Making "mollies" {Bucket List}

When I was a little girl, I spent my days with my Grandma Chila.  My mom was a working mom, and I started going to Grandma's at six weeks old.  This just about killed my mother.  To this day, she claims I'm an only child because leaving another child at six weeks old would have killed her.  I don't doubt this.  But what she could have never known then, was that she was giving me one of the greatest gifts of my life.  Not only did my mother provide a life beyond riches, she also shared me with others, who provided the same. 
My Grandma Chila is one of those people.
This is Mac making "mollies".
She loved making those "mollies", once she figured it out.
I remember her apple cake, made with apples from her apple trees.  Fresh tortillas with butter right after I walked home from school to her house.  The perfect bowl of cornflakes and strawberries, a ratio I still can't mix to this day.  One of my earliest memories is playing in her kitchen.  At one time I knew where everything was.  Later when I was older, I'd do homework in her kitchen while she made delicious feast after delicious feast.  There were no measuring cups or spoons, no recipes or cook books.  Just memories and her small brown hands at work in masa, getting it just right for tortillas.
I grew up, and out of her kitchen.  I went to jr high and took the bus home.  I walked home from high school.  Then later I moved to Fresno and went to college.  Every trip "home" I'd go back to her kitchen.  It's my favorite place to be.  Even now, I can spend hours at her kitchen table with her.  I realized as the years continued to pass that this joy, this treasured spot, would not be here for always, and that got me thinking.  What is the one thing I have always wanted to do, in this kitchen, with her, and her secrets of recipe success?

Make tamales.
Grandma Chila is known for her tamales.  Every year her and my grandpa make dozens and dozens.  To eat and to share, but mostly for us, her family to eat.
Team Tamale!!
Me, Laura, Rachel, Grandma, and my Mom
With the help of my mom and Laura, we organized a Tamale Making Party.  We got out the notebooks and our iPhones to snap pictures of ingredients and finished products.  We learned about food items we never knew existed.  We laughed and giggled, and successfully made almost two dozen overstuffed tamales.  It was one of the best afternoons to date.
Here are my grandparents showing us how this tamale thing is done.
Grandpa is showing us how to spread the masa, as he will tell you grandma doesn't do it right.
Grandma is showing me how to fold.  Folding is the hardest part.
It seems most of my life has been spent in this kitchen.  The dining room set is still the same one from my child hood.  Her sugar lives sits in the same crystal bowl, many of her pans are still cooking up refried beans and rice.  Items that stir nostalgia.  That make me feel like I'm in another world, the one where I'm waiting for my mom to pick me up.  Where I'm a kid, and this place with these people will always be right here at arms length.
I had no idea that while crossing one item off my bucket list, I'd cross another I didn't know was there.  Making tamales with my Grandma was on the list.  Showing my girls a little glimpse at my own childhood wasn't.  A glimpse that will one day only exist in pictures.  All I've ever wanted is for them to share their love with these two amazing grandparents.  To see them for who they are, and how they have shaped who I am today.  My grandparents, who became great grandparents, and if possible, have even more love to share.  The joy and laughter they have with my girls is enough to make my heart explode.

Of course this little Missy had no problem folding her tamale.
I told her it's because she was born that way.
Watching my girls spread masa, fold tamales, and play with masa balls, was precious.  Sharing tradition with my grandparents, my parents, and my girls, was priceless.  Starting a new tradition with Team Tamale (Hernandez/Crutch) was a blessing.
My heart is bursting.
Bucket list.
Check and double check.


  1. Love this post Megs! Totally made me smile!! I felt the same way when I learned how to make my mom's wonton soup. XOOXOXO

    Kristine from The Foley Fam {unedited} Blog

  2. What a lovely memory for your kids one day. Missing out on family in this way is one of the things I most regret about us living on the other side of the world.

  3. Love it!! I so wish I was part of a big family that gathered in the kitchen. It's so good to have a rich family history and traditions to pass down from one generation to the next. :)


  4. What a beautiful story! Sounds very familiar to the way I grew up as well, it is a completely heart warming feeling. It's wonderful that you are sharing this with your kids and your mother and grandmother. My mother and grandmother passed away within six months of each other this past year, and I only wish I could have given my kids this same experience before they passed away. Your children will forever cherish that moment, as will you, your mother and grandmother. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Looks like a fun tradition! Tamales are the one dish I haven't tried yet--of course my husband claims that his Mom makes the best ones. :P