Regardless of the time of year, Puerto Peñasco is definitely a large slice of Paradise! The Christmas holidays are rich with long-held traditions that include family and friends, who are treated to traditional food and drink. I am privileged to be included in the festivities of a large Mexican family, who share the preparations of the many dishes that feed many people, who visit, laugh, and joke, eat and drink in celebration of the season over a number of nights, including Noche Buena, Christmas Eve, up to and including New Year’s Eve, then continuing to Día de los Tres Reyes, 3 Kings Day, in January. My Mexican friends have taught me to celebrate the Christmas holidays long and with gusto!

Every year I try to visit my family in the USA just prior to Christmas, and each trip I take a bit of Mexico with me. The weather is much colder in Nevada than here in Paradise, and pozole with tamales on the side, accompanied by champurrado or hot buttered rum, warms us from the inside out. I order tamales from a friend here in Peñasco who makes them to sell and delivers them to me frozen so they will travel well in a cooler for the 14-hour drive. Though I enjoy cooking, I have never learned to make tamales because I visited my friend and her daughters and daughters-in-law on tamale day, and they are TOO MUCH WORK for me, even if I did have 4 experienced helpers, which I do not! Worth every peso I paid for them, I usually purchase 12 dozen. They arrive in Nevada still frozen, and we keep them in the freezer until the morning of our big family evening, when we stand up as many as will fit in a crock pot or 2, cover & turn the temperature to low. No water, no lifting the lid, and by evening the tamales are hot and ready to eat. What could be easier?  The pozole is also made in a very large crock pot, using a short-cut recipe for pozole that my Mexican friends approved after tasting.

The recipes below are from my recipe collection and are those that I use every year, in addition to my friend’s tamales, because my family loves them. They are not perfect Mexican food, but my family does not know that, and loves them all. I hope you do, as well. Happy Winter Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

EASY SLOW COOKER POZOLE   1 T vegetable oil 2 lb. boneless pork loin roast, cut into 1” cubes 2 14.5-oz cans enchilada sauce 2 15.5-oz cans white hominy, drained 1 onion, sliced ½ C green chiles, diced 4 cloves garlic, minced ½ t cayenne pepper, or to taste 2 t dried oregano Hot water ¼ C cilantro, chopped ½ t salt   Brown pork cubes in oil over high heat. Place meat in 4-qt slow cooker, pour enchilada sauce over meat, then top with hominy. Top with remaining ingredients except last 2, then add hot water to fill the slow cooker. Cover, cook on high 6-7 hours. Stir in cilantro and salt, reduce temperature to low, cook 30 minutes more. Serve in bowls, pass condiment toppings: lime wedges, cilantro & chopped onion, chopped cabbage, sliced radishes. Enjoy!CHAMPURRADO   1 ½ C water 1 cinnamon stick 1 whole clove 1 pod star anise (optional) 4 ¼ C whole milk 2 tablets Mexican chocolate, such as Abuelita ¾ C course ground corn flour (such as Maizena) 1 pinch crushed piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar cone) or 1 t brown sugar   Place water, cinnamon stick, clove & star anise in saucepan over medium heat, bring to boil, then remove from heat & steep for 10 or so minutes, strain. Heat milk, chocolate & corn flour in separate pan, whisking until chocolate dissolves & liquid is thick & smooth, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add piloncillo & let rest until sugar dissolves. Pour cinnamon water into chocolate mixture, stir to combine. Serve hot but be careful to cool a bit for children, because this nourishing thick drink holds its heat! Goes well with pozole – enjoy!HOT BUTTERED RUM   To make the batter: 1 lb. unsalted butter 1 lb. brown sugar 1 lb. confectioners’ sugar 1-quart vanilla ice cream, softened 1 T ground cinnamon 1 t ground nutmeg   Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Blend in sugars, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat, stir in remaining ingredients, combine well. Pour into container, cover, store in freezer. To make 1 serving: Combine 1 T batter & 1 fluid ounce (jigger) of good rum in a coffee mug. Fill the mug with boiling water & stir to combine. Sprinkle with nutmeg to serve. My mom used to freeze the batter in ice cube trays then put into plastic bags for storage, so they were ready to use in an instant! We like hot buttered rum after skiing, sledding, shoveling snow, any cold outside activity! My mom was known to double the batter & rum in the drinks and call it dessert!