Mas Masa

Mmmmmmm TAMALES!

I love, love, love tamales.  Ever since I first tried them years ago tamales have held a special place in my heart.  When I lived in Portland I was lucky enough to have vegetarian tamales made for me fairly regularly by my sister.  She makes a mean tamal!

Now tamales will always remind me of my year living in Lima, Peru.  Nearly every Saturday I would walk 1.5 miles to the Bio Feria (the farmer’s market, more or less) and buy a couple of tamales from the nuns with their barrels full of fresh bundles.  Mmmmmmmm tamales.

I was really excited to make these last night over at Matt + Kath’s and thrilled once I figured out that a. they are super simple and b. they are super versatile.

The batter or dough (it’s kind of some where in the middle) is a mix of masa harina (a specially processed corn-flour specifically for making tamales), broth, fat (we used olive oil), and salt.

The dough could have been improved by using a more flavorful broth and a pinch more salt.  I didn’t have any veggie broth so I soaked dried shiitake mushrooms in boiling water for a quick mushroom broth.

We made two fillings, collards and re-hydrated shiitakes with salt and pepper, and black beans/zucchini/green pepper/cilantro/chili powder/cumin/cayenne/salt.  I didn’t precook any of the filling ingredients besides the black beans, so simple!

These fillings were great, especially the texture of the shiitakes, but it made me want to get even more creative with the filling.  As the tamales steamed away, Kath and I dreamed up all kinds of new combos.   Next time-NUT BUTTER!  Kinda crazy, right?  Well, Kath is always wanting to throw some nut butter in the mix so we may as well give it a go. 🙂

And there will be a next time.  I’ve got about 4 pounds of masa harina staring me down from the kitchen shelf and I am not sure how long I can wait before trying a filling that includes butternut squash and smoked paprika!

[THANKS for the photos Kath!  My hands were deep in masa and she’s a better photographer than I am anyway!]

I better change the subject before I dig into the leftovers, after all I just finished breakfast.

I ran yesterday!  My first run of 2011! A cold kept my workouts indoors for the last 12 days or so but yesterday I knew it was time to run again.

As soon as I set off I  felt amazing.  My stride was light and easy and effortless.  Ahhh, I ♥ running.

That lasted about 5 minutes.  For the next 40 minutes I felt stiff and heavy and tired.  All runs are good runs though, at least once they are over ;).  I did just under 5 miles and more or less loved every minute of it.

Busy day today; essays to write, clinics to set up, neurofeedback sessions to attend (I will tell you more about this tomorrow but for now let’s leave it at, I am REALLY excited about this appointment), workouts to sweat through, and galleries to stroll (first Friday!).


  1. Nana Phyllis

    Where is the recipe for your coconut oil truffles that I saw on Kath’s blog? I don’t see how to search recipes on your blog. Tamales look fantastic.

    • They are from Wednesday’s post “Drool”. I am new to this blogging thing so my recipes aren’t organized but that’s something I should consider.
      My husband says these are the best dessert I’ve ever made and I think I might agree!

    • I don’t know because I’ve never tried but I am pretty sure that masa harina absorbs liquid differently than corn meal because of how it’s processed. It’s really cheap ($3-4 for a 5# bag) and easy to come by so I would just go for masa harina. If you don’t have access to it than I would go ahead and try corn meal but I am a totally recipe substituter like that (and it doesn’t always work out!). Have fun!

  2. papa

    This reminded me of making tamales at one of your homes for a party, probably a cast party after one of your fabulous dance concerts in Portland. Our exercise today was going to the woods below the cliffs to get a load of firewood and unload it by the house, all in a light snow with wind chill in the teens. Sara and Tad and lil’ tadpolina, Megan and me all warmed up from the activity.

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