09 May, 2010

Sunday Dinners

After spending a week away from my family at a Quilt Conference all I wanted to do last week was cook dinner and sit down with my family.  I wanted to chaos of an almost 2 year old emptying her plate on her stylish Marimekko placemat. I wanted Hubby and I to try and talk about renovations, family, and playground sizes over two children screaming, "Mega, mega, mega!" I wanted to have the 'what animals can you kill to eat?' discussion again, and again. And on top of that, I wanted a little kitchen time to set-up this crazy thing called The Family Dinner.

Despite the fact that we have two overly energetic kids it is extremely important that we sit down to dinner together every night.  Yup, every night.  Our kids are too young for the near constant drain on our gas tank as we chauffeur them to a million activities, and lord help us if we become those parents anyway. When we sit down we are there to stay, until every last bite is eaten by every single person. And then you must be asked to be excused before you even think about a foot straying from the table.

It may seem old fashioned to be strict about these dinner time rules, but in the end it makes dinner less stressful and far more consistent in the long run. As an added bonus, it means our kids are quite used to and more than able to sit in a restaurant without being too crazy and disruptive to other patrons, for at least an hour. 

Reminder - our kids are about to be 2 and 4. And no, they aren't angels, far from it. But we've got dinnertime almost settled. You take your victories where you can as a parent.

So I am starting a new feature on Backseat Gourmet. Sunday Dinner. For many of us, Sunday might be the only day of the week where everyone is actually home at the same time. Or at least the only day where that might be possible. So every Sunday, or most at least, I will share some Sunday dinner inspiration.

It was awfully convenient then, that a new crop of cookbooks arrived last weekend. With a cup of tea I settled in for some browsing.  At the top of the stack was Rose Reisman's Family Favourites. I've had some of her cookbooks in the past and never got too excited by them. This one, however, immediately grabbed me because of her emphasis on the family dinner.  And then 40 pages of discussion on healthy eating, cooking with the family, and shopping tips.

Flipping through the book I can say that I wasn't overly excited by the dessert section - yes, of course I went there first - but the vegetable side dishes and soups had me very, very interested. So I picked up mint and goat cheese at the market.

The first recipe I made was mashed potatoes with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes. I wanted this to be so good, and maybe it could have been.  But I didn't have Yukon Golds and I now disagree with the recipe in adding the chopped tomatoes before you mash. So, mine were dry, but still tasty.

But the Molasses-Coated Carrots with Mint? Holy hell, these were good. Flavourful and refreshing, without the overpowering taste of any one ingredient. I used the regular old organic carrots that I can find at this time of year, but cut smaller and adjusted the cooking time. Carrots deluxe, but still fresh with that carrot taste. An instant classic in my books. And it will certainly be making regular appearances at our house, Sunday or not.

Molasses-Coated Carrots with Fresh Mint
Serves 6
Excerpted with permission from Rose Reisman's Family Favourites
Published by Whitecap Books 2010

1 lb thin carrots (about 6 inches long), peeled and trimmed
2 Tbsp molasses
1 1/2 tsp sherry wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp chopped fresh mint

1. Place the carrots in a large saucepan or skillet. Cover with water and boil for 10 minutes or until just tender. Drain well and return to the saucepan.
2. Whisk together the molasses, vinegar and olive oil in a small bowl. Add to the carrots and saute over high heat for 5 minutes or until the sauce is heated through and the carrots are coated. Place on a platter, garnish with fresh mint and serve.


Miriam in KS said...

This recipe looks delicious. I've got it in the lineup for sometime this week.

And as to the family dinner, I applaud you for your routine. I can always tell which children are expected to stay seated until everyone is finished eating and expected to ask to be excused from the family table at my preschool snack table. Not many in some of my classes. I can also tell which ones have practiced waiting their turn and asking politely. Good for you and great for your family.

Jan (Family Bites) said...

Great post, Cheryl. We are totally on board with family dinners as well and we are currently those parents who schlep our kids off to all sorts of activities. While we limit the activities to two per kid per season, it's still a total of four activities per week. Right now, it actually means five nights a week as my ten year old has football twice. So, Sunday thru Thursday we are out. But we eat at home and we eat together. It's not always easy and it usually involves a lot of pre-planning but it does work if we want it to. And we do. It's a priority to us but certainly not everyone and we know many families who don't eat together most nights. I look forward to seeing you capture your Sunday dinners with your family!

Roving Lemon said...

Count me in as another enthusiastic proponent of family dinner. I think it's so important, for all the reasons you mention and more. I look forward to reading about what your family is doing, and getting more recipes to share with mine.

elle said...

Good for you, Cheryl. Absolutely necessary! Molasses and carrots? I might have to try this! 8^)

gail said...

Marimekko placemat!! COOL. Also love the carrots, yum!

Jamie said...

Those carrots look and sound amazing!

Aimee @ Simple Bites said...

Oh, I just got that cookbook in the mail, too, although I have yet to crack the cover. You've given me the kick in the pants I needed.

Great recipe. Carrots get SO dull.

Kudos to dinner nightly. It seems funny to even say that, but in this day and age, it IS something to be applauded.

Looking forward to more Sunday Dinners.

Jenny said...

That comment about what animal had to die/makes good food made me smile! I'm glad to know another family discusses this freely. My son is consumed with what animal tastes good and what doesn't. The other day he was eating turkey bacon and asked, "Who shot this?" ;)