Saturday, December 17, 2016

Pork Tamales in Red Chile Sauce

My mom is the greatest tamale maker.  Ever. She taught me to make them when I was a teenager and together with my siblings, we would help her make them to sell as fundraisers for our various church youth camps every summer. And we'd eat them too. I don't know where my mother got her amazing heart because I would not do this for my kids. I'd tell them to go babysit and pull weeds. Thankfully, I learned a valuable skill that makes my tummy happy year after year.

Flashback to June 2011: Ilene, my Mom (Tina), and Me

June 2011: Teaching Ilene to make tamales

June 2011: My amazing mom Tina

To make tamales you  need three different components: the sauce, the masa (corn dough), and the meat. My mom often makes the sauce one day, the pork carnitas another day, and assembles them all in one day. I did everything in one day. I started at 8am and finished by 3pm. I did this alone but having a helper will mean you can make more or be done faster. I wasn't in the kitchen the entire time, but I did need to be at home an entire day, no running around on this day. You can easily double this recipe but for my small family this was enough for dinner, leftovers, and plenty to freeze for 3 more dinners.

This recipe will yield approximately 4-5 dozen tamales depending on how big you make them.

Red Chile Sauce 
Makes 7 cups. Use this for tamales and especially as an enchilada sauce. Easily doubles; freezes well.
California chiles, dried, 6 ounce package (photo below)
1 large onion, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
4 garlic cloves
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 quart of chicken broth, pork broth, and/or water

Boil the pork first (see below recipe) so that you can use the leftover broth in this recipe.

Using kitchen scissors, cut off the stems of the chile pods, split down the middle with your fingers, rinse off seeds and pull off the stringy veins. You don't have to pull of all the stringy veins, just do your best as that's where all the heat is located. If your hands are sensitive, wear gloves. I don't. But I did sneeze and cough a little from the peppery 'fumes'. Saute one onion in oil with cumin and oregano about 5 minutes, then add garlic cloves, the cleaned chiles, tomato sauce, then enough pork broth or chicken broth to cover by an inch. (I added all the pork broth leftover from boiling the pork, and still I needed to add a little more water to cover by about an inch.) Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer for 30 minutes. Let it cool for 30-45 minutes then puree in blender in 2-3 batches until smooth. Add salt to taste.

California chiles are not very spicy. 

Cleaned chiles: 'Fresh' dried chiles should feel malleable like fruit leather, not dry and crumbly.

Add just enough broth to cover by an inch.

You should get about 7 cups of thick sauce.

Pork Carnitas
yields 3 pounds
Pork shoulder, approximately 5 pounds.
2 onions (divided)
4 teaspoons cumin (divided)
2 teaspoon oregano (divided)
1 tablespoon kosher salt (use half if using regular table salt)
2 tablespoons oil

I used maybe a 1/3 of this giant roast!

Cut pork roast into 4-5 big chunks and cover with water in a dutch oven or large pot. Add one of the onions (just quarter the onion), 2 tsp cumin, 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1 tsp oregano. Bring to boil then lower to simmer for 2-3 hours, until it shreds easily. Shred meat. It's very fatty so don't be worried at how much you throw out. Strain the broth and save for sauce!

Saute the last onion in oil, 2-3 cloves garlic and 2 teaspoons cumin and 1 tsp oregano, 5 minutes in a skillet. Add meat and cook another 5-7 minutes, stirring until meat starts to brown. The meat is fatty so frying it gets rid of that greasy taste and browns it nicely. Taste and season with salt.

Fry the carnitas after boiled for added flavor.

Add just enough red chile sauce to the fried carnitas to moisten the meat, approximately 2-3 cups.

Masa Preparada* (Prepared corn dough)
Buy 6 pounds

If at all possible buy fresh prepared masa from a Latin American market. I buy mine from Rancho Market in Provo, Utah. I usually have to call a day in advance and order the dough but at Christmas they keep it out, ready to buy. Prepared masa is made from ground corn/hominy, pork lard, baking powder and salt. Your market may not add the baking powder, so you might have to add 1 tablespoon per 5 pounds. Make sure you taste it to see if there is enough salt. Mine was almost too salty so I was worried but it turned out fine. It just tastes like a raw torilla or raw cornbread at this point.

Lots of masa at the Mexican market!
You'll need approx. 6 pounds 

*If you can't buy already prepared masa, you'll have to buy powdered masa harina and follow the directions on the package to make your own dough with pork lard. For the love of all that's holy and decent, don't use shortening. Fresh pork lard from a butcher is best, but Manteca brand lard is also found on the shelf.

