I have more than a few passions: my family, my teaching career, traveling and reading to learn about cultures other than my own, health, environment, gardening and food, to name a few. I would say that all of my passions in some way involve food. Culture and traditions involve family and friends and a great way to celebrate with our loved ones, in any culture, is with food.

I come from a very large family. I was taught as a young girl to cook and I am grateful that my mother and grandmother allowed me to learn from them–experts, I assure you. Through the years we shared traditions that involved cooking and feasting over the various seasons and holidays that we celebrated. From my mom, I learned how to cook healthy and delicious meals efficiently and for large groups of people. As I got older and had a family of my own, I enjoyed entertaining guest and loved cooking for them. As a girl, my favorite times were not only the holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but summer get togethers and BBQs. I especially remember the more leisurely and intimate weekend breakfasts, when my hard working father joined in the cooking and music blared from my record player. It was the music of my parents’ generation that I grew up knowing (along with rock n roll) that I remember and love. Music and food go well together!

Grandma taught me to bake and to this day I am the pie maker, though I’d love to pass that tradition off to the younger generation, and they have been practicing. It is almost easier to buy delicious pies these days, but then we would miss the closeness of our baking together–grandmas, moms, sisters, nieces–and that  tradition we have shared as long as I can remember. It is not only the girls that do the cooking in my family–the boys join in too, Dad, brothers, nephews–we all enjoy, partake and share in the duties and especially the fun! All of my six brothers would let you know they are the better chefs and we all have our specialities.

All that being said, I really love learning about other traditions, other cultures, and I have adopted some for my own. One is tamales. I love tamales. I love tamales with garden-fresh  salsa. I love the tamale tradition. I love that families and friends get together and make tamales to share and enjoy at special holidays or simple moments. I love the whole day of tamale making. I love to make and share tamales with others. I love all kinds of tamales and I add a new recipe each year to my tamale repertoire. My daughter, sisters, friends get together and make mega batches of tamales and have a blast together, listening to music and toasting the day–the season. Then we pretty much eat them over the holidays and our get togethers. I like to give them to family members, and always have plenty to share with friends, coworkers and students who also share tamales with me. Every year the tamale tradition and cooking group gets bigger. This year I hope to share tamales with someone new–like the first year someone shared with me–simple, delicious tamales, full of so much delicious love and tradition!