Sunday Supper vs. Sunday Dinner

September 6, 2014

When I was a kid we always had Sunday dinner after church. It was generally meat in a pan – roast chicken, roast beef, roast pork and the occasional leg of lamb. We ate at 2pm and my grandparents often joined us. It was the only day of the week that my brothers and I were allowed to sit in the living room. My parents had cheese and crackers (and cocktails, often too many) before dinner and we weren’t allowed to play in there but we were allowed to bring a book or to just talk quietly with the grownups.

Sunday supper was a whole different thing. It was often pizza, sometimes waffles or my mom’s fantastic homemade fried dough, or even scrambled eggs. It was something light because we’d had a big dinner but we had to have something to eat. And it was pretty much the only time all week that we were allowed to eat in front of the TV, often while watching The Wonderful World of Disney.

Lifestyles have changed, though, and there’s no such thing as Sunday dinner at our house now. We usually have a big-ish breakfast and often skip lunch and just have late afternoon snacks and supper. It is sometimes pizza, occasionally Chinese food, and frequently grilled cheese sandwiches. This varies with the seasons – summer is usually something grilled and eaten outside on the deck. Fall and early winter food revolves around the timing of the football game.

As for today, we are having friends over to watch the game and it starts at 1pm. I’ll be making deviled eggs and Buffalo chicken dip and I’m sure our friends will bring something delicious, too. We may eat so many snacks that Sunday supper won’t even happen.

Whatever happens on any given Sunday, whatever we wind up cooking and eating, it is always shared with love and smiles and conversation, sometimes with friends and sometimes family but more often just Dale and I. I think it’s why Sundays are my favorite day of the week.

 

Sunday Supper: Roast Chicken

 

roast chicken for carole knits

I am writing this post on Saturday afternoon and we’re about to leave to go to a cocktail party at the home of my former sister-in-law. Former, as in, she was married to my first husband’s brother. I haven’t seen her in about 20 years but we’ve been in touch on the facebooks and she invited us to this party to celebrate their home renovation and, we’re going. I’m excited and maybe a little nervous. Mostly, though, I’m really looking forward to seeing her again as we were pretty good buddies when we were in the family together. As I recall, they referred to us as “the outlaws” instead of the inlaws. That should give you a pretty idea about why we bonded back in the day.

Anyway.

None of that has anything to do with Sunday supper except for the fact that I’m using it to fill up blog space since I don’t know what we’ll be having for Sunday supper this week. There’s no football game to plan around (it’s a bye week for the Pats) and a free Sunday means we may go do something fun. Perhaps a museum, perhaps a drive somewhere pretty. Or we may just hang out at home and watch Homeland snuggled up on the couch. Either way I doubt there’s a roast chicken in my future despite what that picture may lead you to believe. If I were making a roast chicken, though, I would make it just like that one – in a cast iron fry pan with onions and lemons shoved up the chicken’s unmentionables along with fresh rosemary surrounding it for flavor and aroma. My mouth is watering just thinking about it because nothing screams Sunday supper like the smell of a roasting chicken.

What are you having for supper tonight?

Sunday Supper: Chili

chili for carole knits

In the interest of full disclosure I will tell you that this particular pot of chili is not from today but, rather, is from last March. Chili around here pretty much always looks like that, though, and it’s what we’re having for dinner tonight. I can’t think of anything better to go with football, cool rainy weather, and good friends. Well, except maybe some beer but you know that’s a given. And cornbread, which is also on the menu.

What are you having for supper tonight?

Aunt Bett’s Blueberry Cake

Last year my cousin Lisa gave me a copy of the Anderson Family Cookbook, a compilation of recipes from the family reunion of 1988. This was back when I didn’t have contact with this side of my family so this was a wonderful and beautiful gift, not just for the recipes that are included, but also for the memories of many summers spent with these cousins at my grandparent’s home on Briarwood Beach.

After she gave me the book I sat and pored over it, recognizing the names of the contributors and remembering the times I spent with them with great joy. Each recipe card is titled and indicates who it came from. One of my favorites is called “Cape Cod No Fuss Dinner” and it comes from “The Dads”. The instructions are simple and include only two words: Kool Kone. There are also recipes for Baked Beans, Blystone (a family name) Clam Chowder and American Chop Suey. (Hi Norma and Sandy!). They are all wonderful but the one that made me gasp in surprise and then start to cry was this one:

Aunt Bett’s Blueberry Cake.

