linked 52 | in the kitchen (scenes from an everyday dinner)

i don’t have my dream kitchen. the one with all the pretty white cabinets and white counter tops. the one with the shiny stainless steel appliances. the one with tons of natural light pouring in to illuminate everything i cook just right. but what i do have is not too bad either. our kitchen is the center of our house. the place where everything happens. the place where i spend most of my time. cooking, cleaning. preparing, washing, organizing, helping, fixing, eating and living. so i decided to take some photos of what goes into preparing our everyday dinner. i wanted these photos to be real. to show what really goes on in my kitchen. with the clutter on the counter and all the mess that goes along with dinner preparation. because that is really what our everyday looks like.

i think having family dinner is one of the most important things that we do each day. and yes, we do eat dinner together every night – me, mark + the boys. we even have “family dinner” at my parent’s house every sunday night with them and my sister. and sometimes my other sister and her family too. just like we used to do on sundays with my grandparents when i was a kid.

i am reading a great little book right now called dinner: a love story by jenny rosenstrach. someone on facebook recommended it. (i can’t remember who it was, so if you recently finished this book and posted about it on facebook, let me know so i can thank you.) this is not your typical cookbook. it is jenny’s life story and love story about food mixed in with some delicious looking recipes and some fun photos. i love how she breaks things down into sections on family dinner before kids, family dinner with little kids (hello, this is my life now!) and family dinner when the kids are older. there is something so real about her stories. this book reaffirms my thinking about how important our family dinner is. even if family dinner right now still consists of different meals for different people – um, different little picky eater people that is.

these days our family dinner is not all of us eating the same thing that i cook. tate is in his i-only-want-to-eat-the-ears-off-my-mickey-mouse-chicken-nuggets and applesauce phase. quinn’s favorite thing to say is “i’m not eating that!” when he sees anything other than a hot dog or mac n cheese on his plate. but i am grateful for small miracles like the fact that i can get them to eat dried peas. (but not the real ones.) and the fact that tate will sometimes eat a banana. and i am stunned when they occasionally finish their dinner in under an hour.

some days i’m lucky to make a meal that everyone eats. well, bits and pieces of the meal. and it is really just on rare days. but what we eat is really not the most important part of the meal. it is being together. all of us at the same time and at the same place. just like my family used to do every night when i was growing up. and that is something that i want to pass on to my kids.

family dinner these days is not perfect. but it is a time for us to all sit down together. we try to have a little conversation with quinn about what happened at school that day. but he is usually more interested in watching cartoons. and tate is way too young to join in any conversation. so for now, we let them watch tv while they eat and mark and i get a little time to talk. someday the tv will be turned off. but for now it is about doing whatever works to get through a meal without a two year old having a tantrum and his plate landing on the floor face down. i know i will eventually get to be more creative with my cooking. and some of them might even eat that food one day. i know that at some point we will have an interactive conversation with the boys. but for now, as long as we are all together and they know it, then i am happy. i want them to always remember our nightly family dinners and being together.

so this is our everyday dinner in the kitchen. me cooking with my favorite rachael ray pan. (the one i got from my mom as a gift and the one that i have used to cook everything in for the past two years). chopping something with my favorite chef’s knife and bamboo cutting board. (be careful with those big knives. this one earned me a few stitches last christmas.) trying to time it so that everyone’s food is warm at the same time. and waiting to hear tate say “dinnah-time” after i call them to the table.

by the way, i noticed three important things about what i just posted above:
1. there are about four wine bottles on my counter. i promise that these are for cooking and one belongs to my sister. i am a beer girl.
2. i admitted that my kids watch tv while we eat. yes folks, this is reality.
3. if you didn’t know, i was a registered dietitian in my life before kids + photography. and my kids don’t like fruits and veggies. call it karma for all that nutrition preaching i did back in the day. i hope that one day they will discover that they actually like healthy food. fingers crossed….

click over to see in the kitchen with these girls also participating in linked 52: Stacey, Tracey, Heather, Jenn, Jessica, Amanda, Janet, Rhonda, Carla, Heidi, Kristin, Heather, Liza, Veronica, Jean, Kristi and Hanne.

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Heather M. - totally love this peek into your kitchen. and i’m reading the same book right now too! so cool! it’s awesome, isn’t it?! have you tried any of the recipes? i haven’t yet but am hoping to soon.

michelle - I so love this post! I love seeing the everyday clutter that is simply how it is for most of us with busy families and hard working kitchens. I noticed the wine bottles right off. Made me wonder if 8:41am is too early for a glass? ;) I think that book is one I’ll have to check out. I’m totally curious about what the author has to say about dinner time with older kids. Our kids have the craziest evening schedules. And it does make me laugh a little that the nutritionist’s kids don’t like veggies. Makes me feel better about my own kids lack of eating them. ;)

Rhonda - I love these shots and love what you wrote. (I will soooo buy that book too – have you read “The Family Dinner” I bet you’d love that one) We are finally at a place where all my kids are eating dinner. We have always sat down together for family dinner but all of my kids have gone through serious picky stages and finally right now we are all eating. And it is SO AWESOME. I think family dinner is one of the most important things people can do for their kids!

Heather - I agree that family dinner is super important. It’s a connecting, coming together and interacting as a family, uninterrupted. I hope my kids carry on the tradition of eating together daily with their families. We have family Sunday dinner too with extended family. It’s going to be my kids favorite memory of growing up, I’m sure of it. Beautiful everyday photos.

Amanda - Fantastic post!!!!! I love real life…this what a REAL kitchen looks like with kids.

Jenn - Love seeing your kitchen and hearing about your family dinners.

I posted on fb about that book not too long ago so maybe that’s where you saw it. I adore that book! It was so much fun to read and I make a meal or two out of it a week. We just had the campfire potatoes and they were so good.

stacey - Okay, your post totally made me feel a little bit better about my picky kids. Thank you :)
And I adored everything you had to say and all of your photos to go along with it. Maybe reading that book will help me have more of a desire to cook. :)

janet - Love it!!
I lucked out not having picky eaters, there were certainly foods they wouldn’t touch, but they all eat anything now, but I did Daycare for a very short time (not all jobs are suited to all people) and I had a little girl that would NOT eat a piece of fruit, any fruit. I thought this was a little strange, but, oh well.
You are right, eating together is what’s important, and they will remember that. It’s amazing the things that they remember and become very important to them after they leave the nest.
I think you must have the energy of at least ten people!

Carla - Thank you for keeping it real. I totally cleaned a corner of my kitchen for my picture. This is more what my kitchen looks like (only a little messier). I cook but it’s often a toss up whether or not my children will eat it. Our TV is often on. I feel the same way though about eating together. I like to try to catch up on their day if they are willing to share. Thanks for sharing these.

Kristin - Thank you for the real life glimpse into your dinertime!! I remember those days. I am lucky now that most everything i make my kids will eat!

tracey - I LOVE LOVE the peek into your REAL life. My kitchen often looks like this too. (In fact, I just cleaned it up!)
Oh, and in my other life I am a nutritionist. I find that part of food science so fascinating. Bums me out when my kids don’t like something healthy I’ve made. But they do like other healthy stuff so I have to remind myself of that!

andrea - Your kitchen looks about like mine (ok, minus the wine bottles) and your dinner sounds about like ours with the TV on. Phew! Glad we aren’t the only ones. ;) Usually it’s just Max and me though – Eric works too late. I think it’s tough right now with little ones, but I suspect it’ll get a little easier as they get older. And maybe they will even help with meal planning and cooking someday! :)

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