Sep 20, 2011

Classic H of H: Sunday Dinner

Rereading this post has rekindled my desire to make the family portion of Sunday more memorable. It's also useful because we are working very hard to cut out restaurant meals for health and financial reasons!

I have been thinking about Sunday Dinners for quite a while. Back in the day, folks would go to church and then head home with extended family and friends to eat lunch together. The meal would be "Sunday fare" (like fried chicken, not sandwiches!) and somehow it all worked.

Many years ago my husband was a full-time pastor in a tiny town in the Florida panhandle. The church was small and made up of about three major family groups. There were two matriarchs: "Miss Ruby" and "Miss Edith." I'm not sure what Miss Edith did after the service, but Miss Ruby, et al had a routine that had been honed by decades of practice.

Any and all were invited to come. It never mattered how many--there was always plenty of food. Miss Ruby was a widow and lived by herself on a bay five miles up from the Gulf of Mexico. The view was splendid. On her enclosed porch was a giant table with many mismatched chairs. By the time my husband and I arrived after church, the process of getting lunch was already in high gear. Everyone had a job and everyone knew what to do, from the oldest to the youngest. I tried to pitch in, but they shooed me off to the living room where the men were sitting in their easy chairs talking about hunting. Good times.

Within 30 minutes there was fried something as the main course. Each week was different: chicken, chicken-fried steak, mullet and mullet roe--choice of red or white. (I'll talk about the roe in a minute.) Then there were several sides, one always being hush puppies. Another constant was FRESH scraped corn, sweet and creamy. With that was the tall glass of sweet tea in the heavy green glass (similar to the picture at right). The finale? Banana pudding or some other fantastic southern dessert.

HOW DID THEY DO THAT? It never crossed my mind to ask and now I want to know! (I do know a little about hunting, though, thanks to the living room conversations.)

I am restricted by time and location in a way those ladies weren't. They lived five minutes from church. We live 30 minutes away. They knew that church would be done at 12:00 on the dot and they hustled home. We never know when church will end--sometimes quite late. By then we're starving!

Because of our circumstances of distance and time, we eat out every Sunday. Despite that, I am still intrigued with the idea of making a "Sunday Dinner" once in a while, inviting folks to join us.

To that end I've been pondering menus and came across this book:

It just arrived today. If I manage to gear up and actually accomplish this Sunday Dinner thing, you know I'll blog about it!

Does anyone have actual experience with being in on that level of Sunday food prep? How was it accomplished? Were things done ahead of time? Keep in mind that Miss Ruby never used a crockpot or microwave. Miss Ruby was around 80 at the time. That was over 20 years ago. I don't think I'll be able to call Miss Ruby for help. However, I will always remember her as an example, a standard, if you will.

To Miss Ruby, Sunday Dinner hostess extraordinaire!

(PS--About that Roe. The red roe is fish eggs. The white roe was the other item needed to make baby fish. Each type came encased in a sac which was breaded with cornmeal and deep fried. Though there were no 10-foot poles about, I managed to never touch the stuff. I'm talented like that.)


Mrs.Phillips said...

That Pitcher is part of a set that matches my glasses! I love the concept of Sunday Dinner, maybe if I had children I would do it but I love the family and friends togetherness all day part. I have no idea how they do it but my guess would be that all the prep work was done before they left the house or before that day so literally all they had to do was come home and fire up the stove!
P.S Roe just sounds disgusting, (white roe sounds worse)!

RetroRocketGal said...

I remember pitchers like those! I have a set of matching glasses that I got for 50 cents (for all 8 of them). I miss big Sunday dinners. Most of the work was done on Saturday, the day before. We live almost 30 miles from our church, so Sunday dinners just don't happen, plus I am not young any more and don't have the strength. Roe sure sounds disgusting.

K Quinn said...

We have Sunday family dinner every week. It varies on the household. Last week was ours. We start the night before. When my mother cooks she usually uses the crockpot. If we're not cooking fish (usually salmon which only takes about 15 minutes) we use the oven. This is one of my favorites =>

I make bread from scratch (another easy recipe ask me about it). We'll something refreshing to drink (fruit juice). My husband makes fruit plates and is in charge of the veggies. I'll make rice or potatoes. Some days I even make dessert. Usually a pie or something.
We've been doing it so long I never thought about it. Our church is about 20 minutes away. After arriving home it takes us about an hour and a half til food is on the table from walking in the door. This is one man and woman working together with a 6 year old underfoot and includes cleaning up.
It's a labor of love.

Roxanne said...

Mrs. Phillips--So you're saying "Just say NO to roe!"? I'll carry one of those signs!

Having extended family and friends is my ideal for the future. I want to get the process down with just the three of us right now, but I know that doing this has the potential for so much sharing and enriching of lives.

Are your glasses the same color as my picture?

Roxanne said...

RetroRocketGal--Are your glasses the same color as my pitcher picture? (Couldn't resist.)

It seems the consensus that Saturday prep is the only way to accomplish Sunday dinner. I'm going to look at recipes with "streamlined" in mind!

Roxanne said...

K Quinn--That is awesome! And, yes, I DO want that bread recipe!

Do you alternate Sundays with your mom? Are other relatives there, too? Does the "hostess" provide it all or do others bring dishes?

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