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Family Dinners with My Non-Traditional Family

Posted on: October 29th, 2012 by Grace

Sometimes, living in a city hundreds of miles from my family is tough. Of course, with modern technology it’s nearly impossible to really be separated. At any given moment you’ll find photos of our beagle, Taffy, in my inbox, or a funny text from my sister on my phone. But the one thing I miss more than anything else is family meals. You can’t Skype in to my mom’s lentil stew; you can’t G-chat the steel cut oatmeal and scrambled eggs my dad makes on lazy mornings.

These days I live in a quiet apartment on the outskirts of Boston with three dudes in their mid-twenties and a charming dog named Pippen. We’d talked about having “family dinners” at the apartment since before moving in, but our combined work and social schedules never seemed to allow us to follow through (isn’t that always the way?). Additionally, my carnivorous roommates have to cope with the fact that a vegetarian now lives in their midst. So you can imagine my delight when, one rainy Friday afternoon, my roommate Alex called from the grocery store and asked if veggie burritos sounded good for dinner.

While Alex sautéed summer squash, eggplant, jalapeno and green pepper, I washed some black beans and chopped tomato and avocado. We had rice cooking on the stove, and my other roommate Mike had just put a loaf of banana bread into the oven for dessert. We threw on some music and my tiny kitchen was transformed into the warm, homey center of the house that my mother’s kitchen always feels like.

Sure, things may have been slightly more chaotic in our kitchen than in my fond family dinner memories. We didn’t actually follow a recipe, and we didn’t end up seated at a nicely set table with flowers and cloth napkins. But the evening certainly felt a little cozier because we were all together, eating and talking. And man, those burritos were good!

If you want to recreate my non-traditional veggie burrito family dinner, all you’ll need are a few of your favorite veggies to sauté. We used squash, eggplant, jalapeno and pepper, but you could easily add something like onion, corn or carrot. Throw in about a cup of rice, a can of black beans (rinsed), tomato, avocado and flavorful toppings like cilantro or scallions. Don’t forget the flour tortillas, and sprinkle with cheese, sour cream, salsa and hot sauce!

Make sure you’ve got napkins or paper towels on hand, because if your burritos are anywhere near the size ours were, you’ll need them!

Grace is the project organizer at The Family Dinner Project, where she helps organize family dinner events and workshops. When she’s not thinking about what to make for dinner, she’s learning to play the baritone ukulele.