Category Archives: Culture

Do-it-Yourself Love Song Pillow for Día de San Valentín

love-song-lyric-pillow-1

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

Text on pillows and other home décor is hot right now, but as someone who loves language and typography, it will always be in style at my house.

Here’s how you can make your own custom pillow featuring the lyrics of “your song” to gift to your valentine on Valentine’s Day. (I gave Carlos this pillow featuring lyrics from Ricardo Arjona’s “Te Encontraré” which is our song.)

Do-it-Yourself Love Song Pillow

You need:

4 x 5 ft. Blue Hawk canvas drop cloth, cut into two squares slightly larger than 19 x 19 in. each
(For cutting the drop cloth: pencil, ruler, scissors)
allen + roth 19 x 19 in. white square decorative pillow
1 clear, plastic, rectangular storage container with lid
LED lights with batteries
a large sewing needle (not available at Lowe’s)
size 10 crochet thread in desired color (not available at Lowe’s)
permanent marker
clear package tape
printer with ink and paper

Directions:

Before you begin: If you’re not fond of the scent of the drop cloth, you can launder it just as you do with your clothes in the washer and dryer with whichever detergent you have on hand.

1. Cut two squares of the drop cloth to slightly larger than 19 x 19 inches.

2. Choose a few lines of lyrics from your love song, and then print them in a large font of your choosing on a regular piece of white 8.5 x 11 inch printer paper. (You may find that this works best in “landscape” rather than “portrait.”)

3.. Build your lightbox: Put the lid of the storage container on the floor or table surface with the LED lights on top of it. Turn the LED lights on and place the storage container on top so that the LED lights are sealed inside and the storage container is upside down.

lightbox

4. On the bottom of the closed storage container, tape down the paper with your printed song lyrics, then position one square of the drop cloth fabric over the paper. You should be able to see the lyrics through the fabric. Make sure the lyrics are aligned as you like and then tape down the fabric. (You may be tempted to skip the taping part but if you want a neat result, I recommend doing it so nothing gets shifted while you work.)

5. Use a permanent marker to trace the letters through the fabric.

trace-letters

traced-letters-closeup

6. Remove the fabric from the “lightbox.” Optional: Lightly iron the fabric with a hot iron. This will help “set” the ink and help prevent it from bleeding later should it get wet or need washing.

7. Now, you have several options for sewing your pillow. The traditional way with a hidden seam would require a sewing machine to sew the two squares together, closing three sides, (with the traced letters flipped to the wrong side as you use the sewing machine.) You would then reach inside and turn the pillow case inside-out so now the text looks correct, stuff the pillow inside and sew the fourth side closed by hand using small stitches and a thread that matches the fabric color.

In my case, I can’t use a sewing machine to save my life and I wasn’t even going to attempt to hide my stitches. I decided to use my poor sewing skills to my benefit and make the stitches a visible part of the design. The crochet thread I chose was burgundy so it stood out nicely against the cream color of the drop cloth. The stitch I used is called a “blanket stitch” – Instructions can be found HERE, but here are step-by-step photos to help you.

blanket-stitch-howto

7. Once all four sides are stitched closed, your pillow is finished and ready for giving to your cariño!

love-song-text-pillow-2

Want more creative ideas?

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Noticias en Caliche

mas-sv

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Recientemente Carlos me introdujo a un sitio salvadoreño de noticias que se llama MAS.SV. La ventaja de leer MAS.SV no es sólo saber de eventos actuales en El Salvador y en todo el mundo – también es aprender vocabulario salvadoreño porque el sitio está escrito en “caliche” (el dialecto de El Salvador.) Son bien divertidos los titulares:

• Roban cel y luego se toman fotos cuando estaban haciendo picardías
• Conocé a Chantel Jeffries, la chica que iba con Justin Bieber cuando lo enchucharon
• Abunda la cochinada

También hay artículos chistosos y interesantes como, Pueblos españoles con nombres graciosos y Didga, el gato skater que causa furor en la web. Chécalo y diviértete!

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Carlos recently introduced me to a Salvadoran news website called MAS.SV. The advantage of reading it is not just knowing current events in El Salvador and around the world, but learning Salvadoran vocabulary because the site is written in “caliche” (Salvadoran slang.) The headlines are really funny:

[I'll try my best to translate the Salvadoran slang words.]

