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The Great American Sunday Dinner

I don't know how much of a tradition this still is, but growing up in the 70s, a special Sunday dinner was a common occurrence and a pretty big deal. The matriarch of the family--paternal or maternal grandmother--would prepare a luxus meal--usually a late lunch--and invite the extended family over to partake.

My maternal grandmother was not much of a cook, quite frankly. She lived in rather straightened circumstances most of her life and was abstemious in the extreme. Consequently, she was loth to shoot the works in the kitchen, and I think felt a mild disdain to those who did. This culinary puritanism did not, however, prevent her from preparing one hell of a roast beef with mashed taters, rolls, gravy and all the usual trimmins. This was her Sunday dinner and it was easily the best thing she ever cooked.

My paternal grandmother, although also a bit poor, had no such qualms about ritzing it up in the kitchen, and she was a superb country cook. Her Sunday specialty was supernal fried chicken--everybody who tried it agreed it was the best they had ever tasted--with biscuits, cream gravy, green beans, etc. We grandkids practically fought over the "pulley bone" and always broke the wishbone, with the lucky kid holding the long piece getting to make a wish. After dinner, the adults smoked and drank and played 42, canasta or 31 while we kids did what kids do. Great times.

Did you have such experiences as a child? Do you still?

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  1. Yes, the following is a stereotype and generalization....but in my opinion, the Great American *Family* is fractured. Too busy in life for family getting together. It's not happening on Sunday's and it's not even happening during the week.

    What you describe seems to happen only in ethnic families today.....where they are noticeably more dependent on each other in family care taking and business support...and maintaining family traditions.

    1 Reply
    1. re: fourunder

      Boring white woman here. My husband and I try to do a nice Sunday dinner semi-regularly and it's just us, although we have an addition arriving soon. Both our families had pretty regular Sunday dinners and its just a nice tradition to keep up. Generally when we do invite family over, it tends to be for Sunday dinner. It's a nice thing to have before the week starts, not to mention good for leftovers.

    2. Absolutely! Sunday dinner was always a special time. I seemed to have carried on the tradition. Even if I'm alone for dinner I usually plan a nice Sunday dinner. If I didn't live 2 hours from my parents, there would still be family gatherings on Sunday night with dinner made by my grandmother who usually whips up the family favorites - roast lamb, braised pork chops, smothered collard greens, mac and cheese.

      1. I did as a child, first at my grandmothers house, then at my mothers house.
        By the time I became an adult, everyone moved away. Now, my adult children and extended family all live hours and hours away from one another. Family dinners are only on holidays now.

        1. Yes. As a child I had four sets of grandparents. My moms biological parents which I never met, her adoptive parents, my dads mother and her husband and my dads father and his wife. My dads mother and his step mother were excellent cooks. Dad's mom was a cook in a school cafeteria and made food based on that style of cooking. But Sundays were a special pot roast and trimmings day. And Sundays at step grandma's house was either fresh eggs from the coop, bacon from the pigs grandpa raised, slaughtered and smoked, and biscuits or pancakes. If it was dinner, it was late afternoon and it was a fresh slaughtered chicken, swamp cabbage or greens from the garden, sliced tomatoes from the garden, radishes,green beans etc... all fresh. Or sometimes it was sausages that grandpa made served with sauerkraut that grandma made fresh(rediculously good, not like the canned crap) and boiled potatoes. My knees are buckling from the memories.

          1. I never experienced this growing up in the 70s, despite having ethnic grandparents (Italian on paternal side, Polish and Slovenian on maternal side), and despite living a slow life by today's standards. (My mother did not drive, which curtailed most opportunities for extracurricular activities.) I don't recall ever eating dinner at my maternal grandparents' home, and my paternal grandmother only hosted Thanksgiving dinner, with good homemade ravioli but mediocre everything else. Quite frankly, considering the emotional dynamics in my parents' families of origin, having to sit at the table and struggle through a so-so dinner would have made the weekly visits even more trying. It was a little better at home, but not much. My mother regarded preparing and eating dinner as tedious chores, so she regarded Sunday as a break day, meaning fast food.

            One bright side of growing up without heartwarming traditions is that you can start your own without the emotional baggage of the past. I often go all out for Sunday dinner with my husband and daughter. Sunday is a great opportunity for meals I would not have time to prepare during the week, such as roasts and stuffed cabbage. I also love combining Sunday dinner with an outing, such as visiting an apple orchard and then preparing a pork roast with apples. Fourunder's stereotype and generalization does not hold up with us, as my husband and I both work full-time, we all participate in extracurricular activities, and we are not ethnic by any of the usual connotations of that term.

