Monday, July 14, 2008

My In-laws.....

Some of you may remember that my inlaws are visiting... I didn't fully explain how their visits work...You see, my inlaws are from Mexico. My husband is a US Citizen but has been here working off and on since he was 14 to help support his 11 siblings and parents. Yes, he is the oldest of 12! Some of his siblings are almost like children to him, he has had a big hand in raising them here in California. Now getting back to my inlaws. Their visa had expired and it took nearly 2 years of paperwork & travels to the Texas/Mexico border to get their visas renewed. They live on a ranch about 3 hours from Guadalajara which is no where near the Texas border. Their ranch is like a tiny village with a few markets, a small school & a church. One member of the community goes weekly to the next town to collect any mail that might have arrived for this small ranch.

Up until about a year ago, the only way for my husband to contact his parents was to call the only phone in the village (inside one of these little markets) to send a message to his family (which of course is hand delivered) that he will be calling back in one hour, meaning for them to go to the only phone in the whole town. On his last visit, he updated them with a type of cell phone but the reception varies.

My mother in-law is a wonderful person, full of home remedies to cure your ailments and the ability to throw together a meal with minimal ingredients. Even with a language barrier (we do alot of "miming" and drawing!) we get along well. She has learned more English than I have Spanish. My father-inlaw is a shy, quiet farmer who either runs in the opposite direction to avoid having an awkward conversation with his American daughter-inlaw or "yells" at me in Spanish, thinking that I must be deaf and if he yells it at me, I will understand him much better! :)

When his parents come to visit, the rest of the family comes in droves to see them where ever they are. That means sometimes we will have 8 people sleeping in one room, scattered about, but happy to be near their family. It's very humbling.

My husband typically visits his parents once a year when his construction work slows down,usually bringing along our now 9 year old son. His mother would send back these sweet pancakes called "Gorditas" These were unlike anything I have ever tasted! I would "horde" them all to myself.

So the other night, I brought up the subject of Gorditas while we were having dinner. My husband said we needed a brick oven and you sort of "smoke" them. I figured, oh well, that was that...end of story.

I woke up the next day to my Mother-inlaw outside gathering left over bricks from our front porch and other projects... since my husband is in construction, we ALWAYS have leftover materials, mortar, etc. laying around.
There's my Mother in-law in a skirt and little pumps making this oven in 100 degree weather. She's shy and wouldn't pose for me.

We, "WOMEN",with some help from the kids, made this in a day while the "MEN" were gone. Later after returning home from work, my husband's contribution was to clear away any weeds with the tractor and spread gravel for safety. My husband thoroughly enjoyed seeing his wife covered in mortar and lugging a wheel barrow around. I think I saw a new respect in his eyes, his wife isn't such a prima donna after all ! :)

Now on to the recipe...

First we had to find some milking cows - seriously! We needed unpasturized milk. We live in an agricultural area so not too hard. We had to heat the milk on the stove and add an enzyme (I won't tell you where or what it's from, I had a hard time with this part myself!) to make our own cheese. I believe my mother-inlaw called this "Cuajada" and I did a little online research and it's similar to a "ricotta" cheese.

Told you she is shy - she wouldn't turn around for the picture.

Then we used "Maseca"corn meal, some flour, baking soda & powder, a different type of brown cane sugar called "Piloncillo" that we melted on the stove, cinnamon, melted butter, raisins & peanuts and of course this drained cheese mixture. You know how these old family recipes are, a little of this, alot of that...

Melted "Piloncillo"

After stoking up the little oven, we were ready ....

My mother -inlaw was outside until 10 pm baking these.

Being with my in-laws is like stepping back in time. Making do with only the bare necessities. On my only visit to their home, I was in awe of their lifestyle. Milk is delivered in buckets and a woman comes peddling a basket of eggs to sell. We washed the dishes outside on a rock with a bucket of water. That was something I won't forget! Laundry is washed in an old fashioned crank machine and air dried til it's so stiff it can stand up on it's own. Women iron daily to make the clothes more pliable and it's something they ENJOY. I am amazed at what my Mother in-law can do with a sewing machine (she will make young brides in their little village their wedding gowns!) and am in awe of her needlepoint, embroidery and crocheting. Lost forms of art.

Being around my Mother-inlaw has definitely humbled me and yet I think her crazy American daughter in-law has rubbed off on her as well. The first time she ever left Mexico was 12 years ago to attend our wedding.

In the years since, she traveled alone to visit us many times and the independence suits her. I try to pamper her and do all the girly things I sometimes take for granted. But my experience with her "building" our own little oven with found materials is something I won't easily forget, I felt like a true Pioneer Woman that day, breaking bricks and spreading mortar...And I know she was doing this all for ME. See? feelings & emotions can be expressed even without speaking the same language! :)

My Mother in-law and my husband dancing at our wedding.

