Saturday, August 6, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy: Dinnertime = Rotisserie Time

Mom (Daisy Schwartz Burk) loved to roast the main course for many dinners on her countertop rotisserie. Unlike today's gourmet built-ins on top-of-the-line ranges, this was a stainless-steel free-standing rotisserie with a sturdy spit partly enclosed behind a glass door. Nobody else we knew had such a gadget, which took up considerable space in the galley kitchen of our 2-bedroom apartment, but it was a prized possession in our household.

Chickens were rubbed with softened margarine and paprika, trussed, and mounted on the spit. Leg of lamb had slivers of garlic slipped into tiny slits here and there. No-tend cooking with an audience! My two sisters and I would watch and wait as the chicken (or leg of lamb) rotated in front of our eyes, until browned and cooked through. The aroma filled our apartment and spilled out into the hallway, giving us quite an appetite. As an adult, I don't want to think about the cleanup, but it certainly gave Mom a chance to open a can of veggies (peas and carrots, typically, since we were picky eaters) and cut wedges of iceberg lettuce to accompany dinner.

Usually there were 5 of us around the table in the dinette (a small eating area next to the kitchen). Once in a while, we three sisters would sit down to an early weeknight dinner with Mom (maybe at 6 pm or so) and then a little later, when Dad (Harold Burk) came home from his hour-long commute to the Bronx from Manhattan, he'd eat while Mom told him about her and our day and he talked about his day.

For variety, Mom would occasionally make a dairy dinner of cheese blintzes, made from a mix of "pot cheese" (whatever that was) and "farmer's cheese" (ditto). Adults piled sour cream on top, we kids ate them as is. This was much more labor-intensive than rotisserie-cooked main courses, however, and so it wasn't often served. Yum!

My twin remembers the Hoffman sodas for special Sunday dinners, a quart bottle (no 2-liter plastic bottles in those days) that was bought the same day. Sarsaparilla was a favorite, and so was cream soda.

In the Hoffman ad at left, the promotion offers a value ticket to the late, great Palisades Amusement Park, a big place once located "just south of G. Washington Bridge" in New Jersey. As teenagers dating boys with cars, my sister and I were there a few times, watching Cousin Brucie's Saturday night live DJ gig, for example.

Now a word from my genealogy department: Still researching Isaac Birk (later changed to Burk), my paternal g-father. Did he have siblings? Where, exactly, was he born in Lithuania and who were his parents? How did he meet my paternal g-mother, Henrietta Mahler? Inquiring minds want to know!

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