            3 Replies
            1. re: MrsBridges

              Tough having a mom who regards doing things for her family as grim tasks, isn't it?

              1. re: sandylc

                Yes, it was tough, but I'm sure it was worse for her. My mother was never meant to be a stay-at-home mom, but she came of age in a time when that was the expectation, and she did not have a rebellious spirit. She's much happier now that my dad is retired, and they can enjoy sharing adult lives together. This is why I have no sentimentality or nostalgia about SAHMhood. It's great if that's your vocation, but if it isn't, you're better off adapting your lifestyle to your true self.

                And somehow, despite their lack of role models, my parents are wonderful grandparents.

                1. re: MrsBridges

                  I can relate, if you read my story you'll notice it's all about my grand mother and myself. My mother, not so much. Her favorite thing(s) to make for dinner were reservations.

            2. Having grown up in an Italian home, with grand parents living with us, Sunday dinner was always at our house. It would start early Sunday morning 5/6am my grandmother would start the gravy. The morning would start with various meats for the gravy, my job was rolling the 3-4 dozen meatballs.

              Once the gravy was started we moved to whatever fresh pasta she was making for the day. Using a fork to seal the raviolis, hanging string all around the house to hang linguini, rolling gnocchi you name it we did it.

              Around 2pm my uncles and all my cousins came over and dinner was around 4pm. My uncles would bring bread and cheese from Newark NJ, where they all grew up.

              I've done my best to continue the tradition and have big Sunday dinners about once a month, having both sets of parents over and as many brother and sister in laws as care to come as well as any nephews and nieces that can make it. (Now they are of driving age)

              I wouldn't change those memories for the world.

              1 Reply
              1. No, we only had big family get-togethers like that on holidays.

                It wouldn't appeal to me now, either. I like my Sundays to be low-key and frankly, seeing my family or in-laws that often would drive me nuts.

                1. The Khantessa often tells me how fortunate we were to have had families that sincerely enjoyed being together. I see that she is right.

                  1. My experience was the exact opposite. Sunday dinner was the low key diner where we ate in front of the TV (the only time we were ever allowed for Sunday night family movie) and usually had home-style foods like Pizza and Fried Chicken. About once a month we would have more of a special dinner that you are describing but that was usual Saturday night or sometimes Friday night but never Sunday.

                    1. Yes, I did, until well into my 20's when my grandparents all passed away. My parents and I most often went to my paternal grandparents, and Grandma often fixed a pot roast with potatoes, carrots and onions, fancied-up canned green beans (added bacon and onions) as well as biscuits or light rolls (folks not from Texas would probably call them yeast rolls or dinner rolls). If she asked me what I would like, I always requested chicken and dumplings (simply simmered chicken with Biquick dumplings...so good and what I miss most when I think of Sunday Dinner). It was an amazing way to grow up and a sweet memory.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: buzzardbreath

                        Another Texan here who doted and still dotes on chicks and dumps. But my mom usually made them on weeknights during the fall and winter. They were the food of the Gods and I scarfed them until I was fit to pop. Fortunately, I've got my mom's recipe and still make the chicks and dumps on a fairly regular basis.

                      2. I definitely remember weekend meals like the at my grandparents' in San Francisco. It was usually a huge crowd for roast lamb on Friday or Saturday and a slightly but not much smaller crowd the next night for rice and curry.

                        Now we live in Texas and the nearby family is small. So Sunday dinner is enchiladas at Maudie's.

                        1. I love this question! I did grow up with Sunday Family Dinner. I was 3 when we moved to a small down close to my dad's father and step mother. Every (and I mean every) Sunday had a routine. My sister and I walked to Sunday School at 9:00am. My parents met us for church at 10. Walked home and Mom and I started cooking. Pancakes and bacon after church. Then we started the chicken. Most often it was fresh from my uncle's farm the day before. Clean the chicken if needed, soak in buttermilk, peel potatoes, start the green bean, maybe stewed tomatoes. Then about 5 fry chicken, make biscuits, make tea, make gravy, set the table (in the dinning room). Today, folks are gone but my sister still makes Sunday dinner as do I. Tonight was shrimp, crab legs, pretzel rolls, chopped salad, perfect tomatoes and other veggies. I should call my sister and ask what they had. Sunday is a day for family, food and blessings. Thanks for the reminder.