• Roban cel y luego se toman fotos cuando estaban haciendo picardías
(They stole a cellphone then took photos when they were “messing around” (sexual connotation.)

• Conocé a Chantel Jeffries, la chica que iba con Justin Bieber cuando lo enchucharon
(Meet Chantel Jeffries, the girl who was with Justin Bieber when they “got him/arrested him/put him in handcuffs.”)

• Abunda la cochinada
(“Dirtiness” abounds)

There are also humorous and interesting articles like Spanish towns with funny names and Didga, the skater cat causing excitement on the web. Check it out and enjoy!

Edmundo Otoniel Mejía

© Edmundo Otoniel Mejía

© Edmundo Otoniel Mejía

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation in italics!

La primera vez que encontré el arte de Edmundo Otoniel Mejía fue en una toalla – ¡en serio! Mi suegra me trajo una toalla de El Salvador y en la toalla había una escena bien bonita de gente clasificando granos de café. Me gustó tanto la escena en la toalla que busqué información sobre el artista por internet y descubrí que el artista es un salvadoreño que se llama Edmundo Otoniel Mejía.

A veces me gustan uno o dos cuadros de un artista, pero no me interesan por los demás – Eso no fue el caso con el arte del Señor Otoniel Mejía – ¡al contrario! Me gustaron tanto cada uno de los cuadros porque representan perfectamente la vida diaria de El Salvador, (hasta que hay perros callejeros en cada caudro – ¡un detalle que me encanta!) Quería comprar un cuadro, pero desafortunadamente los originales están fuera de mi presupuesto. Ojalá un día cuándo regresemos a visitar El Salvador vaya a encontrar impresiones accesibles de sus cuadros, o por lo menos, más toallas.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

The first time I encountered the art of Edmundo Otoniel Mejía was on a towel – seriously! My mother-in-law brought me a towel from El Salvador and on the towel was depicted a really pretty scene of people sorting coffee beans. I liked the image on the towel so much that I turned to the internet for information about the artist and discovered that the artist is a Salvadoran named Edmundo Othniel Mejia.

Sometimes I only like one or two of an artist’s paintings, but don’t really care for the others. However, that was not the case with the art of Mr. Otoniel Mejía – on the contrary! I loved each painting so much because they each perfectly represent daily life in El Salvador (to the point that there are street dogs in each painting – a detail which I love!) I wanted to buy a painting, but unfortunately the originals are beyond my budget. Hopefully one day when we return to visit El Salvador I’ll be able to find affordable prints of his paintings, or at least, more towels.

Burrito Box – The World’s First Automated Burrito Kiosk

burritobox

I’ve never really wanted to live in Los Angeles… until now. Los Angeles is home to the Burrito Box, which is the first automated burrito kiosk. For $3 plus tax you can use the touchscreen vending machine to get one of the following 5 varieties at a Mobil gas station on Santa Monica Boulevard:

Chorizo sausage with cage-free eggs and cheese
Uncured bacon with egg and cheese
Roasted potato with egg and cheese
Free-range chicken with beans and rice
Shredded beef and cheese

If you want sour cream, hot sauce or guacamole, they cost a little bit extra. Pay with your credit card and then wait. (It takes about a minute to a minute and 30 seconds.)

Unfortunately, reviews from people who have actually tried the burritos seem to be much less enthusiastic than those who want to try the burritos. Since I’m on the east coast and don’t have access to a burrito vending machine I guess I will have to continue to make my own, but if anyone invents a pupusa vending machine, DC Metro area has dibs on it.

16 años

Tracy, Carlos y nuestro hijo mayor - 1999, La Playa Libertad, El Salvador

Tracy, Carlos y nuestro hijo mayor – 1999, La Playa Libertad, El Salvador

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation in italics!

Este fin de semana, Carlos y yo celebramos nuestro decimosexto aniversario. A veces no sé como hemos llegado a este punto juntos con todas las complicaciones de nuestro matrimonio, pero estoy super agradecida.

This weekend, Carlos and I celebrate our sixteenth anniversary. Sometimes I don’t know how we’ve reached this point together with all the complications of our marriage, but I’m super grateful.

