time for a tamalada

meatless monday
notes from maggie's farm

The lights are hung, the tree is decorated, the shoppers are filling the stores, so you know what time it is, don't you?

Yeah!  Tamale Time!

Oh, you didn't know that?  Because you don't live in Texas?  And you've never heard of having tamales at Christmas?  Fair enough.  Before I became a Texan (I wasn't born here, but I got here as fast I could, as the popular bumper sticker attests), I'd never heard of 'yuletide tamales', but I'd also never heard of 'breakfast tacos',  Hippie Hollow, "Keep Austin Weird", Kinky Friedman, or the late Armadillo World Headquarters.  It's a fascinating place, Austin, Texas.

And then there was that first Christmas Eve party to which I was invited.  An intimate gathering of friends and family, I expected to bring something 'dippy' or perhaps an accompaniment to seafood gumbo, the way I'd celebrated so many years in south Louisiana.  "Oh, no!", Yvonne chimed.  "We'll have tamales and chili, of course."  

Why yes, of course.  What was I thinking?  

It is a holiday tradition to eat tamales at Christmas time, and specifically, upon the Eve of Christmas, in Texas.  Tamales can be purchased all over the area, however you'll not find these tamales in stores.  They are made by home cooks and often, around a table of happy hands, sharing stories and jokes and all of the work.  A tamalada is a joyful celebration of industry.

This season, Megan Myers invited many of us to forgo 'black friday'  (and seriously, THANK YOU, Megan.  I'm not a black friday kind of girl.  At all.) for the pleasure of good company and the promise of several dozen different, and delicious varieties to take home and keep us all in tamales throughout the coming year.  

Tamales are really quite handy.  They freeze beautifully, and gift beautifully, (and for us, at from maggie's farm, sell not too shabbily, too!  Who am I kidding?  We get scads of orders, and we spend whole days, nights, and weekends making tamales for the holiday crunch.  We've even begun shipping them to out-of-towners who want in on the tamale action.  But that's for another day.  Like Thursday.)

Sometimes, we're fortunate enough to  have a few dozen leftover tamales at the end of the season, and our personal tradition is to make a huge pot of tamale chowder to share with whomever we're lucky enough to share New Year's  Eve, around a bonfire, in the country, under the stars.  Last year, it was a very well-received green chile chicken tamale chowder shared with my sister, Wende, and her family.  This year, we're thinking of ending the year as healthily as we intend to begin the next--meatless, high fiber, full-flavored, and fully satisfying, with

black bean tamale chowder 
serves 12-16 healthy appetites

1/2 cup dry masa (alternatively flour)
1/2 cup  lard (alternatively grapeseed oil)
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2-4 large poblano peppers, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
3 quarts stock (we use chicken stock, for our meatless version, but vegetarians/vegans will want to use vegetable stock)
1 tablespoon, more or less (to taste) kosher salt,  and mexican oregano
2 tsp, each powdered cumin, and your favorite chili powder (we use a green chile powder, when it can be found)
3 cups frozen white corn (or golden hominy, which I love more, but find, less.)
1 dozen black bean tamales, broken (4 pieces per tamale)
1 quart fat-free half and half
garnishes:  use any, or all-- pico de gallo, salsa, chopped cilantro, sliced jalapeno peppers, crema mexicana or sour cream, cotija or sharp cheddar cheese, sliced avocado, or sliced green onions

Over medium high heat, stir masa (or flour) into lard (or oil) until well combined, sizzling, and slightly browned (about 5 minutes).  Add chopped onion, celery and poblano peppers, stirring constantly until onions are transparent (this seems quite like gumbo so far, doesn't it?  fancy that!).  Add stock, corn (or hominy) and reduce to a steady simmer, cooking uncovered for 30 minutes.  Add broken tamales,  stirring in gently.  Simmer 15 minutes.  Gently stir in half and half, and remove from heat.  Correct seasonings, garnish as desired, serve.  (Remember that cornbread recipe we did a few weeks ago?  This would go perfectly...).

and for our own personal stash of tamales, and a great time with tamale-making friends, 

If you're lucky enough to have a thoughtful friend and hostess like Megan Myers, and you've made your own black bean tamales, lucky you!  If you have a special friend, (or favorite tamale-making source) who makes tamales for the holidays, lucky you! Think of all the joy that went into those tamales.  If you aren't that lucky yet, we'd love to help you out.  We'll begin taking orders soon, and we'll talk more about that later this week, because, as I mentioned.....It's


  1. This is such a sweet post! Thank YOU for coming and bringing your joy with you.

  2. I had a wonderful time. It will be a happy memory of "Black Friday". I say we should make it a tradition!


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