There are a few blogging prompts I try to participate in, it helps me keep the content of my blog interesting and I try to do different things.  This one was brought to me by Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers blog but I believe that it originated with Lisa Alzo of the Accidental Genealogist blog. It was presented to celebrate Women’s History Month.

March 7 — Share a favorite recipe from your mother or grandmother’s kitchen. Why is this dish your favorite? If you don’t have one that’s been passed down, describe a favorite holiday or other meal you shared with your family.

I don’t have a favorite recipe of my mother’s not because I didn’t like her food,  but mainly because she never wrote her recipe’s down.  She always kept them in her head and never measured.  She would cook by taste and add ingredients if she felt she needed them.  I was never able to learn that technique but I loved the food she made.

We do have one cooking tradition in our family.   Every Christmas, we gather a week or two before the holiday and make tamales.  It’s not something that you are born to know how to make.  You have to learn the techniques and it does take some time and practice to learn it.

There are many tamales recipes online but the few tips I remember my mother giving me are as follows:

  • When using the masa, whether you made it your self or purchased it prepared, the way to tell if it is ready is by getting a small ball of masa and dropping it in a glass of ice-cold water.  If it floats, its ready.  If it drops, it’s not and you need to add lard by hand until it does float.  My mother told me that most prepared masa that is bought at the market are not fully prepared and that you do have to add lard to it.  Also, the glass of ice-cold water must be made of glass and not plastic.
  • When making the meat filing for the tamales with the chili, keep some of the chili juice to the side.  When the masa is ready to be used, mix the chili juice into the masa.  It adds to the flavor of the tamale and the masa won’t be so dry when the tamale is cooked.
  • Always use the smooth side of the husk when putting the masa on.  The masa is able to better stay on the way you want on that side.  The masa won’t stay on the way you want on the rough side of the husk.

One Christmas holiday several years back, I remember there being four generations of our family around the tamale making table.  There was my grandmother, my mother, myself and my nephew who was about 12 or so.  It was an awesome day to have all of us gathered around to talk and tell stories.  I believe that a picture was taken but it will need to be hunted down.

Making tamales at Christmas time has become a wonderfully happy tradition that will live forever in our family.