A Space for our Daily Bread

pomegranates growing at Mission San Fernando, Mission Hills, CAMy favorite meals growing up were eaten around my Grandmother Hilda’s table.  She made the most incredible baked macaroni and cheese I’ve ever tasted, and the best chopped salad on earth, but my favorite dish of hers as a little girl was her Arroz DeToro and other meals that were influenced by her mother and grandmother’s cooking, the food of the Californio ranchos.  It was the arroz she grew up eating in her own mother’s kitchen, and one of the first dishes I successfully cooked in my own kitchen when i moved out at 18, following my mother’s typewritten from memory recipe.  My grandfather always called it “Spanish soup”, because at first that’s what it looks like, bubbling away in an open cast iron skillet on the stove.  Once it’s finished it is the most divine Spanish rice I’ve had to this day.  My grandmother’s special ingredient was love of course.  She lovingly prepared all of the food that came out of her kitchen and took great satisfaction in seeing her family enjoy what she had made.  In addition to her “orange rice” (my personal name for it as a kid), she made chili beans that knocked your socks off, burritos, homemade Salsa (or, Sarsa as it was called in the Californio days) with homegrown chilis and tomatoes, tamale pie, and so much more.  She never really let me help in the kitchen. I was allowed to sit at her small table in the corner, watch, learn, ask questions, and chat.  I learned so much sitting in her kitchen watching her meticulously chopping ingredients in perfect proportion, lovingly stirring a pot of something delicious on the stove, all the while platicamos sobre todo (we would chat about everything).  My love of cooking comes from her love of cooking and the influence of native Californio Rancho cooking continues to be the way I connect to my ancestors on a regular basis.  Much of the food I create in my own kitchen is based on this influence.  I create a weekly dinner menu for my family and at least three or four of the nights are filled with Rancho style meals.  The Alta Handcrafted food section is dedicated to the memory of my wonderful Grandmother Hilda who gave me the gift of loving to cook and sharing meals with the people I love.  I look forward to sharing my favorite recipes with you here, from my simple and essential, Frijoles Pintos, to my favorite fall dish, Tomatillo Posole.

2 comments

  • Sign me up! Thank you for sharing!

    Barbara Bohan
  • What a beautiful testament to the tangible force of love that cooling is!

    Ellie Davis

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