Behind the Lace Curtains-Sunday Dinner Memories and Steak Salad Edition

Sunday Dinner.  Those two beautiful words mean so much to many families around the world.  During the Colonial era in America, people were supposed to rest on Sundays-no work, little play and pretty much read the Bible. Dinners consisted of meals that would take a while to cook in ovens while they cooled-even ovens weren’t allowed to be heated because cutting wood or mining coal and stoking the fires constituted work.  Baked beans were popular at the time, because after soaking, rinsing and cooking the beans the night before and preparing the ingredients in a bean pot, as the oven was cooling the residual heat would cook the beans and pork fat, so by the evening the family would enjoy a delicious meal together.

I simply don’t understand this issue of families not eating meals together.  As a child, my family was busy, but 95% of the time, we all ate dinner together.  I don’t understand that if parents want their families together at dinnertime, then slow your life down and your children’s activities down so you can have family time together around the dinner table.  Working, of course, is the exception to the rule, but most families I know who gripe about not eating meals as a family anymore aren’t working during those hours.  As the saying goes, “be the change you want it to be”.

As I said, my family often ate dinner together as a family.  Mom insisted.  On Sundays, it usually consisted of some sort of roast meat, potatoes (a must in a family with Irish roots), and vegetable.  Sometimes we had dessert, but  not often.  I am not naturally a sweets eater, so I don’t miss that course.

Sunday dinner is an important part of American culture and identity.  One of the best reasons for preparing a big Sunday dinner are the leftovers which can be enjoyed for at least one more meal, sometimes more, thus alleviating the chore of figuring out what to make on the following days.  There’s even a book on the subject, titled “A Return to Sunday Dinner” by Russell Cronkhite, once the Executive Chef at Blair House, the home of the Vice President of the United States.

On Sundays, I will share table settings, menu ideas and sometimes recipes commonly used for the occasion, as well as recipes for other meals especially tea time. I won’t share all recipes, however, because some people in this community need to find their own ideas and cease lifting them from others, and allow those others to take their ideas and allow them to flourish, and if those who wish to copy another’s ideas can’t or won’t be friends, then don’t be enemies.

One of my favorite meals during the summer season is one I found in the recipe section of the Helena Independent Record.  I call it Steak Salad.  Use whatever salad greens you like-I prefer leaf lettuce-for the base.  Fry a steak to your liking (medium rare for me!) and allow to rest.  Meanwhile, slice a white onion and sprinkle over the torn lettuce.  Cut the steak into strips and place on the salad greens.  Shave parmesan cheese over the mixture and drizzle balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil over the top.  Season as desired, and enjoy.  I hold the onion these days-raw onion gives me heart burn for hours after I eat them.  However, this recipe is fabulous on a hot summer’s day.  Enjoy with iced tea or sangria.

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