Deborah Rankin

Booktalklady’s Dinner in an Hour™

Some of you don’t eat well. You haven’t been to the grocery so you have no food at home. Your refrigerator looks like this or worse:

Fridge no food (800x749)

You order in or buy fast food or fall back on classic American dining staples like popcorn or Cheerios. I can’t imagine French or Italian families dining on popcorn. But you have. Haven’t you?

It is good to have dinner at home, especially if there are children.

Research Report

The Columbia University Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse says frequent family dinners are a way to strengthen the relationship between parent and child, which in turn reduces the likelihood that teenagers will abuse drugs and alcohol.

Regular family meals improve the mental health of teenagers, whether they like talking to their parents or not, according to research in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Canadian researchers examined the relationship between the frequency of family dinners and mental health in a sample of 26,069 teens ages 11 to 15 years. They identified a positive mental health effect among those who regularly had family dinners, regardless of their gender, age or socioeconomic level.

“More frequent family dinners related to fewer emotional and behavioural problems,
greater emotional well-being, more trusting and helpful behaviours towards others and higher
life satisfaction.”

You probably agree, but still, how to make it happen? That’s why you have your friend the Booktalklady and her trademarked Dinner In An Hour™.


1. Spray a baking pan with oil and throw down pieces of unfrozen chicken. Breasts, legs, thighs, whatever. Skin on and bone in preferably. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and whatever seasoning in the cupboard looks good.
2. Turn the oven on 350° and put the chicken in. Set your timer for one hour.
3. Grab some potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic cloves. You know how many people you have to feed so figure out how many of each.
4. Cut the potatoes into halves, then quarters, then 1 ½ inch wedges. Dump in a big mixing bowl. Peel the carrots and cut into 2 inch sections. DO NOT USE BABY CARROTS! BABY CARROTS ARE MY PET PEEVE. I MAY SOMEDAY WRITE A BLOG ABOUT BABY CARROTS. Cut the onions the same way as the potatoes, dice the garlic cloves. Put all in the bowl. Pour olive oil over the vegetables, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dried rosemary. Stir it.
5. Pour the vegetables on a cookie sheet, spread into a single layer. Put in oven.
6. Fix yourself a glass of water.
7. Turn off the TV. Shut down the computers. Silence all cell phones. Hide them in a drawer.
8. Sit down and prop up your feet.
9. If you have a spouse/partner, look at him/her and think of something to say that does not involve work, children, in-laws or money. Talk.
10. If you have children, invite them to play a game of Uno, dominoes, or go fish. They will be shocked. Don’t worry, the timer is ticking. You only have to do this for an hour.
11. If you have teenagers, ask them to turn on the radio, streaming service, etc. to whatever channel they like. After they get over their shock, listen to their chosen channel. After a while, say something bland like “I don’t recognize the artist. Do you know anything about them?” Listen. Nod your head. Say Uh hunh. Don’t worry, you only have to do this for an hour.
12. If you have a partner AND children/teenagers, tell him/her how much the children have missed him/her. They said that just this morning! Hand over the appropriate game or set the channel on the preferred station. Sit down, cover your head with a pillow, and take a nap while your partner bonds with the children. If he/she complains, murmur that it’s only for an hour.
13. If you live alone, sit and think pleasant thoughts.

You is kind, you is smart, you is important (Dreamworks “The Help” movie quote)

Count your blessings. Write them down.

14. When the timer goes off, grab an orange or an apple and slice onto a plate. If you must overachieve, do a pinwheel of alternating slices of apple, orange, and avocado, like so:

Fruit plate (800x576)
15. Cut into the chicken to make sure it’s done. If you see pinkish juice it’s not done. Cook longer.
16. Sit at a table and eat dinner from a plate. Say something to the people there. Smile. Laugh.
17. If you have teenagers and you sit around a dining table together for twenty minutes three or four times a week, you are amazing! Pat yourself on the back.

©2015 Booktalk Lady LLC

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