                          1. I'm too busy cooking to even think about people who claim they are too busy too cook.

                            1. It was never a tradition in my family growing up. We just had no talented cooks nor really the desire to have everyone together. Sunday brunch at a restaurant was one thing I always did with my grandparents and their friends. Always.
                              Now, our closest family is hundreds and hundreds of miles away, so usually the nice dinner is on Friday night. My husband doesn't always feel like ending his workweek by going out, so I cook a nice dinner and bust out the good liquor then.

                              1. The 'Family Sunday Dinner' went out the window when Connecticut did away with its Blue Laws and allowed Sunday retailing in the late 70s.

                                Although, traditionally Sunday Dinner was a post church activity, this Jew and his family had one most weeks. Dad was a retailer and Sunday was his only regular day off, thus Sunday 1:30 PM was a set time for the family (nuclear and sometimes extended, if in town) to dine together.

                                When the law changed and we had to open the stores on Sunday to compete/survive I worked Sundays for 14 years straight until I got out of the retail business.

                                14 Replies
                                1. re: bagelman01

                                  We still have Blue Laws in Minnesota. No liquor or car sales on Sunday. I thought this country wasn't supposed to base its laws on religion????

                                  1. re: sandylc

                                    Living in a state that has laws predating the United States, many of those laws were based on religion. The state regulated religion well into the 1900s. Churches and Synagogues received charters from the state.

                                    While the First Amendment of the US Constitution mandates a separation of church and state, outside of prohibiting establishment of a state religion, most other practices that seem to violate this principle have to be challened in court.

                                    Prior to doing away with its Blue Laws (dating from the 1600s) Connecticut allowed non-Christians to open their businesses on Sunday, if they were closed on their respective Sabbath.
                                    My BIL's family had a hardware store that was open Sunday thru Friday for almost 100 years....
                                    Here in CT, we just got Sunday Liqour and auto sales (within the past decade) so CT businesses could compete with those in neighboring states which were open Sundays.

                                    IMHO---24/7 shopping has done much to hasten the deterioration of the Amnerican Family and do away with traditions such as Sunday Dinner.

                                    Growing up, each metro area had one 24hr pharmacy for emergencies. Do we really need a CVS, Walgreen's and Rite-Aid open 24/7every 5 miles?

                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                      "IMHO---24/7 shopping has done much to hasten the deterioration of the Amnerican Family and do away with traditions such as Sunday Dinner."

                                      There are many forces at work, I'm sure. That is among them.

                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                        You got that right, but I'm afraid it's too late.

                                    2. re: sandylc

                                      Those two particular laws started out based on religion, but that is not why they are still in effect. Most liquor store owners and most automobile dealers do not wish to be open on Sundays. They think it will not make them more money, just shift sales from other days of the week. If the laws were changed, they would likely have to be open for competitive reasons.

                                      1. re: John E.

                                        It was the auto dealers and liqour store owners in CT who led the campaign to allow them to open on Sundays.

                                        In a small state, where no one lives more than about an hour drive to another state, if you can't buy it here, you will but it there (if you want it now).

                                        Back when I was 18 (more than 40 years ago) you could buy alcohol in New York 7 days a week. You had to be 21 to buy in Connecticut and stires were only allowed to open 8am-8pm Mon to Sat. I made many a booze run to Portchester, NY, late nites or Sundays.

                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                          Minnesotans have been know to make a Sunday beer run to Wisconsin.

                                          1. re: bagelman01

                                            I lived in NY all my life and we only got Sunday liquor sales a few years ago, years after CT. Unless you mean beer, which you can buy at a food store, or wine, which you could sometimes get at an Italian restaurant "to go". You did have to wait until after 12 noon though, even to buy a drink at a bar, so all the churchgoers were done with their godly duties.

                                            I'm probably the same age as you; my recollections go back to 1972, when I turned 18. Or maybe a bit earlier, since I had an "older" boyfriend (he was in college!)

                                            And the same here, the liquor store owners were the ones that were begging to be open seven days.

                                            1. re: coll

                                              we are the same age. CT got Sunday liqour sales July 1, 2011 and the ability to sell until 9PM weeknights. This applies to beer as well as hard liqour and wine.

