Saturday, March 12, 2011

Birthday Tamales

When you've decided to make tamales over three days time in honor of your birthday? It really doesn't seem like all that much work.

The idea popped into Andy's head about Thursday. He was turning forty+one on Friday. I am officially no longer 36, today. (Last year we were both sick with what-might've-been-swine-flu-but-we-never-verified-it so we literally ignored our birthdays and strove instead to NOT DIE.) This year? We were not sick, but it seems we've hit those magical ages where we don't actually want to party down/up/whateverwhichway and just enjoy our days in whatever way best pleases us. Besides, we are both very cat-like and unmotivated and parties take planning.

But tamales? What are we thinking. If it happens? Grand! If it doesn't, we'll have a ton of chicken mole on hand (I make tamales with a chicken and mole filling on purpose. If the masa doesn't turn out? You can ALWAYS just eat the filling with beans and rice and emphatically state that that's what you planned in the first place, oh yes, indeed.

Yesterday's ginormous accomplishment was the shopping. I mean it, really. I am super proud of us as the fridge was starting to look like no one lived here. Then, instead of being good, and using some of the food we'd bought to, oh, I dunno, MAKE DINNER, and maybe get a head start on the tamales, we decided to take a break and congratulate ourselves and toast Andy's birthday at a sweet little bar just up the street. It was happy hour after all! Let's go be happy!

As it was a bar, on a Friday night in downtown Seattle, we were kind of limited in who to invite to join us. So if you didn't hear from me or Andy it's not cuz we don't love you, it's cuz we were not going to make anyone endure the madness that is Seattle-on-a-Friday-night-traffic. But Tim showed up anyway :).

And after happy hour? We were, again, quite logical and honest with ourselves and realized that unless Andy was having Ramen for his birthday dinner? We'd be going out. So we did. To a really wonderful French Restaurant. With really wonderful French food. And OMG the wine pairings! And boy howdy, is Andy hungover today.

Yet somehow, today being chicken and mole making day, which is my end of this endeavor? I am typing away having verified that the multiple pounds of onions, carrots, and chicken are official "soup" which I will divvy up into broth for the freezer and chicken for the mole once it's not cauldron boiling hot, and the mole? Let me tell you about the mole.

Andy got me a mini/4-cup food processor for my birthday. I actually jumped up and down when I opened the box. Why? Because on Thursday when he mentioned tamales the first thought running through my head was "oh how I miss my old blender." The one that currently sits on my mom's kitchen counter. In L.A. The one I used for mole making since my mom first (finally) shared her recipe with me.

I do own a blender, oddly enough an earlier gift from Andy as well. And it's a Waring (for those of you keeping score). But as powerful and as sleek and as cool as it is, grinding sesame seeds and peanuts and garlic was not what it was made for. Either that or I just don't have the brawn required to keep the top-heavy glass pitcher/carafe in place while at the same time trying to get the ingredients to play nice with the blades. Nor are my spatulas and/or fingers agile enough to scrape out what has been pulverized from around those previously mentioned non-removable blades and "trademark cloverleaf carafe." My second thought was, "How easy would it be to get a molcajete in Seattle." Because going super old school was sounding better than using that blender...

For it's inaugural use? I have nothing but wonderful things to say about my little food processor. It's this one. Someday I will graduate to one that can handle liquids and then, boy howdy, will I be powerful, but for now simply being able to get the "base" of the mole finely ground enough (think the consistency of tomato paste) with my not shedding tears of frustration is magic, baby!

Okay, now to see if the chicken can be dealt with.

Happy Saturday!


Kaye said...

Happy Birthday!!! And mmmm to the tamales. I haven't had a good tamale since I left Texass.

Beth said...

Happy birthday! And congratulations on your new food processor!

The Turkish Life said...

So how did they turn out?? I made tamales last Christmas in Istanbul -- not orthodox at all given the limitations (no masa, so used cornmeal; no corn husks or banana leaves, so wrapped in parchment paper; no blender; no pork; chiles had to be smuggled in from US in my suitcase) but not bad for a first try. Maybe a B+ but the homesick Americans liked them and I spread the tamale gospel among Europeans and Turks :)

Tactless Wonder said...

UPDATE: Cuz I realized, thanks Jen, I left everyone hanging....

The Tamales were YUMMY. There may have been a point where one of the pots ran out of water...but that's what baking soda and elbow grease are for...ahem.

Am planning on making them again soon, I may actually take pictures next time! Bad blogger, I know.