by Lisa

Diner began really badly last night: first, child trauma after school. Then, I realized the pickled shrimp I had committed to wouldn’t be ready for 8-10 hours. So much for reading the recipe all the way through. Which meant I had not much time and another dinner to cook.

I looked around my kitchen and found: breadsticks and leftover fava bean spread. That set me on the Italian trail, and since my book rights just sold in Italy, I am very happy to eat Italian for a long time. I had gnocchi & sun dried tomatoes, and fresh oregano, and good parmesan, which meant sundried tomato pesto over pan fried gnocchi. I quickly made the pesto, set some artichokes to steam, and joined the family outside. I brought out the breadsticks and spread to accompanying their Harry Potter Cocktail Hour in progress. Finn had some BabyBel cheese.

It was our first really beautiful evening with everyone home for dinner, and we just kept reading and eating outside. It could not have been more casual. I even ruined the artichokes by letting the water boil away, thus burning the bejeesus out of those lovely thing. But I had a washed and prepped head of tender Boston lettuce, and some leftover homemade dressing, so even that was taken in stride. Harry Potter cocktail hour became Harry Potter dinner hour. Salad and gnocchi were served in one bowl with a fork. Nothing simpler.

Finn wandered around finishing his salad. Generally speaking, we don’t let them wander away from the table, or eat with their hands. But sometimes we do.

Lost his tooth.

And then we took the kids on bikes to the park.

My family life is not perfect. It is often filled with stress, and somedays, like yesterday, are full of stress and storms. But one place where we almost always find peace and the time to reconnect is around the family meal. Kory and I have worked hard to make meals a time to connect, a time to slow down, a time to remember that we are, after all, in this together. Meals have become part of the fundamental structure and architecture of our life. They are among the most important scaffolding of our family. We’ve been building this framework for years, and days like yesterday, it pays off.

Sundried Tomato Gnocchi

  • sundried tomatoes, about 1 cup
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh oregano
  • 1/4-1/2 cup grated parmasen
  • olive oil
  1. Put tomatoes, garlic, oregano, parmesan in mini-food processor and chop one or two pulses. Then add olive oil in a steady stream to blend. Taste, add more cheese, salt, or herbs as needed.
  2. Pan fry gnocchi in mixture of 1/2 butter & 1/2 olive oil (about 1-2 T each).
  3. When gnocchi is golden brown, add pesto to the pan and toss for a minute to coat. Serve immediately.