Food & Drink

‘Sunday Dinner’ for the crowd-pleasing cook

By Joan Leotta

For The Sun News

If you are still making your list of resolutions for 2017, then take a look at the introduction to this book by Bridgette A. Lacy. She makes good use of her 136 pages in this ode to the Southern family supper, in both making the case for family meals and offering a heaping helping of Sunday-worthy recipes to feed the crowd that will gather round your table.

Lacy’s introduction takes us back to a time and place when families , even ones who were too busy to make connections during the week gathered round the table together at the home of the family Matriarch (usually a Grandma) on Sundays. The core of this book’s introduction and its overarching message is the value of eating together as a family is more than just passing on family tradition and recipe. The family meal is a vital part of helping a child grow into adulthood. It’s not only what goes on the table. Healthy food makes healthy bodies, but it is healthy conversation at the table, loving interaction with adults that makes emotionally strong adults.

My own youth was spent was the author’s Sunday dinners at my grandmother’s house, in a house overflowing with love, cousins, and food. Although my recipes and traditions differed from those of the author (large rust belt city, very ethnic Italian versus Southern rural, African-American heritage), the principles learned at the table—helping out in the family, cooking and eating together, each person’s opinion can be expressed and has value— all of this is the same. I, like the author, moved away from the family base but worked hard to keep the tradition of eating together as a family—with us, it was more the emphasis on eating together every night. The idea of Sunday togetherness had to be spread out for various reasons. However, I did employ a number of her principals such as using one large meal to make prep easier for several quick eating occasions during the rest of the week. We shopped for the freshest and the best, Children helped in prep and table setting. Friends were always welcome.

Conversing at the table was always a priority. The recipes in this book are definitely the more careful prep variety that are perfect for the longer at home times of a weekend meal. They are definitely southern, and I love the introductions to each recipe that tell of the family connection to each recipe. The true Southern Sunday staples of fried chicken, collard greens, a coconut pie and a sinfully delicious sounding vanilla wafer and cake are the showpieces of the recipe section.

Lacy also includes offers a recipe for challah bread and one for roasted vegetables from her days in New York. Although your family food traditions may include foods other than those in this book, Lacy’s recipes and tips for Sunday dinners show us that we can indeed bridge the gap between the old family dinners at Grandma’s on Sunday and the modern life where smaller family units gather at table. We can show hospitality by inviting guests, by using our best tableware, by having children help with the preparation including planning what would be served and even by shopping together for the meal.

At A Glance

Title | Sunday Dinner

Author | Bridgette A. Lacy

Publisher | A Savor the South cookbook; University of North Carolina Press

Price | $19.00

Big Jimmy’s Coconut Pie

From Sunday Dinner: a Savor the South® cookbook by Bridgette A. Lacy. Copyright © 2015 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. www.uncpress.unc.edu

From the author: Papa liked his desserts sweet. This coconut pie is no exception. Enough said.

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie

Ingredients

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 ½ cups sweetened condensed milk

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 ounces shredded unsweetened coconut

1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell

Method

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together. Add the cornstarch, milk, and butter and blend well. Add the coconut and stir until incorporated. Pour the filling into the pie shell. Bake until firm, about 45–50 minutes.

Cool and serve.

NOTE from author: Add a half teaspoon of vanilla extract to add a little bit more richness. Papa used Jiffy piecrust mix to make his piecrust.

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