The Fabulous Baking Bernstein Boys!

That is our new moniker. Kindly refer to my boys and I as such.

Let me tell you of our exploits and you will surely agree we are worthy of such an esteemed title.

My boys and I entered the kitchen, and together, we produced a cake.

It gets better. The cake was edible. Shooting for the moon there – I know. Anyway, success becomes much more achievable if you have no standards and low expectations.

Let me back up. Yesterday, I decided I was going to take my rapidly browning bananas and make a cake (http://larrydbernstein.com/bake-me-a-cake/). It was a hasty decision for this self-proclaimed unskilled cook.

While driving to get BR from karate, I asked SJ if he wanted to join me in baking a cake. After answering a few of his questions (Who is going to make a cake? Why are we making a cake? Who is going to eat the cake?), he said, “Sure!” He suggested we ask BR. I was skeptical. BR rarely is interested in helping me prepare dinner. On the way home from karate, SJ and I asked BR if he wanted to help us make a cake, he consented – after a series of questions (Why are we making a cake? Who is going to eat the cake? Is mommy going to help?).

Silly Fabulous Cooks

Silly Fabulous Cooks

The boys were excited to start, so we began as soon as we got home. Well, that is after four phone conversations with my wife and mother. Where is the recipe? Is orange juice really needed for this recipe? We have no oil, but is that really necessary? If we have no baking soda, can I just put in more baking powder? My mother was flummoxed – “Most people make sure they have all the ingredients before they start.” My wife just laughed, “Sure, try it.”

I made an executive decision. I would add an extra cup of milk and another egg. We had sugar, flower, eggs, bananas – I figured everything else was optional.

SJ adding flower

SJ adding flower

BR gathering ingredients.

BR gathering ingredients.

Together the Fabulous Baking Bernstein Boys toiled – we gathered the ingredients we had. We took out the measuring utensils. We poured in the ingredients. We mixed the concoction, poured it into the pan, and placed it into the oven. One hour and fifteen minutes at 325 degrees – just as the instruction said.After eating some of the leftover batter, each of us bakers went off to do his own thing.

At 8:00, I received a frantic call from BR (I had gone to the library). “Daddy. Mommy wants to put SJ to sleep, and the cake is still in the oven.”

“I’m two minutes away. Ask mommy to hold off putting SJ to bed.”

I ran into the house, turned off the oven, and gathered my family. Plates, forks, and slices of cake were served.

Fabulous Bernstein Baker Boys sample their fare.

Fabulous Bernstein Baker Boys sample their fare.

A mmoment later the reviews were in. SJ – “You can have the rest of mine, Daddy.” BR – “It’s good. I just don’t want anymore.” Mrs. MMK – “It’s good. Really. I think we should take it to your Mom’s house.”

Oh well – more for me. I like banana cake better than them anyway even if it is dense as a rock.

Bake Me a Cake

I will save you brown bananas!

I will save you brown bananas!

BR is a finicky eater. For a week straight, he will want a particular kind of breakfast and then get frustrated if we run out of the item. My wife in her desire to keep him happy and bulk up our too thin son will instruct me to buy extra of said item while food shopping. Well, BR’s fancy will pass and the item is left to be eaten by my wife or I or thrown out. One of his passing fancies is bananas, and they come in and out of vogue with no apparent rhyme or reason.

Due to BR’s latest passing fancy, there are five bananas that are turning browner and softer with each passing moment. The bananas are slipping away and will soon enter the realm of inedible.

Did  you know that according to an article in OnEarth Magazine, <http://www.onearth.org/article/how-to-wage-war-on-food-waste) “The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that Americans waste 30 percent of all edible food produced, bought, and sold in this country.”  This may be on the low side as “The National Institutes of Health (NIH), published estimates of 40 percent or more. Add up all the losses that occur throughout the food chain, the NIH researchers say, and Americans, on average, waste 1,400 calories a day per person, or about two full meals.”

Am I the only one who is thinking about a mother wagging a finger in a child’s face telling them to finish their food because there are poor kids starving in Africa?

My mother takes great pride in getting every ounce of every jar of food. To this day when my mother visits, she insists that I pass her the jar before it hits the recycling container. While scooping it out with incredible patience, she tells of my grandmother who apparently was even more gifted in the use of every ounce of food society. Due to this insistence to use every drop of food, the numbers noted above must sicken my mother. Please don’t tell her – I want my mom to stay healthy.

So what can I do to make sure that the bananas don’t become part of the 30 or even 40% of food that is wasted in America? In memory of grandmother and in honor of my mother, I can not let that happen. I must save the bananas. Move over Superman.

What to do? What to do? Hmm. I could push them on SJ who loves bananas. No, six is too much even for him.

