Within the space of not having the money to afford all the groceries needed to feed her family, I watched my Hungarian grandma create wonderful meals and treats.
Palascintas were one of these meals, because so many Hungarian crepes were made from a single batch.
While whisking the batter by hand, Mamam told me, “Ven vee have no money for milk, vee use water. Ven vee have money for milk, vee use milk.”
Mamam always did her best to stretch every meal. Her frig was stocked with cob-o-stash-tasda (green cabbage and homemade noodles), and croom-pea-tasda (potatoes, homemade noodles and Hungarian paprika). She made giant pots of both, and we ate them until they were gone.
I’ve carried her ways with me. And even now, as an adult in my own kitchen, I still love talking to her about food.
“Vutt you making for supper?”
“Good. You husband like?”
“Oh yeah, he loves it.”
“Good. You just remembering, you make enough to last all veek, that vay you no cooking every night.”
Another good memory for me, is watching Mamam make toast in a skillet. She’d split open a roll and spread butter on both sides.
“Fresh or stale, it no matter,” she’d tell me. “You just no burning it.” She’d say while cooking both sides. She also toasted sliced Italian bread and French baguettes this way.
Then we’d remove the golden crusted, wonderful smelling bread from the skillet. Sometimes, we'd add cream cheese, along with whatever lekvar we liked.
Stale bread never tasted so good.
To this day, I always think of Mamam when I toast bread. And I still remember the first time I watched her toast bread in a skillet. “No toaster?” I asked.
“Nem,” she said. “Dis is how my mother do.”
So now, ‘dis’ is how I do, as well.
Happy Birthday, Mamam.