Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Where Has the Time Gone?

In just a few weeks, we’ll be changing our clocks for Daylight Savings Time – again. Didn’t we just do that? We just did all that in March! It’s October already? Time sure flies!

So in order to save time – and daylight - we’ll be going backwards an hour; as if we’re trying to have one over on the sun. It’s all very confusing, but it’s nothing to do with going back in time or ahead in the future.

The bi-yearly time-changing event that occurs in the fall and spring is a hotly-argued topic with many questioning the necessity of it at all. It is felt that the original reasons for changing our clocks forward or back twice a year are longer relevant. Times have changed; the world has changed. Where many countries opted out of partaking in Daylight Savings Time, Canada opted in around 1908. The various reasons for opting in or out are plentiful – too timely to explain them all here – but the root purpose of Daylight Savings Time was to get folks up and at ’em earlier in the day, in relation to sunlight availability and energy saving. Confusing? It is to me. If I was a scientist I could probably explain it but I’m not so to save confusion for us all I hope you’ll visit:

Daylight Saving Time 2016: When Does The Time Change This Fall?

History of Daylight Saving Time — DST

Not only does trying to understand it all greatly confuse my already sleep-deprived mind, but when we lose or gain an hour it throws me off so much I feel as though I have jet leg. Oh how I wish I could blame jet lag on feeling out of sorts during the few days following the time change! It would mean I would have hopefully been somewhere fabulous.

But alas, no fabulous cross-time-zone trips are in the future, or were in the past, and all this worrying about time coming and going and whizzing by has me exhausted. Quite frankly, I just wanna go to bed - on time and only have to get up when I have had enough sleep. That’s what being forty-something will do to you, I guess; time flies by too fast and then you lose sleep from worrying about all that you have to do in the time you have.

In trying to understand not only HOW the time change works and WHY we do it, never mind trying to deal with the gain/loss of an hour, I’m exhausted. All this hour-changing is the last thing I need to worry about. It’s bad enough I don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done. And then I worry because the so-called adult I’m supposed to be still has to ask her mom whether to turn the clock back or ahead and hour before bed. And then I STILL worry throughout the night about the time change as I’m afraid my clocks’ alarm will be off and I’ll be late for work – which really wouldn’t matter because I would have likely been awake most of the night worrying anyways!

I guess I should be happy to have something so seemingly trivial to be worried about. If all I have to worry about is Daylight Savings Time, then I truly DO have it good. And with that profound perspective comes the realization that time’s a’wasting and I know we must keep moving forward and keep perspective about such matters. There truly ARE a lot worse things out there I could be worried about.

I recently listened to a radio call-in show specifically about the time change and the relevance of it. Callers were mad! But why get so mad? Why spend all that time on hold only to talk about the time change and the hour you potentially ‘lose’ for half a year when you could be doing so many great things with that 20 minutes you spent on hold. (You don’t really ‘lose’ an hour – things just get shifted back or forward.)

With all this worry and sleepless nights in wondering about the sun’s appearance and the clock, I was reminded that perspective IS key – time is so ‘short.’ ‘Time’ is so much more than a dictated time change. That same time, no matter what season we are in, is ticking. We only have so much of it so make the most of it, I say. Stop arguing and hug someone. We’ll look back on this one day and laugh about it, I know, but until then I’m determined to make the most of the now – leave the past behind, don’t worry about the future – and keep my eye on the clock.

And really - I was surprised we were at a time change already when it just felt like we JUST had one. Where did all the time go between last March and now? What have I accomplished? What haven’t I done? Who haven’t I hugged, loved, acknowledged or spent time with? And why?

As the next time change approaches I hope I can turn myself around and make better use of the time – no matter whether we are in Daylight Savings Time or if it’s ended. Time will still be around, no matter whether we have ‘gained’ or ‘lost’ an hour in our sun-filled day. But you can’t get it back, all that time that has passed. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Time will still keep on ticking – make the most of what time you do have and go for whatever you can squeeze into as much time as you can. I know it’s all very cliché, contradictory and mind-boggling, but I can’t waste any more time on it all; I must run. Must keep going. November 6th is right around the corner....

Tick tock…..

Monday, October 17, 2016

Contradictory Cranberries and Stuffing

It’s that time of year where many folks are cooking elaborate and/or not-so-elaborate seasonal meals. First is Canadian Thanksgiving in October – the United States celebrates Thanksgiving in November – and the colder weather all around is perfect for cooking traditional turkey dinners. It’s during this time when Christmas baking plans starts to swirl around many culinary minds. I used to bake a lot, and I used to be more adventurous in my cooking, but lack of time and energy has me slowing down. Whether cooking a hopefully-edible entree or baking a sugary treat, my time restraints have me looking to cut a few corners here and there, all while trying to stay ‘traditional.’ My men of three don’t seem to mind what I do or don’t do – they are truly grateful and thankful for whatever food I have in the house.

