During this time my father was in a labor camp, for the crime of wanting to leave the country. Alone, and with few provisions, as my mother struggled to care for us, she was struck with inspiration. One day she went out to the back patio to do the wash and saw a cute little frog sitting by the door to the kitchen. My mother has always liked frogs, and this little frog by the kitchen door gave her an idea...
My father and I were very close, but I did not always get along with my mother, so even though she was a marvelous cook, I had never been interested in learning her cooking secrets. However, after my father’s death, I witnessed my mother’s severe deterioration and overwhelming sadness. Looking for a way to engage her, I had the idea to ask her to teach me how to cook like her...
When my parents got close to retirement, my husband suggested we invite them to come live with us. Not having housing expenses they would be able to stretch their retirement income and do a little traveling. We felt it was a way of thanking them for the sacrifices they had made for us, and their courage in leaving Cuba and starting over in the US to provide a chance for us children to live free.
For a long time they hesitated to accept our invitation. They feared that moving in with us would be too great an imposition. My father used his colorful language as an excuse not to take us up on our offer. He was concerned about the grandchildren picking up his Cuban swearing! But finally, they accepted and came to live in an apartment we created for them in our basement.
Of course, another great benefit was being able to enjoy Mamina's cooking! Here is one of the stand-by dishes she cooked quite often, because it's simple to make and we all loved it.
I liked Carne Con Papas best when Mamina made it with carrots and potatoes (sometimes even broccoli) from Papillo's garden.
It might seem similar to a stew, but it is not as soupy.
Olive oil to coat the frying pan
½ to 1 green bell pepper
3-5 garlic cloves
1- 8 oz can of tomato sauce
4 to 6 Potatoes, cubed
3 to 4 Carrots chopped
1 tsp Salt
¼ cup Cooking Wine (optional-it’s still great without it)
2 cups of broccoli florets- if you happen to have some around
Cube potatoes, cut carrots in large round pieces.
Add the tomato sauce, potatoes, carrots, salt, and cooking wine to the meat, (broccoli too, if you are including it). Turn temperature down to medium-low, cover, and cook for 45 minutes.