Get Cooking: Family Dinner Night

We always ate dinner at the table. Always. My father would promptly arrive home from work at 6:05 p.m., five nights a week. A nuclear family of four (myself, my parents and my younger brother), this was the same routine we followed for almost 16 years. I remember blowing bubbles in my milk, telling stories (riveting I’m sure) about my day, laughing, and fighting about which sibling had to do dishes afterwards. I learned how to properly set a table. I learned my manners: Never talk with food in your mouth; Always ask to be excused, etc. Valuable life lessons all.

Hard as it may be to imagine, we did not have a dishwasher growing up. In a standard division of labor, I was the washer, and my brother, the dryer. Many a towel snap and fight would break out, but I honestly miss those times. I miss my brother and wish we could go back to our simple dish routine, that simpler time.

I still value dinner at the table. This could be the deep-seated reason I love Thanksgiving so much. Think about it, it’s basically one long family dinner.

Life gets busy, parents can get wrapped up in daily tasks and commitments, but if you can make it work, take the time to eat as a family. It may seem like a chore now, just one more thing you have to plan, but it’s completely worth it. You might not see the benefits in the moment, but years later, your children will thank you. And you’ll thank yourself. There’s an art to engaging table talk. But unlike painting or sculpting, this art can be learned, mimicked, taught.

My husband, Jeff, and I are always busy with our jobs and whatever else life throws at us on any given day, but we make sure that at least four nights a week, we come home, chat, make dinner, and eat together. Dinner doesn’t have to be something elaborate; it doesn’t have to be the meal of the year, just something tasty that you can share.

We eat this meal a lot. It’s easy, filling, and exactly what it should be — a meal to share around the table.

Russian Pasta

  • 1 package angel hair pasta
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 4 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 bunch of basil
  • 2 cloves diced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • ½ cup vodka (the alcohol cooks off)
  • ½ cup heavy cream

Boil pasta in salted water until nearly done. Drain pasta. Save 1 cup pasta water. Pour tomato sauce, tomato paste, vodka, and cream into saucepan. Add nearly done pasta. Add ½ cup pasta water. Cook for 5 minutes. Add more water if needed. When finished, add grated Parmesan and rough-chopped basil. Enjoy with some crusty Italian loaf, olives and if you’re feeling especially productive a Caesar salad.

Categories: Food