My husband is a great cook. He has no aspirations to be a chef. He aspires to be a good cook which means to him, healthy food prepared with love for his family and people he cares about.
He has set the tone for our family's food. Since my daughter was a baby, he insisted on healthy food that was not "precious," but was prepared quickly and with care. Unsweetened granola, vanilla yogurt and berries was breakfast or "daddy eggs" with veggies and queso fresca. Lunch on weekends was a quick panini with sopressota and special bread. But dinner was and is, always the highlight.
We have been sitting down to a family dinner since the beginning. It gets disrupted periodically, but I can say that we sit together for dinner at least five nights out of seven. And it is all my husband's doing.
He has a weekly routine that makes this possible and is also comforting. He shops every Saturday morning at the store and perhaps the nearby farmers' market. He buys the usual, but always seems to grab something new; ground buffalo, rhubarb, some new grain product, something that inspires him to be creative.
He tells us he plans the evening meal during his morning commute. He is currently commuting to Baltimore. He picks up any specialty items on the way home, but usually the core ingredients are already in the kitchen like tomatoes for fresh pasta sauces, homemade mole for Mexican or perhaps just olive oil and capers with chopped vegetables. He walks in the door at 8 or 8:30 p.m. and starts the race to get food on the table before we converge.
Yes, we eat at about 9 p.m. every weekday night. It was not always that late, but now with my daughter's activities and my work and yoga schedule, that is the best we can do as a family. And we love it...
We take about 45 minutes to an hour at dinner each night to catch up, to plan ahead and to just listen to each other and laugh. Our dinner conversations have some loose rules, i.e. you are only allowed up to three topics and they cannot all be "big". But we have a ritual.
When I stack the dishwasher at 10 and go to bed at 10:30 pm with a bit of indigestion, I have no regrets. Our memory of food is love and laughter. And, a little homemade pesto thrown in!