Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cooking Through My Family

Cooking and family. Anyone who knows me knows that I put family up as one of my greatest priorities. My brother Adam and sister Sheryl feel the same way. So it is of no wonder that some of our best family memories revolve around the dinner table. Mom and Dad insisted on nightly meals. Mom did most of the cooking as Dad was off teaching art at (then) Glassboro State College until dinnertime. (Dad, on the other hand, mastered the BBQ grill and brunch!) Our dinners were "all hands on deck." Everyone would help out setting the table, getting drinks, putting out the condiments, and generally participate in the making of the meals.


One of many holiday dinners at Wenonah (Brother Adam was taking the pic)

During dinner, the conversation was loud and lively, with each of us recounting what happened that day.  We were not a big "grace" family. I only remember saying "grace" a handfull of times, usually when the grandparents were visiting. Mom and Dad were big on the communication. They would ask , "What did you do today? What did you learn?"  in between telling us to eat our peas, get our elbows off the table, or to stop kicking each other.

Mom's Birthday Dinner at Lake Wynonah

The breakfast room, where we ate most meals, served as a gathering spot for the day's activities.  Mom and Dad had their first cup of coffee there. Mom, her first smoke of the morning. It was a perfect place to talk on the phone as the phone cord stretched right around from the kitchen to Mom's seat. We worked on homework there, art projects, watched TV on the small black and white, or Dad read  The Gloucester County Times. On different occasions our parents sat in the breakfast room waiting for us to get home late after our 1 AM curfew. You know if you only saw Mom's cigarette burning in the pitch black darkness, she was there waiting and boy, were you in trouble!
 
 

Mom and her beloved grandchildren, Angelica and Johnny


 
The formal dining room was left for special occasions: holidays, birthdays, visiting guests and of course, whenever the grandparents stayed over.  The dining room was off limits for our art projects. In fact, not much occurred there besides the formal meals! It was sacred to Mom and we were fine with that. That's just what we grew up with: a breakfast room and a formal dining room. When I started renting houses instead of apartments, I always picked one with a formal dining room I think as homage to my mother.
 
 
Celebrating John's Dad's 90th birthday, another great meal and memory with family around the dining room table

Dinner in 2011 with Dad, myself, and my other mom, Martha, who is an incredible cook and inspiration as well
 
Over these next several months, I will be stepping back from my usual blog topics and instead begin exploring the recipes of my family. Follow me as I cook the recipes which brought us together for each meal including how they were an integral part of my family at large:  grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins included!
 

Lunch with Dad and Sheryl in 2011. We were having lunch with our friends, the Roosevelt Elk of Northern California!
 
With each blog I will cook a recipe of my mother's, sister's, or other family members', include an anecdote about it, as well as the actual recipe. These recipes helped bring together my family for birthdays, holidays, and other events . You may be surprised at how many of us have the same experiences. I may add a short video talking about it or a favorite kitchen gadget which I cannot live without.
 
I want to begin this series with a video that my sister and I created for the National Museum of American Jewish History which my sister and I visited in 2012. I posted it once before but I am posting it again as it seems very apropos for this new project. We had to pick a topic related to our family and discuss it. Our topic we chose about food in our family. Hope you enjoy.

The National Museum of American Jewish History video that my sister and I filmed in 2012:

 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What's In A Name?

The other day I was cruising home on the highway in my hot rod aka the Camry, when I came up against another 2006 pearl grey Toyota Camry, JUST LIKE MINE!  I was eager to see who was driving MY car down the highway so I sped up to get a look. Driving the exact same car was a man who looked like Jed Clampett from The Beverly Hillbillies. I was immediately annoyed. He shouldn't be driving my car. Someone who looks like ME should be driving my car. I had an urge to run him off the road or have his car repossessed. But I didn't. I hit the gas and he ate my dust.
 
I began thinking about why I got so annoyed with him driving the same car. Is it because we associate the type of car we drive with our identity? It must be. I certainly didn't want to be identified or have my car identified with him. Moreover, I also get annoyed when I find that others share my name.
 
If you do a Google search on your name, (I know many of you have but won't admit it), you will find that there are others that share your name. It is a bit disconcerting when you see photos of them. All sorts of people share the name Marc Haynes of every type ethnicity imaginable.  There are African Americans named Marc Haynes, three British guys named Marc Haynes, and some business man in Arkansas named Marc Haynes. Under Google images, there I am the third row down. Wah wah wah. :(
 
Names are the ultimate identifying feature, so when you meet or see someone with your name, it is jarring.  I also never understood why certain people on Facebook have to be friends with others of the same name. OK one or two ain't bad, but several? More than ten? That's down right creepy.
 
I joke around that if I were a serial killer, I would only go after those with my name. That way, my ranking on Google would dramatically improve. (Relax, it's just a joke people!)  I get this feeling that if someone has my name and it's spelled the same way, it's trespassing!  And it's not like I have the most common spelling of my name. After all, it could be Mark Haines or Mark Hanes. In fact, I probably have the rarest spelling of my name.
 
According to the website http://howmanyofme.com/search/ , there are 42 people in the US with my name but I don't know how accurate there website is.  Hmmm ... so that's 41 people that I will have to "visit" at some point in the near future ...
 
At the website http://www.namestatistics.com/,  Marc is the 201st most common first name. OK, I feel a little better.
 
Sometimes first names go over the top. We have seen them in Hollywood. Certain celebrities have named their kids very different names:  Apple, Jermajesty, Rocket, Seven, and Ocean just to name a few.  I have read and understand some of the reasons behind why these parents named their kids these interesting names but I really feel that they are setting them up for some bullying down the road.
 
I have to say the most interesting named person I have been friends with is my friend from high school, Jinga. She was a breath of fresh air in high school, extremely unique, outgoing, and beautiful. She wore her name proudly. I am still friends with Jinga and I am happy to say she hasn't changed a bit. So maybe for those Apples, Oceans, and Rockets out there, there is certainly hope that they will live wonderfully fulfilling lives and rock their unique first names!
 
Now as for me, I will be content being the neurotic Marc Haynes. I will correct you every time if you misspell my name, too. I have issues, OK? I guess I should be happy though, that I am not named Mark Haines. There are 160 of them that I would then have to eventually "visit."