Sunday, May 1, 2022

Around the Kitchen Table - Sunday Dinner + 4-Book & Recipe Card Collection #giveaway

MADDIE DAY here, delighted to have the Kitchen crew sitting around my table again. I hosted all the usual suspects (son and wife, plus a crew of friends who are like family) for Easter dinner two weeks ago, as I do every year except the dreaded 2020, and I got to thinking about Sunday dinners.

In some families a big weekly dinner might still be a tradition. I don't have family living close enough to come every week, but I wish I did. 

Maybe that's why, in my Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries, Mac Almeida's parents hold Sunday dinner. They schedule it in late afternoon, since it's a school night. Mac's brother and niece, her tiny grandma, Mac and Tim - everyone is invited, and guests are not only welcome but expected. Mac's father might make a big pot of beef stew or Cape Verdean cachupa, or her mom a massive fish soup (like the one I presented here). Bread and salad go along with the dish, and Tim brings dessert from his bakery. They all (except Cokey) drink wine out of jelly jars and share love around the table.

When I was an exchange student for a year in southern Brazil, long long ago, that family also held Sunday dinner. The aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents would come, and everyone would sip a glass of sweet Vermouth and then feast (that family did employ a full-time cook, though). It was seriously so long ago I don't remember what we usually ate.

So, dish, MLKers and readers. Do you have a tradition of Sunday dinner now, or did you growing up? Do your characters? Who comes to eat? And most importantly, what is served? A big roast beef or an infinitely expandable soup with bread?  A gluten-free vegetarian meal? A repast that reflects your or your protagonist's international origins? Let's talk!

The winning lucky commenter gets a bonus giveaway this month - along with four terrific mysteries, the winner will receive one of our recipe card packets!

Our Mystery Lovers' Kitchen Recipe Card Packs
(Given out at Malice Domestic 2022)

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LESLIE KARST: For my family, Sunday dinner was not much different than any other night of the week, but like Edith, it plays a major role in my books. For fourth-generation Italian Sally Solari, whose family have always been fishermen and restaurateurs, Sunday Dinner is a BIG DEAL. But although they call it “dinner,” it’s really more of a late lunch.

Sally’s nonna, Giovanna, gets going on the Sunday gravy—a combination of beef chuck roast, pork chops, sweet Italian sausages, onion, tomato, wine, and chopped herbs—as soon as she gets up, then lets it braise for several hours while she attends mass, until it’s fall-off-the-bone tender, swimming in a luscious and rich sauce. (See Sunday Gravy recipe here.)


the gravy over pasta 

Without fail, the Solari Sunday Dinner consists of the same menu: an antipasto of prosciutto and salami, marinated vegetables, and provolone and mozzarella cheese; a first course of pasta with the gravy from the braise; then the main course of the meat, served along with a green salad or veg; and for dessert a ginormous bowl of tiramisu doused with coffee and Marsala wine and dusted with powdered cocoa. 


the main course of braised meat 

And woe to those who fail to show up for the meal—or who take only small portions of the various courses served—for they risk being on the receiving end of Nonna’s evil eye....

🌿 🍷 🌳 

LUCY BURDETTE: Leslie, I love reading about the Sunday dinners in your Sally Solari books! Growing up, our family had the big Sunday meal at lunchtime, after church. It was usually a roast with gravy and mashed potatoes. So at supper time, we ate on TV trays in the den, eating toasted cheese, potato salad, and baked beans. I have only fond memories of those nights, though I can't remember what we watched on TV.

Though Hayley Snow and her mother are excellent cooks who love hosting dinner parties, there isn't a Sunday tradition. Hmmm, maybe I should change that... Here's a recipe for an Italian pot roast in a slow cooker that could easily serve a crowd.

🌿 🍷 🌳 

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: I too confess that big Sunday dinners are not a tradition I grew up with -- my family was the one that moved away from my parents' big families in the Midwest -- and it's not a big part of our cooking right now. The one requirement is that it result in leftovers Mr. Right and I can grab for lunch a few days in the upcoming week!

But like my blog sisters, I've given a version of that tradition to one of my protagonists. In my Food Lovers' Village mysteries, Erin Murphy's family gathers for a big Sunday lunch at The Orchard, the homestead her great-grandparents founded shortly after they moved to Jewel Bay, Montana in 1910. (Read about those early Murphys in "An Unholy Death," the historical novella in Carried to the Grave and Other Stories, the 6th Village mystery.) Or if it's summer and Erin's busy with the Merc, they'll meet for brunch -- and she'll pass on the mimosas! I adore Sunday brunch, and gave my love of it to Pepper Reece, star of my Spice Shop mysteries, as well, though she goes out with friends rather than hosting. Brunch is one of my favorite meals, especially when the menu includes something I wouldn't make or eat during the week, like this Chai Spice Coffee Cake from Chai Another Day or these fabulous Turkish Scrambled Eggs with Tomato.    

