By Lita Sandoval
Let’s just say that 2009 has not been my best year. I was laid off from my job in January. I accepted a position for another job soon after I was laid off and it turned out to be a terrible situation. I quit within three months. To add to the stress of finding a job, I got kidney stones twice, caught two teenage girls trying to steal my car from the driveway, and even had my garbage can stolen!
I am fortunate I have a temporary part-time job, which basically has saved my life. I make just enough money to pay bills and only have enough left over for a few extras. I’ve been thinking about how I am going to afford Christmas gifts for my family. I cut my list way back to gifts for immediate family only. My daughter also wants to give gifts to her friends—six of them.
I decided that I would make gifts for everyone. And I wanted my daughter to make gifts for her friends, too. Together we made jewelry for her friends. It was fun spending time together picking out beads and deciding which friends would like certain beads and colors. The whole idea of making gifts together was definitely cost effective, but what came out of that experience was a great bonding opportunity. It was also fun watching my daughter’s creativity explode. We can now check six people off the Christmas list!
My father helped me to decide on very special gifts I will be making for my sister, niece, and daughter. My father is always heavy on my mind during the holidays. He passed away seven years ago. The man was a fabulous cook. Family and friends still salivate when they talk about his amazing marinated steaks or his incredible paella. I thought it would be cool to gather all of his recipes, re-type them, put them in a beautiful box and give them to my sister, niece, and daughter for Christmas.
It has been an incredible experience going through those recipes! It was like going back through a time machine. I can look at a recipe and associate a special occasion with the meal my dad prepared. On many of his recipe cards, he wrote little notes that made me remember his wicked sense of humor. He named dishes after himself or altered the name of something that would incorporate his name.
Some of his notes were just cool, like the one on his paella recipe. He named it Paella Al Al. My dad’s name was Al and if you speak Spanish, you get the humor in the title. At the bottom of the recipe card it says:
Recipe from a restaurant at La Carihuela – a fishing village on the Mediterranean outside Torremolinos. 1984
While going through the recipes, I found one of my favorites: my dad’s Tequila Shrimp. I had never attempted to make this particular dish. I decided I would make the Tequila Shrimp and take it to a party I was invited to.
I used to love going to the grocery store with my dad and helping him find just the right ingredients for his meals. Going to the store and picking out ingredients for the shrimp dish with my dad’s very particular eye was important. I was excited to put it all together. I took out the special cazuela my dad gave me and took care to make sure the tequila shrimp not only tasted good, but looked good. I think I succeeded.
I hope my sister, niece, and daughter will think of my dad when they try out one of his famous dishes. It really is a wonderful legacy that he has left all of us. What better way is there to connect with family and friends than to sit around a table with a wonderful meal? And because I saw that my mom had her own little box of recipes, I’ve decided I must put hers in with my dad’s. Most of her best recipes aren’t written down, so we made a date to sit down and write them all out.
Needless to say, my stress of holiday gift giving has gone by the wayside. Jewelry has been made, recipes have been written out and precious time has been spent being with, thinking of and enjoying time with family. It seems as though my year has ended so much better than it started out.
Dad Grilling, photo of Al Sandoval (Lita’s father) grilling
steaks at home circa 1966, photo © 1966-2009
by Olga Sandoval. All rights reserved.
- 2 lbs. cooked shrimp
- 2 oz. Tequila
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 3 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 bay leaf broken up
- ½ tsp. salt
- Dash black pepper
- Garlic salt to taste
Mix well and add to shrimp. Coat well. Add:
- 1 lemon and 1 lime thin sliced
- 4 pearl onions thin sliced
- 1 cup black olives sliced
- 2 Tbs. chopped pimiento
- 2 roasted, peeled, chopped green chilies
Marinade in refrigerator for at least three hours.
Lita Sandoval is a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is a local blogger (currently on hiatus) known as Adelita—she made the top five “Best Bloggers” in Albuquerque the Magazine’s Best of City 2009, and for the past two years she’s been in the top three bloggers in the Alibi‘s Best of Burque—who writes about the funky hometown she affectionately calls “Burque” (pronounced boor-keh, extra roll on the “r”). She’s also a jewelry artist (check out her work at her Etsy shop, although she warns that she hasn’t had time to add much to it lately but will in the new year) and collector of many unusual things. Her teenage daughter keeps her on her toes, as do her rowdy dogs, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Etta James. Her favorite saying is, “Oh sí liar!”