Nightly dinners eaten together are engrained in the very being of our family unit.
On the nights where we end up split and hovering, driving back and forth before the meal is served or disjointedly trying to fit food in between conferences, sports and other activities, the world seems to tilt a little more sharply to the left, throwing everything off ever so slightly.
There is power in the routine of doing something, and the routine of a family dinner keeps us grounded. It is a small space of time where we talk about school, about movies we want to see, about weekend plans, about life. The older my eldest gets, the more important I think it is to tie her down for a few minutes, even on the days when she has declared war on each of her siblings and both of her parents – especially on those days.
Family dinners are not just a time to eat together and catch up, though. They provide the space for learning how to converse, to use manners, to serve yourself food, and to learn how to tell when you're full. They build life skills that transfer into all parts of your day, not just the eating.
Try an impromptu pizza night with your family sometime this week. Whip up an easy no-rise pizza dough, pull the scraps of food from the refrigerator, and see who can make the most creative pizza-like conglomerate. Then slice and share. Mine happens to have an egg on it.
I've been craving a good, dirt-grown tomato, the kind that sing of summer and sunshine with thin perfect skin pulled tight across soft flesh. Still, in the midst of winter in the northern half of the U.S., such a tomato is not to be. Instead, I turn towards the sun-dried variety where summer sweetness has been preserved in full-flavored goodness.
Notes: To get the best crust on your pizza, use a preheated high-temperature pizza stone. I like to put rolled dough on individual slices of parchment so they can easily be slid onto the stone and pulled off when it's time for the next pie to hit the oven.