Tag Archives: family

Home By Five, Eat By Six

This is my dad and I. I was clearly having fun playing a little joke on him. I wonder who took the picture??

This is my dad and I. I was clearly having fun playing a little joke on him. I wonder who took the picture??

I’ve met so many people who have trouble getting a meal on the table at the end of the day. Maybe it’s a lack of experience or knowledge of how to cook. Maybe it’s a need to follow a recipe. Maybe having one more thing to do at the end of the day is overwhelming. Maybe there just isn’t an example to follow.

When I was growing up, my mom made dinner every night. She stayed at home when we were really little, but then went back to work as a high school teacher. Every night, I helped her with things like peeling carrots and potatoes and setting the table. I was the youngest in the family, so it seemed the easiest place for me at that time of day was in the kitchen with my mom. I loved it, and remember having my own step stool so I could be at the same counter height. I learned funny things like how to butter bread all the way to the corners, and how to chop walnuts like a pro.

We didn’t eat the same things all the time, and there wasn’t a menu on the fridge to follow. She just decided what we were going to have and then made it. Sometimes she asked us what we wanted, but not very often. Things didn’t come out of a package. There wasn’t a microwave. I remember meals like ‘corned beef hash with an egg on top’ or ‘spaghetti with meat sauce’ or ‘creamed chicken on toast’ or ‘pancakes’. I know, we wouldn’t necessarily make those choices today, but they were all made from scratch, they all filled up our bellies, they were all tasty, and they were all on the table by 6.

What I learned, and practice with my own family, is that eating together is important. And feeding your family is a pleasure, not a chore. I also know that a lot of relationship building happens around food. My kids sit at the kitchen counter, on the laptop, while I make dinner. They play me music I’ve never heard before, and tell me stories, and read to me about crazy things they find on the internet. They see me cook, and they learn by osmosis. My younger son can make crepes from scratch without a recipe, and he’s been inspired to just try — he makes amazing pasta carbonara, or spaghettini with olive oil and capers.

The most important thing is to have confidence, and be inspired by what you know. My dinner plans come together in one of three ways. Either I start thinking about it before I get home – “man, I’m hungry…what should we have for dinner? …what’s in the fridge??”, or when I get home, I open the fridge and get inspired by an ingredient. Or if I’m particularly organized, I would have already prepared something from the night before or in the crockpot. (The third option is rare)

One way or another, there is not much time to make dinner. When I get home, everyone is starving. I’m the kind of person that just keeps going after work. I immediately start multi-tasking and getting things done. I prefer to get all those things done, then when I sit down to relax, I don’t feel guilty and I’m done for the night.

As the kids got older, many times we were rushed for dinner so everyone could get to their activities – swimming, Scouts, school plays, soccer. And when I’m hungry…or my kids are hungry…we all get pretty surly. Now my kids are older, 16 and 19 (both boys), and they love to eat. Personally, I think it’s the food that keeps them coming home on time and looking forward to seeing me.

If all else fails, before you get frustrated at the end of a busy day. Before you give up and go to the drive through, have a yogurt and chill out for a few minutes before getting dinner on the table. But my advice, and my modus operandi, is to just keep moving until it’s all done.

 

1970’s Boat Cruise in Style

 

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When I was a little girl, my dad worked for KLM.  We had wonderful opportunities to travel the world and experience all kinds of interesting foods.   As an adult, I have not been on a cruise ship.  Sure, they are opulent, have food available 24/7 and visit exotic ports of call.   But in my mind, they would pale in comparison to the trip we took as a family on what was, at the time, a very posh experience for a little girl.    I love this picture, obviously taken by my father, showing my sister, my brother, and my mom toasting to the occasion of being together.  I’m the little one in the middle. Check out the old style champagne glasses, and my mom’s fabulous outfit.   I do remember my brother being pretty sea-sick, I don’t think he was having a great time.   More importantly, I remember feeling really special.   This begs the question, do we take to celebrate just being together in special moments these days? 

At my house, we try to create special opportunities with our friends and our family as much as possible.  Most weekends, we’ll have some time to enjoy a great meal.  I’ve been writing in this blog about creating easy and quick meals — which for us is important during the week.  On the weekend, we can afford some extra time to prepare and enjoy foods.  

We’ll often start with some kind of cheese tray, which usually includes a few cheeses: brie, aged cheddar, maybe a blue.  We add some local smoked and cured sausage, we love the new local Seed to Sausage which is available readily at FarmBoy.  A small bowl of olives, and a bowl of almonds or other nuts round it out.  We can pick away at our tray while we pour a glass of wine, and continue on with dinner.

This weekend is supposed to be very nice weather wise. My plan is to make sure we eat outside.  There are only a certain number of days to eat outside in our climate, and I’m not going to waste any of them!    I’m heading to the butcher to find something yummy for the bbq.  Maybe some huge beef ribs from Bob the Butcher!  Wish me luck!