Living Happily Ever After. The End!


Picket said...

Ohhhh girl I am sitting here with tears in my eyes and my heart so full I could bust!!!! That is the most touching story..beautiful..just beautiful! Oh my word I am so know your precious mother-in-law loves and adores you...and what a beautiful bride you are! My Bill was one of 12 kids also and his folks lived in the hills of Tenn...they were very poor and had no running water or bathroom or car...they would run hide when anyone came to visit...Bill and one of his brothers moved his mom to be closer to us and set her up in her own little house completely furnished with everything brand new...she lived out her remaining years happy and would always welcome me with open arms and tears of joy..I loved her so....oh where is my hankie..this is such a beautiful start to my day girl..thanks for this beautiful post...have a great day yourself sweetie!

Gretchen said...

What a wonderful mother-in-law you have Laurie and what a great daughter-in-law you are! You are one of the reasons that blogging is so inspiring for me. Both of you are lucky to have each other.


twintoo10292 said...

Your mother-in-law would move heaven and earth to make you happy. How sweet. The two of you did an awesome job on the oven.(I wonder how a pizza would taste cooked in there). It was such a great story too. Some people get by with so little and never complain while some have so much and are never satisfied. Enjoy your visit with that great family. Twin

twintoo10292 said...

P.S. You were a BEAUTIFUL bride!!

Shelia said...

Oh, Laurie! What a wonderful story! What a sweet story! What a precious sweet mother-in-law you have! She did all this to please you because she loves you! I am so touched. I never met my mother-in-law. She had passed away before my husband and I met. I always wondered how it would be to have one. I would have wanted her to love me like yours obviously loves you! Oh, Laurie what a beautiful bride you are! Look at that darling face and your hubby - so handsome. Thank you so much for asking me to pop in. You're such a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Shelia said...

Laurie, come on over to my blog. I've Song Tagged you!
Be a sweetie,
Shelia :)

Linda said...

What a sweet story. Great Mother inlaws are not usually the case for most people I adore mine and it sounds like yours is really great as well.
Love the brick oven, that is amazing ya'll did that in a day. I guess when she leaves you will have to continue using it.:)

Glenda~Many Fond Memories said...

What a wonderful story to share with us. I would feel honored and blessed if I experienced this as well. Learning to make due with what you have is harder for us city girls. My parents tried to instill that in us as children, I am so very happy they did.


Kim Hardt Originals said...

This is the best post ever Laurie. What a fun family and such wonderful in-laws. So much you can learn from her and him. I know I would love to be around her and just watch and learn. I don't speak the language but I would be by her side just taking it all in. We have all the conveniences of the world at our finger tips now adays. I think it clouds us a little. To be able to learn her primitive life style is a gift. What your children could learn from her and your father-in-law. The memories your kids will have of them when they get older and the stories they will be able to tell their children as well. I think it will make your children appreciate things way more.

I can only imagine how those things you guys made tasted!! You know, now that you know how and you have the oven for it you will have to make some and send them on my way. He He!

I wonder what they think of your life style? Is it tough for them or do they feel a little out of place at your beautiful home. A home is a home not matter what you have or how fancy it may be. Just being with family is a wonderful thing. I hope you taught your mother-in-law how to make a craft. What fun that would be.

Well take care my friend. I think of you often. I hope all is well with hubby and kids.

Big hugs, Kim

Heather said...

This is such an incredible story. I am sitting here on the verge of tears and just completely in awe! What a wonderful time to spend with you MIL..building a stove...and she did it to please you! What a gracious act of love. My heart feels s full right now just thinking of that!
You are gorgeous! need to be posting more pics of yourself on your blog! Seriously!
Again, gorgeous post. Thank you so much for sharing this of the best things I have read in awhile!

KARIN said...

Oh, I enjoyed this story SO much! What a wonderful blessing you have in your mother-in-law and the opportunity to see life through her eyes. Makes you appreciate your modern conveniences for sure. And to be able to learn at her elbow. How great is that? I've seen that piloncillo at the grocery store and often wondered how it was used. I have to go back and re read this- what a great story! My husband is the 10th of 11 children who were raised on a farm in the Texas panhandle. His parents seem to me to live life as if time hasn't passed. Its always like stepping back to 1940 when I go to their house- we make homemade soap and play dominoes. Fun but very different. Loved reading this- can't wait to read your past posts.


twizzis said...

Oh, I've so enjoyed you're story of your in-laws and, my oh my, what a beautiful bride are you! Congrats on such a beautiful blog, my friend. Every word and picture...gorgeous!

Brittany said...

Well written article.

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