I sat all the food for dinner on the table. Plus, plates and forks and napkins.
I yelled through the house for my husband and my son to come to the table and eat.
We sat around the table and I doled out food onto my child’s plate. The family started eating with forks (like always) but we soon abandoned our utensils and regressed to eating our dinner caveman style, simply picking up chunks of food with our fingers. The mood at the table relaxed considerably and the conversation flowed.
“This is kind of like when we go to the beach and eat,” my husband said. He was referring to the traditional style of eating around a giant, common bowl of low-country boil. Utensils are rarely used at those meals either. I’ve always been impressed with how a no-utensil meal can bring out the most social tendencies in people.
If anyone had walked into our dining room at that moment, they might have thought my family had slipped off the edge. But the things like 30 minutes of goofy laughing, finger licking, and talking with our mouths full is what I will look back and long for again one day when my child is grown and gone from my house.
More important than building my memories; however, I know my child’s future is being built. Eating at the table with your family on a regular basis is more than just healthy for your body. Countless research studies have shown the correlation between family meal time and higher grades, lower rates of risky behaviors like drug use, and increased vocabulary skills.
If you’re interested in more dinners that are easy to get to the table (and even easier to eat) here’s the way I prepared my recent dinner that was consumed minus forks.
Chopped, red skinned potatoes
Fresh green beans
Small ham steak
2-3 T. Canola oil
Place chopped potatoes and green beans in a shallow layer in a Dutch oven or any oven-proof baking dish. Add canola oil and garlic salt and toss to coat vegetables. Place ham steak on top of vegetables. Cover and cook at 350-400 degrees F for 45 minutes until potatoes are fork tender. Remove cover half way through cooking to allow vegetables to brown and crisp.
Alternative combination of ingredients:
Carrot chunks, potato chunks, chicken legs
Sweet potato chunks, apple quarters, pork chops
Green onions, cherry tomatoes, meatballs
Bell pepper and onion chunks, summer squash chunks, smoked sausage coins