I have run out of Grandmothers. That most of us are given 2 in our lifetime is a luxury, I know. I’ve written about my Dad’s Mom, Ora Adams before. I even had a bonus Grandma in the mother of my godmother, Sandy Williams. I could have 10 Grandmothers and none would fill the void in my heart this week.
Rose Romero was the mother of my mother. She finally let go after 97+ years. I’ll be in Colorado celebrating her life with my family and eating a lot of Mexican food in her honor. There will be lots of music and catching up with cousins. It's going to be a special week.
She and my Grandpa lived in Denver, Colorado and I couldn’t believe that the Rocky Mountains greeted them every single day. Our visits there every summer were nothing short of miraculous just to see that view. We would drive 14 hours across the flattest state of Kansas and be rewarded with so many amazing things. Usually there was a cookie jar full of chocolate chip cookies, many Scrabble games to be played, and the saved ‘funny papers’ with kid word puzzles she had clipped for me and my sister, Julie.
Our family stayed in the basement. This seemed exotic, believe it or not; the smell of old things and cool, cool air. It was the perfect place to take naps, read books, and to play hide and seek. There was a ping pong table and the coolest beer can jigsaw puzzle I have ever seen. We would work on it as a family throughout our stay, hoping to finish it before we piled into the car again. Every year I say I’m going to track that puzzle down on eBay. Now that Grandma is gone, I think I actually will.
Trips to my Romero Grandparents' home included long walks around lakes and many games of bingo where my Grandma encouraged my belief that I am a lucky person. There were pictures of cousins, aunts, and uncles everywhere I looked.
This is my favorite picture of my GrannyPants – my own personal name for her – smiling in her rocking chair in front of the Romero/Rodriguez wall of fame. One of my treasured childhood memories is this wall and asking her to tell me stories about who everyone was. I actually felt famous as a little girl with my very own picture on that wall. I imagined my cousins asking questions about me on their visits!
I’m sure you all have a special recipe passed down to you from your Grandmothers. It is my honor to share this delicious dish with you that was lovingly made for our family by my Grandma Rose. It’s called calabacitas.
Technically, calabacita is Spanish for little squash, or baby pumpkin. This is a New Mexican dish (originally from Pueblo Native American Indians) and I'm sure every family has their own combination of corn, squash, and green chile that makes up their calabacitas. It is like a succotash. Our Grandma used unripe baby pumpkins that were light green. Now they are grown as an heirloom squash called tetume. It is such a treat to find them in the farmer’s market but plain green or yellow zucchini makes a fine substitution. Velveeta cheese makes this luxurious and incredibly kid friendly. I've tried it with cheddar cheese and I am betraying my memories as well as my taste buds when I make the substitution.
- 1 white onion, diced
- vegetable oil
- 3 small calabacita squash or any summer squash, diced
- 6 ears of corn, cut off the cob
- 1 raw poblano pepper, finely diced or 3 roasted Hatch chiles (or any can of green chiles you like)
- one cup of Velveeta cheese, diced
- chopped cilantro
- salt and pepper
In a large skillet on the stove, sautee the onion in a bit of oil until softened. Add the squash, corn and chilie and cook for 10 minutes. Add the cheese, stirring until it is melted and everything is combined. Season with salt and pepper, top with cilantro. Send a blessing to your Grandma.