I was fortunate enough to grow up with both sets of grandparents living just a few blocks away from the house I grew up in. In fact, I could ride my bicycle from one grandparent’s house to the other in less than a minute. No waiting around for holidays, no distances to travel; they were right there, just a few pedals away.
My grandfather, Abuelo, is still alive and kickin’, but the other three are gone. Although I think about my mother most often, every now and then memories of my grandparents come flooding in. Losing a grandparent isn’t any easier than losing a parent. I think about how much life has changed without them here. Grandparents are the people who still buy greeting cards. They’re the ones that will slip you money when your parents aren’t looking. They worry about your health and your happiness, and even still make you think twice about walking barefooted on a cold floor when you’re 33 years old. They’re the ones that stock the pantry with “the good stuff”. After all, it’s the first place you look through when you visit. They keep holiday traditions alive and cook recipes from scratch. They’re the ones that let you play in their toolsheds and teach you how to cast a fishing rod.
Grandparents are special people, and if you’re lucky enough to have even one still in your life, spend as much time as you can with them. Let them tell you old stories about how things used to be (it’s their favorite thing to do) and just be.
A dear friend of mine lost her grandmother last week. That loss has brought my grandmothers to the forefront of my mind. My grandmothers were polar opposites, but got along very well. Abuelamom was the carefree adventurer, while Abuelita was the worrier. But what they both had in common was their love of cooking and feeding people. Abuelamom would make the most delicious Boliche, while my favorite dish of Abuelita’s was her piccadillo over rice. I haven’t had either of these since their passing, but I have the recipes, as they both used adaptations of the recipes from Clarita’s Cocina. I think I’ll be getting gutsy in the kitchen and trying my hand at bringing these back into my monthly meal rotations!
I don’t know why I thought of this last night, but I remembered a dessert Abuelita would make every now and then that was such a big crowd pleaser she’d usually make a double or triple batch! It was the simplest of desserts, and probably something that you’ve made a million times, but it’s a treat that I equate with Abuelita, and for some reason I had to have it today.
I remember she’d make this dessert in small individual sized cups, or in larger bowls if she decided to deliver a container for the whole family. We’d literally fight over scoops of it, dissapointed when the very last drop had been consumed. Weeks would go by before she’d make it again, but we knew when it was time, as we’d open the pantry and see the vanilla and chocolate pudding boxes proudly displayed on the middle shelf. My brother and I would wait, and wait, and wait for her to decide. We’d run to the fridge after school to see if we’d find the cinnamon topped pudding cups in their clear glass ramekins, begging to be devoured. There would usually be one cup for each of us, but then somehow, someway more cups would appear the next day. We learned about her hiding spots early on and would go in for seconds once we realized she had made many more than just a few. 😉
Of course my grandmother used old fashioned cook and serve puddings when she made hers, but you can use any brand or type with this dessert. The cook and serve does give the Nilla’ wafers extra time to soften, but the instant pudding will work just as well. The key? The longer these sit, the better. So make them a day ahead, and hide them in the back of the fridge. 😉
Chocolate and Vanilla Nilla’ Pudding
1 box vanilla pudding
1 box chocolate pudding
10-12 Nilla’ wafers (can sub sugar free if you’re using SF pudding)
Prepare puddings as directed on the box. In a large bowl or pie dish, layer chocolate pudding, Nilla’ wafers, then vanilla pudding on top. It is against the law to order this in any other way, so take note. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and refrigerate. The longer, the better. 😉
I’ve also got my mom’s favorite Ina Garten chicken recipe in the oven. It’s a family reunion in the kitchen today. 🙂