Take time this weekend to get the family together for an old-fashioned Sunday dinner. Whether you plan a midday or early evening meal, slowing down with good food and good company is a grand way to celebrate the importance of family.
Gather the Family
Sunday dinners are meant to be multi-generational. This means grandparents and toddlers, teenagers and baby boomers sit down at the same time in the same place and break bread.
Make sure the family knows that you are planning a weekend get-together. Call those who live elsewhere, tweet or email, or post a family notice on the bulletin board or refrigerator door. Be specific as to time and place.
Make it clear this is a family affair -- not a major party or minor potluck supper. If you want help with the meal, be sure to ask for it. Your sister, cousin, or mother may offer to bring a salad, dessert, or freshly baked bread. Let them!
An Afternoon Meal
In the old days, Sunday dinner was at two or three o'clock. There's good reason for this timetable. It frees the morning for cooking, browsing in farmer's markets, bicycling with the kids, going to church, or household chores.
When it's time for dinner, the afternoon hour means there's time to relax and enjoy the day before it's time for Sunday night, pre-work-week rituals.
If you prefer, an early evening meal is equally rewarding. If any family members have long drives, however, earlier in the day is usually preferred.
Plan the Menu
Our menu is a classic Sunday meal. It includes roast beef, mashed potatoes, and green beans. You might prefer to serve leg of lamb or pork loin instead. You might want rice instead of potatoes. Or you might want to add a green salad to the menu. Do what is best for your meal.
Buy the food on Saturday and store it in the refrigerator. Make the pie crust ahead of time, and if you can, roast the onions and garlic for the mashed potatoes.
Decide on china, glassware, and table linens ahead of time. If you don't, you might find yourself shy a napkin or have to deal with a stained tablecloth.
Of course, it's family, so a few mismatched napkins and plates won't matter too much.
Sunday dinner is the time for a well-set table. Use the linen tablecloth you found in your great aunt's attic, the silver candlesticks your grandmother left you, and the stemware you found in the antique shop.
Fill an assortment of flea market vases with simple flowers. Set a bowl of pretty lemons and limes on the table for decoration, or some shiny red and green peppers. Fresh flowers and new tapers are appreciated touches for any meal.
Whether you prefer a formal table or a more casual one, a lovingly set table says how much you care. So does going to the effort to cook Sunday dinner.