PUKALANI, Hawaii // Food is the universal language of love. The universal sign that you love your grandparents, that transcends race and heritage, is eating their food. Each bite a little token of your love. Each smile and “Mmmm" a hug wrapped tight around them. After sitting with several of our grandparents I can attest it is absolutely true so I eat and eat and eat. The more you eat the more they know you love them.
Grandparents also have the best recipes. Never written down. Never exactly measured out. A pinch here and a spoonful-ish of that. The only way to learn them is through experience. Make them with your grandma. Roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty.
Grandma Shular has a few cookie recipes to die for. They are addicting beyond belief and Adam averaged about 10 a day while we were in Georgia. The best was when she gave me the recipe and then had me cross out almost all the ingredients and put in substitutes. Not pecans but macadamia nuts. Not that much sugar. 100% use parchment paper. To get them crispy you have to leave them in until you think they are burned and then leave them in 2 minutes longer.
Polish dishes typically consist of cabbage and meat. We made lazy man’s cabbage with Grandma Stanowick. You have to fold the meat (do not squish it in your hands and fingers). Once you learn how to prepare the meat with salt, pepper, eggs, and onion you can use it almost any dish: meatballs, meatloaf, and hamburger patties.
Filipino dishes are pretty much a variation of salt, pepper, tomato, ginger, garlic, onion, and meat in some form or another. A Filipino tradition is to bring a bag of rice into a new home. Then the family will never go hungry under that roof.
My grandparents in Hawaii used to stretch a cup of rice and a can of Spam to feed a family of 8 for a week. They are also very creative with leftovers and the order of dishes each day.
- Day 1 - Steak and rice
- Day 2 - Stir fry (leftover steak)
- Day 3 - Soup (leftover stir fry)
- Day 4 - Fried rice (all leftovers)
- Day 5 - Loco moco (Fried rice with an egg fried on top for breakfast)
It’s a brilliant progression and an art to orchestrate. It took me two weeks before I even recognized a dish as a leftover.
Adam and I have been showing our love by the spoonful. Luckily we have been working out everyday, but all it does is offset all that we consume.
Moral of the story: Eat your food, love your grandparents.