Tuesday, October 20, 2009


We were invited to Gaby's parents' house for a tamalada. All I knew was this was to make tamales. I had no idea that the Mexican culture makes a party of the work and everyone looks forward to this. How fun is that?

As you can see Linda jumped right into the middle of it and had her hands in it immediately. It took me a little longer, I had the camera and wanted documentation of it all. Everyone had something to do. If you vacated your spot at the table someone else would come along and take it and pick up where you left off. And don't think this is just for the women. There were as many men around that table as women and they made the biggest tamales.

Kids played outside most of the time. Some watched football on TV, some played football outside and everyone migrated back and forth into the kitchen. At the end of the evening a huge pile of tamales were placed on the table and disappeared quickly.

I came away with a better appreciate of the family my son has linked us to...mi consuegros!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Just a Drink of Cold Water

It was the week after the wedding and my job was to keep the shop while Caleb and Gaby were off in Mexico honeymooning.

The weather had turned off to be so hot people were hardly moving outside and the days were slow.
I had noticed on this particular day that the traffic was even near non-existent on this usually busy road. An occasional car would drive by. Stepping outside to check the thermostat on the porch, I stood outside for a mere few seconds and looked up and down the road, noting the lack of activity and thought how strange the day was without the presence of people moving about.

The thermometer was at the 103 degrees mark and it was just a little after 1:00 still with the heat of the day ahead of me.

Keeping busy with odd jobs organizing, dusting, and rearranging merchandise I had missed lunch and now, I was thirsty and ready to settle down to a bite to eat. I turned and walked back into the shop and headed the twenty or so feet to the back of the shop when I heard the chime. I turned in surprise.

There stood a short, thin man whose age was difficult to determine. Although he was probably a good four inches shorter than I am and could not have been over a hundred pounds my first instinct was fear, never more aware of being alone in the shop. The growth on his face and dirty, sagging clothing made him look unkempt and I knew he was not there on business. With one hand still on the doorknob he stood looking at me. He looked at the shop and moving his cupped hand to his mouth in a motion like drinking a soda he attempted communication in his native tongue. I understood agua. The rest was lost on me but I recognized his need for something to drink.

Telling him to wait I went to the back and took out a cool bottle of water from the refrigerator and took it to him. As I handed him the bottle all fear and reservations had dropped away. Thanking me he turned and left.

As he walked off the porch and began his journey on foot, I stood watching him for as long as I could see him.
even a drink of water to the least of these,
This little man who asked for no more than a drink of water would be a man I would remember for a long time to come.
some have entertained angels unawares
I was filled with emotions, recognizing my own blessed existence here on this earth in sharp contrast to this man.
I wore silk, he wore worn cotton.
I wore gold and silver, he had none.
I drove a nice car, he walked.
I had plenty to eat and drink, he had to ask for water.
I don't know where he came from, or where he went. I had never seen him before, nor have seen him since. But on that day his presence humbled me.

So today, let me leave you with this thought:
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:2

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Seasonal Cravings

I never had cravings while I was pregnant but the changing of seasons brings out cravings I can hardly control.
  • The cool weather and hearing the rustling of fall leaves makes my appetite turn toward sweet spices like pumpkin spices and cinnamon and fruits dessert like apple dumplings, apple crisp or spice bars.
  • The really wet and cold weather brings out the soup cravings, chili, chicken soup, tortilla soup and taco soup.
  • Achy joints and stuffy noses bring out a craving for potato soup although week days ending in "y" do the same.
  • A cold dreary day brings on a desire for homemade popcorn candy, cheese balls with Wheat Thins while watching a good movie and the company of my children.
  • Lazy Saturday afternoons bring out the need for pinto beans with cornbread cooking in the kitchen.
  • And cool afternoons with family around bring on a craving for ginger bread with lemon sauce.
It all sounds very psychological but real nonetheless. Memories of pleasant times and comforting foods at those times make an indelible mark on our minds and replay like an old movie reel in our memories.
With the cooling of the weather lately my cravings are very active today.

The latest issue of Southern Living reminded me of the apple dumplings my mother served when we were children. The magazine did a mother/daughter adaptation of the old recipe. I drooled at the full color pictures of both versions of the apple dumplings and while the daughter's version cut the preparation time in half did look enticing I knew the mother's version is most appetizing. Mother's recipe used fresh apples, a homemade syrup and of course, the homemade version of the pie crust pastry.

Being the busy woman that I am but one who loves to eat good food, I quickly adapted the mother's recipe into my own version cutting time slightly by buying the pie crust instead of making it myslef and had fresh apple dumplings baking in my oven within minutes.

Oh, the smell of apples baking in your kitchen. I could hardly wait for the dumplings to cool before diving into the sweet fruit.

Apple Dumplings Darla's Way
Purchase small apples, peel and core about 6
Make or buy pie crust but each apple needs about a 6 inch square to wrap the apple.
Set one prepared apple in the middle of a square of pastry and fill the hollow core area with a mixture of brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon (about a tablespoon of sugar mixture) and top with a small dab of butter.
Bring the edges of the squares up to meet in the middle allowing the rest of the pastry to ruffle around the apple.
Place in a shallow baking dish that will hold 6 apple dumplings.

Prepare a syrup by mixing in a saucepan:
1 1/2 cups sugar with 1 1/2 cups water and a teaspoon of cinnamon.
Bring to a simmer and simmer for five minutes.
Pour syrup over dumplings in baking dish.

Bake in an oven at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

Do you have a good apple recipe you would like to share? Or a favorite fall memory?