Recently I came across an opinionated article about dinner posted on Social Media. It left me speechless. It read more like whining rather than a valid concern or issue. When I shared the article on my social media expressing my inability to find words to respond to this article, I was bombarded with passionate comments from friends. Dinner is a touchy subject.
As I began to respond to the comments, I soon realized it would take more than a few words to describe why I held utter disdain for the article.
Today, I’ve decided to stir the pot. This is a subject to important not to discuss and its near and dear to my heart.
We all face the dinner hour every single day. It will always be there, it will never change or go away. We have to eat. Right? So why do so many of us want to bury our “dinner making” heads in the sand? Because it’s one more thing to do after a very long day. I get it. I really do get it.
Friends, I’ll begin by saying… the weeknight meal does not have to be Sunday dinner. Even though I’m a chef and food is my job and I post lots of fun and intriguing recipes on my website… my family doesn’t always get a five course meal for dinner. In fact, many evenings dinner is something fresh and quick or leftovers.
With that being said, I do believe dinner is important. It isn’t just about the food. It’s about the time of day – the feelings and emotions the dinner hour evokes in our family. It’s a time when my kids talk about their day; their proud moments or their worries. Whether we’re eating dinner in shifts because of school activities or work, my family finds dinner the most comforting moment of the day. Dinner gives children a sense of security – and whether it be sandwiches and soup or pasta with jarred pasta sauce, dinner says a great big I love you.
Do I ever complain about making dinner? Yes. There are days when I feel like I drag myself into my kitchen after a very long day or I’ve been sitting at my desk for hours and my head is nowhere near the subject of dinner. That’s when I pull the soup out of the freezer, ask my daughter to make a few grilled cheese sandwiches or my husband to throw together a quick bowl of greens for a salad. The point is – we all meet at the table.
Although dinner isn’t just about the food, studies have shown we eat healthier when we eat dinner at home. Not only is our physical health impacted by the dinner hour, our children’s mental and emotional health are impacted as well.
I found an excellent article from Forbes Contributor Katie Kelly Bell “According to The Family Dinner Project website, “Recent studies link regular family meals with the kinds of behaviors that parents want for their children: higher grade-point averages, resilience and self-esteem. Additionally, family meals are linked to lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, eating disorders and depression. We also believe in the power of family dinners to nourish ethical thinking.” “What I find personally traumatizing is the fact that we even have a grassroots campaign dedicated to preserving the family meal. How far we have strayed.”
Let’s also chat about the financial impact of dinner. If you know me, you know my monthly food bill is higher than most. Yes, some of that cost is due to my occupation, and some of that cost is because I refuse to purchase fake or toxic food. It is a crying shame that we as Americans are forced to make the choice whether or not we spend our money on quality food or a vacation. It’s a travesty.
However, keeping my food purchases as close to home as possible helps cut my food bill by one third. I try to purchase all my produce, meat and poultry at my local farm market, co-op market or local farmers. Even our local Costco has started stocking local grass fed beef and chicken, as well as many Oregon organic food products. And I’m there for bath tissue anyway. Then, all I need are the basics from my local grocery store. If I don’t have time for that many stops, we divide and conquer.
My children are no longer children. One is in college and the other in high school. Did we have glorious idealistic dinners each night? No. But we did have dinner. My girls may not remember the food they ate, but they will always remember the time spent together. They still love to gather around the table for dinner. I see it in their beautiful faces, the comfort, the internal joy found by sharing a meal. The sense of security and unconditional love. Isn’t that what it’s really about?
Friends I want you to know I will try my very best to post more dinner friendly recipes here at Karista’s Kitchen. I will adhere to my personal nutritional values, but I promise to make the meals achievable. I’d love your feedback! What types of meals are easy for you to prepare? Are there cooking techniques you would like me to demonstrate that would make it easier to achieve dinner?
Until then, today I’m posting a no cook Sun Dried Tomato Sauce over your Favorite Pasta. It can easily be prepared in under 20 minutes tops. As well, I’m listing a few of my favorite quick dinner websites. Remember, the weeknight meal does not have to be Sunday dinner.
If you’d like to read the article that got me so wound up, click here. But please read Joel Salatin’s response. It’s excellent and I couldn’t agree with him more.
Jamie’s 15 minute meals – What is not to love about this chef or website?!
The Nourished Kitchen – I love this as a nutritional resource as well as traditional recipes
Foodista – an excellent resource for all types of recipes from quick and easy to holiday dinners
Farmstr – For those of you living in Western Washington, this is an excellent resource for local produce, meat, fish and poultry!
Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,
No Cook Sun Dried Tomato Sauce with Pasta
One 8 ounce jar sun dried tomatoes in olive oil (with herbs if you can find it)
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
¼ cup heavy cream (omit if you eat dairy free)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped chiffonade or just chopped if you’re in a hurry
¼ - ½ cup reserved pasta water
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
Squeeze of fresh lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb of your favorite pasta, cooked according to package directions, reserving at least ½ cup of pasta water (I love Strozzapreti pasta or something similar. I think pappardelle would be great with this sauce as well)
In a food processor or blender add the sun dried tomatoes with oil (and herbs if included), smashed garlic, grated parmesan and ¼ cup pasta water. Pulse to a puree. If needed, add additional pasta water. Add the heavy cream and pulse one or two times just to blend, you don’t want to whip the heavy cream.
Toss the pasta with the sauce, chopped fresh basil, squeeze of lemon and plate. Drizzle each plate with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and garnish with extra parmesan cheese. Serve hot.
For a heartier dish serve with Sweet or Hot Italian Sausages. And don’t forget the DaVinci Chianti 🙂