Friday, July 24, 2015

Conquering The Big Tamale - #spooniethatsme

Finally, at long last.  Easy tamales.  I'll post the recipe after my usual (or unusual) rant.

There was a time I thought Planned Parenthood was a great organization. My opinion has changed, because I find the harvesting and sale of fetal body parts to be morally repugnant.

Well first of all, in all honesty, I am in a different place regarding abortion than I was 20 years ago.  Even before Roe v. Wade, my home state of New York had legalized abortion.  I was a kid, a legal minor when the law was passed, and it frankly meant nothing to me. Later on, I adopted and maintained the position that  a woman should be in control of her body.  This was no easy thing for me; once abortion became legal in New York, the availability of adoptable infants plummeted.  By 1979 it was clear that adoption was likely in our future, but I continued to strongly support the right.

Then in 1986, while completing a paralegal course, I had the opportunity - and obligation - to read Roe v. Wade, in its entirety.  This was repeated when I took constitutional law in law school. I knew then that one day the decision would collapse in on itself.  And it has, in a very poignant way.  So let me explain that while I remain pro-choice, I sincerely hope the parents choose life.

Why the shift? Well, it was clear, at least to me, that given ever-increasing scientific achievements of the last 40 years, the day would come that the viability of the tiniest preemies would increase considerably. If you have ever looked at a one-pound micro preemie in a NICU - and I have - you quickly learn to appreciate the miracle of life.  Viability at 23 weeks. Most states permit abortion up to 24 weeks.  Some years ago, I was at Winnie Palmer Hospital in Orlando, a mini-field trip arranged by my employer, and I was shocked to tears by what I saw.  I could have held these tiny humans in my hand. Their little diapers were the size of an old-fashioned menstrual pad. And yet, the law allows them to be aborted, their organs harvested, and their remains casually discarded.  This causes me to cry and makes my head want to explode.  This is reprehensible amoral behavior.

And that is why I don't like Planned Parenthood all that much anymore.

I survived one of those terrible nights last night.  It followed a terrible day.  Lately my pain has been worse than usual, and that is saying something.  I had to take two Benadryl to get to sleep, and that was after 3:30 AM, and after I'd spent hours crying in pain.  This morning I've got the Insane Itching thing going on, which is weird because of all that Benadryl.  Now I am waiting for a phone call from the Very Nice Lady in Employee Relations.  I have a pad and pen ready because if I don't write everything down, I will forget the whole conversation.

From the "what was I thinking of" department: I need a bra that fits me properly.  This has been a problem my whole life, or at least since sixth grade.  We also needed fitted sheets, and Robert was pretty sure that the ones we liked had been purchased in Walmart. So my cane and I headed over to do some shopping at Walmart.  Holy crap, what an adventure!  First, I was there for close to 2 hours, and did not get either of the items I was looking for.  No matter what size I happen to be, I can never find a bra that fits me.  Where were all those 48DDDs I saw today, when I needed them?  Why is there (apparently) no such thing as a 36DD?  Yes, yes, I'll start investigating on Amazon, but why can't I just walk into a store and snag a sling for the girls?

I did communicate with the VNL from ER, and I wrote down what she explained, and she was, as always, helpful and kind.  Thank you VNL!

Gorgeous Globe Artichoke, TBS (To be stuffed)

I want to give you the recipe for the tamales, even though I haven't created the rice dish to go with it (it's in my head, and you know how that goes).  My refrigerator is, as Rob noted, wall-to-wall aluminum pans, which means I've been cooking too much for this audience.  But I've got some coffee being cold-brewed, Mexican chorizo sausage, a gorgeous artichoke and a sharp sharp knife.  Tune in tomorrow.

Easiest Tamales Ever: Midnight Tamales

oil for cooking
1-15 oz. can corned beef hash
3 large scallions, sliced thin
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 small red bell pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon Paula Deen's Southern Spice Rub
kosher salt
ground black pepper
dried oregano
1-10 oz. can Old El Paso Mild Green Chile Enchilada Sauce
queso fresco cheese, cut into 2 x 1/2 inch pieces
12 stuffed green olives, halved
zante currants or dark raisins

1-18 oz. tube precooked polenta

Wrap - a - wrap - a - wrap:
15 dried corn husks (you will only need 12, but just in case any rip during soaking)
12 pieces kitchen twine, 10-12 inches each
No-stick spray

Paula Deen's Southern Spice Rub - make it in advance; days, weeks, a month or two
2 T. ground cumin 
2 T. chili powder
1 T. ground coriander 
1 T. kosher salt 
2 t. ground pepper
1/2 t. ground cinnamon 
1/2 t. red pepper flakes

You need to soak the dried corn husks for a couple of hours at least.  Place them in your largest pot (the one in which you boil spaghetti, make all your soups, chilies and stews - you know, the one you can't live without.  Mine was part of an engagement present - one of my parent's friends worked for Farberware - and after 41 years of almost daily use, it looks pretty good) and fill the pot 3/4 full of water.  Bring the water to a boil, weight down the husks with a heat-proof plate, cover the pot and turn off the heat.  Leave the husks to soften, up to overnight.

Prepare the filling - heat about 1/4 cup canola oil in a large skillet - add the hash and cooked until it falls apart and browns a bit.  Add the scallions, garlic, and red bell pepper, cooking for a few minutes after each addition. Add the spice rub, salt, pepper, and oregano, and cook for a few more minutes. Add about half of the green enchilada sauce, and simmer for a few more minutes. Set aside and allow the filling to cool to room temperature, or even better, refrigerate in a small square container overnight.  Next day, divide the square into 12 even pieces.

Remove the polenta from the tube; cut off the rounded ends (discard or pan fry for another dish) and slice into 12 equal pieces.

Create the tamales: I work two at a time.  Lay out two of the corn husks, smooth side up.  Hit them with a shot of no-stick spray across the top half of the husk.  Place one slice of polenta, and a one-twelfth piece of the hash filling.  Place one piece of the queso fresco in the middle of the hash filling. Place 2 olive halves on one side of the cheese, and about 5 currants on the other side. Spoon a little more of the green enchilada sauce over the filling.  Wrap and tie each tamales using the twine.  Place the finished tamales, open end up, in a steamer.  I don't own a fancy steamer, so I put on inch or so of water in the bottom of my 41-year old wonder pot, place the tamales in an old fashioned metal colander (older than the pot; my mother gave it to me when I started cooking) and then put the filled colander in the pot.  Divide any remaining sauce over the top of each tamales..   Place the pot on the  stove, bring the water to a boil.  Put the lid on the pot and lower the heat to simmer, and steam the tamales for 50 to 60 minutes.

Serve with Spanish rice (recipe tomorrow, kids), and congratulate yourself on conquering the Big Tamale!  Next time we make the masa from scratch.  It's not overwhelming if you limit the batch to one dozen tamales. I'm game if you are.  Well, even if you're not.

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