We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Missing Sunday Dinners with Family

Growing up in Samoa, Sundays always featured a huge dinner for my family, filled with tons of family and an abundance of good food. I remember a time when my grandfather wanted only turkey or ham to be served on Sundays and I never got tired of it year round, but that's me :). But what I remember as the best part of those Sunday dinners was that I got to see my grandparents, aunts, uncles and all my cousins. It really was a haven in my frantically busy childhood. My parents' schedules (and subsequently ours as their children) were chock full daily from morning till night, so I considered those brief hours on Sunday afternoons to be my only bit of sanity before having to rush off to another function.

I see the merit in having a simple supper on Sundays so families can relax and not be stressed out with cooking. But for me, I really would love to keep the tradition of having a big dinner on Sundays. It's not always that festive since Hubby works, leaving Baby Boy and I alone, which is decidedly different from the happy bustle I remember during Sunday dinners. But some day our family will grow and we'll be able to enjoy the noise of having a large family settled around us at the table as we talk about our week and just soak in being together.

Usually, the solitude leaves me so not in the mood to whip up a big dinner on Sundays, but today I'm feeling particularly homesick so I've decided to make ham, steamed rice and some side dishes. I've also determined to clean off my poor dining table (which is constantly cluttered with my latest craft/spa project), scrub off the latest toddler stickiness and use our best dishes. And you know what? I think we'll even have candles. Maybe. Now, at our huge family dinners we would use paper plates most of the time. And with the naughty kids we were (and the sometimes oppressive heat), the last thing on my aunts' minds were to light candles within our reach. But a candle-less table and paper plates didn't matter, it was family time and I miss it. I guess right now for our home, with so few of us, I want to make a bit of an event of it. Because I'm weird. But mostly because I miss home. I miss my family and I wish we weren't so far away.

Anyway, to make you forget a bit of my rambling, here's a recipe:
I found it on this website and decided to pair it with the ham we'll be having for dinner. Because of a sensitivity to the acid, the guys can't handle much citrus, but I thought it would make a nice change since we have a fruit basket filled with oranges at the moment. Hubby was sweet enough to pick up a whole sack of them so I could make pomanders for the very first time for the coming holidays. Fun! Unfortunately, I need more cloves after making only three, hence the excess of oranges. More on that later. On to the recipe:

Provencal Orange and Honey Salad
3 oranges
2 tablespoons honey
1 lemon, zested and juiced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin 
olive oil or to taste
basil or mint leaves, cut in chiffonade (thin strips)**
* Use a light-tasting liquid honey, such as clover or orange blossom
** Vary the herb garnish according to how you plan to serve the salad. Basil is best when it is a first course or salad, while mint suits as an intermezzo or dessert.
Using a sharp knife, cut the top and bottom off the oranges to expose the flesh. Stand the orange upright, cut away the peel, following the contours of the orange and removing all white pith along with the peel. Trim off any bits of white left on the orange.
When all the oranges are peeled, slice them crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Put the orange rounds and any collected juices in a shallow bowl or deep-dish pie plate.
Pour the honey over the sliced oranges and gently toss with a rubber spatula to coat. Set aside in a cool spot (or the refrigerator if you like) for 1 hour.
To serve: Grate a heaping teaspoon of lemon zest from the lemon and set aside. Squeeze the lemon. Drizzle with the olive oil. Scatter over the lemon zest and herbs, and serve.

For individually plated salads:  Pour about 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice on each plate. Drizzle with the olive oil. Scatter over the lemon zest and herbs, and serve.
For a platter presentation:  Pour 2 tablespoons of juice onto the platter. Spoon the orange slices and the accumulated orange juice onto the plates or platter. Drizzle with the olive oil. Scatter over the lemon zest and herbs, and serve.
Variation: Layer the orange slices with slices of ripe tomato and sprinkle the whole dish with Fleur de sel or sea salt.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Here's hoping you get to relish some family time with those you love most.

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