PEG COCHRAN/MARGARET LOUDON  When my paternal grandparents were still alive, we had big Sunday dinners like the characters in Leslie Karst's books.  My grandmother's pasta sauce (we never called it gravy) was perfect--simmered with meat, which was served as a separate course.  It was preceded by soup and followed by salad, fruit and nuts (often roasted chestnuts,) Italian pastries and liqueurs.  The shape of the pasta varied--I usually got to pick whichever one I wanted!  Unless we were having their homemade ravioli or lasagna.  My grandfather grew his own grapes and made his own wine but that was for the grown-ups! My grandmother simmered her sauce for hours, but here's a Bolognese sauce you can whip up on a weeknight that's very good!  And like Leslie's characters, the characters in my Lucille Series would never miss Sunday dinner and Lucille is always worried whether or not there will be enough to eat even though the table is groaning under all the food!


MAYA CORRIGAN: Sunday dinner was a tradition when I was growing up. It was scheduled for 2 p.m., often included extended family, and took place in the dining room, instead of the kitchen alcove where our family of five ate all of our other meals. Sunday dinner always included a roast--chicken, turkey, beef, pork, or veal--and potatoes. For special occasions like a holiday, an anniversary, or a birthday, my aunt would bring potatoes made three different ways: mashed, twice-baked, and roasted. Vegetables, salad, and dessert completed the meal. In later years, when my siblings and I lived a few-hours drive from my parents, we had that kind of dinner only on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or a very special occasion. By then my mother was combining the vegetables and salad into one make-ahead dish. Here's the recipe for her easy and popular side dish that can be made the day before it's served.  


CLEO COYLE: Oh, yes! I grew up in a big Italian family, and we had a Sunday Dinner tradition almost every week. For years, I've written and blogged about my dear Aunt Mary, who was born in Italy (as was my mother, Rose). Growing up, I was my aunt's little assistant cook, and I learned much from her. 

On Sundays, my aunt and mom would make a feast for our family, starting in the morning with the wedding soup. Yes, we had wedding soup many Sundays (no wedding needed!!) with chicken broth, pastina, little meatballs, and escarole. Spaghetti was served with a tomato sauce simmered with meat until it fell off the bone. And dessert included Italian cookies

My aunt lived with us. She was more of a grandmother than an aunt since she and my mother lost their own mother when they were young, and she helped raise my sister and I. That's why Aunt Mary has been the primary model for my amateur sleuth Clare Cosi's nonna in my Coffeehouse Mysteries, for going on twenty years now...

I look back on those Sunday dinners and realize how amazing that food was, which (back then) I took for granted. My father provided fresh tomatoes from his garden, homemade wine from the grape vines in our backyard, homegrown eggplants and zucchini. It was marvelous, and I miss those days and my dear parents and aunt, all of whom have since gone to heaven, where they now wait for me to join their table again. Thanks, Edith, for reminding me of the good food and good memories of those delicious days. ~ Cleo


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> ASSAULT AND PEPPER by Leslie Budewitz

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  1. After I married into an Italian family it was customary to attend a weekly Sunday dinner of pasta. Learned to make sauce and meatballs from my MIL. Still a special recipe today! Lynne,

    1. Growing up we did have Sunday Dinner at my grandparents. They had a huge garden and we often had fried chicken and fresh, or home canned, vegetables.


  2. We go to my parents house every weekend - usually Sundays and spend the day with them and have supper. It’s a great way to stay connected. bmedrano34 at

  3. As a child and with Dad being a military man, we were usually stationed far away from other family members. Sundays were for the four of us - a chance to reconnect as a family after everyone having events or things that took them in different directions during the week. Usually Mom would put a roast in the oven before church. We'd arrive home to the wonderful smells anxious for Mom to get it all finished and on the table. On special days, Mom would get up early and fry chicken and sides like potato salad in preparation for the afternoon adventure. After church we would take off in the car to explore some new sight or revisit a favorite one knowing that a picnic was ahead.

    As an adult, the big family meal was on Saturdays leaving Sundays for our family of 3. When weather cooperated something grilled was in order - BBQ chicken my favorite. It was a special time to spend together, relax and get ready for another hectic week.

    Now it's just hubby and I. Being retired, every day is Sunday but we still use it as a day of rest. One of my favorite things to do is to take a drive with our camera at the ready. However, sitting on the front porch just talking is quite enjoyable too. Now our Sunday meals may be anything from a big meal to sandwiches purely because we now have the time to fix the "big" meals any day of the week. Especially during the warmer months, we are apt to have another couple in which usually has hubby grilling or smoking the meat while I fix the sides - usually using fresh veggies from the garden.

