Hola, hope you all had a fantastic bank holiday? For those of us in the UK, well the gorgeous weather definitely helped didn’t it? We’ve just come home from celebrating our friends wedding – a two day Indian/Jewish extravaganza – which was muchos fun. In fact, it’s been a bit of a struggle coming back down to reality today so sitting here writing this post at the kitchen table with the back door wide open, the sun shining in and a breeze wafting through, is at least making the length of my work to-do list seem less daunting.
For those of you who didn’t stay up until 4am dancing to Indian music on Sunday, maybe you indulged in the more regular tradition of a good Sunday roast with friends or family (the added benefit of the bank holiday meaning you could make it as boozy a lunch as you liked!)? Not wanting to miss out on that bank holiday tradition (despite getting our fill of delicious Indian food all weekend), we ended up having a Friday roast instead of a Sunday roast last week, taking the opportunity of having my parents staying with us to sit down to big family meal with the most delicious cut of Scotch beef. I have to admit that this doesn’t happen nearly as much as we’d like these days, what with my parents living so far away, us all being so busy and work often getting in the way, it seems to take those special occasions and marked holidays to see us get together around the dinner table.
In fact, even Husband and I probably don’t cook and eat together nearly enough any more. A mixture of lack of time, lack of energy and lack of motivation (tiredness will do that to you) usually means meal times are a bit of a rushed affair, one of us always needing to sort out Evie’s food (and make sure she actually eats something as opposed to throwing it all on the floor), while the other throws the contents of the fridge into a pan and hopes for the best. Then, both exhausted and starved after a full day, we scoff our meal faster than is really appropriate, throw everything in the dishwasher and are collapsed in front of the TV within half an hour.
Thankfully, it seems we’re not alone in this. According to research carried out by YouGov, 48% of UK adults don’t sit down to a daily meal with the people they live with. Could the British tradition of convening around the dinner table together after a long day, be in danger of becoming a thing of the past? Personally we find that during the week it’s definitely harder to do so, with work schedules getting in the way and now us needing to put Evie and her routine first, we often end up eating seperately or rushing through a meal. But if we’re both at home at the weekend then we do try and make sure we have a good meal together as a family. One thing we’re definitely guilty of though, especially when it comes to that Sunday roast, is opting to eat out rather than stay in and cook ourselves. There’s a certain ease to popping out to your local pub or restaurant and having them do all the work for you (as well as the dishes afterwards) and now that we’ve moved to Manchester, we’re spoilt for choice with great pubs within minutes from our door (as proud as I am of my Scottish heritage, I have to admit that England does that family orientated, cosy pub, and the classic roast dinner that comes with it, so much better).
But one change I’ve been keen to make this year, is to cook and eat at home more. Not just because it’s cheaper and healthier for us to do so, but also as Evie gets older I think it’s really important to teach her about cooking and eating healthily. It’s definitely a challenge for us, as a busy working couple with a young child, but I’m trying to make it a priority above other tasks that might have perhaps taken over previously.
So with a day off on Friday, my parents offering up two extra pairs of hands to run around after Evie while we got to work in the kitchen and us finally unpacking enough boxes to be able to get our dining table up, we were very much looking forward to indulging in a big, traditional lunch with all the trimmings (those ‘trimmings’ including a large carafe of red wine too). And when a delicious roasting joint of Scotch Beef was hand delivered to our door that morning, we couldn’t wait to sit down to eat it. When you’re practically salivating over the thought of a meal, taking the time needed to sit down and savour it, seems all the more enjoyable don’t you think?
When it comes to our own family traditions, we don’t have anything particularly unusual. While I might order chicken for my roast from time to time while out, when at home we usually always opt for beef. It’s my Husband’s favourite and is the most classic choice for a British Sunday lunch. Yorkshire’s are a must, and personally I love some cauliflower cheese to mix in with a really tasty gravy (gravy makes it right?). Other than that, we all love some roasted veg, good crispy roast potatoes and like making some honey glazed carrots too.
But the meat is always the star of the show and this Silverside cut from Scotch Beef was super easy to get just right. We started by searing the meat while waiting for the oven to get really hot, placed the meat on a large tray with a bit of spicy rub over the top, and placed some onions, apples and red wine in the tray for flavour. We cooked it on high heat for an hour, before turning the heat down slightly and leaving in for another half hour. This had it come out medium rare, and as I don’t like mine too bloody, I was able to eat the slices nearest the ends which were perfect for me. We got so much out of the joint that even with four people sitting down to a meal, we still had half of it left to freeze and use another day (we’re going to throw it in the slow cooker one morning to make a beef stew).
My Husband is definitely the better cook when it comes to doing a roast (getting the timings right always has me flustered) so I tend to help with all the prep – chopping, peeling, making rubs and sauces – while he deals with the meat and handles the actual cooking and timings. I’m much more of a baker at heart so usually dessert is my thing, and I just LOVE setting the table. Ever since I was little, that has always been my task, and since I did work experience in an Italian restaurant at age 16 and learned how to properly fold napkins, I’ve always asked to be in charge of our table scape for any Christmas/ Easter/ holiday meal. Evie is a bit young still to really help out (although she demands to be a part of everything that’s going on and loves to help clean up) but as she gets older we’re really keen to get her involved and make Sunday lunch a really fun family time – both the prepping, cooking and eating. We’ll hopefully be able to teach her how to chop vegetables and have her peeling the tatties for us (I know – total slave drivers) and maybe she’ll help me set the table too.
Seeing as this was a casual family lunch, I kept things fairly simple this time, and used my new summery table runner and napkins which I picked up in Aldi a few weeks back, along with some wicker placemats and coasters. No table is complete with some flowers, but with this being a roast, lots of space was needed for all the different sides and of course, the wine, so I opted for one simple vase of flowers and let the beef take centre stage in the middle of the table. I got out the good Viners cutlery (silencing my inner Monica who wants to keep them pristine at all times) and went for a summery blue and white theme with the crockery. A large carafe of red wine and a jug of iced water with some vintage floral tumblers completed the look.
Then all that was left to do was sit down and eat. Even Evie found the idea of sitting up at the table with the grown ups really exciting, and we all relaxed and ate as much as our tummies could handle while chatting away, drinking a couple of glasses of wine and catching up. Afterwards we left the dishes for later, and walked off our big meal with a jaunt to the park, stopping for a cold drink before we headed home again. The perfect way to spend a Sunday, or a bank holiday Friday for that matter!
Having that occasion and excuse to all stop, take a breather and relax around the dinner table for an hour or so felt like such a luxury, and as we don’t see my parents all that often, it was great to have them with us to enjoy it all too. After a month or so of not having much time to cook, My Husband also remarked on how much he enjoyed getting back in the kitchen and taking the time to cook at leisure. I think we’ll definitely be making a conscious effort to make those weekend meals more of a regular occurrence from now on.
How about you? Are you guilty of not sitting down to eat with family as much as you’d like? Do you opt to eat out instead of stay in and cook too? Or are you a Sunday Roast expert?