Tag Archives: Fundraiser

Stay Safe – Eat Tamales!

HICA Tamale Captain virtual meeting 2020

HICA’s 17th Annual Tamale Sale!

You’ve probably seen the meme that says “Stay Safe, Eat Tamales…because the more you weigh, the harder you are to kidnap!”  It cracks me up every time I see it and its usually right around this time of year too.

HICA Tamales go on sale Thanksgiving Day!

I’ve written a lot about tamales over the past five years that I’ve had my blog.  That’s mainly because I’ve been involved in a wonderful tamale fundraiser for HICA – the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama – ever since it got started in 2003.  I’ve made tamales, helped market them on TV, sold them to friends, worked tamale pick up day at HICA and best of all, I’ve enjoyed eating them!  This tamale fundraiser has been a holiday tradition in Birmingham for 16 years and I’m thrilled that it will continue for a 17th, with precautions of course, during the current pandemic situation we find ourselves under. 

Tonight, I attended a virtual Tamale Sale Captain meeting conducted by my friend, Silvia Espinosa Laxson, who is HICA’s Development Manager.  She took us through the details of the sale, pricing, marketing and delivery and/or pick up.  Tamale Captains got their start five years ago as a way to help streamline the sales process.  It’s like a circle of interest where each tamale captain sells to their friends and if they work at a large company, they can sell to their company.  You become the point of contact for these folks and make sure your friends get their tamales in time to enjoy them for Christmas eve dinner! 

Long time supporter Suzanne Martin with her tamales!

Under the old process, everyone would have to pick up on just one day at the HICA offices.  This required quite a number of volunteers to bag the tamales when people arrived for pick up, verify the orders, and then begin calling people later in the afternoon to make sure they remembered to stop by to pick up.  I’ve worked many tamale pick up days and always enjoyed it, especially when people would share their tamale stories with me.  I also loved photographing people with their tamales by the HICA Christmas tree.  They were always smiling broadly and happy to pose and raise their tamale bags in the photos.  It’s amazing how excited people get about these little corn husks filled with deliciousness!  (FYI…don’t eat the corn husks!)

This year, we have 36 Tamale Captains which is the most in five years.  Silvia went on to explain that because of the work of the captains, we exceeded the goal of selling 10,000 tamales last year. In fact, HICA was able to sell 11,000 tamales in 2019 with half of the sales coming from the Captains! 

During the Tamale Captain meeting two years ago, one of the captains suggested a vegan tamale might be fun to add.  We had never done anything like that before for the sale but the suggestion grew legs!  The usual choices are chicken tamales with green sauce, pork tamales with red sauce, and pepper & cheese tamales and they are all made with lard, so definitely not vegan!  But that didn’t stop Silvia or the tamale crew at HICA.  They worked with the tamale makers and were able to create a vegan tamale made with vegetable oil.  These are slightly more expensive than the others since they are a bit more labor intensive to make.  I didn’t get to try these last year but I’m curious so I may give them a try this year.

HICA Tamales!!!

I’m always amazed at the number of people who start asking me about tamales in November.  I keep a running list so that I don’t forget.  If you want on my list and you live in the Birmingham area, let me know!  The sale runs from November 21 to December 7 and tamales can be delivered December 9 or 10.  Visit the HICA website for more details here. 

It’s also important to remember that this is a fundraiser for HICA.  This year has been especially hard for non-profits with the added stress of working in the Covid environment and also providing assistance to even more families with housing, food and other needs.  HICA even functioned as a Covid testing site this year.  So sure, you can buy cheaper tamales, but buying HICA tamales not only makes you feel good when you eat them, they also make you feel wonderful because you are helping your community. So, get out there and buy some tamales and don’t forget to select me as your captain…. if you live in Bham, AL!!!

HICA and the Fun of Tamale Pick Up Day

Doors of HICA last December – welcoming tamale sale supporters!

I think I’ve lost count as to the number of HICA tamale sales I’ve been a part of all these years!  It’s the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama’s signature fundraiser and a labor of love each year to put together and pull off.  It’s gone from a group of people making tamales in a church kitchen, to volunteers making them at the Culinard kitchen to outsourcing to restaurants one year when the demand got so great.  Over the years I like to think we’ve finally perfected the sale, the way we market the sale and most of all, the tamale pick up day!  On a personal note, I rolled off the HICA board in December last year, but this organization is close to my heart and I’ll always use the word “we” when talking about it.