Pull masa from the fridge about 1-2 hours before you need it as it will be softer and easier to work with at room temperature. Or if like me you forget....adding the still-warm red chile sauce will warm it up fast. Which brings me the next step: you must flavor the masa with your sauce. This is what will set it apart from basic (meaning gross) tamales. Add just enough sauce, approximately 2-3 cups to moisten dough. You still want the dough thick, but more spreadable than before. Just add 1-2 cups of sauce, mix, and add more if needed. Use your hands, no spoon will mix the sauce into the very thick masa, so get dirty! Wash hands well unless you want them stained orange! Don't stress about adding the exact right amount of sauce. If you don't add enough, it's ok! Basically you want a nice orange-colored dough.

At this point you have sauced your meat and sauced your dough. You will have leftover sauce--it freezes well. I like to pour it over shredded rotisserie chicken for a fast taco dinner. Great for enchiladas as well.

Masa dough before adding red chile sauce.

Corn husks
Buy a one pound package of corn husks. You will not even use half of this package. It's nice to have extra so you can use the biggest ones and throw out the wimpy smaller ones.

Soak the entire package, in two large bowls, in warm water 30-60 minutes. Use something heavy to weigh them down because otherwise they just float. Remove from water, shake off excess, and get ready to assemble.

soak the corn husks

Finally you are ready to assemble! Using a spoon, spread a thin layer over the entire half of the best and biggest corn husks. Spread some pork in the middle, then fold into thirds over the meat, then in half. (Watch video.) It's ok if some are small and some are huge. I like having different sizes depending on how hungry I am. :) Stack upright in a 9x13 pan until ready to steam or freeze.

Flashback to 2011: If desired, you can add a slice of carrot and potato as well.

At this point, they are ready to steam. Place them upright, in a steamer basket (I use my pasta pot), fill the bottom of the pot with water but don't let the water touch the tamales! Bring to boil and lower to a simmer. Steam/simmer for 1 hour, checking pot towards the end so water doesn't run out. I have done this before and burned my pot! Turn off heat and let them sit for another 30-60 minutes in the pot. You could eat them now but like a cake, it's best to let them firm up a bit before eating them. (video below)

To freeze: Place raw tamales in large freezer bags and freeze upright so the filling won't spill out while they are freezing. Let thaw overnight in refrigerator and steam as directed above.
frozen tamales

To reheat one already-cooked tamal: Soak a paper towel or napkin in water, wrap around the cold tamale and microwave approx. 2 minutes. If you try to just microwave it without the steam of the paper towel you will dry it out. Don't do it!!!

Such a special meal at Christmas time!

I hope this inspires you to make your own! They are a labor of love but so tasty it's worth every hour of work and every dirty pot and pan. Buen provecho!

Monday, November 07, 2016

Trees and Faith and People

Nathan in Tree 2.jpg
Nathan the tree climber, 2004, age 6.
When my son Nathan was a toddler I told him that I was heading to the nursery to buy a tree for our yard. Up until now we had only installed a sprinkler system and some struggling hydroseed for our lawn. It was a sad little yard, hot and shadeless. When I came home from the nursery, Nathan took one look at that sapling of a tree and with disappointment exclaimed, “Mom I wanted the kind of tree you can climb!” Fair enough. I wanted shade and he wanted to climb. Neither of us would get what we wanted, at least not yet. It was going to be a while. Years in fact.

Spindly little Tulip tree. The wind later snapped it in half. :(

We moved by the time Nathan was eight so he never got to climb a tree in our yard nor did I enjoy any shade at that house, but I was determined to make both happen. In our new house, once again we had the arduous task of putting in a yard. And that meant planting more trees. We planted Ash trees, Flowering Pears, Aspens, Redbuds, and Maples. Ten years later I have my shade. And maybe Nathan is too big to climb trees now, but his little girl or boy will get to climb our 23 trees someday. They'll be large enough by then.
Birds feeding under my Patmore Ash

Thankfully I do have shade now. I need its refuge. This sun worshiper is getting too old to sit bare-faced in the hot backyard anymore without a bit of respite from the glaring sun. As I sit under my 10-year old trees, listening to the messages in the rustling leaves, watching the birds eat from the orange feeder, I think about my little son and his desire to climb a tree that couldn’t even bear his tiny body weight and how everything worth having in life takes as much time as growing a climb-able tree. Faith. Healthy relationships. Healing. Patience. Perspective. The messages in those fluttering leaves have taught me how God speaks to me--subtle but sure. Trees take years. So do people.

