Yeah, I'm taking a break, making five at a time since my attention span flits around.
I'm gonna master this, but maybe not this batch. A lot of chefs start with the dry masa harina and add the required ingredients, lots of recipes out there for that, but living in New Mexico, even an ordinary grocery store has pre made masa. What I didn't know is that it's pre made for tortillas, not tamales, which need lard and baking soda (and whatever spices you want). I suppose a specifically mexican/new mexican market would have pre made masa that has lard.
Anyway, after a day of fiddling to get my masa to float on old water (since I'm not familiar with the right consistency and I couldn't find the right amount of broth for that situation of wrong masa), I ended up having it too wet, so have added some of the store pre made non-lardy masa to my concoction. We'll see.
jcboy, I'd enjoy seeing your mother's recipe if you don't mind sharing it, and fine if not, if you do mind.
I think I said somewhere earlier that I've only had one edible tamale in New Mexico - I think of most of them as wrapped pellets and that seems to be the style, even in the big mexican market here. I don't particularly like their tortillas either, another story. Apparently they are more like Texan tortillas, sorta fluffy, instead of like the ones in CA, and like the ones from Sonora, Mexico.
Ok, back to the kitchen.
I have good memories of Los Angeles environs tamales from, as you say, the authentic small storefront places.