i grew up in a house where the presentation of a meal was just as important as the meal itself.
i don’t remember ever a bottle of ketchup or dressing on our dinner table. my mom would squeeze condiments into etched glass bowls with tiny silver spoons. we would make fun of her and i admit to sometimes being embarrassed when friends came to visit.
when chris and i first started dating he pulled me aside one night after dinner and said “your mom doesn’t have to make things so fancy just for me every time.” i didn’t have the heart to tell him at first that this was just the way things were.
little did he know what he was getting himself in to.
i am not sure if it was ingrained in me or if it’s in my blood, but i too love to present a meal.
i sometimes think i like it better than cooking. i love the process of it and the mood it sets.
tonight was salad bar night, a meal that we all love and with a little creativity, can satisfy everyone’s taste buds in our household. it’s a simple meal actually, that can pack a punch with proteins such as sunflower seeds, hard boiled eggs, chopped up bacon and feta cheese to compliment the greens and other veggies. fruits such as sliced up apple or pear, pomegranate seeds and grapes are favorite toppings as well. i like to experiment with making a new and different dressing each time. tonight’s was cilantro-jalapeno-lime. i toasted up some pita and served it with some olive oil for dipping. there are so many variations to this meal especially as the seasons change. it’s a great “clean out the fridge” kind of meal where all sorts of left-overs can act as toppings.
i feel lucky that my girls have always liked a variety of vegetables. but i think their love was born out of the freedom and fun to create their own salads. chris always says “you don’t make a sandwich, you build one!” well i believe this speaks true for a salad too.
no matter what i am preparing for dinner, even if it’s a pan of scrambled eggs, i like to follow a few simple guidelines ….
:: before i pull anything out of the fridge, start chopping or mixing, i light a few candles and turn on some music. i love our local jazz station. i pour myself something special, i deserve it. tonight was a glass of red wine. but even a glass of seltzer with a squeeze of lemon is nice.
:: i don’t believe that your best china, glassware, linens and silverware are meant for dinner parties and guests. beautiful things are meant for every day. sometimes sitting at a table with a thoughtful presentation of your favorite things can enhance the flavors of meal. a beautifully set table can feed my soul just as much as the food can satisfy my appetite.
:: although the table where we sit down to meals is used for many other activities, i try to always keep it clean and free of debris as much as possible. this allows to easily set it for each meal.
:: fresh flowers on the table at all times is a must for me. whether it be a store bought bouquet or a bundle of weeds from the backyard, it sets a mood and creates a sacred space.
:: cloth napkins make me happy. they are pretty and can brighten up a table. they can be used over and over and come in all different patterns and colors. i am always on the look out for them while thrifting. it’s nice to have several sets to use throughout the week.
:: even though we are not religious folk we do like to say a few words of appreciation before we dig in. a prayer, refection or even a moment of silence before a meal is a nice way to connect with each other, your home and the food that was prepared.
::digest! i used to be one to eat and run. i would immediately begin to clear the table and clean up after a meal. what’s the rush? sit and linger i say! pour a pot of hot herbal tea and continue the conversation.