Family Dinners Make My Day

We love a good family dinner around here. The preparation and final product are as important as the conversation around what we're having and what went on in school that day.  We may eat dinner at our house at our kitchen table, or in front of a show we’re  catching up on. Either way, our family meal starts the moment I start cooking.

Growing up, we'd eat dinner together as a family every night of the week. Some meals were more elaborate than others, but there was always a full table with all seven of us around it. We'd take turns cooking the main dish, since both of our parents worked. For Gran Fran, my mom, it was a new dawn, as a working mother of five, she had to depend on us to pitch in to get the dinner on the table. In her childhood, the nonnas (her grandmas) would spend the day going to market and getting the dinner made.

If there was a roast beef in the oven, baked potatoes with an x cut into them to release the steam would be put right on the oven rack.  GranFran would make Lasagna  ahead of time, on Sunday, to be reheated as needed. In my book, reheated lasagna was better than when it was fresh out of the oven. On quick dinner nights, Gran Fran would come home and make us an egg and potato frittata. There was always a vegetable of some sort, broccoli stands out as something that was on our plates a lot, as well as green beans.

We eat at our house a few times a week and at my sister's house once or twice a week. The rest of the time my daughter is with her dad. Dinner at my sister and brother-in-law's house is great. They are both awesome cooks and wonderful and generous hosts. Isabella tells my sister Nicole (I like to call her Nikki, but she does not like that nickname, so I'm trying to be respectful here) that she loves coming to their house for the company, but mostly because she just loves the food they make for her. It's a rare night when you'll find just one main dish. There is always plenty to choose from and lots of good conversation, highlighted by Isabella and her two cousins' conversations about their days.

The kids all go to school together so there is a lot to talk about: which kid got a pink slip, who hit whom on the playground, what event was coming up next at school. I feel very lucky that we live just ten minutes away from my sister and her family. Our family dinners really make the week that much better. When I know we're going over, I usually bring a nice bottle of wine for the grown-ups, something for the table, and sometimes wacky stuff like coconut water direct from a coconut with the shell on , a whole punched in the top and a straw stuck in. I've often wondered if they know exactly how much it means to both of us to be included in their family on such a regular, unquestioning basis. I do love spending time with my brother-in-law (Fran Q) especially when it comes to making food. He has an innate talent for preparing delicious meals out of just about anything, and is even great at desserts

My immediate family now consists of me and my thirteen year old daughter. Meals are still a big deal, just like when I was little, albeit with way fewer people. Dinner is a time for me and my daughter to catch up.  We keep the computer in the kitchen so that we can be together after school while I cook and Isabella does her homework. She and I discuss ingredients, choose our favorite dishes, and I start cooking. No matter how tired I am from working all day (and blogging all night), mealtime is a tradition. I will not give up. It's our time to connect and relish each other’s company.