Local lifestyle columnists

Bringing ‘mama’ home for the holidays

By From page B10 | January 12, 2013

I just got back from, as my son said, “Bringing mama home to Texas.”

A good description, I think. Texas has always been “home” to my wife. She is home again, with lots of tears, smiles and some regrets. I’ll go back again later this year to take her to east Texas where her mother is buried. And I’ll be able to share some “precious days” with my family.

My son Rick and his wife, Donna, are very resourceful and creative. On Christmas morning, a cold front with high winds whipped through Montgomery, Texas, blowing down trees and taking down power lines. Temperatures were in the low 20s. We were one of 145 families who lost power – no power all day and into the night.

Out came the 5,000-watt generator and we had some heat. The plan for Christmas dinner was a special one for me. I had asked for something different. Some great big gulf shrimp – some fried in batter and some boiled with a tangy cocktail sauce. An all-you-can-eat shrimp adventure, so to speak.

The fried shrimp never happened, but the boiled shrimp did and they were great. Out came the propane-powered turkey fryer heating a big pot of water. It wasn’t long before we had more boiled shrimp than we could eat. Christmas dinner was shrimp cocktail, potato salad followed by chocolate cream pie. A family Christmas dinner fit for a king. Talk about resourceful and creative.

Later that night, the power was restored and we had no more power problems the rest of the visit. One more item related to the shrimp we had for dinner. There is a grocery chain in the greater Houston area call H-E-B. One of the things that makes them unusual is the fact that it has its own fleet of shrimp boats in the Gulf of Mexico. Consequently, its shrimp are fresher and less expensive than shrimp in other markets. Texas ingenuity.

The evening before Christmas, my son got a telephone call from Hector, his friend and neighbor.

“Meet me at the fence in a couple of minutes,” Hector said.

Rick met him and came back into the house with a dozen fresh tamales. We were the beneficiaries of the blessings of a Mexican family Christmas tradition. The tamales were the first ones out of the pot. So fresh that Hector advised us to let them set for a while to let the masa get firm. The tamales were the first out of the pot because Hector wanted to be sure that we got some before they were all given away. Hector’s brothers and sisters were also a part of the family’s Christmas tradition. The tamales were really good. They would have made a good Christmas dinner all by themselves. Compliments of Hector’s mom.

More about Texas food later. You’ll find out why I gained five pounds in two weeks.

Murray Bass can be reached at 427-0744 or [email protected]

Murray Bass


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