For our womxn’s history series this month, Culturas will highlight stories from womxn who shape all aspects of our life. Today, one of our writers looks at her Peruvian grandmother’s recipes and how they gave her a new-found appreciation of fruits.
I remember when I was a kid, my abuela would pick me up from preschool and take me to her home until my mom would come for me late at night after work. To keep me entertained, my grandmother would make me her sous-chef to prepare all sorts of dishes, both sweet and savory. I remember all those hours we would spend cooking and then eating together while watching telenovelas on her kitchen TV.
I wasn’t much of a fruit person back then, but my grandmother would always find ways to include fruits into her recipes so that I would start liking them. Eventually, it worked and now, my favorite recipes of hers have fruits as the main ingredient. While I haven’t seen my abuela in almost two years, cooking her recipes evoke childhood memories that will forever stay with me. Here are the two simple recipes from my grandma’s cookbook that made me fall in love with fruits and will make your kids like them too.
My abuela was all for natural juices because they have a lot of properties that can contribute to your health, so we would always squeeze fresh oranges for this recipe. Natural orange juice is known to be a great source of vitamin C, a vitamin that has a main role in strengthening your immune system. The acid of orange juice may also prevent kidney problems such as kidney stones and help your heart stay healthy by reducing high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. I’ve never tried making this recipe with bottled juice but if you do so, I wouldn’t add extra sugar as these juices already come sweetened.
- Squeeze eight oranges (approx.) to get two cups of orange juice
- Dissolve three tablespoons of cornstarch in ¼ cup of water
- Add the orange juice to a pot at medium heat with two tablespoons of brown sugar and let it boil
- Pour the dissolved cornstarch into the pot while stirring the orange juice
- Stir until the juice becomes thicker and it sticks to your stirring spoon
- Optional: cut small pieces of pineapple and add them to the mix
- Serve hot in four bowls and add powdered cinnamon on top
Warm orange pudding is perfect for a chilly afternoon when you want to have a sweet yet nutritious snack. This recipe is also a lifesaver for when your children (or you) have an upset stomach or if they had some dental procedure that is limiting their ability to eat solid foods (I recently had dental surgery and this is one of the dishes that I ate throughout my recovery).
Stove-Top Baked Apples
Growing up, my mom would always send me an apple as a snack for my school break to the point that I got tired of them and couldn’t stand the idea of eating apples. However, my abuela’s stove-top baked apples recipe was a game-changer and showed me that this majestic fruit can be used in an infinite number of ways that make it more interesting to eat. After all, apples should be part of everyone’s diet as they have several health properties such as antioxidants that can help with asthma, bone density, and even age-related mental decline.
- Wash six Honeycrisp apples and remove their cores with a knife or an apple corer so that the apples become tiny bowls (we’re going to put other ingredients inside the apples so don’t cut the cores all the way)
- Put the apples in a mid-size pot
- Add water in the pot until only one inch of the apples is out of the water
- Optional: add raisins inside the hollowed apples
- Stick two or three small cinnamon sticks into the apples
- Add three tablespoons of brown sugar to the water
- Let the apples boil at medium heat for 30 minutes (approx.) You will notice how the color turns from bright red to brownish
- Pinch them with a fork and if it goes in, they are ready
- Remove the cinnamon sticks and serve hot
- Optional: fill in the apples with dulce de leche and sprinkle them with powdered cinnamon
In the same way as the orange pudding recipe, I prefer to enjoy the stove-top baked apples as soon as I make them so that they are warm and juicy. If you’ve never tried dulce de leche, a milk-based caramel really popular in Latin America, I really encourage you to do so. My grandma used to make her own dulce de leche but you can buy it at several supermarket chains.
It’s been almost 15 years since I first learned these two recipes and yet they’re still part of my weekly cookbook and so I hope they become part of yours too. While I’ve shown you my way of cooking, feel free to make changes to fit your dietary needs and preferences.