Makin’ new (and old) traditions

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One of my favorite foods for Christmas has always been, bar none, tamales.

Oh sweet masa and meat and a bit of heat!

Delicious.

I never realized just how lucky I was over the years to have wonderful neighbors, friends and coworkers who gifted me with handmade tamales every year.

Yum!

All the way out here in California, I don’t have wonderful tamale making friends and I miss them.

So this year, my mom-in-law, a wonderful cook and a lady filled with holiday cheer, suggested we make up a batch of our own tamales.

Oh yeah, baby!

We have both pork and green chile with cheese.

Gonna be a New Mexico Christmas in my house! My kitchen smells fabulous!

And making them with my new family might just have to be a new tradition!

Feast your little eyes!

Wrapped up and ready to be steamed!

Apply the heat.

Steamy goodness!

Yeah, many of these little guys didn’t make it very long out of the steaming pot. Poor delicious tamales! Hope they make it to Christmas!

Still life with punkin

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If that photo doesn’t make your mouth water than you’ve probably never made a pumpkin pie from scratch.

Mix all that together, pour in a pie shell and bake.

15 at 450 then 40 at 350. An hour later you have The Delicious!

Happy Thanksgiving, wherever in the world you are today!

My (new) People!

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My personal genetic heritage is what The Good Man calls “your typical Heinz 57 pan-European”.

I’m German-Irish-Scottish-French.

And raised in New Mexico, so I have Hispanic roots, too.

The Good Man is Italian-English-Turkish-Lebanese.

Also a Heinz 57, but much different from my own. These are not all cultures I have a lot of background with, so I’m having a ball learning about my new family heritage.

My rock star Mom-in-Law (the Turkish/Lebanese side) has taught me much about delicious Mediterranean food. (I thought I’d had falafel before. I had not. I’d had a poor imitation. There is a HUGE difference).

Man, I can’t believe how long I’ve been missing out on the good stuff!

And of course, I’ve always loved Italian food, but oh I had lots to learn.

Like coffee. Now, I like coffee. Ok, I love coffee. It doesn’t always love me back (acidy!). I try to cut back, but can’t. And it’s not even the caffeine that’s a problem! I drink decaf!

I was holding strong, but then my Mom-in-Law gave us a peculiar little device called a Moka Pot. Ok, she gave it to us a while ago, but I’ve suddenly grown an unnatural attachment to it.

It looks like this.

Big deal, right? Just another way to make coffee?

No.

Oh no, no, no.

It’s just another way to make THE MOST DELICIOUS COFFEE EVER!

It’s way easy to use. Kind of fun, actually, and makes coffee super fast and delicious!

You don’t need some fancy high dollar espresso machine! You need this little pot and a burner. And some coffee to go in there.

Details on how to use it from my Mom-in-Law’s blog, Musing By Moonlight (used with permission).

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What is more delightful than an espresso (that’s eSpresso, not eXpresso) to help move through the day or a caffè correto to end a good dinner and aid digestion? This is an easy-to-learn process using a Bialleti Moka Express, an aluminum stove-top espresso maker. It’s well worth the negligible effort. I prefer the moka pot to a machine because I feel more connected to the process and the product, it takes up less real estate in the kitchen, and it’s budget wise.

Always, we start with the freshest ingredients: water – clear, cold, and filtered – and freshly ground dark-roasted coffee. My coffee of choice is Peet’s Espresso Forte® . Have it ground on #3. Buy it when you know you will use it right away, even if you purchase beans and grind them at home.

The Bialetti Moke Express comes in three parts: the reservoir for water, a coffee filter with funnel for the grounds, and a top piece to capture the espresso as it bubbles up from the bottom. This coffee pot comes in various sizes to make coffee for just two or for up to twelve.

(This is Karen, here’s a photo:

)

Directions:

Fill the reservoir with water to just below the steam valve. Put the coffee filter in place and fill it with grounds, tamping them lightly with the back of the spoon. Screw the top piece in place.

Put the Moka Express on the highest heat. Watch it because it is quickly done. The espresso will gather in the top chamber. Serve immediately. Sweeten if you like. If you care to, you might add either a lemon peel or, for a caffè correto(corrected), a little grappa.

Caffè latte: One shot fresh, hot espresso for each six ounces of steamed dairy, nut, soy or hemp milk, your choice.
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Oh coffee heaven! I like mine with half and half and brown sugar.

I’m starting to like my new genetic heritage! A lot.

(By the by, while I prefer to use Peet’s coffee too, since I’ve been cutting back on expenditures, I’m trying a decaf Italian (water processed) I found at Trader Joe’s. Delicious!)

The end of civility?

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This, the next in my line of roadway rants. See my four way stop discussion here.

This weekend The Good Man and I had occasion to take a bit of a road trip. Just down Highway 1, a small jaunt in order to meet up with a whole passel of my in-laws. (passel being smaller than a gang but larger than a group)

As we drove, in many instances, we were forced to merge, to turn, to navigate our way carefully through the highways and byways of the Bay Area.

I noticed, as The Good Man drove, he always, very politely, gives a wave when someone does him the favor of letting him into a lane, or allows him to turn in a busy, congested area, or stops to let him through.

I also noticed that when The Good Man generously does the same for others, he rarely gets a wave of thanks and recognition in return.

Politeness, it seems, is on the soon-to-be extinct list.

This makes me cranky.

Sure, I know that a polite wave isn’t required by any driving laws. I’ll have you know that when I had to take that drivers safety class to work the points off from a speeding violation, it was often suggested that a polite wave was much appreciated by others on the road. That acknowledging each other actually makes us drive better.

Connectedness people! Put down your Blackberry and say hi to an actual person sometimes!

I shall tack on a quick rant: Upon employment here at my new job, I tried, in vain, for two weeks to say hello to the security guard on the first floor who I must walk directly past EVERY day. It seems strange not to acknowledge another human you see five of every seven days of your life. But he will NOT say hello to me. Will. Not. It kind of hurts my feelings…..

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