                                              Also, no chain liqour stores. On that date theamount of storesownedby one entity went from 2 to 3. This only 3 Costco locationsin the entire state can have liqour licenses.

                                              1. re: bagelman01

                                                It's amazing the difference in state laws. Even though we are only 8 miles over the Sound from Connecticut, technically. Ah for the days of rumrummers. No chains here that I can think of, either.

                                              2. re: coll

                                                PA just about 5-6 years back passed beer only sales on sunday - i think liquor stores are just a few hours (yes, beer and liquor are separate and not readily accessible in the supermarkets).

                                                1. re: pie22

                                                  We have beer only in our supermarkets, plus a few bottles of really low alcohol wine you sometimes see back in a corner somewhere. No beer in liquor stores at all. I used to feel like such a bum back before, when I'd go food shopping and forget it was Sunday and they'd make me put the beer back.

                                                  Liquor stores, where you get real wine and all liquors, open Sunday for limited hours here too. Can't remember if they open at 9 or 12, I think they close at 6PM. Oh well, everyone else is open Sunday so what the heck!

                                                  1. re: pie22

                                                    I went to college in Philadelphia 40+ years ago. In those days, you had to buy hard alcohol and wine from a state store. Beer could be bought by the case from a beer distributor, or buy the quart bottle or six pack as a takeout from a bar.
                                                    Lucky for us, the subway ran under the river to Camden, NJ where the laws were more liberal.

                                              3. re: John E.

                                                Yes. I had that in my original post, but deleted it for fear of being slapped for going off topic!

                                          2. Some things that come to mind....Fried chicken, rice 'n' gravy, peas and/or butter beans, cornbread and/or biscuits. Squash and boiled or fried okra were common. As were fresh slices of tomatoes, cucumbers and onions. Kentucky wonder pole beans were popular in the spring/early summer. Fried green tomatoes were always a hit....so, so many others. ~~ Desserts were usually Peach or Huckleberry cobbler. Pecan pie. Chocolate pie with calf slobber, banana pudding. Sweet potato, and buttermilk pies would show up at times. Always plenty of tea and coffee. The more I think the more I think of.....

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Uncle Bob

                                              Sounds like we grew up in similar circles.

                                            2. I come from a Jewish family and while my mother didn't cook on Sunday nights, we had a traditional Sunday dinner...Chinese food! It generally didn't involve extended family, just the immediate family.

                                              Now, with my own kids, we still have Chinese food most Sunday nights. I cook a ton during the week, so weekends are my time off.

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: valerie

                                                We had Chinese every Thursady night. Right befire mom left for her Mah Jongg game.

                                                My youngest (born in China) thinks this tradition is great. Thursday night Chinese, Friday night gefilte fish, chicken soup and roast chicken. Best of both traditions.

                                                1. re: valerie

                                                  Sunday night dinners of Chinese food (in Oakland, CA's Chinatown), were a tradition in my house too, followed by ice cream at a local 'soda fountain'. Before we moved to Oakland, we lived in Houston, TX: same tradition but different foods (bbq or Tex-Mex). I presume that we made the switch to Chinese when we moved to an area where it was better (yes, I realize Houston has a diversity of types of restaurants now, but this was years and years ago...). I think the ethnic slant reflected my father's desire for good food that wasn't very expensive..

                                                  Traditions might have been different if we lived near our extended family, but most of our relatives lived at least 300 miles away, more during the Texas years. I wish I'd lived closer to my maternal grandmother; she was a smashingly good cook. As it was, Sunday night was the one night my mother (a pedestrian cook at best) didn't cook, so dinner out was our tradition. I credit the explorations we did on those Sunday dinners for my 'hound tendencies now...

                                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                                    Same tradition as Susan (we're sisters:-). But later in our teenage years we spent some time in Mexico (the DF), and I think we often ate out (or at friends') on Sundays there too....(by this point it was already a tradition; in Mexico we had a maid who did the cooking, but she had her day off on Sunday...). When we returned to Oakland after almost a year, our father started seeking out Mexican (as opposed to Tex-Mex) places to alternate with the Chinese....

                                                    1. re: janetofreno

                                                      Nice to know that you guys are sisters....Interesting about your Mexican respite...when you have the chance....more info.

                                                      1. re: PHREDDY

                                                        Twins, actually:-). The funny thing is that we didn't tell each other about chowhound, but at some point (quite a while ago) discovered that each other were posting here...

