For the second week in the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I read Home For Dinner - Mixing Food, Fun, and Conversation for a Happier Family and Healthier Kids by Anne Fishel.
This would be a great book for families who are not eating together as a family and want to know where to start. There's a lot of helpful and inspiring ideas in each chapter.
For our family, we have always eaten together. Working out of the home, running a non-profit, and then becoming a stay-at-home mom who homeschools her daughters made it easy to prepare food at home and enjoy it with one another.
Perhaps it goes back to how I was raised. My mom - who learned to cook when she was 34 years old and just married to my dad - prepared nutritious, well-balanced meals at home. Every once in a while we would have a t.v. dinner or food from a jar (like spaghetti sauce). That was atypical, though. Generally she prepared everything from scratch and tried new recipes since she had not been cooking up until that time.
When she lived with her mother (my grandma), my mom would receive simple instructions for getting the main course started while my grandma was working. When my grandma came home from being being a baker, she would finish preparing the meal that my mom had started. Never - until the time she was married - did she ever have to make a meal to completion.
So, as I reflect on home-cooked meals, my mom learned quickly how to make food, set a table, and create mealtimes that were memorable and meaningful. We always sat down and waited for my dad to join us for evening meals. We never would eat before he was seated and we prayed as a family.
Even on weekdays when she wasn't working the night shift, she would make sure that my sister, brother, and I would sit at the table together and have breakfast before going to school.
In my own family, we aim to eat as many meals together as possible. Sometimes the girls aren't hungry or may wake up on the weekend at times that are too spread out to have a meal together. This is the exception...not the rule in what our meals look like.
The book, Home for Dinner, although interesting, did not have a lot of relevant information for our lives. What I did like was an idea for a meal-in-a-bowl salad. Below are the ideas to choose from when creating a salad:
Pick a green: arugula, Bibb lettuce, spinach, kale, dandelion greens.
Pick a fruit: plum, peach, watermelon, grapes, pears, strawberries, raspberries, blood orange.
Pick a vegetable (or more than one): tomato, avocado, mushroom.
Toast some nuts: walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, and pecans.
Add some optional whimsy: Parmesan chips, edible flowers (violets, dandelions, chive blossoms, bee balm, basil flowers, lavender, mint flowers, Johnny jump-ups, marigolds, or nasturtiums).
Make a dressing: Mix three parts oil (walnut, hazelnut, olive) to one part vinegar (balsamic, raspberry, or strawberry). For extra flavor, whisk in a little mustard and any herbs that you like.
Pick a protein:Grilled shrimp, leftover roast chicken, black beans, tofu, and kidney beans.
Top with cheese: Sprinkle or shave some Parmesan cheese on top.