It's a yearly Christmas tradition for my family to get together and make tamales, and yesterday was our making/cooking day.
Each year, the matriarch of the family prepares the masa (corn dough) and the meat filling for the tamales. (we make a traditional pork and red sauce filling) For years it was my grandma and grandad who prepped everything. A few years ago my mama and dad took over the prepping to give my grandma a break. On tamale day, all the women of the family get together to make the tamales. It's an all day thing of working, talking, and hanging out. My sister and I have brought our daughters into the tradition, so it is usually 3 or 4 generations of our family making the tamales. Because my grandma is mostly blind now, she opted out of helping this year.
We have one little twist on the usual practice of making tamales - our family puts a single black olive in each tamale. We really don't remember when or how that little tradition started, but it makes our tamales different from everyone else's and it's a special job to make sure each tamales has an olive. This year my 10 yr old neice was the olive placer - her first year to help with making tamales. :)
We used 25 pounds of masa to make the meat tamales and another 5 pounds of masa to make sweet tamales. For sweet ones, we start with plain masa and add brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins and crushed pineapple and mix it all in until it's well blended and sweet to taste. Sweet tamales are great with coffee!
Below you'll see a couple of photos of us in the kitchen. It was a long day and a lot of work, but the tamales came out great. And it was nice to share our tradition with our daughters and have that family time together.
That's me on the right, my daughter Makenna next to me, my neice Victoria in the black tshirt and her friend Alexis, who asked to join in this year. We're speading the masa on the ojas (corn husks) and laying them out to wait to get filled.
In this picture, you can see my mama, left, my sister Alicia in the yellow t shirt, her daughter Victoria drinking coffee, Alexis, and Makenna. Yup, Makenna is wearing reindeer antlers to keep things festive. lol And we're all wearing aprons and head scarves to keep ourselves clean and the area clean. That masa is messy stuff!