Manners and the  family table

Our guidelines for good manners around the table

“Mom, can we ask Ethan why he was late?”

My eldest piped up with this question around our Sunday dinner table, while sitting across from the named guest. I remember trying to silence him with a look, and then muttering something along the lines of “we’ll talk about it later.”

Ah, kids. They certainly aren’t born with manners. It’s up to us, the parents, to teach them until they grow up and begin to grasp the meaning of tact and diplomacy. A most interesting discussion on the Simple Bites Facebook page a while ago encouraged me to write down and share our guidelines for good manners.

We strive to teach good behaviour around our table, but, boy, is it a work in progress. I’ve learned to heap on encouragement, striving to give 5 times the praise for each reprimand or instruction. Some nights it feels impossible to find anything good to say, but the children perk up with the praise and noticeably try harder.

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Bite This Book! The Naptime Chef (giveaway)

Welcome to Bite This Book!, a new 2012 series on Simple Bites. Each month, I’ll feature a cookbook of my choosing that is hot off the press, host a Q & A with the author, and then give you a chance to win a copy or two. It’s Bite This Book! good reads on Simple Bites.

I had the pleasure of meeting Kelsey Banfield, aka The Naptime Chef, at BlogHer Food last May (was that already one year ago?), but I’ve been reading her blog since its conception and connecting with her on social media for some time.

As I know Kelsey to be extremely passionate and hardworking, it was no surprise to hear she was writing a cookbook, and now her project, The Naptime Chef: Fitting Great Food into Family Life is finally here!

Kelsey’s recipes are home-style with a decidedly upscale twist and will leave you wondering “Now, why didn’t I ever think of that?”. She has a no-nonsense approach to cooking that would instil confidence in the most timid of cooks and bakers.

I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve prepared from Kelsey’s cookbook. Her Strawberries & Cream Overnight French Toast (pictured at top) is a new brunch favorite around here, and I’m admittedly hooked on her Sour Cream Almond Cookies. I’ve bookmarked the Crunchy Mac & Cheese with Bacon to try soon, and know it won’t be long before I’m toasting a batch of addicting Cranberry Spice Granola.

Read on for a short interview with Kelsey and a chance to win one of two copies of The Naptime Chef!

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Why (and How) You Should Create a Healthy Food Culture for Your Family

Food is a celebration of both life and family. Food is also a culture, and it is up to you to shape that culture in your home and around your table.

Italians are famous for their food culture; their recipes are handed down from generation to generation and children cook alongside their nonnas, who express their love to their family in a dish. Yes, the strong food heritage of Italians is noted, but we all have a food culture of our own, whether it is as obvious as a plate of homemade eggplant parmigiana or not.

How do you relate to food? What are your childhood experiences? These are the things that shape your personal food culture. It is more than ethnicity or heritage, it is your attitude toward food.

Food culture is passed along from parents to children, and shaped by day-to-day actions, expressions, and words. [Read more...]