My grandma Ruth is one of my favorite humans in the entire Universe. I promise to give you the recipe first, though, and leave story time afterwards! Having to scroll, trying to find the next step to the recipe while you're in the kitchen with one hand on your phone and one hand stirring a pot can be the worst.
Arroz con Gandules is a Puerto Rican staple, and this version I grew up with is vegetarian. My mom's side of the family is Seventh-day Adventist (a denomination of Christianity that espouses vegetarianism and general "healthiness").
Grandma Ruth gave this recipe to my cousin and I, showing us as she went a long. I scrambled to take notes -- so please be aware, there's no actual recipe. Just lots of "ehh, some of this and about this much of that."
12 oz. gandules beans (pigeon peas) (don't drain can!)
2 c. white long grain rice
1 and 1/2 clove of garlic
1/2 red pepper
1/2 large green pepper (or 1 small one)
1 yellow onion (small/medium)
2 c. water (use later)
~1/4 c. capers
~1/2 c. green olives (stuffed w/red pimentos)
3 tsp Achiote Molido (ground Annatto)
1/2 bunch of cilantro
~11 shakes Adobo (if you don't have the seasoning, get it to shake onto everything. You won't regret it!)
-Cover bottom of pan w/oil (thicker)
-Start warming while chopping the vegetables (on low)
-Stir in rice and gandules, & add veggies as their chopped
(you can also put veggies [sofrito] in blender, then add it)
-When rice is cooked a little (can you see through? Is it browned?), add Water & Adobo & Achiote & Cilantro
-Leave to boil (no lid the 1st time) NOTE: less water = more Pegao, the yummy crusty bottom of the rice dish that's often playfully fought over in my house
-Put rest of whole onion in the middle. DON'T STIR!
-Let dry out. When dried out, turn over (again, don't stir!) & cover.
-Turn down heat, and leave cover on.
-Takes ~15-20 min at this stage till it's ready.
-Turn over and check time to time. THEN ENOY!
My grandma was born during the Great Depression in Vieques, Puerto Rico (one of the two little islands off the coast of Puerto Rico, reachable by ferry from Fajarado). She raised my mom (& other two kids) mostly in Los Angeles, although they also spent some time living in Florida and back in Puerto Rico too.
Growing up, she was the extended family I saw the most. She lived in Florida for most of my younger childhood, and I loved going to stay with her in her little community full of sunshine and warmth and constant play. When I was older, her and my Grandpa Ricardo came and lived with us in Wisconsin. I never met my biological Grandpa Rueben, but Grandpa Ricardo, who Grandma Ruth married later in life, was the epitome of quiet sweetness.
Grandma Ruth eventually moved back to Florida, where the warmth is kinder to her aching knees and more neighbors speak Spanish. She still lives there, and I miss her immensely.
We got to spend time together this last July at a family reunion in Washington state, where we took a photo of three generations at a beautiful lavender farm. Isn't she the cutest? I get my height and my curls from her (my mom and dad don't have the same hair that I do), and I like to think my tenacity for facing life. Also, maybe my dominos skills? Just kidding, I'm an amateur in comparison.
She's experienced so much, and I have so much respect for her bigger-than-life heart. While a mother & daughter relationship can be contentious and complicated, granddaughters and grandmothers get a special little bit of magic thrown onto their connection. Whoever your grandmother is, I hope you cherish her.
Your challenge (my challenge) for 2020: LOVE YOUR GRANDMA! Start writing her letters, give her phone calls -- or if you're the luckiest, make more time to visit her in person. And if you can't do any of those things, honor the life she led -- in all of it's complexity. We wouldn't be here without her <3