - start soaking in water for about 20 min and then drain. I soak them while I'm preparing the rest of the ingredients.

  • Take about 10 red chile pods (more if you're using a roast bigger than 5lbs) and boil them in water until soft - about 15/20 minutes. When they're soft I pluck off the stem and put the entire pod into the blender, I also add some of the water they were boiled in to make it more sauce like, rather than paste. After the pods are pureed, I put them through a strainer to catch the skins and seeds while the sauce runs into a container. I like to add a few seeds then to the finished chile sauce but this is preference - I think it adds a little extra heat and the hubby likes it hot.
if you make a HUGE mess making the red chile're not alone, so do I.
  • I then add the chile sauce to my stew pot of meat and simmer until the meat is softly shredded and the chile sauce has cooked down.
red chile meat
  • I use Tamal corn masa mix for the masa. I follow the instructions on the bag - using lard instead of margarine and broth from the meat I cooked, instead of water. The masa will need to be very spreadable, so you may need to add more broth or water if needed to get a soft consistency.
masa mixed and ready to spread
  • Now you're ready to make the tamales - get your corn husks out of the water and I pat dry a bit so the masa can be spread a little easier. Lay the corn husk out flat and spread about 3/4 of the corn husk with masa - I like a thin layer of masa but make sure you get the husk covered (think spreading peanut butter on a piece of bread). The thicker the masa, the thicker the tamale. Which means you may run out of folding room depending on the size of the corn husk. You will also run out of masa FAST. So I prefer thin. Once you have your masa spread - add a chunk of your chile meat to the middle of your masa. The idea is to have the masa completely cover the meat once it's folded. We like a lot of meat so I'm generous with it as long as it fits in the middle of the masa..I fill it up. Keeping in mind that masa needs to be on all sides of the meat, now you fold.
(these pics are of an already cooked tamale since I forgot to take pics of them while I was actually spreading & folding :-/..)
fold the right side towards the left, making sure the masa covers the meat

then fold the left side over towards the right

then the bottom is folded up
  • Repeat until all your meat or masa or corn husks are gone. Since my steam pot is on the small side, I usually make just a couple dozen tamales at a time. But I prefer to make dozens and dozens at a time and then freeze the extras (after they're steamed). They're just as tasty reheated!
place the folded end side down into the steam pot
  • You will need a steam pot of some sort - I just use the one I can with. Steam for about an hour until the masa is firm. The more masa in your corn husk the longer it takes to cook. After they're done, peel the corn husk off and eat. Once you get a taste for tamales, you will always crave them. At least that's my story.
the perfect holiday meal served with rice or refried beans ~ cheers to the tamalada
 What Wikipedia has to say about the Tamale
PS. If after you've filled all the corn husks you wanna fill and still have red chile meat left over - roll some up in a tortilla. It is AMAZING.

the people that instilled in me a taste for authentic Mexican food and who chose to love me like a daughter - mom & dad Gonzalez

Sunday, November 24, 2013

a simple farmer's morning

steer and bunny feeding makes no difference how much we try to keep bunny in his on the ground hutch, he will chew, dig and squeeze through everything and anything he can to get back in with the steers. Love knows no color or size..and so he has earned the name Lucky bunny.
definitely a lucky bunny

flock check
breakfast with my girls
Willa Bee
sleep, play and eat
Mischa the 6 year old Lhasa Apso who started out as a foster dog from the city last year..has now, by choice, found his calling being a farm dog. He's a permanent member of the family and assists me daily, in all things farm related..he loves getting dirty, eating chicken poop, sunbathing in the field and is a pro at herding chickens and lambs who have wondered too far from the flock..there has never been a more contented dog.
the feathered and fuzzy
best fence jumper on the planet
morning conversation..Missy Kitty & Ziggy
One of my favorite farmer unknown. 
 I am a simple farmer, working hard from dawn to set..And I never seem to reach the end of the toil and troubles met. I never have a "dull" day - and in all my years of toil, God blessed me with persistence - to master beast and soil. At times it seems an endless chain, the links so strong and tight...but when times get worse - I never quit - I just buckle down and fight. And when God does choose to reward me, it comes in the simplest form...In the beauty of a newborn lamb or the soil so rich and warm. And the family that He gave me, like the growing of the grain...fills my life with meaning that could never be the same. And in times of peace and solitude, as I watch the setting sun...over fruitful fields both rich and green, I can say, "A job well done".

Friday, November 8, 2013

milkless body butter made by the milkmaid

that's a catchy post title huh :) Well I am the milkmaid..milking the goat & ewe girls, toting it, straining it, refrigerating it and then there's all the things that I make with it. Since we allow the girls to dry off naturally during the winter months so they can relax and prepare for their spring leaves us milkless. And it only seems fitting that some of my body butters would then be milkless too. But do not think that this body butter is anything less than heavenly just because it lacks milk. Where I omitted milk, I have added organic shea butter and our own spring fed farm water. I've been configuring this formula for some time now and the latest versions are on the thick-like-butter side and smooth and moisturizing. I don't make a body butter without my favorite jojoba oil and essential oils too - the warm vanilla also contains some of my homemade Mexican vanilla. And last but not least, I've designed a lovely label and put my Alpine girl Gidge smack in the middle - just so you don't forget that even though it doesn't contain her milk, it is still all things beautiful and as always, naturally milkmaid made :)


Eliza sweet talking Gaston