I love family. I love learning. I love food. This is simply a collection of thoughts, memories, and recipes that are a piece of me!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Being A Good Wife (To A Great Husband)

In the age of Pinterest and Facebook and blogging, I think it can be easy to look at other people's lives and feel like you don't really add up.  Okay, maybe that's not so easy for you, but for me, it's a cinch.  If I spend more than ten minutes on Pinterest, I often start to feel inadequate.

"Why doesn't my table have a burlap and lace table runner that I hand stitched from the lace from my grandmother's wedding dress??  I must be the worst homemaker ever!"

A couple of weeks ago, I began to implement a cleaning schedule for my home to try and get on top of the mess that three kids can bring.  I was tired of always feeling overwhelmed when I looked at the laundry and dishes, and the internet gave me ample solutions.  Mondays, clean the bathrooms.  Tuesday, grocery shop and run errands.  Wednesday, wash sheets and vacuum and dust.  It worked like a charm...for about two days.  It didn't take long for me to need groceries on Thursday and the floor to need to be re-vacuumed on Saturday.  I skipped two days of laundry, and all of a sudden, I felt overwhelmed again.

But it was worse.  Now I was a failure, too, and everyone who came into my home and saw the pretty schedule print-out hanging on my refrigerator would know it as soon as they looked at the pile of dishes in the sink.

So I did what every great wife and mother should do to fix it.  I cried.  A lot.  And let me tell you, it totally fixed everything.

Oh wait.  I meant "nothing."  It fixed nothing.

So I began to pray, and I began to seek scripture.  If the Bible told me that being the best wife meant a never-full laundry hamper, I was in serious trouble.

Thankfully, though, the bible never mentioned a laundry hamper.  You know what it did mention, though?  Marriage.  And how marriage was created to display the relationship between Jesus and the church. Specifically, I read and re-read Ephesians 5:22-33, especially verses 22-24.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

 I also spent a good amount of time meditating on Proverbs 31.  Did you know the Proverbs 31 woman never went on Pinterest or read anyone else's blogs?  True dat.

 An excellent wife who can find?

    She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,

    and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,

    all the days of her life.

So there it was.  That is how I can be the best wife (and ultimately mother and homemaker) that I can possibly be.  I submit to my husband, and I do him good and not harm.  Well...huh.  

I'm blessed beyond belief with the husband I've been given.  He loves God and His Word and strives so hard to obey it.  He is kind and loving, and never ever harsh with me, so I talked to him.  I cried and told him how I felt like a failure when I couldn't keep up with the chores I'd set for myself.  Then I did the best thing I could possibly do.  I asked him what it was he wanted.  How could I do him good? I didn't assume an empty laundry hamper and a nightly four-course meal was in his mind.  I asked, and he gave me one very simple task.  

"Can you keep your clothes off the floor?"

I can submit to that.

Of course, I recognize that being a Godly wife means more than doing the daily chores my husband would prefer are done in the same way that the church doesn't just feed the needy and expect that to be enough to satisfy the bridegroom.  

So I will continue to pray and ask God to mold me into the best wife and mom and homemaker that He created me to be so that I can attempt to display the beauty of the Biblical relationship between Jesus and the church...and I'm not going to cry when I look at Pinterest anymore.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Tamale Time

When I got married, I had no idea what I was getting into, honestly.  I had no idea how much I did not know.  I did not know how to properly use bleach.  I did not know how often I should dust or vacuum (not because my parents didn't do those things, but because they did those things- not me), and I honestly did not know that the tamales you buy in a can weren't genuine Mexican food.  I'm sure you can imagine the sheer giddiness I felt to feed my always-starving husband such an authentic meal.  I'm sure you can also imagine the dread my poor broken heart endured when he gently smiled and let me know that wasn't exactly what he'd grown up eating.  For years after that, I had a mild annoyance toward tamales, especially when we would get them while we were visiting California.  I always went back to that bitter place, and I wasn't really sure if I was angry at the hubs for not loving my fresh-from-the-can delicacy or at Hormel for lying to me all those years.  Regardless, I hated tamales.

I had been cooking for a while, really trying to venture out and make my own recipes, when I was confronted with that red and yellow can again.  My better half was out on the road DJing some shows, so I decided I was going to confront this enemy head-on while he wasn't around to harshly judge. (like he would really do that...)  I searched all over the internet.  I watched youtube video after youtube video trying to figure out what to do.

I finally found a few recipes I'd try, and I made my first batch.

They weren't awful.

So when my husband got home, I made a second batch.  And then a third.  Each time, I figured out what I liked, what I didn't, and how I could make it better.  Eventually, I figured out a filling I loved (this shredded beef recipe) and a masa recipe I loved.  I had an arranged marriage for those two, and sparks flew.  I have been making this recipe on the regular now, and I've even made a few bucks selling these little gems.

Fair warning: this recipe takes some time- to the tune of at least 24 hours in all.  Be prepared...these guys are a labor of love, but oh so worth it!

What you'll need (to make around 5 to 6 dozen):
4 cups of instant masa (Maseca)
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 cup of vegetable oil
2-3 cups of chicken broth
dried corn husks
Some kind of filling (hey! What's this link doing here?)

The first thing you'll need to do is soak your corn husks in some hot water.  It's best to do this overnight, but I've done it for as little as an hour before and was perfectly fine.  You just need your husks to be pliable or else you're just going to have a big mess.

Obviously, you'll need to have your filling all ready to go, too.

To start your masa, mix the maseca, garlic powder, cumin, salt, and chili powder together.

Add the oil, and mix by hand.  It is ready when it's the consistency of wet sand.

Now get ready to get messy.  Add in your chicken stock, a half a cup or so at a time and mix it with your fingers.  It's going to take most of your stock, but you don't want it too wet.  It should be like a grainy cookie dough.

I want to take a second and talk about how I set up for this.  I cover my work space with a big clean towel.  The corn husks are wet, the masa gets everywhere, and I prefer less clean up.  I also like to have everything set up like an assembly line, so I keep all the things I will need on the table with me.

After you're all settled into your nice cozy work space, you'll start with towel-drying a corn husk.  Then, put about a golf ball sized amount of masa on your husk.

Using the heel of your hand, mash the masa out evenly on the husk, being careful to leave enough around the masa so it won't make a big mess after it's all rolled up.

And fill 'er up!

Now roll them up, tucking the bottom part under (like a burrito) so the husk has a closed end.

Because I make these literally by the dozens, I do an assembly line.  I dry all the husks, masa-ize them all...

...then fill them all...

...then I roll them all and stack them, closed end down, and pile them in the steamer.

I always, always, have the best help.

Steam them for about an hour and a half.  I use an electric steamer, but the stock pot kind works wonderfully, too.  (That's actually much more authentic!)

When the masa doesn't stick to the husks, they're done and ready to eat!  You can freeze these cooked or uncooked for up to 6 months, so I prefer to make a huge batch when I opt for this recipe, simply because it is so time consuming.

I like to slather mine in green sauce....

Now please never ever eat a tamale from a can again.