Each Wednesday we share a classic post from the Eat Sunday Dinner vaults. This essay originally posted on May 3, 2010.
When making Sunday dinner, you can successfully accomplish two of these three things.
- Prepare a delicious meal.
- Have a nice, relaxing time.
- Photograph your dinner.
I’ve learned the hard way that you can not do all three. Or at least I can’t. Yet. I hope one day I’ll be able to produce a quick photographic record of our Sunday dinner meals without destroying the festive spirit of the day. But I’m not there yet. The time we set aside for Sunday dinner started out great. We picked our first radish from the small self-watering planter we usually ignore because we put it by the side door we rarely use. It was an exciting moment since the radishes were the first crop we planted from seed this season and Violet remembered putting the tiny seeds in the ground.
We all played around in the back yard for a while and Tim found two beautiful grapefruits in the small tree wedged in the corner of our yard. (Who knew that sad little tree could even bear fruit!?!) The girls collected a wagon-load of loquats, as they usually do. We didn’t even have too much trouble convincing Annabel that she shouldn’t shove whole loquats into her mouth as she collected them.
I thought I’d planned well for this meal by cooking a turkey meatloaf earlier in the week and freezing half for today’s meal. I’d roasted onion and peppers to spruce up the leftovers and we made a really nice potato and green bean salad. The girls and I had carefully selected new potatoes, string beans, and a bag of lemons at the farmer’s market the day before and I made a simple lemon and olive oil vinaigrette while Tim and Violet snapped the green beans. It was the first time Violet had ever taken on this important task and it still makes me smile to remember how proud she was of the “work” she was doing. Meal preparation was going well and it seemed natural that this good-feeling would build on itself. Boy was I wrong. I decided to take a couple of quick photos of our meal and that’s when the trouble began.
In her excitement about seeing the freshly pulled radish, Violet tried to snatch it off the table just as I was taking the photograph and I snapped at her to “leave it alone!”. This started a flood of tears and I felt terrible about squashing her excitement about our home-grown produce. Tim insisted that I continue to take photos and as sweet a thought as that was, it didn’t turn out to be a popular idea. Annabel joined in the crying game and by the time we sat down to dinner everyone was grumpy. Lesson learned.
NOTE: Seven years to the day after I originally wrote this piece, I still cannot accomplish all three things, but I have gotten better at sneaking in a photo or two during meal prep.