Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hot for tamales

When Scott told me that my favorite Puerto Vallarta restaurant, El Arrayán, would be holding a class on tamales, my favorite Mexican food, I couldn't say no! I've made tamales at home in the past, but I knew I'd have a lot to learn.

The first part of class took place at a local market, so that we could learn to identify some of the raw ingredients common to Mexican cooking.



This is Carmen, one of the owners of El Arrayán, starting our lesson on tamales.

Laura, Carmen's cousin, a tamal expert!

Dried corn husk wrappers for three of the four kinds of tamales we made. There was one sweet tamal made with candied cactus and pineapple, one savory rolled with black beans, one filled with pork, and one with fresh corn. All four were delicious.

Mmmm...lard. Once the lard was whipped into oblivion, we mixed it with the masa (cornmeal) to make the outside of the tamales.

Fresh corn husks to wrap the fresh corn tamales.

Pork filling for the only meat-filled tamal.

Laura at work spreading black beans onto some very sticky masa. These ones were rolled up cinnamon-roll style before slicing them and wrapping them in corn husks.

My sister-in-law, Natalie, wrapping up some tamales.

Laura showing us how to fill the pork tamales.

Tamales finished!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Christmas break, in photos.

Christmas break is nearly over. Sometimes I am thankful for how quickly it went, sometimes I'm a little sad. Here are some photos of our life over the past few weeks.

On the last day of school, the kids wrote out their wishes (Callie wished for a bunny named Rosie, Brynn wished to go horseback riding every day with her sister -- deep stuff). Brynn's teacher read the wishes to the whole school, put the wish papers in a fire, and then used the ashes to fertilize the tree the school planted as part of the "best wishes" ceremony to close out the year.


Callie sang Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with her class, but her red nose rubbed off long before the singing started.


Brynn dressed up like a shepherd to help explain part of the Christmas story. She took her dad's walking stick for the part, and I worried that she'd lose it and he wouldn't be able to walk. Oh...you still haven't heard about that, have you? Hmm...another post.


Inspired by some amazing capoeira teachers (think karate, acrobatics, and modern dance all in one), Brynn practiced cartwheels on the beach.


We hugged our friends.


We practiced ballet.


We tried a little yoga...or something.


Sometimes we considered strangling each other.


We loved on the dogs.


Brynn taught herself to braid.


And ran races while showing off her new mouth full of teeth.


And sometimes just contemplated life as a new seven-year-old.


On Christmas Eve we watched 150 baby turtles make their way to the ocean...with about 93 other people looking on.


Go, babies, go!





We admired Frank, the man with the rake, who has brought back the turtle population here on our beach.


On Christmas morning, we gathered around our piñata Christmas tree, read Pippi Longstocking, and drank peppermint steamers.


We slid down the concrete slide in the neighborhood park.


Ate ice cream in another park.


We whale-watched.


That's a fluke!


And another!


Whales are cool, but nothing beats pizza with pals.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Not your resolution, your story.

I recently finished Donald Miller's new book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and as soon as I finished the last page, I promptly turned back to the beginning and started over again. Yes, it's that good. And that transformative.

I've never been a fan of New Year's resolutions, but, here's something I can run with. It's a blog post written by Donald Miller where he explains how improving your life story might be a better idea than setting goals that have no real context. This whole idea of improving your "story" builds on what he wrote in A Million Miles. Even if you haven't read the book (yet), you should check out his post. It will give you a whole new (and healthier) perspective on resolutions.

Edited to add: Today, Miller wrote a second post with some ideas for how to create more memorable scenes in order to live a better story. I love this idea and have been trying to do it more often and have, at times, made a fool of myself. But my children will remember those scenes fondly!