    Thank you for the chance to win an amazing giveaway package!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  4. Growing up, it was usually just my immediate family of four eating dinner after church. Sometimes another family would be invited. The big family gatherings were reserved for holidays and other special occasions, and they were always at my grandmother’s house. It was usually potluck but in the summer, we always had homemade ice cream to go with whatever cakes were brought. We always had a great time! cking78503(at)aol(dot)com

    1. We made hand-cranked ice cream growing up too!

  5. I envy you lucky folks who had big Sunday dinners! My mom was never much of a cook - she'd prepare the evening meals but not much else. Except for holidays and the traditional turkey. I cooked alot more for my own children because I do enjoy cooking and love making new recipes! Kathylynn103 at hotmail dot com.

  6. I remember the good meals my mom would make like Swedish meatballs, pot roast and Salisbury steak. Thanks for your great generosity.

    1. All of those sound so good! Sometimes the old recipes are the best!

  7. Sunday dinner tradition was something which I looked forward to, enjoyed and felt was important. It shaped our lives and was meaningful. My grandmother used to prepare for it all day and loved the work and having family over. cooking and baking was her life. We used to set the table. I miss those days. Now it has disappeared. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. So much has changed since then. We were lucky to have those experiences and those memories.

  8. Each week we roasted a tasty chicken with yummy red potatoes, a delectable orzo pasta salad, marble cake and lemon biscuits. I can feel it now. We don't cook any big meals anymore. Simple fare and a quiet day. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

    1. Roast chicken is one of my favorite things! And orzo salad goes so well with it. I'm getting hungry thinking about it!

  9. As a kid, Sunday dinner was usually a bigger meal. Beef or pork roast, ham, or steak with mushroom sauce, plus mashed potatoes and veggie was the normal menu. I remember the smell all through the house and Dad in the living room watching The McLaughlin Group, all those old guys arguing about politics.

  10. While growing up, I loved reading about big Sunday dinners. However, the regular Sunday event for us was a brunch of Dim Sum. Everyone in the family made it a point to keep that time period available and often invited a friend or two. There was lots of boisterous conversation and laughter over various buns, dumplings, various small steamed and fried dishes, and plenty of tea. We would be stuffed to the gills with food and good cheer by the end of the meal, and prepared to face the rest of the week.

    1. That sounds delightful, Lil.

    2. I just realized that I forgot to add: little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

  11. When I was growing up, we always went to my grandmothers house on Sunday for dinner- fried chicken, green beans, corn, mashed potatoes or potato salad, macaroni and cheese, homemade biscuits and always a cake- usually homemade red velvet cake. Miss those days since grandparents, mom and dad are gone….😢
    Luvs2read4fun (at) gmail (dot) com

  12. Growing up, my family would go to my grandparents house for Sunday dinner. It would either be a roast, chicken or we would bbq out. Tons of different sides to go along with the meal. Dessert would usually be cake or pies!! Miss those days!

    Thank you for the chance to the amazing giveaway!


  13. I guess I'm old school. We had a family dinner ever day, as is, all four of us sat down and ate together.
    It was holidays when other family (aunt and uncle) joined us. Including the infamous one where when my uncle cut into the turkey and found it wasn't cooked!

  14. Fun to hear about your traditions!

  15. Interestingly enough, as a child I don't remember big family dinners as we didn't live near family. Later in life two of my three sisters and their families, my uncle and I all lived in the same area as my parents, so Sunday dinner at Mom and Dad's became the norm. It was usually either a roast, lasagna, sauerkraut, with the occasional patio cookout of burgers and all the sides. Dessert was usually whatever cake recipe Mom ran across during the week. Always delicious!
    Speaking of Easter, in my young adult years one of my sisters and I lived together, again far from the rest of the family, so we hosted "Orphan's Easter". It was usually a potluck where we provided the turkey or ham and everyone brought the sides and dessert, but I remember one year when a friend whose family was away came and made fried chicken. While it was the best ever, it took me three days to clean the kitchen. There was grease spattered everywhere! Still lots of fun memories.
    Thanks for all the wonderful hours of other lives you have all provided and thanks for the opportunity to win such a great package!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Marcia. I don't make fried chicken for the reason you described. :-)

  16. I guess we are kind of a boring family! Everyone has such beautiful traditions. One thing, as a child, it was a special treat to eat a foiled top t.v. dinner on a t.v. tray in the t.v. room. I loved reading other people's comments of their traditions.

    1. When I was growing up, I longed for TV dinners, but my mother would never buy them. ~Maya

  17. Growing up we always had a family dinner at noon on Sunday. We had a small family, so it was our family and my Grandmother. My Mom would fix a special dinner and over the years my Dad took over the cooking. He was a really good cook. I miss those family dinners.

  18. We certainly had dinners together but they weren't really special affairs....not terribly happy times. We did, however, have a Sunday tradition for a few years that shines in memory. We had a cook (Mom loathed cooking) who brought us fresh sugared donuts on Sunday morning right after church. I still can taste the fresh, sweet taste of those special treats!

    1. Our Sunday dinners weren't huge. We tended to eat more of an main meal on Saturday. Usually, my father, who was a trustee and an usher, had the last Mass, so we didn't get home to late.