I am thankful for the memories.
The holidays are here and that means there will be plenty of eating and drinking. With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, it reminds me of my childhood. My father, a dark, fit and strong (from years of construction) Mexican, came from a family who loved to eat. They made enchiladas and Spanish rice, albondigas and flan and so much more. Our family’s specialty, Spanish rice, would show up at every dinner. Every dinner.
My mother is of Norwegian decent, petite, blonde and kind. She loved to cook and was very hard on herself when she tried new recipes. One recipe that we always enjoyed was a dish called “lefsa and meatballs”. Lefsa, was a potato style tortilla, mashed very thin and bound with flour. We would wrap our meatballs with the lefsa and spread cranberry sauce all over it. It is delicious, trust me! Along with our love for food, we also shared a love for music. My mother plays the piano beautifully! She purchased sheet music with Holiday tunes and we would gather around and sing. I remember these days so vividly because my father filmed these precious moments, he was always recording. Always preserving. Allowing us to relive these days over and over.
We had to have two tables during Thanksgiving because the family was huge. As far as I can remember, I was banished to the kids table until I was about ten. Once I had made my way to a table that wasn’t completely riddled with spit-up and cranberry sauce, I finally came to enjoy the beautiful sights of the Holidays. Forget the trees and forget the lights. Give me a complete and set table. Turkey and stuffing and mash potatoes and gravy and video cameras? "Come on, Dad. I’m eating!" Spanish rice, pico de gallo, lefsa, meatballs, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, apple pie and tamales. And, of course, my mothers holiday punch: a lemon-lime sherbet, sparkling cocktail that could be spiked with a dark rum if you wanted a little kick.
Is there anything better than a set table?!
No. The answer is no.
After dinner was finally done there were always a few “stragglers"; family members, myself included, who would simply stand or hover around the table of food trying to stuff one last bite of pie/turkey/potatoes in before the half-time nap.
Anyone hungry yet? Because I am starving. Here's our Family Recipe for Spanish Rice to add a little kick to your holiday season.
Reyes Family Spanish Rice
1 Cup of Rice
2 Cup chicken stock or water.
1/2 or 1 Onion, chopped (depending on how much you like)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1-3 Jalapeno peppers (optional for heat)
Red Chili flakes (optional for heat)
Tomato Sauce (8-10 ounces) Cilantro
1/4 Cup Butter and/or Olive Oil
In a heated saucepan, combine butter and olive oil (1 or 2 splashes) and cook at medium to high heat. Add rice and brown for 3-5 minutes. Add onion, garlic, and red peppers (optional) and continue cooking until onions look soft, about 2-3 minutes. Slowly add the two cups of water (Careful: It will steam) and stir. Stir in tomato sauce. Puncture jalapeños and drop into pan (optional). Bring to a boil. Added cilantro, cover and reduce heat to low-simmer. Cook 20 minutes.