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My Blog

Tamales from El Salvador, Easter, and a tender poem

 
I am standing in a meeting – yes, I said standing. It was poorly planned and they had it in a location where there wasn’t sufficient parking or room for all the participants. This has happened before with this organization and somehow my husband talked me into coming again (even though I had said I would not…and I stood for more than 2 hours).
 
This is one of the dilemmas of marriage; each one accommodating and pleasing the other.
 
He promised me something extra if I came with him again. Hummm. What should I ask for? A massage? Having my back scratched? That he cook dinner?
 
Actually, what I would like more than anything else is one whole day to write. No phone calls, no obligations…just to go to the library and be able to write all day long without interruptions.
 
I am still trying to finish my book on “CriticalThinking” and I am so close. If I had two whole weeks, I think I could finish.
 
But who would feed and bathe my mom? Who would homeschool my children? Go to work? Do laundry? And on and on.
 
Little by little, step by step, I will finish. It is how I finished my degree. It is how I do most tasks.
 
This past weekend was Easter and we had beautiful weather.
 
Friday, our church had an open house for our new building. I did a display on canning, food storage, and 72-hour packs. I had the children get some of our 72-hour back packs and put them in the Suburban. I also took my large pressure canner, a jar of salsa, a jar of butter, a jar of chicken, jars of beans, soup, peppers, apple sauce, etc. (All things I canned).
 
I took several canning books, and some canisters of dehydrated food. I made copies of different information to give to people.
 
I had colored my hair in the morning while watchinga movie, and then I prepared for the open house. I then had a burst of energy and decided to make tamales. Matthew had been begging me to make them and I had a bowl full of turkey left over from Maria and Travis’s reception. I had also bought cans of Garbanzos and a bag of potatoes.
 
I scrubbed the potatoes and had the children cut them into cubes while I prepared the masa. First of all, I bought “Yukon Gold”potatoes that have a thin skin. This saves time as you do not need to peel them. Secondly, I used leftover Turkey broth (that was canned and in jars) to add to the masa. This broth came from when I cooked a Spanish turkey. I save the leftover broth to use with other meals. It already has herbs and spices and is super yummy. If you do not can, you could still save it in plastic or glass containers in your freezer.
 
Below is a link on how to make El SalvadoranTamales. These are really comprehensive directions, but I will tell you my shortcuts so it will not be as much work.
 
 
Then while the potatoes were cooking, I cooked the masa. That is the hardest part as you have to stir, and stir, and stir…
 
I added 2 quart jars of turkey broth, then I had Rebeca add some oil (I buy the 35 pound containers of Soy Salad Oil from Sam’s…I use this oil for frying, baking, everything…it’s cheaper and works well…I simply cannot afford Olive oil).
 
Rebeca added more than I normally do, but it was great because they were the best tamales I have ever made. They came out perfect.
 
Tamales from El Salvador are bigger and are filled with Garbanzos (Chick Peas), potatoes, and either pork or chicken. Yes, people add other things, but these are the most traditional.
 
Another thing I did different this time was to mix the masa with the mixture (of meat and potatoes). Usually, you keep them separate and put a spoonful of masa on the sheet, then add a spoonful of the mixture.
 
By combining them, I did half the work and it went quickly. I had them cooking before I left for the open house, and Elizabeth kept an eye on them.
 
Another step I eliminated completely, was my mother-in-law always puts the Garbanzos in water and washes off the thin skin that covers them.  She has always claimed it will toughen and will ruin the tamales. I left the skin on this time just to see.
 
Not one person knows I did this and everyone has said they are the best tamales ever. I really cannot tell the difference and have taken small bites trying to see whether there is a difference or not. No difference, and not doing this saves about 20-30 min.
 
Too many times we do something a certain way simply because it’s been done that way for years and years. Many times, it is bette rto do it the way that has been developed over the years and for good reason. Nevertheless,we should always be looking for how to minimize steps, shorten a process, make the job more efficient.
 
Making tamales is such a huge task – I keep lookingfor ways to refine and shorten the process until I have the perfect recipe.
 
One other thing, the link I gave you talks about “recaudo”,the sauce. What I do is I cook a Spanish Turkey for a family meal several days before I want to make tamales or enchiladas. That is our meal, either with rice or with Bolios / Tortas.
 
