Family, Family time, Mexican Cooking, Mexican Holiday food, Mexican Vegan food

Beginning a New Tradition with Tamales-Vegan Style!

Christmas Stars by J. De La Cruz, cc
Christmas Stars by J. De La Cruz, cc

Five years after my youngest became a vegan, I now have another vegan son who has a wonderful girlfriend who is also vegan.

I began cooking vegan style for the youngest some time ago. My oldest son, David and his girlfriend, Laura ‘veganize’ all sorts of foods while educating people on their YouTube site titled “Hangry Vegans.” Their videos show their adventures shopping and creating vegan dishes. Recently, they created a Wix site, you guessed it: “Hangry Vegans.”

We made five types of tamales. And, this year I wasn’t the only one making vegan tamales. David and Laura sat at the table and learned from me and his aunt about the ‘how to’s” of making the masa (dough) and filling for tamales without lard or animal products.

They tried to manipulate the butter knife, masa to oja (corn husk) ratio, and fill the tamales without making them into fat burritos. I was impressed they kept at it, smoothing and fixing the ojas, laying on the right amount of chile and ‘cheese.’

A mother is impressed when her daughter cooks, but a Latina mother is doubly surprised when her adult son tackles a medium difficult project. For the trifecta, Laura said she and David would keep up the tradition. Maybe there will be some little ‘tamales’ in their future 🙂 (I’m going to get an OMG from them, but I’m joking!).

They both did well for first timers and now know why we complain of backaches the day after tamale making.

My mother stood by and asked what type of filling we’d use. When the words “Black beans” and vegan ‘cheese’ entered the conversation she gave us the familiar nose wrinkle. This is her polite way of saying “Yuck.”

You know millennials, they video everything. Here are the steps in motion:

Vegan Black Bean Tamales:


2 cups of Maseca Tamal corn flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Mix together in a large bowl and add:
1 1/3 cup of vegetable broth

In another bowl, use
2/3 cup of coconut or vegetable shortening.
Mix until fluffy. Add this to the dry ingredients and stir until batter is smooth.
Knead the dough like bread until it’s smooth and slightly sticky.

You can also buy store-bought masa at a Mexican supermarket. Ask for masa sin preparada (not prepared with lard). To this masa add the vegetable shortening and knead.

Spread a thin to medium layer of masa on the oja/corn husk, leaving 1/4 from the top clear.

Add a tablespoon or more of drained and rinsed cooked black beans, shredded vegan Monterrey style Jack cheese, and diced green chiles or strips of chile. A teaspoon of salsa verde or salsa roja can also be added.

Fold each side of oja to the middle and fold over the top of the oja. Press the open ends of the oja gently together.

Take a deep pot (tamale) which has a steamer bottom or put an overturned foil pie pan with four ventilated holes at the bottom of the pot. Add water until it reaches the rim of the pie pan.

Stack tamales into the pot about 2/3 full and around the edges, leaving a small funnel in the middle. Or, you can basketweave the tamales around the edges, also with a funnel in the middle. Water, when needed, is added in this space.

Wet and wring out a clean cotton kitchen towel. Drape it over the top of the stacked tamales, put a lid on the pot and place on the stove, at medium heat. Add water when necessary.

Set a timer for 90 minutes. Use a potholder to lift the lid and check the tamales. The masa will be cooked solid if it’s done. If the masa is mushy, set the timer for another hour.

Any vegetable filling can be used: lentils and corn, spinach and vegan cheese, peas and carrots, butternut squash are some examples.

For our sweet tamales recipes: Pineapple, Coconut; Cinnamon Raisin; and Strawberry go over to Hangry Vegans website. Check them out, they’re so cute.

I have to say that, I’m a mom.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Christmas Traditions, Family, Mexican Holiday food

The Missing Mystery Gift

My Christmas Tree by brillanthues,
My Christmas Tree by brillanthues,


We have a tradition of opening gifts on Christmas morning at eleven o’clock at my mother’s home. We bring our gifts to my Mom’s very warm house which is filled with the fragrance of cinnamon and coffee and steamed roasted pork tamales.

Christmas morning is a big event for my mom who loves to decorate for every holiday. Nativity scenes, from mini to large, decorate the living room side tables, curio cabinets and fireplace mantle.

We’ve had every kind of tree from a Charlie Brown droopy pine to a snow flocked Noble Fir, but now the tree is a nice replica of a real one with its own multi-colored lights.

Mom and my siblings used to be the ones to decorate the tree, with those old-fashioned big bulb lights and silver tinsel. But that duty has been taken over by her grandchildren or great-grandchildren, who like to help their Nana.

Mom still does all her own shopping, scouring Costco (her favorite place) and several other stores from October to December to buy gifts for her oldest daughter to her youngest great-grandchild.

This holiday undertaking is quite a feat when you realize my mother is in her 80’s and legally blind.

And, it is understandable, that every year there is a missing mystery gift on Christmas morning.

After we have coffee and tamales, twenty or more of us crowd into the living room and wait while my mom decides who’s going to hand out the gifts. Then she sits and watches as everyone oohs and ahhs over her wrapping. She opens her own gifts last.

After the jumble of paper and bows make their way to the carpet, we always have one person who didn’t receive a gift from Nana or one of the boys who got a girls scarf and mitten set or pajamas.

Mom always seems surprised when this happens and goes to her bedroom to find her spiral notepad that contains her gift list. She checks it over and after pronouncing she had a gift for so and so and doesn’t know why it isn’t under the tree, she goes on a hunt through her closet, cedar chest, under her bed and the pantries.

We tell her not to trouble herself, the kids get way too many gifts anyway, and we return to the kitchen for more tamales or clean up the area while Mom goes on her gift hunting quest.

Pan Dulce-Mexican Sweet Bread,
Pan Dulce-Mexican Sweet Bread,

This happens every year and the missing gift is resolved by Mom making a note in her pad to buy so and so two gifts next Christmas, which settles the hunt and returns Mom to the kitchen to enjoy champurrado and pan dulce.

But the “two gifts next year” rarely happens because we always forget who had the missing gift in the first place and her Christmas list is on a new spiral notepad.

And as the years go by, we all hope that she will be around for the next holiday whether she buys gifts or not.