This month’s theme for Family Dinner Book Club is Fairness, and our lead book is New Shoes by Susan Lynn Meyer. Here you’ll find a menu that can be prepared with the help of your children, as well as festive table decorations. Head over to Growing Book by Book for a full reading list of books about fairness. Then visit Sunny Day Family for family activity ideas. We invite you to share a picture from your dinner with us anytime during the month on our Family Dinner Book Club Facebook or Instagram page!
Fairness. Whew. What a tough subject to tackle with kids. I think I hear “that’s not fair!” on a daily basis in this house. It is never in response to something that actually matters, either. It’s always about someone getting to choose the first piece of bread at dinner, or getting the pink cup, or someone’s birthday coming up sooner! Ay yi yi. Right?!
I am grateful for books like New Shoes, because it helps put into perspective things like fairness. We are a white family living in a fairly affluent part of the United States. We don’t actually get much unfair treatment thrown our direction. Since we are so fortunate, I believe it is our job to help others who are not so. To speak up for the people who are treated unfairly. In the case of this specific book, we’re learning about unjust treatment during the time of racial segregation in the United States. Then we also see the spark of genius determination these two little girls have to make their own fairness for their own people.
I immediately thought of African-American soul food while reading this book. My family is from the south, so this food runs in my blood. Some of my favorite foods are here in these photos. As I was looking up various ideas, though, I came across some interesting articles about the origin of soul food.
Red Beans and Rice (recipe below) is a quintessential New Orleans dish. But! Red beans were actually brought over to America from Africa by slaves who then planted and harvested them here in the American South. How Slaves Shaped American Cooking is a great read about some of the ingredients with such a history. I’m also going to check out Adrian Miller’s book Soul Food, which is quickly highlighted on First We Feast.
I truly hope that when you’re reading this month’s book and cooking and crafting with your kids, that you will take a moment to remember and respect these dishes and their complex history in our country. Maybe even take this month’s theme a step further and join the fight for equality in your own state. Use your voting muscles. Use your voice. Use your kindness and include others in your play dates, reading circles, and religious activities. We are all human. We all deserve to have our heritage honored, respected, and celebrated.
Family Dinner Book Club
Red Beans and Rice (recipe below)
The tablescape for this month also celebrates Women’s History Month with some gorgeous flowers!
- 1 pound dried red beans (soaked overnight)
- 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- freshly ground black pepper
- In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Brown the sausage until golden brown and slightly crisp. Remove to a plate.
- Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Add the garlic, onions, celery, and bell pepper. Saute until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the soaked beans along with their water to the pot. Add the remaining spices and stir to combine.
- Cook until the beans are soft, about 1 1/2 hours. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Serve with long grain rice. (I like to mix mine together, but you can serve then separate)