~~ "She has so many aliases, you'd think she was a spy!" ~~

Friday, May 11, 2012

Guest blog: "Tamales" by Kathleen Bradean

Today I'm delighted to host a guest blog by the gorgeous Kathleen Bradean. Kathleen and I have shared many a Table of Contents as well as at least one reading. Her writing is lush and evocative, and I can't wait to read her story in The Harder She Comes!

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by Kathleen Bradean

I didn't realize how sentimental my story "Tamales" was when I wrote it. At the time, I was thinking about how fun and flirty the kitchen scene was and how it flowed into the bedroom scene and how much I'd like some green corn tamales from Border Grill….

I've never made tamales. So much for writing what you know! I make a really good Chile Colorado sauce though, with the pasilla chilies that smell almost like raisins (but aren't gross like raisins) and guajillos that look potentially lethal but are rather mild. I break them apart and let them soak in warm water. I've learned to wash my hands extremely carefully and clean under my nails after that one time after I'd washed my hands then rubbed my eye and holy moly—fell to my knees like a student protestor in Berkley. The chilies and the soaking water are blended and strained before going into a saucepan. While that's going, I slowly cook chunks of beef in beef broth until they're fall-apart tender then add the Colorado sauce to it and cook it for another half hour or so until the scent follows you half way down the block and drags you back into the house. We serve it with a little queso fresco or queso blanco (depending on what we can find at the market) and corn tortillas (always corn) and a salad. I also make a pretty good al pastor taco which is sort of the go-to taco here in Los Angeles. Slightly sweet from the pineapple and spicy enough to make you sit up and take notice, real al pastor taco meat should be cooked on a rotating spit the same way gyro meat is, but I don't have one of those fancy set-ups, and neither do the kinds of places I tend to buy my tacos.

Can you tell food is my passion? Well, no, eating is my passion, and so is writing, and cooking brings me closer to both. Cooking is my meditation. I clear my mind and concentrate on each step—a good idea considering the amount of knife work I do. I let each step flow into the other. All the problems of the day slink off to find someone else to bug. I'm left with almost pure sensory input. The sizzle of onions caramelizing in a pan, the color of summer squash and zucchini waiting to be grilled, the feel of a cold glass of lemonade pressed against my neck, the flavors of spices, and the luscious scent of fresh bread. It's so wickedly indulgent. But it's also creative and a good way to refresh my brain when I'm stuck on a story.  I've heard that other writers clean house or do laundry when they're stuck. At least with my way, I end up with cookies.

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Here's the full list of writers participating in the blog tour to celebrate the anthology—stop by and say hi to any or all of them!

May 1  D. L. King
May 2  Anna Watson
May 3  Evan Mora
May 4  River Light
May 7  CS Clark
May 9  Andrea Dale (hey, that's me!)
May 10  Beth Wylde
May 13  Shanna Germain
May 14  Charlotte Dare

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