Monday, December 11, 2017

Tamale rehearsal and a new house project

I realized that despite the insanity of Christmas, December would be unbearable without it. Imagine how unspeakably dreary it would be, with all this darkness and no frantic busyness or holiday lights to mitigate it. You could argue that it only delays the dreariness until January, but by then, the light is perceptibly creeping back.

Anyway, I made a strong start with my Christmas shopping, validated by my shocking credit card balance. Also, I'm sick to death of the traditional Christmas dinner of roast meat and sides. This year, I'm making tamales for Christmas dinner. I have never made them before, but I made a practice attempt last weekend. It was a disaster, but I think I learned enough from the dry run to achieve decent tamales for Christmas. And anyway, the disaster tamales were delicious. They just looked terrible. Tip: if the recipe calls for stone ground masa, don't substitute instant. (In my defense, instant was the only form available in our local stores.) I'm going to invest in a tamale steamer. They cost $18 at our local Mexican market, and it will double as a canning pot. The dry run involved a Bon Appetit magazine hack that had you prop the tamales on a giant wad of tin foil, which worked, but is too precarious for an undertaking as important as Christmas dinner.

In other news, I've started a new house project. I'm going to take the weedy mess pictured below and turn it into a brick path. This is the side of our house. It's really supposed to be a dirt path to the back yard, bordered on either side by flowers, but it is an endless task to keep the path weeded. Also, we have a huge pile of leftover bricks from when we built the front patio. I haven't made much progress, what with rain and cold weather and a broken wheelbarrow. I hope I'll be able to amuse you with my foray into DIY masonry and ditch digging.



It's back-breaking work. The soil itself is dense, red clay. If I had a kiln, I could just make my own bricks. Not even being facetious. So stay tuned, but don't hold your breath.

7 comments:

  1. Why is nature trying to creep all over our yards?

    I made a lasagna for Christmas one year and my kids hated it. Now we have a vegan in the house so maybe it will be falafel this year. We will not be inviting "It's time to wake up and smell the falafel" Mike Huckabee.

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    1. I love felafel so much. I think it's under-appreciated.

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  2. I have a tendency to leave strands of lights up all over the house at least through March. Okay, some of them stay up all year long.

    My friend Leni makes fabulous tamales and teaches a class on them. I can find out where she sources her ingredients if you'd like. She's been making tamales for close to 70 years, so she's got them down.

    I've gotten some shopping done, but haven't thought about dinner yet. I'm sure it will be our usual collection of favorite side dishes and dessert. We only do a main if we are having company. One year we had dinner in our PJ's.

    The tree is halfway up at our house and there are Christmas decorations strewn about the house waiting to be put up. I like to call it the "Christmas threw up all over the house" portion of decorating. I may have to take a day off this week to make a concerted effort to tackle this, otherwise, this decorating business will stretch out forever.

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    1. Oh wow, I had no idea there was a local tamale class.

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  3. I look forward to seeing your brick path project.

    Tamales for Christmas dinner sounds great. I have no advice to offer. I have heard that making tamales is an involved process. Please post photos!

    As for Christmas preparation, I've nearly finished the gift shopping, but have got no decorations up. Nobody comes to our house for Christmas so it doesn't seem crucial. I have no motivation to make cookies, or wrap gifts, or write cards. I guess I had better get out the Hanukkah menorah for tonight, though.

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    1. I will! I documented the practice attempt in my instagram story, but those pictures disappear after 24 hours. All the effort is right before cooking. You can make the fillings and sauces ahead of time, which helps. Also, they're very economical. I'd been splurging on extravagant roasts from a local organic butcher, but this year I'd like to spend less on the meal, but not sacrifice taste.

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  4. We have some clay soil too, so my back aches for you! Good luck as you continue with that project!
    Tamales--good for you to switch it up! We do homemade pizzas, each person customizes their half of a pie, all hands on deck. I had no idea tamales were tricky to make, though.

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