Whenever I tell people I cook with lard they look at me like I've just told them I like to kick bunnies for fun. Gasp! Mon dieu... quelle horreur?! I know, I know. Lard definitely has a bad rep around these parts, but there's nothing else that quite gives you the same deliciousness. Just ask any tamale or pie crust and taste the difference for yourself.
Since I had some lard leftover from tamale making and fresh peas were in season, I immediately thought of making empanadas filled with harissa, ground beef, peas and carrots. I also made a vegetarian version with chick peas and a butter crust.
Shelling peas and peeling chick peas is definitely a labor of love. I passed the time by watching episodes of The Wire - many of them. Lucky for my finger tips, I had friends to help me form my empanadas.
Did I ever tell you guys about how photographically challenged I am? Before I started this blog I knew less than nothing (seriously) about ISOs and apertures and white balances. I mean come on, how do you balance white? Isn't it just one color? Shoulder shrug. And until I went through B's super intensive photography crash course, that's the way my brain worked. Fortunately for me and my blog, I'm surrounded by some very talented, knowledgeable and most importantly patient people that are always coming to save my day.
Lately I had been on cruise control and pretty darn proud of myself for being all independent. Why is it that disaster always strikes when you're least suspecting? So the sequence of events goes something like this... Take pictures. Look at pictures on camera display. OK we're good to go. Food goes in the belly. Next day, load photos onto computer from CF card. Oh wait. No food photos. POOF they've disappered! Lots of muttering and expletives. @#$%! *&^()! There were only pictures of my friend's adorable puppy. Definitely not food... in my book anyway. ;)
Have you ever heard of four Asians and a Jew making Mexican tamales? Though it sounds like the beginning to a really bad, non-PC joke, it was actually my Saturday. Believe it! We were inspired by a recent tamale making episode of Alton Brown's "Good Eats" and of course our love of tamales. Most of the ones out on the market seem to be about 25% filling and 75% masa. We wanted super filled, super saucy tamales, so why take chances when we can make them just how we want them. As gung ho as we all were about tamale making, did any of us really have any business venturing into the secret society of abuela work?
Thanks to Jamie, our tamale hostess, our filling combinations were endless. We had beef, pork, chicken and even oxtails! Cheeses included Jack, Oaxacan string cheese, panela and echilado cheese. It was nice to use the combination of a meltable, mild cheese alongside a spicy, salty cheese like the enchilado. Vegetables included roasted poblanos, roasted jalapenos, corn and black beans.
Are all mothers funny worrywarts like my mom? I sure hope so because it's quite an endearing trait, though I'm certain any teenager out there would refute that. My sisters and I got together for a little Mexico ATVing trip recently, and you would laugh if you could see my sister's luggage. She had to check-in her luggage because it was filled with allergy medicine, sunblock, a Sonicare replacement head, dog snacks (those were actually from my sister, but can you see where she gets it from?) and ten hefty pounds of kumquats - all for me. I made out like a thief and was especially excited about all the kumquats. Yay! I had made a special request for them since we're right in the thick of citrus season. My parents have two super fruitful kumquat trees. My mom had apologized to me since she thought she had only packed enough for me to eat and not to make preserves/compote/jam. Sheesh mom! Ten pounds? How many kumquats do you think one person can eat? There's yet another charming motherly quality.
When I told you that my spicy, pickled carrots were so good that you'd want to plan a meal around them, I was speaking from experience. From first tangy crunch, I knew that a taco night was imminent. Do I sound like I mean business or what?
These spicy, taco stand-style, pickled carrots are so good that you'll want to plan a whole meal around them.