Time is on my side...

So said the Rolling Stones in their 1964 recording.

For a friend, grieving the loss of a loved one, time was not on their side. 

So, here I am pondering time and dearly departed.

I am now too old to “die young” – though boomers do keep moving the bar on the definition of "young". The unexpected passing of someone the same age invokes the “live each day to the fullest” mantra – and yet…

Time – it is the gift of retirement. As a thoroughly modern working woman, juggling home, family, full-time work and graduate studies, I never achieved any work/life balance that included clever meal planning and Zen cooking. Now, especially since I began blogging, I have time to plan a project each week – recording an old family recipe or experimenting with things that have long been on my "to do" list.

“Recording an old family recipe” can be tough when the “family” is long gone. This May will mark 42 years since the death of my paternal grandmother. (I had to look that up.) I have very fond memories of her even though we did not spend massive amounts of time together. Perhaps because of some quirks of my grandfather, they became the grandparents that were visited less often than my maternal grandparents. Though I was a (young) grown-up when she died, it was stupendously stupid of me that I did not make time to learn from her / at her side. But I was not, then, who I am now, and “we don’t know what we’ve got ‘til it’s gone”. Her eyes lit up when I visited, and she would almost conspiratorially pull me to the back room to show me all the glorious handiwork she had embroidered for me. She was only a bit older than I am now when she died, after which my grandfather went a bit berserk and gave away the contents of those drawers to neighbours. Technically (and otherwise) he was kind to me, and on his dairy farm there was always a new calf named after me. By the time of his own death he had few assets or possessions. The only thing I “inherited” from him was a (made in Germany) colander that I use to this day. 

I think of this grandmother as a brave woman.

My father on the left...

My father on the left...

It is conceivable that my grandfather was responding to these Canadian posters inviting emigration to The West. Leaving my grandmother in Hungary with two preschoolers, he arrived at Pier 21 in Halifax, was given $25 and property in Spiritwood, Saskatchewan (close to North Battleford). It remains hard for me to fathom that, with two wee kiddies, she travelled from a tiny village, across Europe, took a ship across the ocean, landed in Halifax and then travelled across Canada to join him several years later. The story, as I know it, is that the day she stepped off the train in North Battleford, he was in town mailing a letter advising her not to come. It must have been a brutal existence. She had three more children – two of which died out west, in winter. They had to tend a fire for several days to thaw the ground enough for a burial. Having moved to Ontario, they left their dairy farm in Wellandport after the third Canadian-born son was killed driving over a railway crossing. In Hamilton, she replaced farm work with factory work - walking to a corner close to her house where she’d be picked up by a company bus transporting workers to/from the E.D. Smith factory. She died from heart disease - but surely must have also had a broken heart.

From her kitchen, I remember she always had cinnamon spread, and/but never "real" ketchup. Instead she bought Catsup. The internet says ketchup / catsup – same thing – but in my experience it wasn’t. In hindsight it probably had no, or less, sugar!

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My grandmother was the Kalács Queen (kuh-lawtch). This is a Hungarian sweet bread probably not unlike similar breads all over Europe and Eastern Europe. I can still conjure up that taste memory! My lifelong yeast phobia translates into the fact that I have not yet tried an official Hungarian kalács recipe. However, the second I laid eyes on this recipe for Lemon Ricotta Buns I felt sure it might replicate a ricotta kalács she used to make – and it did!

I now have “time” to make things that involve proofing time. Is that a good use of my time? Am I living each day to the fullest? Hard to say, but as Michael Pollan says in his book / documentary series “Cooked” – “time is the missing ingredient in our cooking” – and I am content that this ingredient is now a staple in my kitchen.

For as Bill Watterson / Calvin and Hobbes says - “There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want.” 

For the sake of brevity, I am shelving so many more thoughts on "time". Want a good read? Carl Honore’s In Praise of Slow. Good movie? About Time. Daily meditation? Read any one of these quotations.

Here’s the recipe for Lemon Ricotta Buns. Use Comments, below, to share or ask questions - and if you enjoyed this read, please take a second to click on "Like"!