Its tamale season, and one extended family is making hundreds of dozens of tamales to help two local teens go global with their message of peace and goodwill.
Durango High School students Taylor Dunlop and Katie Pannell have teamed up with the Sacred Heart Church family to make tamales, one treat at a time, in support of the People to People Student Ambassador program.
Its what we do at Sacred Heart, said Ray Jaramillo, Taylors grandfather. Here, were one big family. We help each other whenever theres a need, Jaramillo said, citing the philosophy of the Theatine order of priests central to the mission of the small but active parish.
Taylors parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles have rolled up their sleeves alongside members of Pannells family to make between 300 and 600 dozen tamales, the majority of which will be sold during the Christmas season.
Tamale sales will pave the way for the students June 2012 trip, in which they will spend three weeks in Austria, France, Switzerland and Italy working with small communities on yet-to-be-determined projects that pair teens from the Four Corners with youths abroad.
Past People to People Student Ambassador programs have benefitted the elderly in Cohersiveen, Ireland, where teens cut peat for fuel, and in rural Costa Rica, where teens teamed with community members to build sidewalks, said Kathy Pannell, Katies mother.
Kathy Pannell was among the kitchen crew that spent a recent Saturday patting, rolling, filling and folding to make a batch of 60 dozen tamales that will be sold at Bayfields Christmas craft sale. Folks can purchase a hot tamale for a quick lunch at the craft sale, or they can buy a dozen pre-cooked, frozen treats that can be reheated at home.
Pannell said shes already sold about 20 dozen tamales in the last week and is pleased the community appreciates the effort that goes into the handcrafted treat.
Im part of the crew who puts them together, Pannell said of the process of smoothing the quarter-inch masa on the corn husks before placing the chicken or pork filling in the folded pocket.
Once the tamales were rolled, folded in the corn husks and wrapped in coffee filters, rather than tied, Pannell methodically stacked them.
Other volunteers placed the neat packages in a half dozen kettles and turkey roasters in the kitchen of the churchs social hall, where the tamales were steamed for about three hours under the watchful eye of Flo Jaramillo, Taylors grandmother.
Her husband, Ray Jaramillo, helped his wife set the steaming hot tamales on cotton towels to cool.
Celeste Dunlop, Taylor Dunlops mom, shuttled pans of cooked fillings from the kitchen to the assembly table.
Once they (the tamales) are cooled, well quick-freeze them and package them by the dozen, so they can be stockpiled for folks who want to pre-order them, Dunlop said of the traditional Christmas treat.
Each girl has raised about $1,500, Dunlop said. They each have to raise another $6,500 to get the $8,000 cost per student.
A sale of oranges also helped make a dent in the behemoth effort, Dunlop added.
Dunlop anticipates theyll sell tamales until they reach their goal but has not ruled out an additional fundraising project.
Ray Jaramillo said planning for the tamale project began in early fall when he acted as purchasing agent.
Im good at procurement, Jaramillo said of his job comparing prices and shopping for ingredients that included a 30-pound bale of ojas (corn husks) and pounds of chicken and pork loin, which Jaramillo described as a more expensive cut than shoulder or butt, but one that makes for a higher yield.
It is less messy to process, Jaramillo said.
Jaramillo said he shops in bulk. A 50-pound box of crushed chiles, purchased in New Mexico, can make as many as 1,000 dozen tamales, he said.
Jaramillos wife, Flo, came to the tamale workshop armed with chile caribe she had made from crushed toasted chile pods, which flavored the masa and meat fillings.
Making tamales is a many-day, multistep process, Ray Jaramillo explained.
After you cook your meat and chicken, you either pull it or grind it, he said. The meat is well-seasoned with chile caribe, and so is the masa, an extra step, but people really like it this way.