Extended Families

Extended Families

Family Dinner Series: Extended Families

I come from a large family, and although bias I’m sure, I find being has been very advantageous in my life. With family dinners I’ve seen the positive changes of having everyone over on a frequent basis. The large boisterous extended family has been helpful in connecting its members, providing us a visual and auditory representation of our roots, building community, and occasionally even passing down wisdom. Food can be a powerful tool in the art of sharing, allowing us to drop our guard, open up and give back. Incorporating meaningful loved ones can be a very rewarding event.

As new children are born they are happily welcomed into our fold, as our elders age, we take the responsibility of passing on care down to them as they once provided us. Stories are shared, pictures taken, old ones brought out and reminisced upon, jokes swapped. Anytime one of us is in need of support, our dinner gatherings are open forums to ask for help. Basically, these meals create unity; we’re there for one another – to depend upon, comfort for, and count on.

Along with unity, the simple fact is that our frenetic lifestyles can create problems for us and our children down the road. A regular meal builds relationships, helping kids and adults learn the importance of community. I remember my grandmother cooking a feast every Sunday after church, and to this day many of us still speak of those fond memories and good times.

Now, you may think taking lead on preparing dinners for a party of twelve a daunting task, but in all honesty I seldom spend more time than it takes to watch an episode of television. Making a big pot of chili, a large roast, or hearty potpies can easily fill my family’s bellies, and they’re all dishes you can prepare in bulk. Also, slow cookers are terribly wonderful in making an effortless meal.


Personally, there are two staples I once came across on Homemade Gourmet that I just love making on a frequent occasion. Tomato Basil Bread and Old Fashioned Apple Crisp.

To share before or with the meal, Tomato Basil Bread:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a bowl, combine mix and milk, stirring until just blended.  (Batter will be lumpy.)  Pour batter into greased 5×8 loaf pan.  Pour melted butter over batter.
  2. Place loaf pan on a cookie sheet to catch any spillover that may occur.
  3. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  4. Remove loaf from pan, place on cooling rack or serving dish, and serve warm.

Serves 10


  • 1 Homemade Gourmet® Tomato Basil Bread Mix
  • 1 ¾ cups milk
  • ½ stick butter or margarine, melted



And for dessert, Old Fashioned Apple Crisp:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour pie filling in the bottom of pie pan (or 8″ or 9″ round cake pan).
  2. In a bowl, blend butter into crisp mix and pecans using a fork or pastry cutter.  Mixture will be crumbly.
  3. Sprinkle mixture on top of pie filling.  Bake 30 minutes or until brown and bubbly.  Cool slightly before serving.

Serves 8

Also I find a dollop of whipped cream seasoned with Homemade Gourmet® Spiced Dip Mix adds a tasty layer of cinnamon and spice flavor.


  • 1 Homemade Gourmet® Old Fashioned Apple Crisp Mix with pecan packet
  • 1 stick butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 21-ounce can apple (or your choice) pie filling


The payoff is simple. Everyone ends up seeking me out as we once sought after my own mother. It’s a fulfilling endeavor being able to fill that role, to act as a strong pillar in everyone’s life. They can come to me with anything, and usually I know the intimidate details of what’s happening with various parts of the family. How the grandkids are doing in school. How my brother’s business is fairing. The experience of the trip my cousins were finally able to take after all these years. Now, I’m not saying every conversation at dinner is propagated with life changing significance, but everyone has an opportunity to speak up and speak their mind about life’s troubles and triumphs.


Family dinners have been useful in teaching the younger ones the importance of fresh food, which usually leads to me passing some of that green-thumb homemade gardening onto them. Every week they can taste the difference in quality, which is sort of the best propaganda anyone ever needs for eating real food.


Really, in the end, as long as we sit down together at the table, family support is what matters most – it’s where we learn to be civilized members of our society.  The tiny work it takes to heat of a pot of stew or dice vegetables feels like a worthy price to pay for helping hold onto our loved ones just a little longer.


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