One thing I DO try to always do at this time of year is make cranberry jelly, preserved and sealed in a canning jar. I love doing it and have done so for years, and the one year I couldn’t make it I felt as though I had truly dropped the ball in my domesticity. Things just didn’t feel quite the same without it, as though I was ‘missing something.’

The recipe I use is from one of the ‘Company’s Coming’ line of cookbooks. The little cookbooks are my go-to for simple, corner-cutting, down-home easy cooking. This simple jelly recipe has no added pectin and I’ve never had it fail – knock on wood. I have made it so many times I have the process down pat; even in my time-limited life I can manage to get a batch done. But to be honest – and many would scowl at me as if having bitten down on a tart cranberry – I can’t taste the difference between mine and canned. Okay, MAYBE mine tastes a tiny bit better and is better for you (no added preservatives, etc). Canning aficionados will likely send me hate mail now.

But time restrictions aside I go through the ‘work’ of making it because I love doing it - so for me it’s not ‘work.’ The simmering of the fruit, the separating of the juice from the pulp through a sieve, the re-boiling of the juice with sugar, and then the sealing/processing - I love doing it all. Even waiting for each lid to ‘pop’ signalling each jars’ airtight seal gives me a kick.

Many would say ‘Gosh, Lisa – here you are complaining about lack of time, but you STILL go to all that effort and work (and don’t forget sweat) of doing all THAT? Why not just go buy a can of it and be done with it all?’
Yes, it’s all so very contradictory of me, but there you have it – I’m a major contradiction, and I know it. But there’s something so down-to-earth about the whole process - so back-to-basics, so down-home, so…old fashioned – that it makes me love doing it all the more. It’s as if I have a deep-seated need to retain some sense of tried-and-true from-scratch cooking. I make enough jars for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter dinner, as well as a few to give as gifts.

My men of two teens and a husband love it and as I watch them hungrily scoop massive spoonfuls of the jelly onto their dinner plates I wonder if they think the turkey-accompaniment is a relative of Jell-O and they’re getting to eat dessert WITH their dinner - a sinful treat to be sure.

And every year at this time when I say I’m making turkey dinner, their first question is always, ‘With your cranberry jelly?’

And before I can answer, ‘Yes’, their second question is, ‘…and with lots of Stove Top© Stuffing?’

And when I answer yes, they dreamily sigh in relief and gratitude and ask, ‘When’s dinner?’

Yes, you read that right. The not-made-from-scratch stuffing that everyone knows by its’ brand name – of which I so readily promote as I love it, too – is what they want. They politely ‘like’ my homemade stuffing – Grandma’s is better, of course – but what they really, really want is Stove Top Stuffing, right out of the box.

So I get 6 boxes, enough for leftovers and then some. If I run out of their favourite I might have a mutiny on my hands and after cooking all the other fixings all I want is peace.

I know it’s all very contrary. Why have a whole turkey dinner complete with mashed potatoes and vegetables – all lovingly peeled, diced, boiled and so on – as well as the homemade-from-scratch cranberry jelly, only to (seemingly) ruin it all with instant stuffing from a box?

Because it’s what they truly want. It makes them happy, and if it makes them happy, it makes me happy - plus making the stuffing-from-a-box save me a whole bunch of time. And it’s just us for dinner – we don’t invite the Queen – so who cares? Who cares if our dinner plates look like one big contradiction? And who says you even HAVE to have ‘certain’ things at certain seasonal meals.

But the 6 boxes waiting on the counter the day of the big dinner makes me giggle at the opposite-ness of it all – at the contradiction of having stuffing from a box alongside home-made canned cranberry jelly.

Life is full of contradictions. Yes, some corny clichés can make my pumpkin pie curdle, but sometimes cliché’s are there for a reason – and many are true. But at least I am fortunate and lucky to live a place where I CAN have contradictions – that it’s okay to have them. And where I’m thankful for the freedom to have these contradictions, I’m also thankful for the means to have so many choices in what I get to cook. Homemade stuffing or boxed? Store bought jelly or homemade? Pumpkin pie or cheesecake? Although we might not have the means to have as fancy as a meal as others, there is nothing wrong with what we DO have – and many don’t have any at all.

Most folks might gag at not only having boxed stuffing but also at the sheer ‘un-proper-ness’ of it all. Who cares? Even if we had spaghetti on Thanksgiving, at least my family was having a meal together, never mind a meal at all.

So bring on the contradictions, I say, and be thankful we can even have them in the first place.

Oh – and just to add to it all: I keep a can of store-bought jelly in the back of my cupboard, just in case. You always gotta have a back-up.