There is so much research showing how important it is to eat together for meals. I understand that eating every meal together is not completely feasible, so maybe it's making a goal for one meal a day. Granted, I don't have teenagers or any after school sports during this stage of life. However, I think I hold it so dear, because growing up we didn't have regular "check-in" time during a meal (meaning every member of the family sat together).
I love how Ben regularly asks the girls, "Girls, I forgot to ask (insert enthusiasm), what was your favorite part of the day?" Tayers will routinely announce, "OH..HUCK! (as in a character from Strawberry Shortcake)." But you know, it's not about dinner being intricate or fanciful; rather, it's simply about being present to feed both the body & soul.
I wish you could come into our home to share a meal with us, because contrary to mislead beliefs, we rarely have exquisite platings. Typically, it's fairly humble and sometimes a flop (with a very humble husband still eating it). If there's something I want to impart to you in the kitchen is take risks, expand upon what you know, but do it with little steps. And if there's another thing I want to impart is take advantage of what the farmers are growing, because it most likely tastes REALLY good.
Tomatoes. They're still abounding here in western WA and you don't want to pass them up. My girls love tomatoes, as do I, and we all love a good tomato soup. Growing up I hated tomato soup, because you only found it in a white & red can labeled Campbell's (Could it get any worse?). So, in my infinite 8 year old wisdom, I deduced that all tomato soup was evil (as were those sad little Circus Peanut Candies).
Then, I grew up and tried a different tomato soup, come to realize I had it partially wrong. Not all tomato soups are created equal (I was right about the Campbell's brand). This tomato soup is fairly straightforward & easy. You won't see if featured on 30 minute meals, due to the roasting time alone, but well worth it. You can choose to serve it a la rustic (less smooth & without pressing it through a sieve) or a bit more refined (pressing it through a sieve), but it's entirely up to you. Whatever you do, I hope you sit down, give thanks for even the simplest of meals, breathe in deep for this moment you're given, and do with those people you love most:)
A Year Ago: Day One & Two of Culinary Intensive Class
Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup (printable recipe)
Please don't be afraid of salt here. Salt is like the focus button on a camera, it is there to enhance the flavor. A tomato in season is going to be great; however, when you add a bit of salt to it...it's WOW factor increases exponentially. Use however, much water you think you need to create the consistency, which suits your fancy.
3 lbs heirloom tomatoes
Handful of sungold tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
sprinkle of unrefined granulated sugar
sprinkle of kosher salt
2 tsp unrefined sugar, evaporated cane juice
1 tsp kosher salt
1-1 1/2 cups water (you could opt for chicken or vegetable broth)
freshly grated parmesan cheese
crack of fresh ground pepper
light drizzle of olive oil
Preheat oven to 400. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut heirlooms into quarter slices, while leaving the sungolds as is and put on tray. Quarter the red bell pepper & place on sheet as well. Drizzle the olive oil over the nightshades (tomato & peppers fall in the nightshade family), then sprinkle with salt & sugar. Roast for an hour.
Transfer everything, even the oil, to a food processor. Process until smooth (45 seconds to 1 minute). Taking a fine meshed sieve or food mill, pour some of the pureed mixture through to strain the seeds & skin pulp. Take the strained soup mixture and add 1/3 cup at a time to create the right consistency for you. I used 1 cup of water. Then, added a little bit more sugar & salt to make the tomato flavor pop. Heat on the stove top. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan, cracked pepper, & light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.