Saturday, 15 September 2018 19:44

"Present Over Perfect", Less Complicated Family Dinners and "Uncooking"

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When did family dinners become so complicated?

When did we start losing the opportunity to sit down at our kitchen table for 20 minutes at the end of a long day and share a meal together?

And, when did we start feeling so much pressure to make the most perfect, photogenic, social media worthy family dinner?

How can we get back to simple:  simple meals and simply spending time with our families?

In March of 2018 I started this blog adventure. I started it for many reasons.  I wanted to connect with other families who are living with Fructose Malabsorption.  I wanted to give my daughter a voice and have her discover why she shouldn't be scared to tell her friends about her food intolerance.  I dreamt about creating a space where all families could share recipe ideas, spotlight food products that are minimally processed, discuss the highs and lows of living with FM, and build an online community of families who support each other.

Yes, many of these dreams have come to fruition.  However, I have encountered a few obstacles along the way.  First and foremost I didn't know a single thing about how to build a website, let alone how to import pictures or even create an embedded link.  Needless to say I have learned a lot in the last 14 months.  It has been incredibly challenging, but also very rewarding.  I am proud of my accomplishments.

One struggle that did not occur to me when starting this blog was the concept of perfectionism.  I have never strived to be a perfect cook, a perfect mom and definitely not a perfect food photographer.  Somehow though, since starting this blog perfectionism has creeped it's way into my daily life and altered my family connections and how I value myself.  What truly brings me joy is having dinner with my family.  My goal never included a perfect Bon Appetit 3 course family meal.  Yes, I love to cook and spending time in my kitchen is my happy place.  But, prior to this blog adventure I never agonized about creating a flawless family meal that was worthy of being featured in a glossy cookbook.  

Sometimes my dinners are total flops and I end up pulling out cereal for dinner.  And, sometimes my dinners taste amazing but they are not pretty.  One year ago I would have never imagined that I would feel pressure to take a food picture so beautiful that your mouth would water just looking at it!

Somehow this blog adventure of mine has created a dilemma I wasn't expecting.  I want to continue to cook for my family and share some of our favorite recipes on my website.  But, I don't want this blog to take away from our treasured family meals.  I need to find balance.  I need to find "Present Over Perfect."  

How am I going to do this? I am going to start sharing some of our family's most simple meals.  I am going to remember that what matters most is spending time together at our kitchen table sharing our daily high's and low's.  Yes, a good dinner beckons our loved ones to the table.  But, the meal doesn't always have to be complicated or fancy or picture worthy to make it memorable.

After all, "we build deep and loving family relationships by doing simple things together, like family dinner...and just by having fun together. " -Dieter F. Uchtdorf


So here goes.....

Why can't I share with you many of our family's favorite dinners that include sandwiches?  We love sandwiches!  They are simple, take little time to prepare and most importantly make my kids happy.  One of our favorites is chicken parmesan on fresh ciabatta.  And, here is where I am working on my new mantra, "Present Over Perfect".  I honestly can not take a good picture of my chicken parmesan sandwich.  I have tried multiple times and have decided it's ok if the recipe is simply included in my "Mom's Oven Chicken" recipe and it is not photographed.  You will have to trust me on this one it is delicious, but it is not photogenic or camera-ready.

Grace's current favorite sandwich is Ellie Krieger's quick French Dip.  You can make "homemade Au Jus" in 10 minutes while you assemble the sandwiches with bakery fresh bread and deli roast beef.  Steam a little broccoli in your microwave at the same time and you will have a fantastic family meal on your table in less time than it takes to go pick up dinner at a local restaurant.

One of my favorite ways to serve dinner I have aptly named "uncooking".  Yes, "uncooking".  "Uncooking" is when you purchase safe minimally processed products and assemble them into a delicious family meal, like a sandwich.  Recently I purchased fresh focaccia from our local bakery, Breadsmith; and a variety of deli meats, spreads and fresh vegetables from the grocery store.  My children love when they get to choose what's for dinner.  I love it, too!  And, when I decide to "uncook" and serve make your own focaccia sandwiches for dinner everyone wins.  Jack and Grace get to make their sandwich the way they like it and I don't have to spend hours in the kitchen potentially preparing a recipe that could be a total failure.  Try "uncooking" one night.  You might discover how truly magical it is.

Lastly, I would like to share with you where I found my new mantra, "Present Over Perfect".  A good friend of mine called me last spring and told me I had to read her new favorite book, "Present Over Perfect" by Shauna Niequist.  She informed me it was life changing and necessary reading for all moms.  How could I refuse such a glowing review?  In all honesty I did not read the book, I listened to it.  I have become obsessed with audiobooks.  I can listen and do other things at the same time like clean the house, go for a walk or cook dinner.  My friend's suggestion has truly changed my life and my daily mantra.  My family doesn't need me to be perfect.  They want me to be present, available and always ready to listen, to share and to love.


Read 7864 times Last modified on Tuesday, 07 May 2019 01:24