The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Archive for the tag “humor”

A Complaint Free Dinner Hour

short_order

This Week’s Recipe

How many of us parents have prepared meals only to be confronted by a child (or spouse) who doesn’t like, doesn’t want or isn’t in the mood for what we just fixed. What happens next is one of two unpleasant scenarios–1) fixing an alternate meal for the unhappy person, 2) standing your ground and facing a fit.

Having faced this situation time after time, I was determined to find a mutually agreeable solution for our family of four that didn’t include me working as a short order cook! It occurred to me that I usually planned dinner four nights a week. On Sundays, we had a tradition of making homemade pizza, which everyone enjoyed. One night every week or two, we ate out or ordered in. The meals I fixed on the other nights usually generated a night or two of leftovers, which, fortunately no one objected to on principle. Of course, if someone didn’t want it or like it on night one, they sure didn’t want it on night two!

Since there are four people in our family, I told my husband and children that I was going to ask them on Thursday when I make the grocery list, what meal they want the next week. The caveat was each one of us would have a choice, and each one of us would eat without complaints everyone else’s choice. There were two other conditions. I could round out the meal with side dishes if the meal was not well balanced. And although I would not make an alternate meal, I would keep yogurt on hand if someone truly didn’t like the protein we were having.

This had some immediate benefits that I had not anticipated. It made grocery shopping much easier and ultimately cheaper. It eliminated those nights when I was at a loss as to what to fix. If the kids had picked something like chicken nuggets or burgers, I was sure to add a healthy side dish. Then I would pick a meal like roast or tilapia. If someone picked a meal that was labor intensive, I’d be sure to pick a meal that week that I could make in 30 minutes or less. On leftover night, there was usually something available from each of our meals.

This resulted in a very manageable routine with very little whining. Everyone had a say in what we ate, and we saved time and money. If you’ve become a short order cook, or face a barrage of whining at mealtime, why not think about how you could give everyone a choice in exchange for a complaint free dinner hour?

Sally Edington
Friend of McMillen Center and Mother of Two

Who Put the “Cran” in Cranberry?

cranberries

This Week’s Recipe

When I was growing up no holiday dinner was complete until the cranberries were on the table. In fact dinner was sometimes announced with the sound of the jiggling mass of jellied cranberry sauce whooshing out of the can and flopping onto a plate. But, as I have learned, it turns out cranberries do not grow as a gelatinous goo with ridges on the side which look strikingly like the inside of a can. I have also learned over the years, you don’t have to have a holiday meal to enjoy cranberries.

First, a quick history of one of the few fruits native to North America. When Europeans arrived on this continent the Native Americans of the north east had been using this berry for many things from dying clothes to treating illnesses. It was noticed by early European settlers the flower of this bog growing shrub looked like a crane, and thus the term “crane berry” was born, which was eventually shortened to cranberry. The cranberry first went to sea when sailors discovered it was great for helping to fight scurvy, because of its high vitamin C. On land cranberries were often made in to a sauce, paired with turkey, another native to North America, and served on special occasions (sound familiar?), by early Americans, Canadians and Europeans.

For many families the holiday table is where cranberries were relegated to, and that is where they stayed. But slowly as times change, and look for new and exciting flavors to bring to our families, the cranberry is leaving the formal table and joining us in more casual settings. Cakes, cookies, relish, and salads are all places this tart little wonder-berry is popping up. Maybe it is because more and more people are discovering how the great taste of cranberries is matched with how good it is for you, being full of vitamin C.

So remember, enjoying cranberries at the family table does not mean the once or twice a year sound of the jiggling mass of jellied cranberry sauce whooshing out of the can and flopping onto a plate. Cranberries are a great fruit for everyday, not just the holidays.

Scott Nitza

Scott Nitza
Graphic Designer & Marketing Associate and Father of Three

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