I tend to think of the meal in the middle of the day on Sunday as dinner. It’s said as if it was just one thought, “Sunday Dinner”. Sundaydinner. I find it nearly impossible to say the word lunch on Sunday. For many Californians, this habit may sound odd. The meal in the middle of the day is lunch. Lunch, lunch, lunch. Lunche in Spanglish. But lunch means something quick, like a sandwich, often eaten alone and occassionally eaten in the car.
Growing up, my mother often made Sunday dinner early like about 2 PM or just after church. Chicken stewed with tomatoes, bell peppers and potatoes in that old brown crock pot on the kitchen counter. My mother served it with sourdough bread that came in a cellophane wrapper that crinkled as precut slices were plucked from it and an iceberg lettuce salad with Ranch dressing out of a bottle. The meal took time to stew and it took time to eat.
Our friends Kevin and Trish came over for Sunday dinner recently. That meal in the middle of the day. I soaked cannelini beans in salted water overnight, rinsed them well in the morning, slow cooked them in a crock pot for a few hours, and then finished them on the stove when they were still underdone. I also cooked a ham hock on the stove in chicken broth with leeks, carrots, onions, and spices. Drizzled with olive oil and served with oregano, the beans and pork made a fabulous meal with ACME Au Pain Levain and a caesar salad. Trish doesn’t do pork, so I roasted a chicken thigh for her with olive oil, rosemary and garlic. We swapped stories, reminisced, and thought about the future. Sharing a meal together, we shared our lives.
While eating may take center stage during Sunday dinner, the real point is to gather as friends. As family. The nourishment that takes place isn’t simply the consumption of calories and nutrients. The nourishment also feeds the heart, mind and soul.
Few things create community better than a shared meal: the clinking of spoons, a hovering fork, a laugh from the belly. Sunday dinner slows life down and bring out its flavors. Sundays need to cook slowly. I spend so much time during the week microwaving my micromanaged micromoments to maximize productivity, that a slow cooked Sunday dinner is the perfect remedy. Maybe we need to stop having Sunday lunch and start having Sunday dinner, so that we can feel satiated in our soul and not just full in the belly.
2 cups cannelini beans
6 cups water
2 Tablespoons salt
Soak overnight. Really, overnight. All night. In the morning, pour the beans into a collander. Rinse well in the sink to remove excess salt. The purpose of the salt is to create an ion exchange through the skin of the bean so that the bean will absorb more water.
Pot of Beans
Cannelini beans from above
1 – 2 cups low sodium or salt free chicken broth
1 cup water
Add enough water to keep them covered, but I don’t like my beans soupy so I kind of judge the water level by eye. Simmer the beans in a slow cooker like a crock pot for about 4 hours or you can put them in a oven proof dish for about 4 hours at 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
1 -2 Ham hocks
Cover with low sodium chicken broth
1/2 an onion finely diced
1 – 2 garlic cloves
1 – 2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
Cook the ham hocks in the broth for about 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Once it’s tender, it’s good to go. Pour off the broth and save it for making soup for supper. Drain the ham hocks and add them to the beans.
Pour a couple of heaping cooking spoonfuls of beans onto a soup plate or into a bowl. Toss with freshly chopped oregano. Drizzle olive oil on top. Place ham hocks on top. Serve with crusty bread like ACME Au Pain Levain.