Orange tukips in Keukenhof, Netherlands

After ten years, some tree roots are large enough that they are visible through my lawn. I planted about 50 orange tulip bulbs a few weeks ago. As I dug holes all around my yard I kept running into the deeper but smaller, more spidery, tree roots. I did my best not to disturb them, to let them do their own thing, and to carefully plant the bulbs around the roots into our rocky Utah soil. Those thin little roots will get thicker and more stable year after year. They'll keep progressing and spreading, sending out more roots, like I am, even when, or especially when, growth seems to be negligible and even non-existent.

Nathan the graduate under our shady Maple.

Last week we hiked through Zion's, in Kolob Canyon, through a thin and narrow passage filled with brightly colored fall trees. As we hiked, a gust of wind came through quickly and I heard that familar movement of leaves. Paul stopped and said “I love that sound, the rush of wind through a narrow canyon.” He heard wind but I heard God, once again whispering to me through rustling leaves, that everything is going to be okay. He is aware of me. I matter. Be patient. Let my roots grow deeper. He has given me shade for now, and soon it will be time to climb.

Autumn leaves in Kolob Canyon

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Taking my Son's Senior Portraits

Graduation was months ago. My son is now living in the Dominican Republic as a missionary, but finally I am writing about his senior portraits. It is possible to take your own kiddo's senior portraits. Here is proof!
Love taking photos on a cloudy day, no harsh sun.

Nathan is a happy kid. But put him in front of a camera, especially when it is drizzling with rain in early May, and out comes the crabby kid.

The photo below was at the beginning of the photo shoot. No smiles. Sheesh kid.

You can see the rain in this shot!

The photo below is at the end of the photo shoot when he had finally loosened up and he allowed his sister and me to tease him and make him laugh.
Taken in Provo, Utah on Boat harbor Drive, near Utah Lake. ISO 250, f/4, 1/800 second,  

I took all the photos with my Nikon d750 using my Nikon 85mm 1.8 prime lens. It's a beautiful portrait lens. Couldn't be happier with its quality.

All photos are edited in Adobe Lightroom. I added a slight vignetting around each photo for drama and depth.
Photo taken in Spanish Fork, Utah on a cloudy day at 2:00pm.

Taken on Boat Harbor Drive in Provo, Utah near Utah Lake

My favorite! ISO 250, 1/200 second, f/4, 

One thing that was smart was bringing my daughter along to make him laugh and smile eventually. Aren't they the cutest?

I even got in a photo or two. Just to prove I was even there ya know.

I printed the graduation announcements at AdoramaPix using this template and the pearl finish for the paper.  I am not a fan of collages for announcements. Pick one amazing photo for the front, and one for the back. Don't clutter the announcement, keep it classy and simple.

Adorama Pix template used.

I took the photos on a Saturday afternoon and had them ordered by that night. Not bad for a day's work!

Oh, and why do kids grow up so fast?

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Wood Stairs

I have been wanting to rip the beige shaggy goodness off of our stairs for several years now. Finally it is done!

My kiddos didn't want wood stairs because they prefer to lounge on them and wood stairs ain't good for loungin'. Good grief.

But I am the queen of my castle, well sort of. So once the kids got old enough that falling down the stairs was less likely, and once they accepted chairs for sitting, not stairs, we began the process. Here are some before pictures:
bottom stairs were always dirty....always :(

shaggy goodness should've stayed in the 1970s

posts were just 4x4 pieces of wood stained. Nuttin' special.

I sent our contractor some inspiration photos. I wanted wood treads, white risers, and wainscoting. Thank you Pinterest!

Demolition began.....
Bye bye carpet and ugly rustic handrails.

Wainscoting begins going up

Once wainscoting was done and sprayed the stairs could go in. I used my favorite white I use everywhere else, White Dove by Benjamin Moore.
White Dove was sprayed on wainscoting and walls

Hickory treads went in next. White Melamine was used for the risers because they are super easy to wipe scuffs off instead of having to repaint scuffs on white-painted wood risers.

Every project take longer than you think but it's always worth it in the end. I repainted some of my outdated picture frames navy blue and we are done!
not really into yellow and orange anymore


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...