(Translation: Soggy Zucchini)
My Grandma Smothers was famous for making this delicacy which she sometimes paired with Chicken Cacciatore—a fancy little dish you learned about a few weeks ago.
The secret to Calabacitas was to cook the crap out of the zucchini until it turned to mush. I wasn’t a huge fan of Grandma Smother’s dinners, but man could she bake. I wish I could share her Molasses Cookies recipe with you, but then I’d have to kill you. That secret recipe doesn’t leave the family, but if you’re lucky, I might make them for you at Christmastime and you will tell me that there is no way I actually created these scrumptious, amazingly perfect round gems.
When we were kids, Grandma would make a boat-load of Molasses Cookies for all the grandkids. We all looked frantically under the Christmas tree for our very own Folgers coffee can containing our ration. And don’t even get me started on her Apple Crisp. However, her dinners were another thing.
At Grandma and Grandpa’s place in Oroville it was so hot in the summertime, you were happy to go indoors to eat dinner–whatever it was. Their mobile home park had a pool, but we usually stayed in the screened-in porch playing exciting games like “Sit on the Stairs.” There were bees outside which would send us flailing and screaming back into the shelter of the screened-in porch and its safe Astroturf floor covering. Inside, their mobile home was so narrow I could practically reach both arms out and touch either side of the kitchen at eight years old. I still remember sitting at their tiny dining room table watching my sweet but stern Grandma work that stove. I also remember sitting at that table and sticking a house key in the electrical outlet for the first and last time in my life.
Grandma Smothers was full-blooded German and usually cooked dishes with sauerkraut or cabbage or some other colorless thing in them. And that’s what her refrigerator always smelled like…cold, leftover cabbage. But she indulged in this fancy Mexican recipe when entertaining the family, and then my Mom in turn made it. And I in turn never make it.
6 large zucchini, or that one insanely overgrown zucchini that has taken over your garden
¼ cup of minced onion (or, you can cut up a real onion to make it fancy)
1 clove of garlic
3 small cans of tomato sauce
3 thick slices of Velveeta Cheese
4 strips of bacon
1 red bell pepper
Fry bacon until almost crispy. While the bacon is frying, chop the zucchini, garlic and bell pepper (and the onion if of the fancy variety). Set the bacon aside; slap kids’ hands when they try to grab a piece. In a large skillet, cook the zucchini, onion, bell pepper and garlic in the leftover bacon grease for about 15 minutes. Add tomato sauce and bacon strips. Simmer on low for about one hour, or, what the hell, all day. About five minutes before serving, remove the bacon. No, I don’t know why. Add cheese and stir until melted. Serve with straws.