Cooking with Grandma
I come from a long lineage of good cooks. My great-grandmother was a farmer’s wife and was famous for her Jell-o salad molds. My grandma put on seemingly effortless holiday dinners year after year. My mom is adventurous and instilled me with a creative passion in the kitchen. I am thankful for the lessons I have learned and recipes that have been handed down to me from each of these women! During my week in Florida, I got to spend a little bit of time with Grandma in the kitchen. She keeps up with my blog and says she has picked up a few ideas along the way!
I was honored to get to create a meal with her! As is our usual style, we looked in the fridge and pantry to see what was on hand and had to be used up. We found some zucchini, peppers, onion, sun-dried tomatoes, cannelloni beans, spinach and mushrooms. We sautéed some cubed chicken, added the veggies, and then added a few splashes of sherry cooking wine and Balsamic vinegar. We served this over quinoa, my Grandma’s new favorite grain, and added a bit of shredded Parmesan on top. The light and refreshing flavor of the veggies really shone through in this dish, enhanced by the vinegar. Plus, there was a lot of staying power thanks to all of the protein!
I also got to enjoy my family’s famous jambalaya! As you can see, I put my normal eating preferences on hold to allow for some family traditions, and this meal made it worth it! My uncle created this dish years ago during the days of family camping vacations in Cape May, NJ. We would have 3 adjacent campsites and cook huge family meals on outdoor camp stoves each night. This was great because it is one pot, hearty, and tasty! While I still do not know the exact family recipe, I did find out some secrets! As with any good stew, the base starts with onion, garlic, celery and peppers. After that softens, canned diced tomatoes and cubed chicken are added. Next, spicy andouille sausage enters the mix. This adds a huge amount of flavor and a nice punch of spice! After this has simmered for a while, the shrimp enters the pot. The secret ingredient: spicy V8 juice. This is the real trick to getting a nice, spicy tomato base! Added with the canned tomatoes, the extra spice really punches up the flavor as it simmers with all of the other ingredients. If you are anything like me or Uncle Dave, you will still have to add a bit of hot sauce to the mix to get it to your preferred spice level, but our family lets us do that in our own dish rather than the communal pot!
Question: Who has taught you the most about cooking?