Carlos y Tracy - San Salvador, El Salvador 2011

Carlos y Tracy – 2011, San Salvador, El Salvador

Pon el huevo en el agua

huevo-agua

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Tenemos varias tradiciones por comenzar el año nuevo pero este año Carlos me presentó a una nueva. Después de hablar por telefono con su hermana, Carlos me dijo que quería enseñarme algo que algunas personas hacen en El Salvador. Sacó un huevo del refrigerador, llenó un vaso con agua, y los dejó en la mesa para que pudieran llegar a temperatura ambiente.

“¿Pero qué es eso?” le pregunté.
“Es una manera en que uno puede predecir que viene en el año nuevo. Después de romper el huevo en el agua, la parte blanca del huevo hace formas.”

Le pregunté a Carlos, “¿Cómo se llama esta tradición?”
“Espera”, me dijo y mandó un mensaje de texto a su hermana para preguntar.
Un minuto más tarde, su teléfono sonó.
“¿Qué dijo?” le pregunté. “¿Cómo se llama la tradición?”
“Simplemente se llama ‘Pon el huevo en el agua’”, respondió Carlos. (Lo cual me hizo reír por unos minutos).

Cuando estaban a temperatura ambiente, Carlos rompió el huevo en el agua.

cracking-huevo

Y esperamos.

Y esperamos.

egg-in-water

Hasta que por fin…

volcano-egg

Pienso que parece al volcán de San Salvador. Ojalá significa que vamos a visitarlo este año.

Image source: Wikipedia author, Xtremesv

Image source: Wikipedia author, Xtremesv

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

We have several traditions to start the new year but this year Carlos introduced me to a new one. After talking on the phone with his sister, Carlos told me he wanted to show me something that some people do in El Salvador. He took an egg from the fridge, filled a glass with water, and then left them on the table to come to room temperature.

“But what is that?” I asked.
“It’s a way to predict what will come in the new year. After breaking the egg into the water, the white of the egg makes shapes.”

“What is the tradition called?” I asked.
“Hold on,” he said and sent a text message to his sister to ask.
A minute later, his phone rang.
“What did she say?” I asked. “What’s the tradition called?”
“It’s just called ‘Put the egg in the water,’” Carlos said, (Which made ​​me laugh for a few minutes.)

When they were at room temperature, Carlos broke the egg into the water.

Then we waited.

And waited.

Until finally…

I think it looks like the San Salvador volcano. Hopefully this means we’ll visit this year.

Días Importantes for Latinos in 2014

important holidays latin america

Feliz Año Nuevo! If you’re anything like Carlos, then you already have your 2014 calendar on display – If you’re anything like me, then you’re still waiting for Amazon to deliver your 2014 agenda which you ordered at the last minute. Either way, here are some dates to make note of which may not already be marked in your calendar or agenda. You don’t want to miss National Taco Day, now do you?

Latin American and Latino-American Holidays 2014

January

New Year’s Day/ Año Nuevo – 1st
Desfile de las Rosas – 1st
Independence Day, Cuba – 1st
Día de los Reyes – 6th

February

Día de la Candelaria – 2nd
Día de San Valentín/ Día del Amor y la Amistad, USA – 14th
National Margarita Day, USA – 22nd
Independence Day, Dominican Republic – 27th

March

Ash Wednesday/ El Miércoles de Ceniza – 5th

April

April Fools’ Day, USA – 1st
National Empanada Day, USA – 8th
Domingo de Ramos – 13th
Jueves Santo – 17th
Viernes Santo – 18th
Domingo de Resurrección – 20th
Día de los Niños, US and Mexico – 30th

May

Cinco de Mayo, USA and part of Mexico – 5th
Mother’s Day – 11th for US and most of Latin America, 10th for El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico
Independence Day, Paraguay – 15th

June

The beginning of FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil – 13th
Father’s Day – 15th for US and most of Latin America, 17th for El Salvador and Guatemala
El Día E (Spanish language appreciation day) – 22nd

July

Independence Day, USA and Puerto Rico – 4th
Independence Day, Venezuela – 5th
Independence Day, Argentina – 9th
Independence Day, Colombia – 20th
Día del Amigo, Argentina – 20th
Día Internacional del Perro Callejero – 27th
Independence Day, Peru -28th

August

Fiestas Agostinas, El Salvador – 5th to 11th
Salvadoran American Day, USA – 6th
Independence Day, Bolivia – 6th
Independence Day, Ecuador – 10th
Independence Day, Uruguay – 25th

