Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Baked Chile Rellenos {Saying Goodbye to Grandma}

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I've tried over and over again to open this post eloquently, and have been failing miserably.  It could be a lack of coffee, or perhaps it's a product of the past week's ride on an emotional see-saw.

On Monday, May 13, one day after Mother's Day, my Grandma passed away.

AnnaBelle Chaparro had suffered from Alzheimer's for several years, and in all honestly, she had left us long ago.  But the finality of her passing means a different kind of goodbye, one that we can't tuck away in our minds as "not really goodbye."  For a long time we still had her here, albeit somewhat absent.  My mom put it perfectly when she said that Alzheimer's is "the long goodbye."

During my Grandma's final years, my mom and dad worked day and night to make sure she was well taken care of.  What started out as merely being there to make sure she wasn't in the house alone gradually became much, much more, and eventually turned into a complete role reversal, wherein they became the "parents" of a now fully-dependent Grandma.  It's a thankless and extremely hard job.  There truly should be an organization somewhere that awards medals and accolades to caregivers.

When I think of my Grandma, I picture her in the kitchen or in the garden.  She had a beautiful, lush garden that she took great pride in.  In the backyard she had apples, apricots, tomatoes, rhubarb, veggies of all kinds, and even a cherry tree.  She was an avid composter, and to this day I can still picture her coffee can sitting under the kitchen sink, full of scraps and things to compost for the garden.  Hubby and I planted a garden the weekend before Mother's Day, and I thought of her as we tucked the little plants into their new home.

My Grandma was a great cook.  She would whistle as she chopped and stirred, and soon there would be a table full of deliciousness waiting for us all to dig into.  Today I'm going to share one of her recipes with you.

Every Christmas, Grandma would make spanish food for the family dinner.  She would spend hours in the kitchen and the house would smell amazing!  I can still smell the chicken poaching for enchiladas and the aroma of roasted chiles wafting from the kitchen.  This recipe for baked chile rellenos is one of the stars of Grandma's Christmas dinner.  As I assembled this dish and the house started to smell like chiles, I couldn't help but feel her in the kitchen with me.  There were definitely tears falling as I stuffed the chiles, beat the eggs and shredded cheese, and still now as I write this.  I hope that when you make this dish you can reflect back on your favorite memories with your family, and smile.
Who knows, maybe it will become a favorite in your family, too.

Green Chile Rellenos
|Serves: 6-8| Prep: 10 mins| Bake: 40 mins|
10 green chiles, roasted and peeled*
cheese (jack/cheddar) cut into 10 strips
1/4 c cheese, shredded
3 eggs
1/4 c milk
2-3 tbsp flour
salt & pepper
hot sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray a baking dish with non-stick spray, or lightly butter. Set aside.

Stuff the chiles with the strips of cheese and arrange in baking dish.  Sprinkle with the shredded cheese.  Lightly beat the eggs and add the milk, flour, salt, pepper and dashes of hot sauce, if using.  Pour the egg mixture over the chiles.  Bake approx. 35 minutes, or until eggs are set.

*Green chiles can be purchased roasted in jars or cans.  Rinse them thoroughly to remove the added sodium.  To roast your own chiles, place them over open flame, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides.  Place roasted chiles in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10-15 mins.  To peel, wipe the chiles with a paper towel until the charred skins are removed.


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