At my table…

When I was growing up, I knew that every Sunday at 1.00pm I was expected at my mother’s table.


She would cook lunch for whoever came. On average that meant around 20 people. It was chaotic; with people jostling over one another to be heard, to be served, to be first to rifle through the salad to get to the avocado. Fierce battles occurred over rights to the crispy bits off the roast or the Parsons Nose from the chook. There was always a cloud of dogs under the table hoping for fallen favours. Grandparents commanded us to listen as they recounted tales of their childhoods. We sneakily held hands with our boyfriends/girlfriends under the table. George Benson’s Breezin’ was invariably on the turntable. As lunch progressed, Dad made each of his children provide a high and lowlight of the week. With five of us, this could take some time. We learnt to be brief. I always left the table with a full tummy and an exceptionally full heart.


Whilst I’m not sure Mum loved cooking for 20 or more, I do know it was her way of shaking off the stress of the previous working week. It gave her a chance to unwind, to do something she loved, at her own pace.  She used beautiful, fresh seasonal produce. During the winter months it was a slow-cooked something, which despite what it actually was, we children would unkindly refer to as ‘spew stew’. It was always super yummy.


Sundays were, and still are, my favourite day of the week. Like Mum, I insist on having a family lunch. Last week, I made an exceptionally easy stove-top beef casserole which the team at Origin LPG shared with me. Do give it a try. Serve with crunchy bread or some tagliatelle.  You can find the recipe, along with another dozen fabulous winter recipes here.  I’m cooking their soy-poached salmon with soba noodles today.  I’m also going to dig out my George Benson record. Life is good.

As we were eating last week, Mum gave me a wink and said, “Delicious spew stew darling.” My children looked at me aghast, horrified that Grandma could be so insulting. Me? I knew it was high praise indeed.

What’s your favourite shared family meal?

Leave a comment on this post telling me what it is and why and you could win a copy of Julie Goodwin’s latest book The Heart of the Home valued at over $30.

{THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED. The winner was Liz Fletcher.}

Until next time…

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  1. says

    My fondest childhood memory of the family meal was Friday night dinner – our cousins would get together, my grandmother would cook, we’d need to bring out the foldaway card tables and chairs to fit everyone in. On the menu was cucumber salad, cream spinach with garlic, crumbed chicken, Hungarian goulash, and chocolate walnut pancakes. I’m getting hungry just thinking about those times! Thanks for sharing Caroline, you’ve made my morning!

    Tony Hollingsworth

  2. Bronwyn says

    Shepherd’s pie is the best meal for sharing in our family. It’s warm and filling, and best of all, the vegetables hide under the fluffy and crunchy mashed potato top, made crisp in the oven. Even the child who doesn’t eat peas will tuck into it.

  3. Maree Mortimer says

    My mum used to cook dinner for our whole family (those married and those still living at home) every Wednesday night. That usually meant at least 20 people including children. it was so great to be able to see everyone on a regular basis. We could watch our nieces and nephews growing up and have a close relationship with them. I miss that now that we live so far away. We try and have a family dinner with my sister in law and her family once a week now.

  4. says

    I have to say my favourite meal with our little family (mummy daddy and 2 girls) is scrambled eggs on toast!! Why!? Because our girls will always eat it up without fail (so a non stress dinner) and because it provides a fun atmosphere where the girls help us crack and whisk the eggs.. they spread their toast with avocado and everyone picks a handful of spinach leaves from the garden. It’s the perfect dinner in our house!!

  5. says

    Oh I loved reading your memories of family dinner!

    We didn’t do a regular big dinnger, but my mum, like me, was a stickler for eating dinners together. We ate a lateish dinner even when we were tiny so that my Dad could get home from work and join us, and I do the same thing, rearranging our evening schedule to make a late dinner work so Dad can join us when he’s not on night shift.

    I’ve always had this glorified idea that eating together would be something my kids would always remember… I am still working on that, even if that means serving spag bol or tacos all the time because it is one of the few meals everyone loves… but it’s worth the effort.

    I am not a Master Chef follower but I stumbled on a blog post of Julie’s a while back and thought ‘Yes! this is the reason that I take the time to cook for my family!’ and I’ve loved her ever since!

    • Caro&Co says

      Kate, we do the same thing. Kids often eat late so we can eat together. All distractions are turned off and we talk and talk and talk. Thanks for stopping by Caro & Co.

  6. liz fletcher says

    We always did a saturday night roast. It was always my job to peel the veggies that I had dug out of nanas and pas veggie patch 5 ks down the road . It was always lamb or beef our own of course. My brother went thru a phase of only eating the crunchy fat bits of the roast and potatoes. I wouldnt touch peas.they are rabbit shit painted green by parents. A mad topsy dessert would follow . But with 5 kids mum and dad it was a mad loud and rambunctious affair that makes me smile. Even more dpecisl during school holidays as I missed out during the school term as I went to Boarding School in Melbourne.

  7. Eleanor Jodway says

    Every Night was Family night Dinner for Us. We were expected at the table by 5:15 promptly. We ate delicious made from scratch meals every day. A pot of tea or two, and a sweet afterward, made the end to the day. We’d discuss school, work and what was in the news. No Television was watched, No phone calls during dinner, no reading at the table and no elbows! LOL Dinner was Our Family time, and the only exception was on Saturday. That was the day where bacon and eggs, asparagus on toast, or fried green tomatoes might be dinner. And if You were not there, you were not missed! :)

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