Sunday Dinners

After spending a week away from my family at a Quilt Conference all I wanted to do last week was cook dinner and sit down with my family.  I wanted to chaos of an almost 2 year old emptying her plate on her stylish Marimekko placemat. I wanted Hubby and I to try and talk about renovations, family, and playground sizes over two children screaming, "Mega, mega, mega!" I wanted to have the 'what animals can you kill to eat?' discussion again, and again. And on top of that, I wanted a little kitchen time to set-up this crazy thing called The Family Dinner.

Despite the fact that we have two overly energetic kids it is extremely important that we sit down to dinner together every night.  Yup, every night.  Our kids are too young for the near constant drain on our gas tank as we chauffeur them to a million activities, and lord help us if we become those parents anyway. When we sit down we are there to stay, until every last bite is eaten by every single person. And then you must be asked to be excused before you even think about a foot straying from the table.

It may seem old fashioned to be strict about these dinner time rules, but in the end it makes dinner less stressful and far more consistent in the long run. As an added bonus, it means our kids are quite used to and more than able to sit in a restaurant without being too crazy and disruptive to other patrons, for at least an hour. 

Reminder - our kids are about to be 2 and 4. And no, they aren't angels, far from it. But we've got dinnertime almost settled. You take your victories where you can as a parent.

So I am starting a new feature on Backseat Gourmet. Sunday Dinner. For many of us, Sunday might be the only day of the week where everyone is actually home at the same time. Or at least the only day where that might be possible. So every Sunday, or most at least, I will share some Sunday dinner inspiration.

It was awfully convenient then, that a new crop of cookbooks arrived last weekend. With a cup of tea I settled in for some browsing.  At the top of the stack was Rose Reisman's Family Favourites. I've had some of her cookbooks in the past and never got too excited by them. This one, however, immediately grabbed me because of her emphasis on the family dinner.  And then 40 pages of discussion on healthy eating, cooking with the family, and shopping tips.

Flipping through the book I can say that I wasn't overly excited by the dessert section - yes, of course I went there first - but the vegetable side dishes and soups had me very, very interested. So I picked up mint and goat cheese at the market.

The first recipe I made was mashed potatoes with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes. I wanted this to be so good, and maybe it could have been.  But I didn't have Yukon Golds and I now disagree with the recipe in adding the chopped tomatoes before you mash. So, mine were dry, but still tasty.

But the Molasses-Coated Carrots with Mint? Holy hell, these were good. Flavourful and refreshing, without the overpowering taste of any one ingredient. I used the regular old organic carrots that I can find at this time of year, but cut smaller and adjusted the cooking time. Carrots deluxe, but still fresh with that carrot taste. An instant classic in my books. And it will certainly be making regular appearances at our house, Sunday or not.

Molasses-Coated Carrots with Fresh Mint
Serves 6
Excerpted with permission from Rose Reisman's Family Favourites
Published by Whitecap Books 2010

1 lb thin carrots (about 6 inches long), peeled and trimmed
2 Tbsp molasses
1 1/2 tsp sherry wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp chopped fresh mint

1. Place the carrots in a large saucepan or skillet. Cover with water and boil for 10 minutes or until just tender. Drain well and return to the saucepan.
2. Whisk together the molasses, vinegar and olive oil in a small bowl. Add to the carrots and saute over high heat for 5 minutes or until the sauce is heated through and the carrots are coated. Place on a platter, garnish with fresh mint and serve.