Story last updated at 5/15/2013 - 1:40 pm
I wonder sometimes if am I unique in my expectations that when dinner is on the table, my family will be ready to dine. I don’t think so, yet I can’t help but wonder. I give you my family for example. When I was growing up, dinner was served at 6 p.m. on the dot and we did not miss this meal under penalty of severe grounding or worse.
When we were really young, before driving age, my father would stand on the front porch of our home and blow a conch shell. Yes, a conch shell, like those one sees at luaus in Hawaii. We have had that shell in our family since I was three years old and we lived in Okinawa. It was our family version of the dinner bell. It could be heard for miles. When dad blew that shell we had best come running. Given that my mom was such a fantastic cook, it was worth the race.
I’m the mom now, and although I am an empty nester by design, I still try hard to have dinner on the table. Working in tourism I tend to skip several meals a week for much of the spring, but overall I still like to serve dinner at a reasonable hour.
Last week was such a dinner. My husband, Grant, and I had discussed in specific detail his plans for the evening. He had a meeting at 6:30 p.m., would return from said meeting within the hour at which time I would have dinner on the table. Pretty clear cut. Around 7 p.m. I started dinner. By 7:30 it was ready to be served. By 8, it went into the oven to keep warm, by 9 it was starting to dry out, so I took it out of the oven. By 9:30, I decided to eat without him. At 9:35 he came through the front door.
Profuse apologies were spewed as I plated his meal and told him he was lucky to get anything at all. I laid a guilt trip on him of which any self-respecting wife would be proud, but finally relented. He said I was always too forgiving, but what the heck. It’s just the two of us now, so I can be more flexible.
But this does lead me back to my original thought. Do families still embrace dinner time? Do we still gather around the table and share our days with our wives, husband, children, or friends? This is a wonderful tradition that should not be put aside. Dinner time is not only a time to dine, but a time to bond. I cherish those days with my brothers and parents when we laughed and ate and my dad would always tell us one of his war stories. Except for the dinner when my brother dropped his meatloaf into my homemade blackberry cobbler. That is still an emotional scar.
I encourage families to enjoy this time together. It can be over a pot roast, cold cuts and even take out, but dine as a family – at the table. Turn off the TV. Leave the phones in another room and enjoy the moment. This time you spend together is brief, but the memories will last forever.
As for Grant, maybe I should get the conch shell from my dad. I wonder if he’ll come running.
This week, I present to you a dinner worth waiting for, Rockfish Tostadas. Fortunately for the not-so-punctual diner, most of the recipe is easily made ahead and assembly takes about five minutes.
Until next time…
Eat and enjoy,
2 4-ounce rockfish filets
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tortillas (flour, corn or multi-grain)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ cup chopped tomatoes
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 cup black beans
¼ cup chopped scallions
¼ cup shredded cheddar or Mexican-blend cheese
1 diced avocado
2 tablespoons sour cream
Combine all spices in small bowl, whisk with fork. Preheat 1 tablespoon olive oil in non-stick skillet to medium high heat. Rub both sides of fish filets with seasoning mixture. Sear fish in pan for 3-5 minutes. Turn and sear other side for 3-5 minutes. Remove from pan. Clean pan with paper towel and add second teaspoon of oil. Bring to high temp and quickly fry tortillas.
To plate, place tortilla on plate, add beans, then fish. Then top with additional garnishes to your liking.
Kelly Moore, a.k.a. Midgi, writes and cooks from Juneau. Visit her blog, www.mealswithmidgi.com, for additional stories and recipes. She may be reached at midgi@