Monthly Archives: July 2015

Tamales…Deliciousness in a Corn Husk!

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Tamales…so much deliciousness in a corn husk!  (NOTE: You don’t eat the corn husk!)

These little tasty meals have become synonymous with a local nonprofit I’ve been involved with for over 10 years by the name of HICA…as in “OH!  You’re on the HICA Board?!  I love your tamales sale!”

HICA’s tamale sale is back this year after a little “siesta” last year.  If you live in the Birmingham, Alabama area, you can pre-order right now until August 1st through the HICA website.  After that, the next window to order will be November 22 through December 11 through the website.  You can choose from three types of tamales:  pork with red sauce, chicken with green sauce and (my favorite!) pepper & cheese tamales.  The cost is $30 per dozen or $18 for 1/2 a dozen.  (Remember…this is a fundraiser!)  Tamale pick up will be at the HICA office on December 18th.

Not having the tamale sale last year was a big decision for the board and fund development committee.  HICA had just purchased a building – a new home –  in Homewood, AL, and there was so much happening to get the building settled and also pulling together our 15th anniversary event – or quinceañera – with the Birmingham Barons last June.  We just didn’t see how we could pull it off successfully with so much going on so, after much discussion we decided to cancel the sale in October and notified our tamale supporters of this decision.  We know people were disappointed but they understood and we promised to bring the sale back this year.  Personally, I’m so glad it’s back because pulling this fundraiser together is a true labor of love for those of us who’ve been involved over the years and have seen it grow.

HICA Volunteers making tamales one year in partnership with the Culinard.

HICA Volunteers making tamales one year in partnership with the Culinard.

HICA started the tamale sale 13 years ago around the Christmas holiday time as a fundraiser for the organization.  That very first year, supporters, board members and Hispanic community members got together in a volunteer’s kitchen and made hundreds of tamales into the wee hours of the morning to sell to the community at large.

The idea was to bring a little bit of Mexican culture and food to Birmingham.  In addition, tamales are a tradition around Christmas time to Mexican families.  Many people who have been exposed to the HICA tamale sale over the years have embraced tamales as their own tradition now too!

I have so many stories to tell about the tamale sale which I will do throughout this year leading up to the tamale pick up date on December 18.  I’ll also share a few tamale recipes along the way.  But for now, you have 8 days to pre-purchase your tamales!  Go ahead…you know you want to!

HICA has been grateful to the Piggy Wiggly in Homewood for many years for supplying grocery bags to contain the tamale orders.

HICA has been grateful to the Piggy Wiggly in Homewood for many years for supplying grocery bags to contain the tamale orders.

Here are a few fun facts about tamales from the HICA Website in case you need a little more encouragement to try them:

  • Tamales date back to the time of the Aztecs
  • Tamales can be sweet with fillings such as cinnamon and raisin or fruit.
  • There are around 1,000 types of tamales available all around Mexico.  Every region has its own variety of tamales.
  • In Mexico, tamales are often eaten during festivities, such as La Candelaria Day (Feb 2), Mexican Independence Day, Day of the Dead, Las Posadas and Christmas.
  • A Mexican tamale called the Zacahuil is three feet long and weighs about 150 pounds.
  • Tamales are not only part of Mexican culture, they are also part of Latin American culture.
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What Are You Doing on October 3rd?

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Two little girls dressed in native dress, twirl to the music of the main stage…

Looking for something fun to do on October 3rd?

I know…I know…you can’t think past this Saturday, must less a Saturday in October, right?!  Well, pull out your calendar NOW and write in BIG BOLD Letters….Fiesta! in Linn Park!

This will be Fiesta’s 13th year and we have a brand new “village” to add!  I can’t tell you about it just yet but I guarantee you will love it!

Flamenco dancing on the Coca-Cola Main Stage at Fiesta 2014.

Flamenco dancing on the Coca-Cola Main Stage at Fiesta 2014.

As always, we will feature our ever popular Cultural Village so our guests can learn and experience the cultures of the many Hispanic/Latino countries.  In addition, we’ll have the Family Village, Health & Wellness Village, Community Village, Sports Village,  Food Village, Dance Stage and Main Stage.

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A look at the crowd around the Coca-Cola Main Stage at last years Fiesta!