Aunt Bett, as she was called by the cousins, was my grandmother, Elizabeth Anderson Sammons. She was called Betty by everyone else but Aunt Bett by the cousins and Gramma by my brothers and I and my cousins Len and Lisa. She was wonderful and 100% Swedish and I loved her dearly. She baked and cooked and sewed and knit and crocheted. She taught me to make Swedish meatballs and braided cardamom bread and make spritz. She was soft and warm and smelled like cinnamon and she was probably my favorite person in the whole world next to my mom. And she made wonderful blueberry cake.

I never had her recipe until I got this cook book so you can imagine how happy I was to find it there. I know this post is getting long but I hope you will indulge me. I’m going to share the recipe, along with my cousin Dick Blystone’s introduction – it will give you an idea of what an incredibly special time it was in my life when “the cousins” came to visit.

aunt betts blueberry cake for carole knits

One of the traditional “outings” each year at the Cape was picking blueberries. For one half day, the mothers would load all of the kids and all of the available containers in the cottage into one of the station wagons. We would make one stop to pick up our guide Aunt Bett and her pots, then leave the beach and travel several miles inland to a farm where you could pick berries at low rates (my recollection is 50¢ a quart). After stopping at the farm house to announce our presence, we rode over winding dirt roads to the farm’s Blueberry Patches, poured out of the cars, grabbed our containers and “hit the bushes.”

Some went to the first bushes they saw and began picking, others became scouts, searching for the best bushes, then redirecting cousins to those areas. The object of the outing was simple: try to gather enough blueberries (using the standard pick two eat one system) to fill all of the containers. If this task became boring, there were always interesting variations, like trying to find the biggest blueberry, or trying to hit the cousin at the next bush over with over-ripe berries. When the mothers had had enough, they herded us back to the cars, where we emptied our containers into big soup kettles, then drove back to the farm house to pay for the berries. One year we picked 23 quarts! Then it was back to the beach, where the blueberries, little by little, found their way into pancakes, muffins and cakes and always into the mouths of the harvesters.

Aunt Bett would usually take her berries and bake several cakes for us to enjoy which we would devour the same night they were delivered to the cottage. To this day it remains my favorite dessert.

Aunt Bett’s Blueberry Cake

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 cups floured blueberries

For the topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup softened butter

Preheat the oven to 375°. Mix sugar, shortening & egg in large mixing bowl. In separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder & salt. Stir in milk. Add to large bowl and mix. Fold in blueberries, spread into greased 9″ square pan. Mix topping & sprinkle on top. Bake for 45 min or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

Eat. Sigh. Remember.

Cranberry Cake

cranberry cake stacked for carole knits

A few weeks ago, while attending an event at our Town Hall, I had a bite of something truly delicious. There was a table laden with all kinds of goodies: brownies and cookies and more . . . but there was also this plate of squares that looked yummy. And they were chock-full of cranberries. I had one and I was instantly in love with it. It was cranberry-y and almond-y and moist and just simply wonderful. I knew it wasn’t just an ordinary treat so I started working my way around the room, asking who had made it. I quickly realized it was made by someone that a) I know and b) I admire and c) is married to a local cranberry grower.

But of course.

I got the recipe and I made this cake for our Christmas Eve gathering. Every piece I put out disappeared. And everyone raved about it. It was, in other words, a hit.

The good news is that around these parts, cranberries aren’t just for Christmas and I happen to have a big ole bag of them in my freezer – courtesy of that particular woman who is married to that particular grower, I might add. So I made the cake again this weekend and I’m sharing the recipe with you. It’s partly because I want you to try it but it’s also because I want to make sure I don’t lose the recipe.

Not that I would ever do that.

Ahem.

So here you have it, the best cranberry cake ever.

cranberry cake for carole knits

Cranberry Cake
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

With a stand mixer, beat eggs with sugar until slightly thickened and light in color, about 5 minutes. Add butter and extract; beat 2 minutes. Stir in flour, just until combined. Stir in cranberries. Spread in a greased 13×9 inch baking pan. Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely and cut into squares.

Devour.

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