Cooking Tamales

Over the weekend my main and I went for the gold! We decided to make tamales!


Last year my Mom gifted me a small vaporera for tamales and we put it to use. (Side note: in searching for pictures for those of you who might want to know what I’m talking about, it seems that this may not even be for tamales, but for like smaller food? Oh well!) See images of my steamer here: google search results. The reason I was given a small one was because it’s just 2 of us and we’re far away from everyone and having something in a smaller version is best. It’s been cold and snowy and since we didn’t attempt this during the regular tamal season we went for it now.


You cannot have just 1, tho. So eat up!

A long time ago, before I moved to Oregon, I wrote down the recipe for how my mom and tias and grandma make their tamales (puerco or res en chile rojo or mole, pollo en chile verde, and rajas con queso). We decided to go with his mom’s recipe of tamales de puerco en mole. We called her up in the morning to get everything down and it’s so hard to get everything right when these mommas don’t measure anything. It’s always, “un punito de sal” or “una cuchara copeteada”, etc. Regardless, we took to shopping for the ingredients but before heading home we stopped at Jimmy John’s for some sammiches. When we got home we ate and mentally prepared ourselves for what was about to go down. This is a task for a group of people, but obviously we managed.

Overall the experience was pretty good. We cooked  5 lbs of trocitos de puerco, mixed an entire bag of masa, and soaked one bag of corn leaves. Next time we’re adding the whole box of lard to the mix because these tamales need to slide off the leaves and ours didn’t. *sad face*

Me and the main getting down and dirty with the masa. We made sure to close the blinds.

We also need to be free with the salt – his mom was right, all the salt flavor you think it has goes away while the tamales are cooking. We called his mom about 10 times throughout the entire day to make sure we had this right and that measured. Our wrapping needs work for sure! There are thin ones, really fat ones, too much masa, not enough meat. Our stove is electric – with the coils – and that impacted the cooking time. She gave us an estimate of about an hour but we ended up cooking them for about 3 because we just did, OK? Good thing we had Jimmy John’s in our bellies. We ate like 4 tamales each to “test” them as the cooking was happening. That’s how we knew they needed more time. If I get constipation it’s all my fault.

The next day we called my cousin to show her daughter the snowfall. Grandma was there so we talked IMG_20180218_181007.jpgto her about our experience. We told her the difference in the mole recipes (ours is better. Shh! Don’t tell the main). Ours has so much more heat to the flavor since we use two different chiles: arbol and California vs. only guajillo). We fry our bread and they fry saltine crackers. Theirs has cloves and ginger and raw garlic, we boil the garlic with the chiles and add cumin when blending.

In the picture: sesame seeds, chocolate abuelita, cinnamon, garlic, cloves, sweet pepper, and fresh ginger.

tamalesWe’re thinking of giving it another go this upcoming weekend. This time we’re going for tamales dulces and de res in chile rojo. This time around I’ll see if I can pause and document our progress. Here is the only picture I took (and it was only because I wanted to show my friend what I was up to).

My grandmas asked if there is a Vallarta because she recommended getting the masa prepared to save work and time. Yeah, grandma! No Vallarta in rural Oregon. One day!

Here is another meme just for fun! The main asked me not to eat all the tamales because he wanted to share some with his ladies at work. But, this is me…



TFW You Want to Write…

I have this horrible habit of thinking I can remember something without writing it down. The times I do write it down and come across the note in the future, I have no idea what I meant or what I wanted to remember out of it. Maybe I need a class on remembering things (writes remember things online class).

The following is a series of short paragraphs on topics/people/general ideas I want to write about in the near future and I hope that by being a little more detailed I will be able to fully develop a post out of each of them.

MTBF visits me: post a couple of pictures to share the adventures. The excitement leading up the arrival. I wish we did everything we said we’d do. Why didn’t we do everything we said we’d do? Time? Laziness? Money? I found out how to use VENMO. I just don’t understand why if the app is by PayPal, why did I have to create a new account with VENMO and not have the option to sign in through PayPal?

I really want to start my podcast: more an more the Honey Cakes and I are talking about starting a podcast. I want to associate myself with the boom in brown podcasts that is going on right now and take advantage of the fact that there is so much love and support for brown entrepreneurship. He, on the other hand, wants to just “have a podcast” with a theme on “Stories”. I get it, but in that type of podcast I don’t see room for me. He’s a talker and knows a little bit of everything. He can carry a great conversation and I stall all the freakin’ time! He’s a natural conversationalist and I overthink everything way too much that I end up looking like Homer fading into the bushes. And I want us to be on the same podcast, share with listeners our experiences and then have themed episodes like his “stories” and have guests that share and talk about anything and everything.

