Country Kitchen: Special Dinnerware for Family Meals

Country Kitchen: Special Dinnerware for Family Meals

By Mary Emma Allen

Do you have favorite dinnerware you enjoy using when you set the table for guests, or which makes you feel happier at mealtime? Perhaps these are items you picked up on a whim because you liked the color or design.

Or they may be pieces of china that have memories of earlier years...your childhood, a wedding gift, or a special occasion.

Sometimes in our hurry-scurry lives we don't take the time to set the table with attractive dishes. We keep them only for "company" events. One mother said she used the special dinnerware for her family, even when there weren't guests. They were the most important people in her life. Why not use her special dinnerware for them?

Dinnerware from Childhood

When cleaning out my childhood home after moving my mom to New Hampshire, I came across odds and ends of Mother's "good" dishes, the set she stored in her china closet and used for special occasions...our birthdays, holidays, and when we had guests for. Most had gotten broken or chipped over the course of more than 50 years, but I found a few to keep for memory sake.

Then, most amazingly, I found the order and receipts for this set of dishes. Mother once told me that they were purchased with money she and my dad received as wedding gifts when they married in 1934. I hadn't realized they were special ordered from a store in New York City. (I grew up on a farm about 100 miles north of the city.)

I could imagine Mother looking over pictures of dish patterns and deciding on this creamy one with flowers. Then when they arrived, Mother unpacked the dishes and placed them in the china closet, one which came from a furniture store in her home town. I still have that china closet and found it marked with a label of the store.

Pretty Dishes for Children

In our busy lives, I still try to bring out pretty dishes for my grandchildren to enjoy. Some are pieces I have because I simply like. Others came from my mom or mother-in-law.

For special meals, I use the bread plate my mom had for special occasions. It, too, was a wedding gift. Made of glass, it is oval with a sheaf of wheat on the bottom and the words, "Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread" around the rim.

My mother-in-law made deviled eggs for special occasions and served them in a glass plate with egg shaped impressions. We have this plate and tell grandchildren the stories of these meals.

Make Your Own Memories

Collect some special dishes of your own that you use for special occasions with your children and grandchildren. Let them make memories they can tell future generations.

Will there be something they pick up in years to come and say, "I remember when Mom (or Grandma) used this"? Then they'll regale their children with family stories.

Food for Memory

Delve into family recipes or create some that you serve to your family for enjoyable meals.

PRETZEL LAYERED SALAD is a delicious recipe my daughter makes. It can be served at the meal or used as a dessert. First layer: Mix 2 cups crushed unsalted pretzels, 3-4 tablespoons sugar (depending on desired sweetness) and 2/3 cup melted butter; spread this in a 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 6 minutes. Cool before filling.

Second layer: Mix together 8 ounces cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, 8 ounces whipped topping. Spread over the cooled crust.

Top layer: Dissolve a six-ounce package strawberry jello in 2 cups boiling water. Add a 10-ounce package frozen strawberries. Chill until this is almost congealed. Then spread jello mixture over the cheese mixture. Chill until set.

(C) 2002 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing her "Cooking Column" for newspapers and online publications for 30 years and has compiled a family cookbook. SheÂ’s currently compiling a cookbook/story book, "Tales From a Country Kitchen." Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

The Country Kitchen Series

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Cook to Cook Letter Writing

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Summer Meal Ideas

Strawberry Festivals!


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