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Abuelo Joe’s Paella and dealing with grief

Abuelo Joe’s Paella is a one pan Spanish dish that originated in my late father in law’s kitchen.

Recently our family suffered an integral loss. My children’s grandfather lost his ongoing battle with heart disease and sadly passed. Children are resilient for the most part, although what my husband and I as parents have learnt throughout this whole experience, is that our children process their loss by celebrating life.

Standing back and watching the grieving process of our children has been especially difficult. There is nothing we can do to change the reality of the situation, although we’ve learnt that our way of seeing them through it, is by helping them remember his legacy.

Many people simply don’t know how to interact with someone who has experienced loss. They avoid the subject in fear of upsetting the other person. In my own experiences, I’ve found that the opposite is true.

Dealing with grief is a very personal and individual process. If you feel alone and are struggling, don’t hesitate to ask for help.


Children who are grieving just want to speak about the person they’ve lost. By speaking about their loss, they feel closer to the person they miss so very much. My children speak about the memories of their grandfather fondly, so we encourage them to talk, and to remember, and to grieve in the way that they need to in order to feel comforted, loved, and safe throughout the whole process.

My father in law loved to be in the kitchen. It’s where most of my memories of him take place.


Making Churros

To him (and most Europeans) food was love, and he showed his love for his family by cooking traditional Spanish meals. One of his staples, was his Paella dish.

One particular day I sat in the kitchen while he was cooking and wrote the recipe down as he was making it. I knew it was a dish that could be passed on to my children, and their children, and so forth. I wanted to make certain I would do the dish justice.

It’s a great dish that all the family will enjoy. Especially the crunchy bits of rice that form at the bottom of the pan if you overcook it a little bit. The bottom of that pan was always my go to place.

By cooking this dish, we remember him and it helps my children keep his legacy alive.

As my family aren’t big fans of seafood, Joe adjusted the recipe in order to only include chicken, although you are free to put as much seafood in it as you like. He would add prawns and mussels and squid. The possibilities are endless!

It’s a great one pan dish for special occasions and the ingredients can be adjusted to the size of the pan. You can feed an army or a family of four. It really is up to you!

I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!

Abuelo Joe’s Chicken Paella


Abuelo Joe’s Seafood and Chicken Paella


1 x Bay Leaf

6 cups of water (if using water add 2 stock cubes, chicken bones and prawn heads), or a combination of ready bought fish and chicken stock

1/2 Onion

1 x Garlic

1 x pinch of Saffron

Boil for at least half an hour in order to combine the flavours. It is important to make stock before you begin the pan cooking.


Oil for fry pan

1/2 x Green Capsicum

1 x blended tin of peeled tomatoes

1 x Onion chopped finely

2 x Garlic chopped finely

1 x mild chilli

1 x whole chicken breast

2 x cup (enough for 4 people, add more as required) arborio rice

1 x cup of dry white wine


Marinated Red Capsicum

Salt per taste


Heat oil in fry pan.

Cut chicken into strips and brown. Chop onion and chilli and add to the oil. Chop green capsicum and add to the oil with garlic. Add tomato and let it simmer/cook low-med heat approx 5 mins.

Add the wine. Let it simmer on medium heat for 7-8 minutes.

Add the rice (raw). Cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.

Add the stock enough to cover the rice. Let it reduce slightly.

Add salt per taste.

Add more stock, tasting the texture of the rice as you go along. As the stock reduces add more until the rice absorbs it and is cooked.

Add peas and marinated red capsicum to the surface of the rice. Cover with additional stock if necessary.

Once liquid has reduced and the rice is cooked yet still moist, turn heat off and place a clean tea towel and lid over the pan to absorb moisture.

Serve when ready!




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