Christmas came. It left me with a cold and cough. Unknown Mami recently blogged about her daughter, who “felt like cheese.” I know the feeling.
Nonetheless, the tamales were wrapped, steamed and eaten. My sisters, mom, brother and boyfriend stayed up late chismeando, watching movies and snacking. This may have delayed my recovery from my cold, but our Christmas tradition carried on.
The one thing I didn’t get to do was make Vegan tamales for my son or Champurrado for Christmas Day-oops, that’s two things. I did make a small pot on tamale making day, December 23rd, before the crux of the cold hit me, but one pot is never enough. Now that I don’t have to wipe my nose every two seconds and my sense of taste is coming back I’m going to make another batch for the kids.
Champurrado (cham-poo-rah-doh) is a Mexican hot chocolate drink married with an atole, a traditional masa-based Mexican drink. It is not Mexican hot chocolate- two separate beverages.
Masa harinais the flour used for making corn tortillasand can also be used to thicken this rich, chocolate drink. I use Maizena or corn starch. This warm and thick drink is made with piloncillo (the raw sugar cone up there), milk, Mexican chocolate like the Abuelita brand and cinnamon sticks. Sometimes anise star or vanilla bean is used. It’s comfort food Mexican style.
All of these ingredients are in supermarkets in the Southwest. If you’re somewhere else you can find these in a Mexican/Latino market.
Champurrado is served most often at Christmas time with tamales, pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread) or churros.
Since I didn’t make the Vegan tamales, because I was feeling “cheesy,” I gave Vegan Champurrado a try. I substituted cow’s milk for almond milk and Maizena (corn starch) for the masa harina. The results were delicious and passed the Nana (grandma) test. Here’s a recipe that will serve 8-10: :
Combine all into a large saucepan, stir until chocolate, sugar is well blended.
8 cups unsweetened almond milk
2 disks (3.25 oz)Mexican chocolate
3 oz piloncillo cone
1/8 teaspoon ground anise seeds or one star anise
4 whole cinnamon sticks
3-5 tablespoons of Maizena stirred into 1/2 cup of warm water (this is for the thickness), add to hot mixture, use a whisk or molinillo (kids love this part) to stir frequently until it boils. Reduce heat and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Substitutions: Some people like half water, half whole milk, or all water. Experiment with the thickness of the drink by using less or more of Maizena. For a deep chocolate flavor add two disks. This also tastes very good when you use a vanilla bean instead of star anise.
Pour champurrado into a small cup unless you need more comfort, then go for the big mug. By using the substitutions, you can make this recipe your own. Whip some up and enjoy something different this holiday season. Perhaps as you are sipping your cinnamony chocolate drink you can think about your resolutions for 2013.
I don’t ‘do’ resolutions at the new year. Probably has something to do with this Mexican proverb (dicho): “Una buena resolución es como un caballo viejo, que a menudo ensillado pero rara vez montado.” Translation: “A good resolution is like an old horse, which is often saddled but rarely ridden.” Happy holidays and much joy, peace and chocolate in the new year.
It’s a Chicano style Christmas in our house. We blend Mexican traditions with the Anglo-American since my children are third generation Mexican Americans mixed with French and Blackfoot Native American on their dad’s side.
My mother was born in California from immigrant Mexican parents. I was born in California and grew up in the 70’s, hence the term I use to identify myself: Chicano/a. The kids identify as multi-cultural. So our traditions are a mix of all our mix.
During Christmas time we make traditional Mexican ‘red’ tamales(chile and pork), green ones: grilled, peeled California chiles with Pepper Jack and Monterey Jack cheese, and the modern ‘healthy’ ones: roasted chicken and tomatillo sauce.
I’m getting a little loca from the shopping and preparation. The tomatillos, cilantro, and jalapenos are on the counter ready to boil, grill and blend for salsa verde. Bags of New Mexican Red Chile wait to be toasted with flour and oil. The pork loin is roasting under mounds of garlic and onions.
Abuelita (Mexican chocolate) sits in the cupboard next to the piloncillo (raw brown sugar cones) and maiz (cornstarch) for champurrado while the milk and soymilk wait in the fridge.(I am making vegan champurrado too for Vegan Son).
The See’s Nuts and Chews and Peanut Brittle, our reward after finishing our work, is hidden from everyone. The Merlot and Cabs wait patiently on the buffet table.
We start the tamale assembly line bright and early…uh, maybe not very bright and not too early…tomorrow morning. For a couple of hours, there will be calm before the storm of family, kids, music, laughter, gossip, warmth, and familiarity. All the great things one could wish for during the holidays.
In the past week, I’ve come across some funny Chicano style songs to accompany our tamale making fest. I wish I could have found some accompanying music. Use the same melody as you would with the American version and snap your fingers for some rhythm.
my Nana gave to me doce pork tamales, eleven full piñatas, ten chiles rellenos, nine Padre Nuestros, (Our Fathers) ocho tostadas, seven Tias chismiando, (Aunts gossiping) six kinds of chile, five nalgadas (I was bad), (butt spankings) four jalapeños, three pairs of chanclas, dos saladitos,
And by Felipe Campos, here’s his Chicano version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas:
Tis the night before Christmas and all through the casa
Not a creature is stirring. Caramba, ¿que pasa? The stockings are hanging con mucho cuidado In hopes that St. Nicholas will feel obligado. To leave a few cosas aqui y allí For chicos y chicas (y something for me). Los niños are snuggled all safe in their camas Some in vestidos and some in pajamas. Their little cabezas all full of good things, They’re all esperando qué Santa will bring. To all of the children, both buenos y malos A nice batch of dulce and other regalos. While mama worked late in little cocina El Viejo was down at the corner cantina Living it up with his amigos. ¡Carajo! Muy contento y un poco borracho! And soon he’ll return to his home, zigzagueando, Lit up like the Star Spangled Banner cantando Outside in the yard, there arose such a grita I jumped to my feet like a frightened cabrita I ran to the ventana and looked out afuera,
¿And who in the world do you think que era? St. Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero Came dashing along like a crazy bombero! And pulling his sleigh instead of venados Were eight little burros, approaching volados. I watched as they came and this quaint little hombre Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre: “¡Ay Pancho! ¡Ay Pepe! ¡Ay Cuca! ¡Ay Beto! ¡Ay Chato! ¡Ay Chopo! ¡Muraca y Nieto!” Then standing erect with his hands on his pecho He flew to the top of our very own techo. With his round y gran belly like a bowl of jalea, He struggled to squeeze down our old chimenea.
Puffing, he finally stood in our sala, With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala. He filled all the stockings with lovely regalos, (For none of the niños had been muy malos). Then chuckling aloud, seeming muy contento, He turned in flash and went like el viento.
And I heard him exclamar – y eso es verdad – Merry Christmas a todos! Feliz Navidad!