Sunday, July 7, 2013


Watermelon ! My kids, Daniel and Ben. Grandkids, from left, Lucas, Nico and Leo.

A cheer went up at the table. “Yay, GranJan got it right!” Three kids, three different sandwich preferences. It took me several attempts to tailor-make each sandwich.

The fresh-baked buns (not too crusty) from a local panadería were fine with all. Leo, 9, likes mayonnaise on his ham sandwich, hold the cheese, with sliced tomato and lettuce too. Lucas, 8, won’t eat tomato, but loves cheese on his sandwich. He’s OK with lettuce. Nico, 5, prefers tomato on the side and might eat the bun with mayo and leave the ham. Or, surprise, the next time he wants everything and gobbles it up.

By now, I think they’re playing me for a patsy. But, with grandkids, that’s ok too. A little play is fun. Trying to give them what they want makes me happy. Succeeding at pleasing them is a joy!

All meals are kid-friendly. Even though there are four of us adults and only three of them, food is not spiced. Weaned on pizza, it seems everything except oregano is  “spicy” in the kid lexicon. Mozarella and oregano are as comforting as mother’s milk.

Nico and arepas.
That’s not completely true. Lucas and Nico have a Venezuelan abuela who makes them calamares en salsa (squid in sauce), with adobo spices including garlic, cumin and oregano—but, no chile. From her I learned that kids like their sauces smooth, with no identifiable pieces. So I put the onions and green peppers through the food processor; puree the tomatoes in the blender.

My nuera (daughter-in-law), Eli, made supper one evening of Venezuelan arepas, a corn-meal griddle bun, split open and filled with meat and cheese. (She brought the special flour from the US, as it isn’t a Spanish product.) Cousin Leo, who has an English accent although he lives in Spain, politely said that they were “very filling.”

Tuna-macaroni salad--favorite kid food.

I make tuna-mac, a lunch dish my sons (now dads) loved when they were little. Shell macaroni, canned tuna, mayonnaise from a jar (I blend it with some yogurt and no one is the wiser). However, I know not to add any chopped onion or celery or sweet red pepper. All that I serve on the side for each to add according to his tastes.

Leo and artichoke.
But there’s room for experimentation. Leo shows his primos how to eat artichokes, pulling the leaves off one by one and dipping them in mayonnaise. Artichoke eating has high entertainment value. Nico, who’s never heard of an artichoke before, calls them “party-chokes”. Nice.

In the garden, I show the kids how the uncut artichokes have opened into spectacular flowers.

Gazpacho does not score. All three kids grudgingly taste it. They make various sour faces. Try again next visit.

Lucas picks green beans.

Lucas loves green beans. He eats a huge serving of them, par-boiled and sauteed in olive oil. (I showed him where olive oil comes from--little olives on the trees.) He helps me pick beans from the garden for another meal. He also loves gambas a la plancha (jumbo shrimp grilled in their shells), but that’s a special treat.

Leo’s special treat is jamón con melón, slices of sweet melon with Spanish ham—serrano or, his favorite, “pata negra” ibérico.

My son Daniel, who is Lucas and Nico’s papá, makes breakfast omelettes for the crew. With grated mozzarella and chunks of hot dogs (not approved by management), they are a hit with the kids.

Leo likes watermelon.
Nico likes watermelon.
Everybody loves watermelon! They eat it out on the terrace where the drips don’t matter. Then Ben, Leo’s dad, shows the kids how to make a “melon-copter,” launching the melon rinds out over the olive trees into the arroyo.

Lucas launches a melon-copter into the arroyo.

Tonight we’re having hamburgers. I made a pinto bean salad, Spanish potato salad with lemon dressing, and  classic cole slaw. As all three kids declared they don’t like beans (except green beans), I put grown-up seasoning in the bean salad, but keep the potatoes and slaw on the bland side. Vamos a ver.

Next week, grandchildren will have departed. Think I’ll have some spicy Asian noodles. All by myself.


  1. You had quite the house-full of handsome boys! So happy to see the pictures.

    All my love,