I then de-bone the turkey (which is less work than chicken) and save the broth for future meals. This way I have “recaudo” ready to use and do not have to make it. I also use the Spanish Turkey broth for my enchiladas.
 
I also do not use clove as it makes it have a sweet taste. We do not like olives very much so I do not add them. I have had tamales with either black or green olives. I also do not use the Plantain leaves. I have found that many times the leaves are bitter as it is hard to find good ones in Oklahoma or they are frozen. If they are bitter, they ruin the tamales.
 
It is amazing, but is really doesn’t affect the flavor as what makes tamales good is the masa.  Also, as you steam the tamales, remember that when you unfold one to check the masa that while it is super-hot…it will be a little mushy. You have to let it cool for about 20 min to test it. When they are done, they will have a consistency of Jell-O.
 
I made 88 tamales and they, and the open house were successful.
 
Saturday, I drove to the panhandle of Texas for the 80th birthday party of my uncle. It is about a four hour drive, so I drove 8 hours for a 2 hour visit. It was worthwhile as I saw many friends, cousins, aunts, and of course, my uncle.
 
Easter Sunday was relaxing and just what I needed. Church was excellent. We had tamales for lunch, but as my mom doesn’t really like tamales, I took some leftover mashed potatoes and made Potato Soup for her.
 
We had an Easter egg hunt for Austin (a cousin), Elizabeth, and Rebeca. Fito and did not do a thing. Matthew, Ashley, and Ross hid the eggs and conducted the hunt. Ross made it interesting as he put several dollars, five dollars, and even one ten-dollar bill inside some of the eggs. I think there is only one time we put money in some of them and that was quarters. Fito and I are just too frugal.
 
Monday, after work, I drove to Gainesville, Texas to take Austin home as he has a camp coming up. I thought David was coming home, but he decided to stay at the cousin’s longer. Rebeca wanted to stay with Austin, so she went home with him. It is really nice that they and us homeschool and can be at each other’s homes.
 
The only April’s Fool that I did, was to go into the children’s rooms in the morning and tell them that they had to do all this work (I gave them a long list). I also acted really strict and mean…and then said, “April’sFool!”
 
Tuesday, I went to a class, and then took Elizabeth to buy some shoes. I then dropped her off at Maria’s and went to teach my Spanish class. This is a new class and is larger than normal. I have one gentleman that really struggled this first night. Hopefully, I can help him understand
more of the mechanics of language so he will not struggle so.
 
The next 3 days were shopping one afternoon with Maria, her babies, and Elizabeth (which was fun…and Maria does really well with both babies), working, paper work, paying bills, cleaning, taking care of my mom, going to the temple with Elizabeth, going to the meeting with my husband, and staying tooooo busy.
 
Elizabeth has said at Maria's this week to help out with the new baby. She is such a good daughter...so helpful.
 
Today and tomorrow is our church’s bi-annual General Conference. This is such a treat for me, as I love to learn. To take two days and to just listen to the prophet, the 12 apostles, and other church leaders is like drinking cool crystal clear water after having almost died of thirst in the desert.
 
Last night, I saw a painting of a mother burying a loved one that touched me. The following poem came to my mind:
 
A mother touches her fingers to her lips
 
Then touches her fingers to her baby’s lips
 
The lifeless baby is then laid in an open grave
 
While the distraught mother tries hard to be brave
 
A broken heart
 
A saddened mind
 
But life continues forward
 
Difficult but enduring
 
And yet hope shines through the suffering-
 
The trials-
 
The tribulations-
 
A future reunion of long awaited glory
 
A blessed awakening of joy
 
A foundation of peace
 
No more sorrow
 
No more gloom
 
No more confusion
 
Instead; light, understanding, reassurance
 
Enlightenment of a better world, a greater joy, a perfect hope, a complete knowledge
 
Of loved ones reunited,
 
Perfected and glorified,
 
Together forever, one with God.
 
May each one of you be blessed with this light and reassurance as you struggle with the sorrows, tribulations, and sorrows of this life, is my prayer.
 

7 Comments to Tamales from El Salvador, Easter, and a tender poem:

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