Saturday, January 5, 2013

Tamales and Candy

I have always loved tamales--from the time I was a wee child and my mother would buy Hormel tamales in that curious red sauce--the ones in a small glass jar?

Later I discovered that I could order tamales at Mexican restaurant, even if they weren't on the menu.  That was very good to know.

My best tamale experience until last week was at a small Latino Episcopal community in a neighboring county.  I knew the priest and we cooked up this idea to do a combined Day of the Dead/Samhain event with our two communities.  The event would be focused on sharing food and crafts, and building an altar together.

The church had a wonderful cob oven in their side yard and we built a fire to cook bread, pizza...and tamales.  They were incredibly delicious and the whole event was a fun learning experience.

My daughter is home from college and we decided last week to make some tamales.  We have lots of meat in the house from the holidays and we got a bag of masa and read the directions.  Instead of steaming them properly, we found a recipe that allowed us to stack the husk-wrapped tamales in a baking dish with 1/2 inch of water.

It didn't take long to make them or to cook them or to eat them.  They were pretty darned yummy and really easy but we determined that the masa mixture needed lard or some other animal fat for maximum taste.  We're going to try it again tomorrow with some rendered pork fat.

On now to candy.  My family traditions around the holidays always included odd, old candies--seafoam, boiled fudge, marzipan fruits.  My cousin Evvie--she of the Cold Oven Pound Cake (which I insist on called the Old Coven Pound Cake)--always made chocolate-covered bonbons.  I remember one year she got into a time crunch and I went out to help her with her candy.  It was a fun time--she was one of my favorite relatives ever.

After her death, I took on making these bonbons.  This year, I was doing so much baking and making that the bonbons never got their chocolate coating.  They are still bright and delicious. And this year, I finally rolled them into small enough balls to not get too much of their richness.

Here's the recipe--

14 oz coconut
2 boxes 10X sugar
1/2 C unsalted butter
1 can condensed milk
1 t vanilla
chopped pecans (optional)

Cream together butter, sugar and canned milk. Mix all the other ingredients by hand and roll into dime-sized balls. Dip in melted dark chocolate.

Easy. Fast. Surprisingly yummy.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What? Where?

Did I starve last year?  Was there no food about which to write?

Erm.  No.  I published a book in June and started a blog about that.  I got a new blog platform at Witches and Pagans and did that.  I gardened like a maniac.  There were several deaths.

Blah blah. Blah.

I'm going to attempt to revive this little blog and be true to it. Because cooking and food preparation is so important to me and to all of us, I will also write about Appalachian cooking, subsistence farming, water, food sovereignty and other things that will fall loosely under this umbrella of Pagan Foodies.

I am hoping to inspire Peg to also return and to maybe add some more writers so we have a little more diversity of outlook.

Anyway, it's 2013.  Time to get serious about food, I reckon.

What are you cooking today?

coconut cake with a cooked frosting