I could make multiple peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Even I, who has eaten peanut butter nearly every day for lunch for twenty years, think that is crazy. Besides, the bananas would go brown and the sandwiches would not taste fresh.

I could drive over to grocery store and stand outside the door and sell the bananas at a reduced rate. Nah –not enough money. It is also a little too kooky for me.

I could freeze them. Or maybe I couldn’t. I don’t even know.

I know what I should do. I should make a Banana Cake. Me, the man who is a disinterested, impatient, and unskilled baker (and cook) should somehow make a cake. We have the ingredients, milk, eggs, sugar and of course bananas.

Yes, I will save the bananas and satisfy my sweet tooth. Unless – one of you could use some bananas? Let me know right away otherwise you will have to settle for a piece of cake whether it’s good or not.

P.S. I was recently interviewed by guys over at the Life of Dad blog as part of their 30 Dads, 30 Days series. Here is the link for those wanting to hear about some of my fatherhood thoughts and experiences: http://www.lifeofdad.com/blog_post.php?pid=11276

Slow it Down

Tick, tick, tick. I am a slave to the clock. I call it productivity. I say I am proud and feel accomplished when I get things done. And I am. Yet, I am still a slave to the clock.

I’d like to blame my mother. No, I am not in therapy. But it is true, Dr. Freud. My mother is crazed about getting things done and says the same things about her sister and her mother. I would add my brothers to this list as well. So, I guess you could say it runs in my family. I was brought up on this concept.

I wish I could stop it. There are repercussions you know.

I check the clock 50 times a day. When I was younger, I used to stare at the clock. I decided some numbers were happy numbers and some were sad. For example, the five was happy because the bottom curl looked like a smile. Now, I think the five laughs at me as I curse it every morning when it makes me up. But that’s another story.

I walk fast enough to consider entering the speed walking competition in the Olympics. This is not a good date trait. My wife rarely holds my hand. She doesn’t like feeling pulled. She goes for the arm in arm. I think it’s to slow me down.

This Thanksgiving was different. No, I don’t mean the abundant food and houseguests.

I slowed down. And I liked it.

I was speaking to a friend of mine at 11:15 on Sunday morning. He excused himself. He had to get off the phone as he and his family were eating together.

“What are you eating? Breakfast?”

“Yes.”

“At 11:15?”

“We are taking it easy today. Everybody slept in.”

“Okay.” I hung up slightly confused.

And jealous.

Why can’t I be that at ease? I would feel guilty that the day is half over, and I have accomplished little.

Well, I thought I had been taking it easy over the weekend. However, my friend’s actions inspired me to slow down more.

It was a struggle. But a worthwhile struggle.

I go back to wondering. Why am I in such a rush? Yes, I know I said it is genetic thing, but there has to be more to it.

I am going to psychoanalyze myself for a moment here. You know that bumper sticker, the one who dies with the most toys wins? I disagree with that completely. I think it is stupid.

No. It’s as if I am trying to prove something. Often the hardest person to prove things to is oneself. If I keep busy, I will accomplish. If I accomplish, I will find fulfillment. Fulfillment – isn’t that what life is about?

I don’t have all the answers. I just know it felt good to slow down. It’s something I need to do more often. In fact, I may eat breakfast at 11:00 next weekend and then go for a stroll with my wife – hand in hand. Okay, we may have to run after the kids, but I am not going to be happy about it. For me, that’s an accomplishment.

 

To The Parade

My older brother NG, cousin HW, and my father were at the Fern Rock Station in the Olney Section of Philadelphia. It was New Years Day 197-. We were excited.

We had spent hours at the Mummers Parade. The parade is a Philadelphia tradition which began in 1901. The Mummers Parade is an all-day affair featuring different divisions: Comics, Fancies, String Bands, and Fancy Brigades (http://phillymummers.com/). We watched the different divisions shimmy up Broad Street. They wore garish feather costumes, danced wildly, and played outlandish music. I loved it. I loved being there with my family.

And now you know my roots. I am a parade person. I love parades. The Mummers set a high bar. So, I am not interested in just any parade.

BR first attended the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as a 7 month old in an infant carrier. We were living on Central Park West so my wife and I took our young son a few blocks south and watched some of the parade. I loved it. He was indifferent.

Tomorrow morning, BR and I (SJ is invited but seems uninterested in attending) will once again head to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It is our fourth straight year and has become a Thanksgiving tradition.

I love the parade. BR enjoys the trip – the bus, the journey through the tunnel, and the teeming streets of Manhattan – as much as he likes the parade. Yet, to see the excitement on his face as another giant float turns the corner and makes it identity known is priceless.

Add the parade tradition to my list of reasons for Thanksgiving being my favorite American Holiday. I hope one day BR will take his son to a parade and think back on our Thanksgiving trips into Manhattan. I have so much to be thankful for.