September

Independence Day, Brazil – 7th
Independence Day, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua – 15th
Hispanic Heritage Month – 15th (to October 15th)
Independence Day, Mexico – 15th & 16th
Independence Day, Chile – 18th

October

National Taco Day, USA – 4th
Halloween, USA – 31st

November

Día de Todos los Santos – 1st
Día de los Muertos/Difuntos – 2nd
Independence Day, Panama – 3rd
National Pupusa Day, El Salvador – 9th
Universal Children’s Day – 20th (Countries throughout Latin America celebrate it different days)
Thanksgiving, USA – 27th

December

Giving Tuesday (donate to charity) – 2nd
Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe – 12th
Las Posadas (to Nochebuenda) – 16th
Nochebuena – 24th
Navidad – 25th
Día de los Inocentes, Latin America – 28th

Did I miss an awesome holiday celebrated in Latin America or by Latinos in other parts of the world? Leave a comment so we can celebrate, too!

Arroz con Leche

arroz con leche - latinaish.com

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

A pesar de nuestras diferentes crianzas, Carlos y yo tenemos algunas cosas sorprendentes en común – arroz con leche (o “rice pudding” en inglés) es uno de ellos. Al crecer casi nunca comimos arroz en mi casa para cenar, pero de vez en cuando mi madre calentaba arroz blanco en un recipiente con leche, luego añadió la canela y el azúcar para un deleite especial. Esta es una receta antigua de mi familia, pero es algo que Carlos comió en su casa en El Salvador, también.

Arroz con Leche

1 taza de arroz cocido
3/4 taza de leche (1%)
2 1/2 cucharaditas de azúcar
canela molida
una pizca de sal

En una olla mediana, combine el arroz y la leche. Revuelva hasta que esté caliente. Agregue la sal y el azúcar. Retire del fuego. Sazone con canela al gusto y servir. Rinde 2 porciones.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Despite our different upbringings, Carlos and I have some surprising things in common – rice pudding (arroz con leche) is one of them. Growing up we almost never ate rice at my house for dinner, but occasionally my mother warmed white rice in a bowl with milk, then added cinnamon and sugar for a special treat. This is an old recipe from my family, but it’s something that Carlos ate at his home in El Salvador, too.

Arroz con Leche

(Rice Pudding)

1 cup cooked rice
3/4 cup milk (1%)
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
ground cinnamon
a pinch of salt

In a medium pot, combine rice and milk. Stir until warm. Add salt and sugar. Remove from heat. Season with a sprinkling of cinnamon and serve. Makes 2 servings.

arroz con leche - latinaish.com

Biscochitos

biscochitos

Today we’re getting ready for the annual “galletada” with my mother, sisters and all the kids (my sons, my nephew and my niece.) We always make decorated sugar cookies but sometimes we each bring already prepared cookies of other varieties to share. This morning I decided to make biscochitos.

Biscochitos (often misspelled “bizcochitos”) are a holiday tradition passed generation to generation for many families in New Mexico where my older sister lived for a few years. One of the souvenirs she sent me back while living there were these anise seed cookies with a unique licorice-like flavor I really liked, so I looked up recipes and made them myself many times over the years even though Carlos isn’t that fond of them. (He says that anise is used as a home remedy in El Salvador so they taste medicinal to him.)

Anyway, if you want to give them a try, my recipe is below. Unlike traditional biscochitos, I use butter, even though New Mexicans will insist that to be authentic, you must use lard. My older sister is vegetarian which is why I usually use butter, but please feel free to sub lard for butter in the recipe. It will give it a slightly different texture, (which many much prefer!)

biscochitos3

Biscochitos (New Mexican Anise Seed Cookies

You need:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened (you can use lard)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons anise seed
2 tablespoons vanilla extract (you can use rum)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For topping:

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method:

1. Cream together the butter and 1 cup sugar in a large bowl. Next beat in the egg, anise seed and vanilla extract.

2. In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix the dry mixture into the wet mixture little by little until combined. Do not over mix.

3. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Once chilled, roll out on a floured surface. The thinner you make them, the crunchier they’ll be, so if you’d like them to be a little softer, roll them out thicker. Use a drinking glass dusted with flour or a cookie cutter to cut the dough into circles or desired shape. Carefully move the cookies to a foil-lined greased cookie sheet.

