Guest Post: The Empress: Alexandra

April 5, 2012

Hi Readers!

Healing update: I still feel like Hades’ hairball. I certainly didn’t expect to be this sore, but what’s really Gobsmacked me is the fatigue. I seriously cannot funtion; I’m so exhausted that I’m utterly useless 22 out of 24 hours I day.  I can pack lunches, check homework, get the girls out the door without looking like Oliver Twist, and then…I’m pretty much done.

I’ve never had to ask for so much help in my life. The boys pick up dinner and run errands, mama and daddy come when they can to do the laundry. I can’t even frickin’ shower alone, just in case I, you know, slip and go Kerplunk! on the bathroom tiles.

The silver lining to all of this getting older bullshit is that people are suddenly willing to pony up and help your frail ass, which is the coolest thing ever. When I got an email from Alexandra (#GDRPempress) the other day, generously offering a guest post, I almost jumped out of my Depends undergarments. This woman, and her deliciously funny blog, can move mountains. She’s that big–I mean, she is called The Empress–and I worship both her big heart and her wonderful blog.

Please give a warm welcome to Alexandra, and hey #GDRPempress, I love ya, kid.


For My Grandmother
I always childishly hoped my grandmother would be with me forever. My first memories begin with her, and even though it’s been over 25 years since her death, I still can’t believe I’ve had to learn to live without her.
She was born in Spain and came to Colombia, South America when she was four years old. She learned to cook from her Spaniard mother, and those are the recipes I grew up with. When I was about three or four years old I began helping my grandmother in the kitchen. She would tie one of her flowered aprons around my waist, and I would stand next to her on top of a cracked red leather kitchen stool.
She would sing in a soft and low voice as she’d grind the corn meal for our sweet corn cakes, one of my absolute favorites. With a worn rock from our yard, she’d grind the corn meal until it was as fine as white flour. The sand paper sound of the rock crushing the larger bits of meal is one that I can still hear if I close my eyes. When the corn meal was as smooth as we could make it, together, her hands over mine, we’d slowly add the milk and eggs, mixing all the ingredients together in a large wooden bowl. With the thick meal ready, we’d roll the dough mixture into little balls, pressing them down into the palms of our hands until they were flat discs.
She had a large cast iron pan of oil heating up on the stove, and to check if the oil was hot enough for the griddle cakes, she’d wet her fingers and then sprinkle the water in the pan. If we heard a sizzle, then we knew the oil was ready. She’d quicky toss the flattened patties in, and I’d hear the hiss of a pan that was perfectly calibrated.  The corn cakes would be fried until they were a pale gold, and my grandmother would lift them out deftly while I’d lay them between paper towels, pressing down with my small hands to squeeze out the extra grease.
While they were still hot, we’d spread the cakes with butter and jam, and the two would melt on top into a sticky sweet syrup. We’d sit grinning and eating those cakes that were almost as large as a salad plate. I’d always take a stack of two or three and my grandmother would say Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.
There was so much more time to tell her what I wanted to tell her, that was always my thinking. My grandmother is gone now, and even though it’s been over twenty five years, I still can’t write about her without tears stinging my eyes and a lump start to build in my throat.
But, somehow, I hope that through the shining dark eyes of a grinning four year old girl, gazing up at her adoringly, clothed in one of her aprons while she stood on a kitchen stool next to her, that she knew how much she meant to me.
I hope.
Abuelita’s Corn Meal Griddle Cakes
1 c. boiling water
3/4 c. yellow corn meal
1 c. buttermilk or sour milk
2 eggs
1 c. all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. soda
1/4 c. vegetable oil
Pour water over corn meal; stir until thick. Add milk; beat in eggs. Mix flour, baking powder, salt and soda. Add to cornmeal mixture; stir in oil. Bake on hot, lightly greased griddle. Makes about 14 pancakes.

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