Been a while since I’ve had an afternoon coffee and just read. (In this case, to prep for my class tomorrow.) ☕️ 📚

    Cup of black coffee and a small book by Montesquieu

    Breakfast of champions. 📷

    A child’s hands waits for syrup on her frozen waffle

    Tamalada: making my first tamales ever

    I recently inspired by Adriana Maestas on Twitter/X to reclaim tradition. She linked to an excellent essay in the LA Times by Natalia Molina on the tradition of the “tamalada” (tamale making party). I’ve never made tamales, even though the tradition runs deep in my family.

    In my family, the women make them usually the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This is not a “that’s woman’s work” thing wherein the men think they are above it. Rather, men are explicitly excluded. Some of my fondest memories of my late-Uncle Ted as a child are from when, banned from the kitchen and living room, he and I (and my older cousins) would watch college football. He explained the sport to me (and in part bears the blame/credit for my incurable obsession with collegiate sports).

    As I got older, I never made tamales myself. My mom would FedEx a batch to me, wherever I was. During my “tech school” with the Air Force in ‘98, I shared a few tamales with friends from North Dakota, Ohio and elsewhere who had never even heard the word “tamale” let along tried one. In college, and graduate school, my batch of tamales arrived usually in time to be the perfect comfort food during finals and paper-writing crunches.

    Fast forward, it’s 2023. My Tia who has always been the lead on the family tamalada is more or less retired, my sister and cousins (the ladies) are hit and miss with organizing, and I live out of state; on top of that, my mom had a “tiny” stoke this year. She’s doing great but in no condition to be planning and prepping what is a very extensive process.

    So when Adriana posted Molina’s essay in the LA Times, we started a convo (usual for us); and agreed to shoot for making our first go by New Year’s. I committed to this weekend and prepped as best I could. Here’s how it went.

    Masa. I opted for store bought. As much as hand-made masa is the gold standard, my immediate aims were to simply “not fail”. I followed Rick Bayless as the rough starting point. It’s a “small batch” and, truth be told, I couldn’t find a batch of masa small enough. So I had to go with what was on offer at the local Mexican grocery.

    A photo of of a shopping cart full of tamales supplies, including 8 pounds of masa.

    My oldest helped. He’s become quite the sous chef this year. Despite his challenges at school and his ADHD, he’s earnest, thoughtful, and full of life.

    Young boy de-seeding guajillo chiles

    Young boy pouring red sauce into cooking pot

    Filling. Sticking with the simple and straight forward, I went with red chile. Plenty of recipes to follow. Where I erred is that our oven is not precise. At 30-years old (or more), lower temperatures can be tricky. It took twice as long to braise the pork such that it shredded properly. The unexpected delay led to some foreseeable heartache from the littles.

    toddler crying because the tamales are not yet ready

    Note Bene. I have no idea why this photo displays upside down on the blog. It’s right-side up in my photos app.

    Toddler girl looking at dad while he makes tamales

    Finally, we got all we needed to make the tamales. Once we did, the process sped up significantly. My oldest helped me make the tamales by spreading the masa and placing the chile into the tamal before steaming. This is a straightforward but very technical process. The place where most go wrong (and I did) is not spreading the masa thin enough. When looking at corn husks with masa spread too thin, the masa breaks. Adding a bit of water to the store bought helps it stay “connected” while spreading.

    Dad trying to spread tamale masa onto a corn husk

    Even still, the masa spread on the husks thicker than I wanted. I would have preferred a thinner layer to fit more meat in the tamal. Since the masa will expand when cooking I knew this would be an issue. But we cannot let perfection be the enemy of the good.

    Baking sheet full of tamales

    Two tamales cooling off after cooking in the steamer

    After that, it is just a simple matter of steaming them properly. 45 minutes in our Instant Pot and a few minutes to rest. The results were… well, nearly perfect. The kiddos devoured the remaining tamales even before I could eat two of them and FaceTime my mom to share what I accomplished.

    Young boy giving a thumbs up for the tamales

    We’re making more tomorrow and definitely I’ll try it a few more times before the 2024 holiday season so that my technique is better.


    First time watching Home Alone for the big kid. 📽

    Young boy watching a movie anxiously awaiting a funny scene

    Young boy laughing hysterically at a movie scene

    All Hallows Eve, from the Mushroom Kingdom

    Mom fell asleep before the little one, so I come in and she’s crawled up next to her, mom’s phone in hand, watching Frozen like it’s no big deal.

    Got the kids some new T-shirts for game day. (Sister still insists on her dress.)

    We’re getting there. (It’ll still be a 100 degrees in the afternoon, but the morning feels great.)

    We live in an age of abundance.

    It’s so hot in Phoenix right now even the stuffed animals need to hydrate.

    Don’t forget your electrolytes while you’re at it.

    15 years of Omnifocus

    I was on vacation and missed the news that Omnifocus is 15 years old! That means I’ve been using it for fifteen years, or very nearly so. I forget which episode it was, but I know I was listening to an episode of Mac Break Weekly in downtown Philadelphia while waiting on a train back to my apartment. Merlin Mann was raving about it and I downloaded the app on the train terminal.

    As I recall, I had Omnifocus on my primary home screen before I got to my station—it has never left. Now it sits in my dock where it has been for years. The app and method has gotten me through my MA, PhD, marriage and kids, moving cross-country (several times), through big projects and small ones. Whenever I have tried something else, it never sticks and I end up back in Omnifocus. I’m sure by now it might have at least as much to do with learned habits as anything else. I’m by no means a power user of the app, but that’s fine because I never needed to be for the value of keeping tabs on things to be apparent.

    I wasn’t sure if I could check when I first installed the app so I checked if the App Store would have that purchase history. Yup, turns out I downloaded OmniFocus about two weeks after it launched.

    List of Omnifocus editions in Apple App Store purchase history

    (With this information, I tried to see which episode of Mac Break Weekly Merlinn was on, but even their archives only go back to 2013.

    Happy anniversary, The Omni Group.

    Hiked the Mist Trail today, with the big kiddo. We got up at 4am to make it happen.

    Selfie photo on the Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park

    We had a slow start to the holiday.

    Kid sleeping on the couch

    But in the valley sun, the party doesn’t start until evening.

    Family photo in red, white, and blueMom and daughter in complimentary American flag dresses.Young boy with America face paint.

    And so, Happy Independence Day!

    <img src=“" width=“600” height=“800” alt=“Toddler asking dad for “one more” turn on the water slide. " style=“display: inline-block; max-height: 200px; width: auto; padding: 1px;” class=“sunlit_image” />Panoramic photo of fire truck spraying water at holiday festival. Toddler playing in water late at night.

    “Take heed, dear heart, of this large privilege; The hardest knife ill-used doth lose his edge.”

    —Shakespeare, the Sage of Git/Github

    Screenshot of the terminal showing errors pushing to github

    Palacios Family Reunion, 2023

    Short half-weekend in California including a stop in Joshua Tree on the way to my mom’s on Friday.

    My family reunion was the main event.

    And now we’re already back.

    Nine beautiful, wonderful, grace filled years. Love you, Lucia, to the moon.

    Happy Father’s Day, folks

    Family photo after Mass

    We had the cheapest and best celebration at one of the city pools.

    Family photo with kids and parents wet from swimming

    Early bird gets the worm, we, donut. (Yesterday morning on a pre-7am run to Lowe’s. He was the only kid awake, so he got to run with me.)

    Diego eating a donut in his car seat
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