There's an urban legend around this kitchen that gets told every year.
Two-and-a-half(ish) decades ago it was tamale time and the Christmas hustle-bustle was in full swing as my family members rushed to different activities.
I was the last in the house as my dad was heading out the door and he turned to me and said, 'Take the masa and put it in the pan we cook tamales in.'
If you aren't familiar with tamale cooking, you probably don't know that masa is ground corn which is mixed with a bit of shortening and spread over a corn husk, then you place a bit of chili meat in the masa and roll it up. The tamale is then steamed. Back in the day my dad would steam his tamales in a large stock pot.
So I took that stock pot and squished 25 pounds of masa into it, and closed the lid. Unfortunately, I did something I thought would help the process along: I put it on the stove and turned on the burner.
I then proceeded about my day, completely oblivious to smell of burning corn product in the kitchen.
My dad came home from his outing and found his tamale beginnings burnt beyond bail-out.
Apparently, what my dad meant was 'put the masa in the bowl we mix tamales in' , meaning the silver mixing bowl pictured above.
Its a lesson I likely never forget because every year, wether I'm here to help or not, I'll get a phone call or text that says: Tamale day! Wish you were here to burn the masa.
Today is the big day here in the house that is my home-away-from-home. We'll laugh and work and tell stories that are always told...maybe even make a few more memories for the years to come. Then we'll clean up with the delicious tamale aroma wafting from the steamer, and wait for the eating to begin.