For a long time, I’ve missed my Grandma. I’ve replayed the last moments we shared together over and over when her birthday approaches. Shortly after I moved away to begin a new career, she celebrated her 90th birthday. I returned to attend the family gathering in a tiny Bahá’í hall in Edmonton and was carrying my first child. Those pregnancy hormones filled me with tears, uncontrollable tears. They just overflowed while we watched a slide show of old photographs portraying Grandma’s life. She had reached Great Grandma status even before that day, as some of my cousins had small children and mine was next.
I have fond memories of her two-story house in Mayfield. Her old cats and Shih tzu who kept her company. The old candies stowed away in a wood side board table with sliding doors on the front. Her tea and ginger snap cookies and dark heavy bread. That was not her first home though. She lived on the calm quiet shores of Sylvan Lake in a cabin like structure. Her husband, my Grandfather, was a carpenter and inventor. I’m sure he built the last standing building I saw at the lake many years ago with grandma. I could tell she missed him, his handiwork. Grandma didn’t speak of him much, I cannot recall a conversation that included him. He is a mystery to me. We spent many cool summers at the lake with Grandma.
In the city, Grandma never drove a car. She would have her children and grandchildren taxi her to fetch groceries or reach appointments, or to go to the Pacific Coast. Of course buses and real taxis served her well while she was mobile enough to use them. While I lived with her, in the second house which was a bungalow, I offered her rides to Safeway. Or I would go pick up what she needed. We went shopping together before I moved away, she insisted on buying me a pair of sandals. “It’s gonna be pretty warm down there in Texas, you need something comfortable.” I still have those white leather sandals, they remind me of her each time I wear them.
Besides the shoes, I have her bread recipe. It’s been hiding. Or rather, I’ve kept it tucked away in my recipe binder since her passing. I still get upset every now and then but I know she only wished for my happiness and catch myself before darkness sets in. My solemn mood requires a quiet reprieve from busy business, time to reflect and honour those who brought us here.
The recipe has several different types of flours and grains. It calls for seeds and raisins but I left them out for this batch. I added my twist with quinoa flakes to use up the bulk bin purchase from earlier in the week. Who knows if the “cup” used was a proper measuring cup or a tea cup, or there could have been no cup at all. This was her bread, after a while why would a recipe be necessary? All I figured out was the large quantity of flour that was left out of what was transcribed, about 10 cups. I will consult with my aunt on the accuracy of the recipe, maybe there’s another version.
Luckily, I had a full bag of bread flour so the unexpected 10 cups were easily accommodated.
I left out the third addition of water because I had a very soupy mixture in my bowl to contend with. I split the resulting slurry between two large bowls and started adding flour. And adding more. Suddenly it came together and I had something to knead. Five minutes for each ball of dough from each large bowl. They proofed beautifully, aromatic and sweet from the molasses. Still looked like a blond version of Grandma’s bread, at least it smelled and felt like bread now.
The two bowls became four loaves. None of my bread pans are the same size or material so this was an interesting way to find out which ones will work best for dark breads. My rye breads are rounds on sheet pans, so I haven’t seen the loaf pans in action for this sort of bread. I topped two loaves with a dusting of flour, the other with honey and poppy seeds.
Pidä huolta itsestäsi, Isoäiti.