Sunday dinner was kind of a big deal in our family. Some of my earliest memories from around the age of six was Sunday dinner at Aunt Jeanette's house. We lived near by and I think all of her family came to our house on Friday nights and we went there on Sundays. Then when I went to Cedarville University (College then), I lived with Aunt Jeanette for two years. All of her kids were married by then or away from home, but on Sunday everybody came for dinner. There were kids everywhere creating all sorts of fun chaos. The adults were involved in discussions about everything from raising kids to work to politics to discussing the Sunday sermon(s). After dinner the women all did the dishes and talked some more while the men found the football game of choice on the TV. Later we might go for a walk, play games, or just talk some more.
When I was in high school, we didn't live near any extended family, but Sunday dinner was still a special meal. Mom and Dad usually cooked a roast beef or a chicken in the oven and it was ready to eat when we got home from church. We usually sat the table with the nicer dishes and it was a meal different from the others of the week.
Having a special meal on Sundays is something I still like to do, but there are challenges to that living here in Niger, y'all! For one thing, there aren't many meals I can put in the oven that won't be burnt to a crisp before our three hour church service is over. I've tried roast beef here, but I don't know....it's just not the same as mom's. Sometimes I put something in the crock pot, but it doesn't seem that special. So what we've ended up doing is actually very simple, but still special. On Sundays we cook either steak or lamb chops. It's actually a fast meal as I cook them on the stove-top in the skillet. I brown the meat first and then season with salt and pepper and liquid Maggi, turn it over and do the same with the other side. If it's lamb, I'll also add either dried or cut up fresh mint to the meat. Once the meat is browned, I turn it down low, cover it, and let it cook about 15 minutes. While the meat is cooking, I cook either rice, potatoes, or pasta. Today I cooked pasta and then made pesto to go with it. I pulled a bag of carrots out of the freezer, and voila! dinner.
The carrots were easy today, but some time back in February, I bought them at the market, washed them all, peeled them, cut them up, and put them in the freezer. Just so you know that there aren't frozen carrots available at the grocery store!
I have never in my life eaten or made pesto until we ended up with a jungle of basil plants. I cannot use them fast enough and they grow like weeds. Literally. They drop their seeds and replant themselves. All we do is water them. Sometimes when I make pesto it has been too oily. Today I reduced the oil and it seemed too dry. So if anybody wants to give me pesto making tips, I'd appreciate it!
Here is my pesto recipe:
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese (I just used Parmesan and not nearly 1/2 cup because I'm hoarding my cheese that came all the way from America! And because John is lactose intolerant, but he can tolerate a small amount of Parmesan.)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I think this is too much; I would advise you to add in a little at a time until it's the consistency you like.)
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts (I didn't have either so I used pecans, and again, it's my hoarded supply, so I put in just a few nuts)
3 medium sized garlic cloves
Salt and pepper to taste.
Whirl the garlic and nuts in the food processor. Then add in the rest of the ingredients and process until the right consistency.
Sometimes on Sunday we make a drink we learned to like from our days in Nigeria called a Chapman. It's basically a mix of Blackcurrent syrup, Sprite, Fanta, and bitters. We don't have any bitters, so we use a tonic, which is pretty bitter. It's very refreshing after you've sweat and sweat during church! :) On our honeymoon we went to a dinner theater called the Harlequin and we got these glasses. They are our special Chapman glasses.
So, that's Sunday dinner at our house. Quick, easy, but still something special.