Tag Archives: yia yia

The Humble Chickpea

1 Apr

           There is just something about chickpeas that makes me love them so much. Their taste, versatility, and texture packed into such a tiny package makes for excellent eating. During Lent this year I have eaten primarily seafood and tons of veggies but I needed something a little more toothsome. Then I remembered a simple recipe that my Yia Yia used to make during this time. The humble chickpea gets dressed up in a simple tomato sauce and boy does it satisfy. So here is that great recipe for your vegetarian enjoyment.

Chickpeas in Tomato Sauce

2-15.5oz cans of Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)

2-8oz cans of Tomato Sauce

3 tablespoons Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper, to taste

(Simple right?!)

       Drain and rinse your chickpeas and add to your pot. Add your tomato sauce, olive oil, S&P, and give it a good stir. Now add some water just to cover your chickpea mix. Stir well to incorporate. Bring your chickpeas to a boil then reduce to a strong simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Stir your chickpeas frequently because they tend to sink to the bottom. Do not cover; you want to cook most of the liquid out to make a thick sauce. I do suggest a splatter screen though; unless you like tomato sauce all over your stove, haha. In thirty minutes you have a delicious, satisfying vegetarian meal. Enjoy!

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A Grandmother’s Love Begins in the Kitchen

28 Mar

A Grandmother’s Love begins in the Kitchen

                 Growing up in a Greek and Puerto Rican home made for some exciting adventures in the kitchen. Both ethnicities centered themselves around good food with good friends and especially family. My yia yia (grandmother in Greek) Metaxia, was always an excellent cook. She would always summon me to the kitchen to test the doneness of a potato when she made her famous lemon chicken, or to help her roll out some kourabiedes (Almond butter cookies). My Puerto Rican grandma Elizabeth would always want me to hover over a pot of arroz con candules (rice and beans) or to be present when she was filling her famous pasteles with savory chunks of pork. Being a kid at the time I would often turn down these invitations into the inner sanctum to go out and play with friends. I wish I would have known then, what I know now. My grandmother’s where passing down their legacy and most importantly their love.

                   I lost my yia yia the summer of 2004 to an infection of the blood. It was sudden and took everyone in the family by surprise. It was a blow I wasn’t prepared for. I realized that I never got the chance to learn all of what she had wanted to teach me. Guilt began to overcome me and I didn’t know how to remedy it. On the days when I felt the pain of her loss the most I would remember her food. I remembered all the love and care she put into making every meal that would pass our lips. I was ecstatic when I found out that my mother had compiled my yia yia’s recipes for traditional Greek cooking in an old marble notebook. To my dismay the recipes were less than perfectly written. There were one word steps for preparation, and angry cross out marks and squiggles all over the pages. Well everyone has to start out somewhere. So I set out determined as ever to learn all that she wanted to teach me when she was still alive. Slowly but surely I worked my way through the notebook. From appetizers to grand entrees, they each had their turn taking center stage in my kitchen. Then one day it dawned on me. I should create a polished family cookbook. Not just any cookbook, but one equipped with photos of each recipe so that my family could see what the final product should look like. It would be the perfect family heirloom that can be passed down from generation to generation.

                   The summer of 2009 brought more sadness to our family. My grandma Elizabeth passed away due to complications from her lifelong struggle with diabetes. Once again the light rushed out of the family kitchens. No more bubbling pots and intoxicating scents to fill our home. This time, however, there were no written Puerto Rican family recipes. I had to rely on my mother’s memory, and experimentation to recreate my grandmother’s exquisite flan and savory empanadas. I had again missed my opportunity to learn from the master. Now I was left with no grandmothers, and a book that was still heavily under construction. After my grandma Elizabeth’s passing I felt a new vigor for this cookbook. Even though work on it slowed down and on occasion ground to a halt I still worked on this precious project. I wanted to honor their love and their culinary expertise, but not just for my family now. I wanted to share their love for food and family with the world.

                   To this day I am working on the family cookbook. Testing both of my grandmother’s recipes and taking care to ensure not one flavor is out of place. When I taste each dish I want to be able to feel their touch, and to hear the warmth of their voices. I want their knowledge and their love to be felt in each succulent bite. As the flavors dissolve on my tongue I should be able to be transported to the most cherished of child hood memories. This is why the book has been such a huge part of my life. It is a piece of them. With a combined 148 years of life they have left me all of themselves within the lines of these recipes. It is an honor to be the guardian of such precious knowledge. I will make them proud no matter how long it takes me.

                  Food nourishes more than just our bodies. It nourishes our souls. A meal tastes all the better when you know it was created with love for you in mind. So to all who still have those wonderful grandmothers in their lives, please listen to them. Accept their invitations to cook. Accept their invitations to sew. All of these requests are worth your time. They want to teach you all that they know. Many of us feel that our grandparents will be around forever. Then that one day comes when they are gone, and you have missed it all. Don’t be blind to those precious and tender moments. But remember this; as long as you love them they never truly leave you. They will always live on in the memories, knowledge, and love they leave behind just for you.

 

This article is dedicated to my Grandma Elizabeth

And my Yia Yia Metaxia

You will always be remembered.

 

 

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My Yia Yia Metaxia

22 Feb

My Yia Yia Metaxia

This is a photo of my Yia Yia Metaxia. She would have been 87 years old today if she had not passed away the summer of 2004. She was a strong, funny, loving grandma who taught me all about Greek cooking when she was alive. She inspired me to start working on a cookbook a couple of years ago and I have been working on it ever since. Her name Metaxia means silk in Greek and it is also my middle name. People usually choose Mary or Michelle but are surprised when I tell them the true name and meaning. Then each and everytime I am dubbed Christina Silk, haha. To my Yia Yia I love you, I miss you, and no I have not given up :)—-CMY