                                                        As for Mexico, our father was a University professor and had a sabbatical. I actually think that year was the year I developed chowhound tendencies. My parents' goal for us for the year was that we learn to speak Spanish, so they didn't seem to mind that if we went out any night of the week, "school night" or not. (It was the year we turned 16)....They figured that if we went out with friends we were at least conversing in Spanish.....(I don't think they stopped to think that maybe our friends wanted to practice their English with the "gringas"..;-)

                                                        We had rented a house in the Colonia Condesa, and the rental included the services of a maid. She was a good cook, and I learned several dishes by watching her. She cooked dinner most nights, but in the Mexican tradition dinner was served mid-afternoon, shortly after we returned from school. And there was usually no formal meal later in the evening. However, there were several good taquerias near our house that were open late, not to mention the famous "quesadilla lady" who set up shop most evenings in front of the bakery on the corner. Our friends would often stop by and pick us up on their way to seek out late night snacks. I gained 15 pounds that year, but I also gained an appreciation for searching out good holes in the wall. And back then (in the late 1960s), California had not seen the explosion of good Mexican places it has now - no taquerias. Heck, we had so much trouble finding cilantro when we returned that my mom ended up planting and growing some from coriander seed to feed her cravings. And hence my dad's search for Mexican on Sunday evenings. There was a place in downtown Oakland (the Maya-Azteca) that did a decent job of providing favorites remembered from the DF, and so it became part of the Sunday night rotation.....

                                                        1. re: janetofreno

                                                          I had forgotten about Maya-Azteca: where Vo's is now. Of course, the cilantro was not for my Dad: he loved most things Mexican, but not cilantro. He falls into the 'it tastes like soap' category. Fortunately, none of us kids inherited that.

                                                          Edited to add: yes, eating street foods with friends didn't hurt in developing a 'hound tendency. But I still think it was already there, thanks to Sunday dinners out at variety of ethnic places...

                                                2. My family grew up a couple hundred miles from both sets of grandparents so the big extended-family meals were mostly limited to holidays.

                                                  Our Sunday dinners were usually in the early afternoon with a lot of grilled meats in the warm months and potroast, pork roast, or roast chicken type meals in the winter. Sunday evening meals were quite casual, such as grilled cheese and tomato soup or sometimes just a big bag of popcorn (mom popped enough popcorn to fill a paper grocery sack) which we ate while watching The Wonderful World of Disney on television. I think Wild Kingdom and Flipper preceded the Disney show.

                                                  13 Replies
                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                    Ha. I well remember the Wonderful World of Disney. A tradition of my maternal grandparents was to pick up burgers from a dam' good burger stand called Husky Burger on Sunday evenings, and to chuff them while watching the Lawrence Welk Show. IIRC, the WWoD came on directly before Welk.

                                                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                      :-) I have the same memory. WWoD then Welk. I had forgotten about it until you posted. :-)

                                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                        Wasn't Lawrence Welk on Fridays? I remember we always watched LW when my grandmother lived with us. It could not have been Sundays because on Sunday we watched Ed Sullivan followed by Bonanza (my grandmother's favorite - she loved Hoss).

                                                        1. re: masha

                                                          LW was on on Saturdays. I dreaded it. I was a "rock 'n' roller" from a very young age! ;-)

                                                          1. re: masha

                                                            Hoss grew up about 45 miles south of where I sit.

                                                            1. re: masha

                                                              My mom stills watches the Bonanza, High Chapparal (?), The Virginian, etc., reruns. She loves Hoss, too. Must be the "aw, shucks, ma'am" thing that they are smitten with.

                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                My dad watches all of those old westerns as well. Back in the day it was the dad who decided what to watch on TV so we got to watch westerns (only one TV). My dad recently grew out his mustache into a handle bar and last weekend he wore a cowboy hat to a college football game. I told him he would look more like a cowboy if he were wearing boots instead of old-man velcro shoes. ; )

                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                  Ha! We won't be like that, will we?

                                                                2. re: sandylc

                                                                  I was always parshul to Gunsmoke and deppity Festus Hagin.

                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                      Ha! My dad asked my kids and nephews how they liked his Festus Haggen
                                                                      hat. I told him they did not know who Festus was. My dad proceeded to say he was a character on Gunsmoke. The reaction was "what's Gunsmoke"?

