Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Labor of Love

While in college I took a Sci-Fi / Fantasy Fiction class in which my professor loved to illuminate the symbolism in each of the tales we read. To him, Little Red Riding Hood’s cloak could not simply be red, it was a tale about a little girl’s fear of her approaching menarche. The whole point of Red’s journey was to bring sustenance from her mother to her grandmother and to hopefully avoid all the temptation of the forest. Although I could not get as excited about the sexual symbolism, what rang true for me was the idea that in fairy tales & fables, food = love. I could see how this symbolism carried over in to everyday life, how the act of creating a meal for someone else was an act of love and a desire to nourish and care for someone else.

With that said, nothing says love like homemade tamales. It was also fitting that Meghan and I would be making such a dish on the weekend in which she shared with us some fantastic news ♥ ♥  !! We started with a pork tamales recipe, but swapped out the meat for yams and kale. 

After a tasty breakfast of banana french toast, we cleared the counters and started in on our day of tamale making. We decided to double the recipe so we would have plenty of goods to split even after our feast. We made the chili sauce, then the filling and masa, meanwhile soaking the husks. In retrospect we decided we might have made the filling and sauce ahead of time since we had already been cooking about 3 hours when we sat down to start assembling all the tamales. 

Spreading the masa (Rainier is optional, but very helpful)

Adding the yam and kale filing

Wrap and seal the edge with a tuck

Fold the end up

Tie with a strip of husk

Put in steamer open end up

Production line


The foundation for a good tamale is all in the spreading of the masa. You must leave enough husk to fold up and tie. There must also be enough masa to create a seal at the seam so the filling does not leak out. It wasn't until the second batch of masa that I felt I had figured out how to get the desired result. 

We lined the steamers with corn husk and set our feast a-steaming, while we finished off the rest of the masa into tamales that were headed straight for the freezer. After an hour and a half of steaming we pulled them off the stove and let them rest for 7 minutes. Only then, after 6.5 hours in the kitchen was our labour of love complete and ready to serve.

This is love...


  1. Soooo 6.5 hours equals how many Ranier's?

  2. Uh... it's Rainier

    RRrrraaiiii nnneeeeeerrrrrr Bbbbeeeerrrrrr

    (who remembers that commercial? C'mon old folks...)

  3. And for your seasonal Vegan joke:

    What do Vegan Zombies eat?

    "Graaaaaaaiiiiins.... Graaaaiiins..."