McDonalds is returning as Fiesta’s Presenting  Sponsor for a 2nd year and once again bringing their Fiesta Tour to the event.  I was talking with local McDonald’s owner, Santiago Negre a few weeks ago and he told me the entire tour has been revamped and will be even more outstanding than last year!  We really are so very grateful to Santiago and his brother, Russell, for bringing this wonderful addition to Birmingham for a second year in a row.  It’s really quite a treat to see the tour and all the Hispanic music icons featured.  The Negre brothers have really made their presence felt in our community and continue to do great things to impact lives.

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You can stay up to date with all things Fiesta by liking our Facebook page, following us on Twitter, and following us on Instagram.  Of course, you can also check our website at any time too.  Tickets will be on sale soon!  Go ahead and join the Facebook Event we’ve created and share with your friends.  The more the merrier at Fiesta!

OK…now that you know the date…go put Fiesta on your calendar…RIGHT NOW!  Hope to see you there!

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The Hispanic Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama presented the flags of the Latin American countries at the opening of Fiesta last year.

The Hispanic Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama presented the flags of the Latin American countries at the opening of Fiesta last year.

Sparkling Sangria on the 4th of July!

All the ingredients gathered in the Boondocks Gang kitchen and ready to go!

All the ingredients gathered in the Boondocks Gang kitchen and ready to go!

Several times a year, my husband and I get together with a long-time group of friends.  We call ourselves “The Boondocks Gang.”  This name came about many years ago when we were having dinner at a little place in Guntersville called Boondocks.  We thought we needed a name and that just seemed perfect for us.

This year we decided to gather for the Fourth of July.  We always have a theme – of course, this year’s theme was a no-brainer!  We had plenty of patriotic hats and red, white and blue USA beads.  Sometimes we even have a signature cocktail thanks to my sweet friend Karen, who loves throwing things together and creating the perfect drink.

I had tried a fabulous white wine sangria at Melt Restaurant in Avondale a few weeks ago and have been thinking about it ever since.  So, I suggested we make a sparkling sangria for our signature drink this time.  We (the girls) had just spent our usual first full day at the lake making our thrift store jaunt…funny how we’ve gotten into a certain routine with our trips!  Always fun…we love looking for bargains and then coming back to the lake house and recalling our day over wine or other cocktails.  This time we couldn’t wait to get started and got right into sangria making!  I almost couldn’t get everyone to slow down enough to take the preparation photos!

A pretty shot of the oranges - waiting to be squeezed into the mixture.

A pretty shot of the oranges – waiting to be squeezed into the mixture.

Before I get into the recipe we used, I thought I would add a quick little history of Sangria.  I was surprised to read that sangria was first introduced to the United States at the World Fair in 1964!  Sangria has its roots in Spain.  It is traditionally red but can also be made with white wine or “cava” which is the Spanish version of sparkling wine.  There is also an interesting post called “Blood, Wine and War: The History of Sangria” that talks about when the Romans conquered Spain and were the first to plant the vineyards that produced the red varietal grapes that make the best wine.  They called the drink Sangria which meant “blood” because of its red color.  (The Spanish word for blood is “sangre.” ) The SangriaSecrets.com website also has some interesting recipes I may try too!  Their Cranberry-Orange sangria sounds interesting…

Now back to present day…

Karen remembered a recipe from Columbia Restaurant and quickly looked it up on her phone.  Honestly, what did we ever do without Google and our smart phones?  We started with a full bottle of Cupcake Prosecco.  Next we added Brandy, Grand Marnier and Rose’s Lemon Juice.  Freshly squeezed oranges and a can of Sprite (lemon-lime soda) followed.  Oh, and Karen never measured a thing…she’s just that good!  We cut up limes, more oranges and added a maraschino cherry to each glass.  Finally, we added ice to the pitcher and began pouring.  I have to say the glasses looked beautiful!  We all grabbed our glasses, gathered in front of the fireplace while my husband took several pictures of us posing with our sparkling 4th of July cocktails.

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I thought this would be a girls only drink but the guys were watching us make this refreshing beverage and wanted some too!  So, on to making pitcher #2!  Sorry, no picture of the guys drinking this fruity drink.  They wouldn’t pose…

SALUD!

Cheers from the Boondocks Gang ladies!

Cheers from the Boondocks Gang ladies!

 

One of our outtakes!

One of our outtakes!

Salud!...from me and Karen!

Salud!…from me and Karen!