Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tamales for the New Year

I had made tamales only one time before Elizabeth encouraged me to make them for New Years.  Consider four women in one small kitchen chopping, mixing, steaming, shredding, grating, sautéing, spreading, folding, and tying.  Imagine pots and bowls on ingredients stacked around cutting boards and bags of foods. The air is filled with warm, spicy aromas and everyone is busy doing two or three things at a time.   
Elizabeth chose two varieties from her mother's tamales cookbook.  One was for chicken and the other was vegetarian.  I cooked the chicken in the morning and then left with Sanford for a road trip to Sutherlind.  The three other women, Lynnea, Elizabeth, and Tammy (Elizabeth's mother) arrived around 1:30 to cook and assemble everything else.  By the time I stepped into my kitchen at 2:00 p.m., there wasn't a clear spot to set a glass of water.  We were scheduled to be at my mother's house at 5:00 pm with tamales.  Ha!  Besides the usual problems of figuring out a recipe you are not familiar with, the kitchen sink decided to protest.  While washing a pot, the hot water refused to shut off.  Justin and Sanford came to our rescue.
So now we have tool boxes and tools and two extra bodies in the already cozy kitchen AND no water for washing off hands.  Some precariously balanced cutting board crashed down onto Sanford's tray of screws and bolt supplying us with the setting for a good "I Love Lucy Show."  
The boys calmly gathered the hardware and fixed the sink and the girls got back to assembling enough ingredients to feed a football team. 
We realized that we were not going to make our dinner date by 5:00 p.m., however, by 6:00 p.m. the kitchen was clean and the second batch of tamales were nearly finished cooking.  We all headed over to my mother's house with pots of tamales keeping us warm in the freezing fog.  

I can honestly say that these were the best tamales I have ever eaten. 
I have a new appreciation for the women who make tamales for a living.
Next time my neighbor knocks on my door offering tamales for $2.00 a piece, I am going to think, "Wow, what a bargain.  I should buy a dozen."
I offer a big word of thanks to Elizabeth and Lynnea and Tammy for making such a fun and memorable time by issuing in a new year in the company of friends and honest, wholesome, delicious labor.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Light of God dressed in a blanket

What do you get when you cross curtains and blankets with Christmas?  You get shepherd costumes.  I am wearing one of the costumes on loan to Ashland First Baptist Church from Box R Ranch.  I am also wearing my mother's long underwear, wool socks, turtle neck shirt and wool sweater.  I was very warm and plump.  My friends, Carol and Trisha,and I had a great time parading around as shepherds at the first Live Nativity.  I think half of the church congregation helped in one form or another to express the wonderful mystery of God we celebrate at Christmas.  The creator of the universe enters the world, that had rebelled against him, as a helpless baby in order to suffer a cruel death so he could offer a cure for any one wanting it.  Amazing!

We had it all, angels, a star, farm animals, Mary, Joseph, inn keepers, and a manger.  Let's not forget the shepherds.  We also had hundreds of luminaries, cookies, hot cocoa and a campfire, which also got canceled due to the fact that we have so many firefighters attending 1st Baptist and we didn't get a permit for such a thing.  Fortunately, firefighters know how to get permits for campfires and therefore we ended up having one well contained campfire.

Were we successful?  Lisa Caplinger's goal was to involve her church family in loving her home town of Ashland with the love of Christ, who is the reason for Christmas.  If meeting her goal defines success, then I would have to say we hit the bull's eye. Now multiply this effort and consider all the ways this body of Christians demonstrated the love of God this Christmas and one would stand amazed to realize that Christ is still alive and well and living in Ashland, Oregon in the 21 century.

I am so glad God doesn't hold us responsible for making people choose the light. There are still many, many folks living in our midst who don't even know they possess a terminable condition requiring the Christ who came at Christmas.  Jesus only tells us to be a light, letting Him shine through us into the darkness.  May the light of Christ shine in Ashland and Talent and the whole Rogue Valley until the cure be made known.  This can be done all year long with, or without, a shepherd's robe.