Pasteles Day- Our great family tradition!

I got up Saturday morning and proceeded to clean and make sure the house was nice and tidy. I knew that I would be gone all day and wanted to make sure when I walked through the door after being gone, that the house would be something pleasant to look at. Pandora is blasting Christmas music (I wonder how that station got there? Its only November!), as I dance around with my girls, I cannot wait to get to my parents’ home. Today is the day that my sister prepares and looks forward to all year! Pasteles are going to be made, stuffed, tied and boiled just a few though, for a tasting. Gotta make sure all the work paid off. It will have paid off and everyone will eat with a smile on their faces and a smile in their stomachs! How do stomachs smile? Oh, you know! After eating that good meal, you feel happy and tired at the same time. The real chow down day is Thanksgiving. The pot will be making the good old boiling sound, as the kurplunk of the freshly made Pasteles hit the water. The room will be filled with that familiar Pastele smell! And music will be playing in the background, but you probably couldn’t hear it over the loud chatter and laughing that is sure to be going on.

We hit the road! I pack my girls up and head out. When we pull up, my 2-year-old is already screaming for her Papa, and my 5-year-old is desperately trying to claw her way out of the backseat of my car. I let them out and they take off running! As I step closer to the front door, I can hear the music playing and the voices of my family. Immediately, I get this warm feeling in my stomach. There isn’t much better than being around family during the Holidays. Its something in the air that makes it a little bit more special.

Pastele meat and pot spoon (this is the spoon I started out with)

I see smiles on everyone’s faces, moments like this I wish I could capture to save as a photograph forever. That’s hard to do though because I don’t walk around with my camera out, ready at every turn! I do capture it in my mind, and I guess this will have to do. Memories are important. Good memories can be a blanket for you when you are having a tough time. Wrapping myself in good memories is something I do often. I know that there are also bad memories, but those are meant to be for a reason. I take bad memories and try to learn from them. Keyword TRY! I have been known to repeat things over and over. This is getting off topic, so I will get back on track now. Sometimes my mind roams around, there’s a method to my madness I swear!

As soon as we say our hellos and shared a few stories, it is time to begin! Everyone has their designated Pastele jobs. I am the meat putter, meaning I put the meat into the masa and pass it on to be folded. This is my job every year, and still every year they try and take MY JOB away from me! Ha-Ha. I cannot do anything but laugh, because we waste a good 5 minutes discussing why I will be doing the meat, and nothing else! I’m sorry I like to make sure they are stuffed full of deliciousness. No one will complain once they take that first bite with just the right amount of meat and masa!

I walk to the fridge and after exchanging the usual insults with my brother in law, I grab one of his IPA’s. He grunts and mumbles as I take his beer, but oh well! He will get over it. I walk to my designated spot, sit down and chug a few big gulps…. ahhhhhh…refreshing! Look at me mom in law! I’m drinking that dark sour Mack N Jack type beer, and do I say it? I LIKE IT! Something about that skunky flavor has gotten to me! Now I understand the obsession with these types of beer.

Do you know what a pot spoon is?  It is an oversized spoon used to stir meat and rice. This is the type of spoon I begin with, by mid time of adding the meat my mom downgrades my scooping spoon size! I smirk, I show the room and we all share a laugh. I liked the spoon I had before, but I was placing too much meat. We were surely going to have more masa left than meat! However, I don’t see the problem I tell them; my sister uses the left-over masa to make Alcapurrias anyways! Alcapurrias is another traditional dish, that makes me drool just thinking about the crunchy exterior with savory ground beef on the inside. My protest falls on deaf ears and I am stuck using the mini spoon. The size of the spoon doesn’t stop me from enjoying the process, and soon a I will continue to drink and laugh.

My sister dropping the finished Pasteles into boiling water.

One of the most enjoying few moments of the day is seeing my dad argue with Alexa! My dad you see has a deep accent and when he talks to Alexa, asking her to switch stations or raise and lower the volume; there is a 99% chance she won’t understand and will do her own thing! I give it a few tries, and Alexa must really be confused because she doesn’t even understand what I am saying. Again, this causes an uproar of laughter! The time is winding down and even though I know that I must pack up my girls and leave, I procrastinate if I can. Being around my family means the world to me. Even when I hide away at home and refuse to come out of my cave, because I am not feeling up to it, I miss them and wish that I could make myself get up and go! Often my feelings and mind keep me at home, which is unfortunate but still seems to happen.

Plated and ready to eat!

We all say goodbye and say our well wishes, with hugs and mini prayers. I grab the bag of Pasteles I have earned for taking part and we head off. All the way home I will smile and feel so very blessed to have the kind of family who has traditions like this. The kind of traditions my kids can see and hopefully one day do for themselves. It means everything to me that I can share these experiences with my babies.

A Pastele just out of the pot!

Family has a way of making the sun shine on rainy days, they help you to find that gold at the end of the rainbow! My family will see the best in me even when I cannot see it for myself. I cannot stress enough to you how important family is! What did you do this weekend? Did you spend it with family, handling years of family traditions? Feel free to share with me! I love reading and learning new things. Hold your family tight, and don’t let go! Remember family is LOVE, family is LIGHT, and Family can be your HERO! Until we meet again, Bendiciones to all!

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