4. In a small bowl, mix the remaining ½ cup sugar with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Set aside.

5. Bake the cookies at 350 F until they’re starting to brown at the edges. Sprinkle the cookies with the cinnamon sugar mixture while still hot. Allow to cool and serve.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

biscochitos2

Salvadoran Tamales de Gallina

tamales salvadoreños de gallina / Salvadoran chicken tamales - Latinaish.com

My first attempt at tamales salvadoreños de gallina (pollo) was a delicious success! (For that I am very thankful, because it would have been a huge disappointment after all that work to have them not turn out.) I kept detailed notes during the entire process and documented everything I did so that I could share it here with you. I hope this recipe and the instructions below help you make perfect tamales this holiday season. You’ll need an entire day to make these from start to finish, so plan accordingly. Buena suerte!

Salvadoran Tamales de Gallina

The filling

5 lbs. chicken pieces (I used 12 chicken thighs)
2 small tomatoes, quartered
1 small onion, quartered
1/2 small green pepper
1 large carrot, peeled
1 stalk celery
1 handful cilantro
4 cloves garlic, slightly crushed
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt, plus salt to taste
1 tablespoon achiote (ground annatto)
1 tablespoon dry oregano
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

3 large Russet potatoes, cut into sticks, raw
2 cups garbanzo beans, already cooked

1. Simmer the chicken with all ingredients listed (besides the potatoes and garbanzo beans) with enough water to cover well. All of these vegetables and herbs are to flavor the broth which you’ll later use in the recaudo and the masa. This broth/chicken stock needs to be really flavorful. Some people use chicken bouillon to achieve this, and you can feel free to add some, but I avoid using bouillon.

2. Simmer the chicken until it is cooked through. Remove the chicken to a large dish to cool.

3. Remove the vegetables from the chicken stock and discard them. When cool enough, taste the chicken stock and determine whether you’d like to add a little additional salt. (I added a little more at this point.) Set this aside. You will be using it soon for the racaudo and masa!

4. When the chicken is cool, discard the skin and bone. Shred the meat into large pieces by hand and season with a little more salt if needed. (I added a little salt at this point.) Set aside.

5. If you haven’t already, wash and peel 3 large potatoes. Cut each potato into french fry-sized “sticks.”

6. If cooking your own garbanzo beans, you should have done this a day before. If using canned, just have them ready to open and drain when you assemble the tamales. I like the tamales with minimal filling ingredients but other people may put any of the following in their tamales: slices of hard-boiled egg, capers, green olives, green beans, sliced green and red bell pepper. Use any of these if you wish!

7. Set all these ingredients aside. These will be used, along with the recaudo, as the filling for your tamales. Next, we make the racaudo.

The recaudo (sauce)

8 small tomatoes
1 small green pepper
1/2 medium white onion
3 cloves garlic
1 dried guajillo chile, stem removed

1/8 cup pumpkin seeds, roasted
4 bay leaves
1/4 cup sesame seeds, roasted
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon dry oregano
1 teaspoon achiote (ground annatto)

2 pieces French bread, each about the size of a small fist
1 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt

1. Roast the tomatoes, green pepper, onion, garlic and guajillo chile on a comal/griddle (or large frying pan) over medium heat. (Be careful not to burn the guajillo chile – it doesn’t need much time on there.) Once slightly roasted on each side, put everything into a blender. You can use a large wooden spoon to smash the tomatoes inside the blender to make room if it gets too full. Don’t run the blender just yet.

2. Some use a pre-made “relajo” spice packet for the recaudo, but I wanted to create my own homemade “relajo” spice mixture with measurements of each spice for those who don’t have these packets locally available. (This also gives you greater control over the flavor and gives the recipe better accuracy since relajo spice mixtures vary by brand.) The spices you need to make your own relajo are: pumpkin seeds, bay leaves, sesame seeds, whole cloves, whole cumin seeds, black peppercorns, dry oregano and achoite (ground annatto.) If your pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds aren’t already roasted, slightly dry roast them (no oil) in a small pan or on the comal, stirring and being careful not to burn them.

relajo salvadoreño - Latinaish.com

3. Add all the “relajo” spices on top of the vegetables in the blender. Add the chicken stock, french bread and salt. If your blender is a standard size, it’s a very tight fit! Be careful and make sure your lid is secure! Blend until smooth. (Your blender might not blend all the spices perfectly smooth – that’s okay!)

