Tag: corn

Mar 13 2009

Letters + watercolors = land for a family

By Marcia Willman, CFCA director of child services

Kinya standing next to her sheepAt 11, Kinya knows how important an education is for her future because she is growing up where there often isn’t one.

One day I received a letter from Kinya that changed both of our lives. She wrote, ìI’m now at a new school Ö This is because we moved after eviction. I’m still working hard.î I knew that Kinya, her mom and two older brothers were squatters on government land at the foot of Mount Kenya, but this word, eviction, caught me by surprise.

It is obvious that Kinya is loved deeply by her mom. Kinya is a joyous child. She is a good story teller. She shares her life with me in every letter that she writes. Her stories bring us together and build the bonds of our friendship. So when I heard that word eviction, I knew I had to help her.

I chose to sponsor Kinya because she is being raised by a single mother who struggles to put food on the table and pay rent because she can find occasional odd jobs. I know the challenges of being a single mom because I am one, too. Thus, I feel compelled to help another woman and mother in less fortunate circumstances provide the most basic needs of food and shelter for her family.

I have been painting with watercolors for years. I never considered marketing or selling my art until trying to figure out a way to help Kinya. I finally realized that I could use my God-given talent to help my friend.

For more than two years I have been on a mission to sell my paintings. Along the way, I won the right to call myself an artist. I send the proceeds from my art sales to help Kinya’s family. Last April Kinyaís family was able to purchase half an acre of fertile, productive farm land.

Ann radiates happiness.Kinya’s mom, Ann, immediately planted row after row of corn and potatoes to take advantage of the pending rainy season. Ann proved to be hard-working and industrious. Along the way, she proudly rose to the role of provider. While weeding with a hoe in hand, Ann beams in the photos I received from Project Timau. Annís smile demonstrates her strength to overcome adversity when given the opportunity. It shows she believes her family has a future.

So, Kinya’s house was built. Ann’s first crops were harvested. And, Kinya’s family bought two sheep because they were able to feed themselves and generate enough income by laboring on their own land. Along the way, Kinya found comfort and a safe haven from eviction. ìAt last I’m enjoying rains in a nice house that doesn’t leak. Thanks a lot for making my life happy Ö You are part of my life, I cherish your care.î Once again, I received another letter from Kinya that changed my life. It feels wonderful to be an artist, to help another single mom and to be cherished by Kinya!

You can see Marcia’s paintings by visiting her Web site, watercolorsforacause.org.

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Dec 16 2008

Make your own Christmas tamales

In Latin America, the traditional Christmas fare is tamales. Tamales originated in Mexico but today, every Latin American culture has its own version. While tamales vary from country to country, all are made with a corn or rice dough steamed inside a leaf. Most tamales are filled with meat and sauce, but some are sweetened and filled with raisins. Making tamales is a labor-intensive process that can take several days. Watch how the residents of Santa Teresita make their tamales.

Mexican tamales

Allow two days for preparation.

4 lb. package of maseca for tamales (available at Hispanic grocery stores)
10 lb. chicken pieces
3 c. oil
4 T. salt
4 T. baking powder
1 package each of chiles anchos, chiles California and chiles de arbol
1 lb. corn husks

Prepare the chiles
1. Pour hot water over all the chiles and let soften for one hour.
2. Puree the mixture in a blender.
3. Strain through a colander to remove seeds and skin

You may want to wear vinyl gloves because the chile oil can burn your hands.

Prepare the chicken
1. Remove the skin and boil the chicken with salt until the meat is cooked.
2. Remove the bones and tear the chicken into small pieces.
3. Saute chicken pieces with the strained chiles in 2 T. oil and 1 tsp. salt. Set aside.

Prepare the masa (dough)
1. Mix maseca, baking power, salt and oil with enough lukewarm water to give it the texture of playdough.
2. Knead the dough for one hour.

Prepare the corn husks
1. Soak the husks in hot water overnight.
2. Remove from the water and rinse.

Prepare the tamales
1. Spread one husk out flat.
2. Spread with a thin layer of masa, about Ω inch thick.
3. Add 1-2 T. of the chile/chicken mixture in the middle of the dough.
4. Fold all sides to the center, adding a bit of dough inside the ends to keep the chicken mixture from oozing out.
5. Steam in 2î of water in a large pot or tamale cooker covered tightly with aluminum foil for several hours on medium high.
6. Let sit for 1 hour

Enjoy with sour cream and hot sauce. Eat them anytime, breakfast, lunch or dinner. Tamales can be stored up to a week in the refrigerator or for 3 months in the freezer.

In Mexico, tamales are eaten traditionally during the Christmas season with champorrado, a hot, spicy drink made with maseca.

Recipe courtesy of Martha Cromer

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