Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sunday Dinner--What's YOUR Tradition?

For my family, Sunday dinner was always special. My mother's Italian-American family always celebrated Sunday with pasta and "gravy", the homemade tomato sauce simmered with meatballs, sausage, and pork ribs. First we'd eat the pasta and gravy, then my grandmother would serve the meat cooked in the sauce as a second course. This was followed by another entire meal consisting of some type of roast, vegetables, and salad. To the uninitiated, it may have seemed excessive. But for my grandmother, a bountiful table was her way of showing love. Refusing seconds was almost an insult to her; "Come on!" she'd say. "Eat!' The more you ate, the happier she would be. It was a small miracle that the entire family wasn't obese.

While my memories of Sunday meals at my grandparents' house are vivid, unfortunately, due to the 200+ miles between our homes, they weren't something we enjoyed on a weekly basis. However, my mother felt very strongly about keeping the tradition alive, and Sunday dinner with my nuclear family remained intact. We may not have eaten 3+ courses like at my grandparents' house, but my mother stayed true to her roots and always made the gravy and meatballs with my grandmother's family recipe.

Now that I have a family of my own, I am carrying the tradition to another generation. Sunday dinner at my house isn't always pasta (as we're all trying to cut back on those carbs), but is something just a little fancier than our weeknight meals. We don't do take-out, and we don't eat on the run. We sit at the table, catch up on the week's events, and talk about what's ahead. Most importantly, we enjoy being a family. Isn't that what it's all about?

What do you do on Sundays? Do you have any special traditions? Do you have a special Sunday meal? Tell me about it! I'm writing a magazine article on Sunday dinners and would love to hear what my blog readers have to say! Share your experiences by leaving a comment below. In the meantime, enjoy grandma's meatballs!

Sunday Meatballs
Makes about 18

2 lbs of ground beef (or a combination of beef, veal, and pork)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup dried bread crumbs--1/2 cup more if you like softer meatballs (Italian flavored)
1 small onion, finely diced or grated on a box grater
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 T fresh parsley, minced (or 3 t dried)

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together with your hands. Be sure everything is evenly distributed.

Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat and drizzle with olive oil. Fry the meatballs until golden brown on each side. Drain on paper towels.

Add browned meatballs to a pot of your favorite tomato sauce, and allow to gently simmer until cooked all the way through and the flavor of the meat has permeated the sauce--at least an hour (time will vary depending on how much you cooked them in the skillet).

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