Can I start a business?: I think the last 50 accounts I started following on IG have been Latinx businesses. Small and awesome shops that range from mugs to pins, t-shirts and hats, stickers and art. Sometimes I even want to invest in a business because what if I don’t have what it takes? I bought a pin making machine but I ran out of steam. Maybe it wasn’t steam, but I just didn’t have the right equipment and I (still) think.. soon I’ll get the right printer, paper, cutter, etc. I have ideas but I also need to learn how to market. WAH! Oh an I thought, what if I learn to sew and make tortilla covers with dope ass dichos. First step with that is to know if I even have the patience to make one.

Been staring at the cursor for 30 seconds and nothing. I guess I didn’t have a lot to remember. Or maybe I just forgot because I didn’t write it down.


My Hair

Sometimes I laugh along with people that seem to think it’s funny that I do not shave my legs or my underarms. I fell like staring at them and asking WHAT THE FUCK IS THE BIG DEAL?

But I get it. I used to be like them (those inferior beings) that bowed to the standards of beauty that have demonized hair on certain parts of the body. HAHA… I laugh at YOU, you lame-ass.

Nah, I’m just fucking with you. But I have come to love myself on another level. I’m fat right now (that’s another blog for another site), and I assure you it has nothing to do with that.

*queue harp music*

It all started when I moved to Oregon… no really, it did. There are some cold ass winters here that my delicate Southern Cali skin barely survived. The first summer I was all about shaving my legs for no other reason than it was the normal thing to do. Then I thought… hey, the BF is not here and I’m cool roaming my house and the streets in my semi-hairy, very prickly legs. Shave, shave, shave! Shave my legs, shave my pits, trim the hoo-ha, and wax them brows. I was all for hair removal. Then that practice started to slow down for various reasons, none of which included laziness.

After some time I started to not mind my hairy legs. And then I stopped shaving my armpits. I fucken ran a half marathon in my hairy legs (which maybe that was part of the reason I had a slower time this year… hmmm… should have worn running pants). Because all of this is fairly new I sometimes sit and stare at my legs and touch my hairy pits like… who said this was gross? How come hairy legs and pits are not shamed on men? Why do women or people that want to shave in general, that see it as a chore continue to do it? Okay, okay. The  “I don’t shave for you I shave because I want to” type people can shut up. I was one of you. Then I started looking deeper into this practice and realized I was doing it because I didn’t want people to tell me I was hairy. Fuck those people. I’m having as good a time as you and I don’t have to worry about the last time I shaved.

Laugh it up. Continue to think it’s nasty and gross. You’re GROSS! You shave and tap that razor on your bathtub rim and stare at the nasty blob of hair. Continue to shame yourself every other day and remove that hair from your pits. HAHAHHA… okay, that was rough. I’m fucking with you, again. All I ask is that you leave people, such as myself, be… HAIRY! *insert boom sound*

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Book Review

 OK, I know I know I have a photo of me on my blog, but sometimes I think putting a face to the author helps. For instance, if the author has a picture of him/her self on the book I’m reading I constantly look at it- in between chapters, in between certain scenes; it creates a sense of peace for me. So that’s why you see a picture of me holding up the book in case you may feel the same.

Americanah was something else. It was my first Nigerian novel and it will definitely not be my last. In many ways I related to Ifemlu, but I don’t think I’m as complex or believe that I long for something as much as she does. Here is my best attempt at reviewing this book.

I enjoyed it. Ifemlu and Obinze (whom she calls Ceiling) are high school and university sweethearts. Due to economic and government troubles in Nigeria Ifemlu arrives in America on a student visa while Obinze stays back home. The irony of it all is that Obinze has a romanticized view of America and it’s he, not she, that wishes to be a part of it all – all that is America. From the start of their relationship they have this unspoken peace and understanding and throughout the novel Ifemlu is ever searching for this peace and understanding with Curt (her White Hot Ex) and Blaine (Professor Hunk) her American black boyfriend.

After almost two decades she returns to Nigeria- Lagos to be exact. At first she feels estranged and I dare to say very superior, high and mighty. She’s fully aware of this, which I like and can relate to in some way. She avoids reaching out to Obinze, even thought they had recently began emailing one another shortly before she returned. During her time in America Ifem found it hard to understand the race issue with black, white and non american blacks- so she starts a blog. But before that she goes through many tribulations and I’m glad that she has he Aunty Uju and Dike to keep her grounded. The reason she stops talking to Obinze after she arrives in America? She found it hard to get a job and after one bad experience with a tennis coach, she feels dirty and guilty and this is why she stops all communication with Obinze (he’s broken because she just cut him off). She gets some jobs here and there and eventually her blog becomes her source of income, which one can only hope. I won’t ruin the ending, but man was my heart beating rapidly as the final pages were coming and I was fearing the worst. Obinze also goes through his stints of trying to be someone abroad. He finds it difficult and after being under false names and working odd jobs, he is deported. He eventually becomes a wealthy man.