4. Pour the recaudo into a medium pot and heat to simmering, stirring occasionally for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

recaudo - Latinaish.com

The masa

8 cups instant corn masa flour (I used MASECA. There’s no need to buy the one that is especially for tamales.)
9 cups chicken stock
8 cups warm water
1 lb. lard
1 cup recaudo

1. In a very large bowl or large stock pot, mix the chicken stock little by little into the corn masa flour by hand. (If you run out of the homemade chicken stock, you can use store bought in its place, but I had enough.) Make sure there isn’t any dry flour in the bowl and that it’s all been worked in.

2. Add the lard and work into the masa by hand. Make sure it’s completely distributed throughout – this will take a few minutes and you will notice the masa get fluffier.

3. Add the recaudo and work in by hand.

4. If you’re working with the masa in a bowl, transfer it now to the stock pot. Add the water, little by little, and work it in by hand. Make sure there are no lumps.

5. This is the most difficult part of this process. Make sure you have at least one other person with you in the kitchen who is willing to switch off with you. You’re going to cook the masa in the pot over medium heat, but YOU MUST STIR CONTINUOUSLY! Do not stop stirring for more than a second or two or the masa will stick/cook to the bottom of the pot and it will be ruined. Before you start, make sure you’re using a very strong, sturdy wooden spoon. Make sure you have oven mitts (especially if the handles of your pot are metal and get hot.) Make sure you have a timer you can set to keep track of the time. You will need to cook and stir the masa for at least 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove from heat and stir for another minute before allowing to cool.

One thing to note: I prefer my tamales on the firmer side so I’m really happy with how they turned out, but Salvadoran tamales are famously gelatinous. I think that if you wanted to achieve that “squishier” texture, you could add more chicken stock before cooking the masa, and possibly sub cooking oil for lard.

The wrapping

2 packs plantain/banana leaves
Aluminum foil (1 roll of 75 feet is plenty)

1. Plantain/banana leaves come frozen in the United States. About 1 hour before you’re ready to assemble tamales, disinfect your kitchen sink then fill it with warm water. Submerge the packets of plantain/banana leaves in the water, (placing a pot on top if they float too much.) This will defrost them and make them more pliable. Some people later warm the plantain/banana leaves over heat but I didn’t find it necessary at all.

2. After 1 hour, remove the packets from the water, cut open and drain. Rinse the leaves in warm, clean running water and shake dry before transferring to a large clean counter surface.

3. Cut the plantain leaves to about 12 inches x 7 inches, (rectangles.) They won’t be exactly the same measurements – that’s okay. Set aside any pieces that are too small or ripped or oddly shaped, (don’t discard them – you will use them later.)

4. Cut pieces of aluminum foil to about 18 inches x 12 inches.

5. Put down a piece of foil, and on top, a plantain/banana leaf, (lighter side of the leaf facing up.) Repeat the process so you have an alternating stack of foil and plantain/banana leaves. (This makes the tamal-making process easier later.)

6. Assemble all your ingredients. You’re ready to start making the tamales!

7. Place a large spoonful of the masa as shown in the video, in the middle of the plantain/banana leaf. In the middle of the massa place a spoonful of the racuado. Add chicken, a few pieces of potato, a few garbanzos and/or whichever other fillings you prefer.

8. Fold closed as shown in the video, rolling and folding tightly to seal. Repeat process for each tamal.

9. Put the tamales in a steamer pot with slightly salted water in the bottom. (Some people cover the tamales with water but I always make sure the water doesn’t touch the tamales so they can properly steam.)

10. Cover the tamales with the leftover plantain/banana leaf scraps and then the lid. Simmer on low heat, adding salted water if necessary to the bottom of the pot until cooked through, making sure you don’t allow the pot to cook dry/burn.

11. It can be difficult to tell when the tamal is ready because while hot, the masa will be very soft. You must remove a tamal and allow it to cool a little while the other tamales continue to cook. Once it’s cooled, you can open it and check for doneness. It’s a good sign if the potato inside is cooked. Mine took about 2 hours.

12. Allow tamales to cool before refrigerating. They will taste better re-heated the next day. Whatever isn’t eaten within a few days should be frozen.

Makes 30 to 40 large tamales.

tamal salvadoreño de gallina - Latinaish.com

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