Sunday dinner

Jan 28, 2008 at 11:47 a.m. ET

Most Sunday evenings, I try to make a nice dinner -- and make it early enough so baths and bedtime aren't rushed. It's always a complete meal (maybe too complete) with salad and sides, wine for the grownups, sometimes good bread and dessert, too. Tonight there was a candle as Alfs is practicing using matches in preparation for a science unit at school that will employ Bunsen burners. I like to think of this Sunday meal as a nice, positive way to start the week.

Tonight's meal reminded me that simpler is better where the kids are concerned, and probably us adults as well. As much as I like to cook and have cooked many complicated things over the years, I've never just roasted a chicken. A simple, basic roasted chicken. It was lovely. The skin was golden and crisp and the meat was juicy. Yum.The sides were uncomplicated, too. Just root vegetables roasted with the chicken, 1/2 a baked butternut squash, egg noodles, and an herb salad with fresh apples in it. We have ice cream with chocolate sauce for dessert.The kids ate well, even Sunshine. Last week I tried to make Coq au Vin. I received a lovely new cookbook for Christmas that convinced me to try it. While it was delicious, given the family's reaction, it wasn't worth the time and effort to put together. Maybe I did something wrong. A few days later, I made lamb stew — one of my favorite meals ever. It came out well, and my husband and I really enjoyed it. But the kids picked. And complained. As I really think about it, the big effort dinners that the kids like are the exception rather than the rule. They prefer the grilled pork chops over the marinated slow roasted pork loin, the spaghetti with red sauce over the risotto. Tonight's simple Sunday dinner went over so well and was so relaxing and free of negotiating ("Can I eat just one carrot?) that I even said — out loud — that perhaps we should move Sunday dinner from the everyday table in the family room to the dining room. My husband and I looked at each other, acknowledged that it would be nice, but then thought, "Nah." Gotta keep it simple, after all.

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