Anyway, I did the inevitable and read reviews. Most of them were good and many loved the novel. But one stuck out the most and it was such a long, unnecessary review, but she wrote it and I read it. Based on what I remember the reviewer, who admittedly has a lot of “friends” on GoodReads, mentioned that she thought she was going to get a love story. Hmm… I re-read the back of the book and it reads, “… Americanah is a remarkable novel of race, love, and identity …” I guess she only focused on the love part.

She also said that the novel includes too many names and unnecessary characters. The book is written in third person omniscient, but it reads like I speak, personally. I would rather say: I went to lunch with Lisa, my friend with the big teeth and then always refer to Lisa by Lisa. This annoys the BF since he says it’s not important. But when the story carries on there are references to those people and although small appearances, they return later in the novel, so I would rather have Lisa written all over than to always have to refer to “the girl with the big teeth” or have to leave her out of my story.

At one point this reviewer said, not verbatim, but something along the lines of: if you’re looking for a novel about love you won’t get it in Americanah. Apparently she felt cheated because the book focused too much on race and on Ifemlu’s character flaws. I was pleased to read a lot of the responses to her post because they fell in line with checking her. It IS about love. It’s about the tearing apart of two souls due to things that are not in their control. And about the experiences that lead you to realize that nothing will ever be the same as it was with this ONE person. This ONE person that understands every bit of you and accepts you. She does love Curt, but not the same way as she loves Obinze. She also loved Blaine, but it’s a different love- they are safe loves. While on the other side of the world is Obinze, familiar, understanding, challenging, appreciating. There is one part in the novel that Ifemlu accepts that with Obinze she does not have to explain herself – and to me, there is no greater feeling than what being 100% yourself brings. And Obinze too, he marries Kosi knowing he shouldn’t, knowing that they do not see life the same way. All that I just said is a story about race, love, and identity.

I found the novel funny, moving, eye opening, and recommend worthy. I liked to read other reviews on how much they appreciate the references and being familiar with certain stories. Kind of like when I read novels or stories about Latinos in a world where stories about white women or men are abound.

Cat Calling

Most of my pre-teen years and some adolescent years I spent them with my Grandma. I spent summers, long weekends and weekends by her side. She lived with my uncles and their wives. She also had a lot of birds. Her favorite were the cockatoos. I loved them, too. I learned to whistle from her and got some tunes from my uncles to teach the birds. One of them was the cat-call.

I learned to whistle it low and slow and fast and high pitched. The birds learned it so well from me that when I passed by they whistled it on queue. I didn’t think much of it. I now know how disrespectful it is. I know what the general population thinks of it and it’s supported by Urban Dictionary. It’s pretty disgusting, right- the intent of a whistle- a cat call?

I have mixed feelings toward it however. As a feminist I’m supposed to be totally repulsed by it and by the person who’s doing the calling. I their intent and I understand how it’s demeaning and how it can sometimes lead to something dangerous. But in my Latin/Hispanic culture it’s typical female shaming. “No handes volteando a los que te chiflen porque van a decir que eres una de esas mujeres voladas.” It’s a bad thing to be the target of such a thing. Why? It could be the way you’re dressed (too revealing), it could be the way you walk (too seductive), it could be the way you look at them (too luring). Whatever, it’s not the men who are to blame; it’s the woman and her evil ways.

However, when I was taking a Woman and Gender Studies course at my university I learned from my professor that I don’t have to choose between my feminism and the other. And is a powerful word and I should use it to save my life. For example, a joke can by funny and offensive. I don’t have to choose a side because it can be mind torturing. If I think it’s strictly funny I am choosing not to mind those who it offends; if I choose strictly offensive I have no sense of humor (all in context though, right? sometimes it can be “too soon”).

Here is what I am getting at: most of the time when I get a cat call or whistle I roll my eyes and think that the guy/man should grow up. Sometimes I flip them off or shout some random shit at them if they’re doing a drive-by. When I’m the one passing them and they holler I just snear at them or just completely ignore them because it is disrespectful. But sometimes, somewhere inside of me there is a sly smile. I raise my head a little bit and I walk a little taller. I don’t know why- it’s automatic. Is it because somehow I’m desirable? Wait, no! My body is desirable- NOT me- the person, the individual. These thoughts in hindsight make me mad at myself.

check this out: Sexy Walk from the Science of Sex Appeal.

can that be it? Is the way I walk the reason cat-calls exist and it’s just an acknowledgement and men don’t know their limits? I’m mad at society for continuing things like this and I get mad myself for my thoughts.

What are your experiences with cat calling? Thoughts?