I’ve written a lot about the sale over the years but I don’t know that I’ve really talked about tamale pick up day.  It always takes place on a Friday in December and it’s the day set aside for people who have bought tamales to stop by the HICA office and pick them up.  We always ask HICA board members to be on hand to help with the pick up day in shifts.  Of course, the HICA staff is always on hand to make sure there is a good flow to everything and the orders are fulfilled.

Holly Hilton makes calls to people who purchased tamales to remind them to pick up!

Calls are placed to people who placed large orders to remind them to come by and pick up.  Over the past few years, Tamale Captains were created to help with this.  When you order, you can select a tamale captain that you know and request for them to be delivered to you through this person.

For me, tamale pick up day is my favorite part of this fundraiser.  I don’t sign up for a shift because I like being there all day!  I love seeing all the people who come by and support HICA by buying tamales and listen to their stories.  That’s one of the best parts.  These stories are often unsolicited too.  As they are waiting for their tamales to be bagged, they offer stories on what they will be doing with the tamales, when they will enjoy them and how often they’ve been buying them from HICA!  It’s become such a tradition for so many people in the Birmingham area.

In the past, I’ve brought Christmas music to play and also a box of goofy  Christmas headbands – antlers, santa hats, elf ears, etc. – for the board and staff to wear and greet everyone.  This past year, I had a blinking Christmas light necklace that I wore.   I bought it at Walgreens and several of the staff members loved it and wanted one.   So after I went to make a tamale drop off downtown, I hit up several Walgreens stores looking for a few more to share with the staff with no luck!  I’m hoping I can find a few in the next few weeks to take with me this year!!!  It just adds to the fun of the day!

Because of my love for “pick up” day,  I have recorded it with photos over the years.  Here are a few of my favorites and some of my friends who continue to support HICA by buying tamales every year.

If you are in the Birmingham area and want to experience the HICA tamale sale this year, like HICA’s Facebook page to keep up with the updates.  The sale begins on Thanksgiving day (Nov 23rd) and ends Dec 10.  Pick up day is on Friday, Dec 14th at the HICA offices.  I’ll be there so let me know you read this blog post and let’s take a photo together!

Tamales and Cole Slaw? Yep!

HICA tamales with a side of Salsa Senorita spicy cole slaw!

HICA tamales with a side of Salsa Senorita spicy cole slaw!

So you say you want to enjoy a complete meal of tamales and something else…but what? What do you add to tamales to make it even more delicious? Why not cole slaw!

Lori works on the slaw ingredients while Jessica Chriesman does some filming.

Lori works on the slaw ingredients while Jessica Chriesman does some filming.

I filmed a video with Lori Sours – better known as Salsa Senorita – a few weeks back to promote the HICA tamale sale. She has some great recipes made with her wonderful salsa and I was surprised to find she added her salsa to cole slaw. She gave me a little demo in this video (posted below) and I tell you…it was delicious!!! My husband and I are not a big fans of mayo but you really can’t tell there is even mayo in it with all the other added ingredients. I have never heard of adding honey either.  I mean really? HONEY? But it’s the unexpected that really makes the difference in recipes, isn’t it?

I loved filming with Lori…she is such a natural on the camera and we had a great time talking about New Mexico and her salsa and how she got started in the salsa business. We filmed 4 segments in one day under the eye of Jessica Chriesman – a recent UAB Film graduate. She did a fabulous job showcasing Lori’s salsa recipes and also highlighting the HICA tamale sale.

Lori Sour's spicy cole slaw before it all got mixed together...

Lori Sour’s spicy cole slaw before it all got mixed together…

HICA – the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama – sells tamales each year as their signature fundraising event. The organization has sold over 70,000 tamales since 2003 and in the process have introduced a wonderful part of Mexican culture to the Birmingham community. We hope to sell 18,000 this year and we have two more days to do that! I hope that if you are in the Birmingham, Alabama area that you will consider buying a dozen, or two (or three!) and support the great work that HICA does in our Hispanic community!

Me and Lori after the filming was finished.

Me and Lori after the filming was finished.

Meanwhile…check out the video and jot down the spicy cole slaw recipe from Salsa Senorita!

 

 

 

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.