                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                        I started a new job 19 years ago, I was 41. I was there a few days and my boss, 26, said she sensed something was wrong, I told her I was a little bummed out because Dean Martin died, she said "Who the hell is that?"

                                                                3. re: masha

                                                                  That was our lineup too. It wasn't like you had that many choices! I was so excited when my friend's family got a color TV, they used to set up chairs in the living room like a movie theater.

                                                            2. We would go to my maternal grandmother's house. She was a wonderful cook - jewish food. Potted chicken, brisket, chopped liver, latkes. And for dessert she went to the neighborhood bakery and got the kids the best rainbow cookies on the planet - the kind with the marzipan at either end. The adults got "compartment cake" which was a tart with 4 different toppings. It was wonderful!

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: wincountrygirl

                                                                This dinner sounds absolutely delicious! The "compartment cake" sounds amazing. :-)

                                                              2. My best childhood memories are of Sundays at my grandparents house. My grandmother would start the roast or ham before church and I remember the flurry of cooking as everyone arrived after church.

                                                                These were all day affairs. I remember aunts and uncles napping all over the house in the afternoon as the cousins ran wild outside. The really great days were when we stayed for a homemade ice cream dinner.

                                                                By the time the oldest set of cousins hit our teen years, my grandmother went on strike and the epic Sunday feasts stopped.

                                                                My dad sort of picked up the tradition. He worked long hours during the week and liked quiet Sundays at home. He would make the absolute worst steaks in the world and a "salad" of tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and vinegar that I can't forget. My grandparents (the same ones from above, my maternal grandparents) would often join us.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: cleobeach

                                                                  Lol at "absolute worst steaks in the world."

                                                                  1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                    Oh the steaks were truly bad yet the memories are so good......

                                                                    My father immigrated to the US as an adult and came from a time and place where men did not cook, shop or otherwise think about food preparation.

                                                                    He also had no grasp of different cuts of meat being suited for difference cooking methods. To him, “steak” was any thin cut beef from the grocery store, the cheaper the better. To say he cooked them until charred is an understatement.

                                                                    One time, my husband and a visiting relative conspired to keep him away from the grill. Somehow, filets came into the house (likely purchased by the visitors) and my dad declared them to be “too thick” and wanted to butterfly them. Mr. CB and relative snuck out of the kitchen and grilled them in secret.

                                                                    1. re: cleobeach

                                                                      What was your dad's reaction? Did he like the filets?

                                                                      1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                        He complained they were underdone (by his standards) but otherwise kept his mouth shut as I think he didn't want to make his cousin's wife feel uncomfortable.

                                                                        She had planned the meal as a thank you for the hospitality. (they were staying with my dad.) I had given her a heads up on the meat issue and offered Mr. CB up to run grill interference.

                                                                        Had my husband worked alone, Dad would have given him an earful for sure!

                                                                2. Sundays, we would often have my mother's delectable roast beef with potatoes and green beans,etc. As a pastor in my first call, I heard the story of why they rang the bell during the Lord's Prayer (prayed toward the end of the service); they called it the potato bell; since church would soon be over, it would be time to put the potatoes on to cook!

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: betsydiver

                                                                    Sunday dinner was always a big deal. My mother and her sisters (Mennonites) would roast whatever game was available or pork or beef roasts. Mashed potatoes root veg.
                                                                    Lots of family bringing desserts.
                                                                    My mother's father, a very stern patriarch was known to be an excellent 'moon-shiner'. He and his seven sons and sons-in-laws and us older boys would go hang out in the hay barn all afternoon. The men used this time to 'hold court' and plan for the coming week/month/crop season/do the family banking etc.
                                                                    The women basically did the same thing in the house with matters they were in charge of. Even the odd 'drop' may have passed their lips I think. They had their own made-up code names for the 'digestives' they drank.
                                                                    It always made me look twice to see a couple of my sweet innocent 'Godly' aunts wearing prayer kapps sitting behind the pump house sipping on a 'digestive' with cigarettes hanging from their mouths. My lovely grandmother always knew everything but she never said a word to them.

                                                                    1. re: Puffin3

                                                                      Heh. I experienced a similar shock on some long past July 4th when I spied my paternal grandma, the very spit and image of the kindly and pious septuagenarian, with a can of Coors in her hand. The sight stopped me cold in the middle of my childhood hijinks, whereupon I simply goggled her for several seconds in disbelief.

