Memories of “Little Grandma”

medium_grandma_anthony_1973.jpgOne of my sisters and I called my mother’s mother “Little Grandma.” We’re not sure why we adopted the name; my parents aren’t sure, either. We just decided one day that we would call Dad’s mother “Big Grandma” and Mom’s mother “Little Grandma.” 

“Little Grandma” was a different type of grandmother. They broke the mold after she was born. We have many wonderful memories of her unique take on life. 

She came from New Orleans, with a French, English and Spanish heritage. The Spanish roots are probably very small, but she LOVED talking about her Spanish blood. If there was any type of costume party, she’d be sure to bring out her Spanish mantilla and comb to dress up. She loved to dance, and she was passionate…all, she was sure, due to her Spanish blood. 

She left this world last November, age 89. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord. May she rest in peace. Amen. 

medium_my_kitchen_in_spain.jpgShe wasn’t the best of cooks, but because she loved Spain, I think about her often, especially when I used my favorite cookbook. My Kitchen in Spain by Janet Mendel is a fabulous peek in the Spanish cuisine. The recipes are wonderful, with a Mediterranean touch. I love it especially for the fabulous chicken recipes. So far I have 5 recipes that I use on a regular rotation. We eat chicken frequently, and I’m always on the lookout for varieties of moist, tasty poultry recipes. And as most of the recipes do not call for dairy, wheat or egg products. I don’t have to adapt, but get to taste the authentic Spanish flavors of the dish. 

Tonight it’s a simple 

I didn’t have fresh herbs, so I used dried. I also omitted the rosemary. I love many herb flavors, but this is not one I like as much. I had an organic free range fryer, but that worked fine. Less juices to baste, but still moist and tasty. 

This past year I bought a Digital Thermometer and Roasting Pan from Pampered Chef. I can’t believe I have cooked all these years without them! They are now necessary and oft-used tools. 

To accompany the chicken, I’m make Green Beans and Spanish Short Grain Rice. I use Lundberg Short Grain Rice and adapted a recipe off the bag. 

 

Spanish Short Grain Rice
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
water or chicken broth
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups brown rice
dash cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt 

Drain tomatoes, reserving liquid. Add water or broth to liquid to equal 3 cups; set aside. In a 4-quart saucepan, heat olive oil, then add bell pepper, onion, garlic and celery. Sauté briefly, add rice and cayenne pepper and stir. Add the liquid and salt (optional) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Add tomatoes and cover, cooking for a additional 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stand in covered pot for 10 more minutes. Fluff with fork. Yield: 5 cups, 6-7 servings. 

  

medium_grandma_halloween_picture_large.jpg

We miss you, Little Grandma. 

First photo taken in 1973, above photo Halloween 2005, 2 weeks before she died.  

Roast Chicken (Pollo Asado) 

Salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 whole roasting chicken (5 to 6 lbs)
1-2 Tbsp. brandy
Fresh Rosemary sprigs
Fresh Thyme sprigs
2 Bay leaves
1 Tbsp. lard, softened or 1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots and turnips (optional)
1/2 cup white wine 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 

Rinse chicken, remove insides. Sprinkle salt and pepper inside the cavity, then rub with the brandy. Insert rosemary and thyme and bay leaves, tie up the legs to keep chicken’s shape. 

Combine olive oil (or lard) and garlic. Spread over the chicken and place chicken breast-side up in a roasting pan. Salt and pepper outside of chicken (optional). Add vegetables in pan if desired. 

Roast for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, then turn down temperature to 350 degrees F. Baste with drippings occasionally and continue to cook until thigh registers 175 degrees with the thermometer, about 2 hours. 

Transfer chicken to platter, remove string. Pour off all fat and add wine. Over medium heat on the stove, deglaze the pan by stirring, bring to a boil and pour juices over chicken. Serve warm. 

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