Strengthening families through Family Meal Time

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WALLA WALLA — For the past year the Moms’ Network has provided the community with different levels of cooking classes under our Family Meal Time program. The goal of our program is to focus on the family meal as a way to build and strengthen families in the Walla Walla area.

Research indicates that the more often families eat together, the less likely children are to smoke, drink, battle depression or develop eating disorders. But at the same time we also understand that planning, shopping, prepping and getting meals on the table are probably the main challenges that face moms — working or not.

Our goal with Family Meal Time is to provide education, recipes and ideas that will assist moms with this process. It is possible to deliver quick, easy meals so you can spend more time at the table with your children.

Last fall, chef Melissa Davis stocked the perfect pantry for us and divided the group into pairs so we could cook up eight easy dinners in 30 minutes. I now use three of those dinners on a regular basis.

Last winter and spring, in partnership with Lostine Cattle Company, chef and cookbook author Lynne Curry came to Walla Walla and demonstrated easy weekday meals and grilling techniques. She was funny, realistic and a dynamite cook, using few ingredients. I knew we had picked a good mom chef when she told us that scrambled eggs on toast counted as dinner in her house.

This fall we have two new Family Meal Time classes with chef Damon Burke of Salumiere Cesario. Both classes cost $10 per person.

Our first class is this evening, Sept. 17, 6-8 p.m., at Salumiere Cesario, 12 E. Main St., on the topic of homemade stock. Stock is one of the basic, fundamental ingredients in cooking soups, sauces and many classic dishes. Each participant will take home a quart of homemade stock to use in a meal.

The second class, 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 8, at Salumiere Cesario, is on frozen dinners. Participants will leave with a plan and recipes to prepare and freeze dinners to use on those busy afternoons when there is no time to cook.

The Moms’ Network, partnering with Lostine Cattle Company, will also bring the message of the importance of family meal time to the Walla Walla Public Schools’ Farm to School program under Beth Thiel, by providing parent cooking classes at Berney School and Prospect Point School in October.

To wrap up the year, the Moms’ Network will be releasing our Second Edition Moms’ Network Cookbook. There will be new family recipes, ideas for frozen dinners and holiday favorites, meal planning tips, a new family dinner game and a homemade dish cloth. Look for it in November on our website and at Book & Game Company and Salumiere Cesario.

The Moms’ Network Family Meal Time program is a part of our mission to strengthen and connect families. We will continue to offer classes that can assist families in planning and preparing meals while also discussing how to enjoy the company of your family during the meal.

To register for an upcoming Family Meal Time class or learn more about the Moms’ Network, call me or visit themomsnetworkww.com.

Beth Swanson is founder and president of The Moms’ Network in Walla Walla. She can be reached at 301-7471 or bethswanson@charter.net.

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