                                                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                        My grandmother always had a couple of cans of beer in the fridge, but she used it to wash her hair. Still, it really was so weird to spot it as she was holier than thou.

                                                                        1. re: coll

                                                                          My paternal granddad kept a handle of George Dickel under the kitchen sink--out of grandmother's sight, out of her mind--and Ocean Spray cranberry juice in the ice box. Every now and then, usually just before bedtime, he'd make himself a CranDickel.

                                                                          Grandmother and Granddad were strict Church of Christers, dontchaknow.

                                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                            Actually I just remembered, once she started having heart problems the doctor told her a glass of red wine a day with dinner and she was very conscientious about that. Always Christian Brothers, haha, not that there was much choice back then. She probably thought it was approved by God himself.

                                                                  2. Growing up, Sunday "dinner" was the norm. We would all go to Mass very early in the morning..(for those of us who didn't go the night before)..my dad would stop off at the bakery for our breakfast of "rolls and buns"..after which my mom would either make A. Roast Leg of Lamb, B. Roast Chicken. C. Fresh Ham. D. Roast Beef..each Sunday it was one of those. She wasn't a very "out of the box" cook and didn't experiment, but to this day, I've never had a roast as good as my mom's. The accompaniments were mashed potatoes, a vegetable, and a home made dessert. We sat down at 12:30 or 1:00 PM every Sunday. Sometimes we had "company" sometimes not. When I was married and my own children were growing up, we stayed true to the family Sunday dinner. Things changed after a divorce, but when the kids visit me and my S.O., we always have a formal sit-down dinner but on a Saturday evening as Sunday is their travel day. Nowadays our Sunday dinners are quiet and the timeframe is in the evening.........

                                                                    1. My mother did not work outside of the home until I (her youngest) was 14years old and then it was part time so she would not go nuts from boredom. Sunday dinners were huge and similar to everyone else here...roast beef...fried chicken...roast pork....steaks...venison....ham...mashed potatoes......gravy....home made biscuits...salad or Waldorf salad.....fresh vegetables and always dessert. In the summer it was a huge BBQ with steaks....garlic bread...potato salad watermelon and either strawberry shortcake or hand cranked home made ice cream with berries. We usually ate at 3 PM and just snacked later in the evening on leftovers. Food is love:)

                                                                      1. yea. My mother worked in the 50s when all the other moms stayed home, so Sunday was our family day. After church we would either visit one of our aunts or grandparents for dinner and if we stayed home Mom would make a roast or bake a chicken, or her stuffed pork chops.

                                                                        It was the only day she had time to cook

                                                                        we always watched WWoD and Ed Sullivan

                                                                        1. We had Roast beef every Sunday- church, donuts, and dinner. Roast beef, gravy, mashed, rolls, cabbage salad, corn, carrots, spinach. My grandmother lived upstairs, so we did not have to travel far. My mom also used to have a Sunday dinner when her grandkids were small. Roast beef dinner! I also have a weekly Sunday dinner. Myself, my mom, two of my brothers and their families (6-9 people) come every week. I change up the menu- this Sunday will be steak, salad, rice and garlic bread. Also have my niece and her family over every Monday night for dinner. Last week, her 3 year old asked me if we could have "breakfast for dinner"- so that will be our dinner next Monday!

                                                                          1. The K family has maintained this tradition on three continents so far. We grab up our friends and make it a feast whenever we can. It is a great excuse to try something new, or fall back on something that is everyone's fav, and the leftovers work during the busy work week!

                                                                            1. Because I'm originally from Texas and my family had ranches, our Sunday dinner was usually either pot roast or steaks and baked potatoes with lots of butter and sour cream.

                                                                              1. Even though my Mutti worked she cooked every day of her life,my dad had his saying he would rather put the money on the table than give towards hospital and doctor bills.Which has served me also.
                                                                                But Sunday's always were special,she'd fix things like German roladen, potatoe dumplings and red cabbage or stuffed cabbage[ the Serbian kind] the list goes on and on,even though I also make these foods now they still aren't as good as my Mom's

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: mutti

                                                                                  My mom's favorite recipe was also "Roladen" but usually with mashed potatoes, red cabbage (of course)--she wasn't big on dumplings (Knödel, etc...)--which I love. Occasionally, she'd make the "Kohlroladen" (stuffed cabbage). I got kind of "roladened out" though, but I still love the cabbage rolls!