Let’s create opportunities to celebrate simply being together.

Entertaining – Bivalve Mollusc Style

oysters

Summer entertaining is about having time with friends and family outdoors. This past weekend, we had a whole group of people over for a lobster feast! We started with oysters for everyone. Most of our friends are already well versed in slurping these slippery creatures, dousing them with lemon and fish sauce, or hot sauce. This time a few friends wanted to learn how to shuck their own oysters. Oysters have to be one of the fastest appetizers — buy, shuck, serve! I like that! The live lobsters, steamed in a big pot, took 9 minutes once the water was boiling. I put a dozen cobs of corn in another pot at the same time. Within 20 minutes we were outside, cracking and dipping fresh lobster in garlic butter, drinking great wine with great friends. Don’t be afraid of seafood — if you like it, you absolutely can make it at home! Invite your friends, and everyone will love to help out in the kitchen too — a true experience.

Thank You, My Friends!

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Big ‘thank you’s’ to my friends, and my new followers, for your support of this blog.  Real food for real people is the theme.  We all need to eat, and I’ve embraced preparing whole foods for my family and friends.   One great joy of my life is to have friends around the table, or on the back deck, or bellied up to the kitchen counter, eating great food.   I don’t like to slave in the kitchen all day, so over the years I’ve developed a body of knowledge of how long various foods take to prepare, how to prep foods and keep them fresh until you’re ready to use them, how to present new foods for people to try, how to stock a pantry with quick meals.   So I’m ready to entertain whenever someone shows up!  And I’m ready to make dinner whenever it’s time — sometimes we get very little time in between activities, and I’d much rather grab something at home than at a drive-through.  Truth be told, we do the drive-through sometimes, but not often.   Life is about balance, life is about friends, life is about sharing.    Thank you for letting me share with you! 

Home By Five – Eat By Six




This is my dad and I.  I was clearly having fun playing a little joke on him.  I wonder who took the picture??

This is my dad and I. I was clearly having fun playing a little joke on him. I wonder who took the picture??

I’ve met so many people who have trouble getting a meal on the table at the end of the day. Maybe it’s a lack of experience or knowledge of how to cook. Maybe it’s a need to follow a recipe. Maybe having one more thing to do at the end of the day is overwhelming. Maybe there just isn’t an example to follow.

When I was growing up, my mom made dinner every night. She stayed at home when we were really little, but then went back to work as a high school teacher. Every night, I helped her with things like peeling carrots and potatoes and setting the table. I was the youngest in the family, so it seemed the easiest place for me at that time of day was in the kitchen with my mom. I loved it, and remember having my own step stool so I could be at the same counter height. I learned funny things like how to butter bread all the way to the corners, and how to chop walnuts like a pro.

We didn’t eat the same things all the time, and there wasn’t a menu on the fridge to follow. She just decided what we were going to have and then made it. Sometimes she asked us what we wanted, but not very often. Things didn’t come out of a package. There wasn’t a microwave. I remember meals like ‘corned beef hash with an egg on top’ or ‘spaghetti with meat sauce’ or ‘creamed chicken on toast’ or ‘pancakes’. I know, we wouldn’t necessarily make those choices today, but they were all made from scratch, they all filled up our bellies, they were all tasty, and they were all on the table by 6.

What I learned, and practice with my own family, is that eating together is important. And feeding your family is a pleasure, not a chore. I also know that a lot of relationship building happens around food. My kids sit at the kitchen counter, on the laptop, while I make dinner. They play me music I’ve never heard before, and tell me stories, and read to me about crazy things they find on the internet. They see me cook, and they learn by osmosis. My younger son can make crepes from scratch without a recipe, and he’s been inspired to just try — he makes amazing pasta carbonara, or spaghettini with olive oil and capers.

The most important thing is to have confidence, and be inspired by what you know. My dinner plans come together in one of three ways. Either I start thinking about it before I get home – “man, I’m hungry…what should we have for dinner? …what’s in the fridge??”, or when I get home, I open the fridge and get inspired by an ingredient. Or if I’m particularly organized, I would have already prepared something from the night before or in the crockpot. (The third option is rare)

One way or another, there is not much time to make dinner. When I get home, everyone is starving. I’m the kind of person that just keeps going after work. I immediately start multi-tasking and getting things done. I prefer to get all those things done, then when I sit down to relax, I don’t feel guilty and I’m done for the night.

As the kids got older, many times we were rushed for dinner so everyone could get to their activities – swimming, Scouts, school plays, soccer. And when I’m hungry…or my kids are hungry…we all get pretty surly. Now my kids are older, 16 and 19 (both boys), and they love to eat. Personally, I think it’s the food that keeps them coming home on time and looking forward to seeing me.

If all else fails, before you get frustrated at the end of a busy day. Before you give up and go to the drive through, have a yogurt and chill out for a few minutes before getting dinner on the table. But my advice, and my modus operandi, is to just keep moving until it’s all done.