Family dinners are important. Making time to connect over a meal—re-group, share stories, debates and laughs—brings a list of benefits a mile long. This column will not attempt to convince you of this; people generally agree.
Sit-down dinners seem an unrealistic goal to most modern-day families. I’d like to help.
Children are busier than ever, calendars overflowing with academic, athletic and creative endeavors. Parents are busier than ever with increased hours in the workplace and workdays that linger on into the evening.
Everywhere a parent looks, there’s are experts reminding them how valuable family dinners are. Occasionally they toss in realistic advice but these experts can’t magically change the family’s calendar.
Suggestions often include ideas for dinner recipes to make ahead of time or the valid solution of making large batches of food at one time. Sounds great but even the most organized, well-intentioned parents are still having trouble finding the time.
Instead of Family Dinner, how about Family Dessert?
If you truly cannot get everyone around the table at a reasonable dinnertime then start with Family Dessert.
When the chaos of the day relents, sit down at the table without technology and enjoy dessert together, even if it’s later in the evening. Keep expectations realistic—fifteen minutes. Should you give your children a pile of sugar before bed? No. Let’s be strategic, small portions of treats that contain less or no added sugar.
Everyone looks forward to dessert and keeping the duration reasonable makes it achievable. Play one of the common dinner games—simple question-based games that get the family chatting and laughing. Table Topics and Family Dinner Box of Questions are common. Resources such as Winchester’s toy store, Catch a Falling Star, often have a selection.
Choose a near-effortless dessert and involve all family members in its creation.
The Family Dinner Project is a nonprofit organization currently operating from offices at Harvard University. Their website offers information, recipes and realistic solutions.
Grilled Peaches with Fresh Ricotta & Honey
Using a small scoop, add a dollop of ricotta into the hollow area of each peach half (where the pit was). Drizzle the peaches with honey and garnish with generous shreds of fresh lemon zest.
These peaches are tremendously versatile—a light dessert or side dish. Making generous portions ensures a tasty breakfast or lunchbox addition the next day.
Visit my social media pages for a photo of the peaches. Need more ideas or have questions? Let me be a helpful resource, email me.
* with gratitude to The Winchester Star for publishing this column on 7/25/16
chef mel has been creating food experiences for over 20 years. she embraces an "aspiring homesteader" lifestyle & grows over 40 types of edibles when she's not teaching classes & hosting farm dinners. she adores simplicity, new food & edible flowers. her writing reminds us there's wisdom & humor among the seeds, stalks & sauce pots. we're not perfect & that's okay - keep it genuine & journey on!