The funny thing about blogging and food blogs in general is that nearly everything seems to be perfect in that online world. What you see is photos of perfectly coordinated and stylized shots of impossibly gorgeous food and scenes of domestic bliss. I’m guilty of wiping a few plate edges and failing that, editing out the ‘ugly bits’ of photos so that they look more attractive. Most of the time, my extended family isn’t subject to this strange behaviour, but when they are present for my food blogger shenanigans, they are always kind enough to make the best out of the situation.
When Canadian Beef asked me to write a sponsored post requiring a shot of my family enjoying beef at our dinner table, I was initially excited. Then my excitement turned to worry because the reality of our family table, on most week nights, isn’t what you see on your computer screen. As our kids were growing up we always made a point of being together for dinner, even on a week night with scheduled activities. Sometimes that meant eating at 4:30, other times we wouldn’t eat until 9 pm. Now that our daughter is vegan, she makes and eats her own dinner because she doesn’t want to wait to eat at 9 pm any more. Being busy with football nearly every night of the week has us perpetually delaying dinner time and our family table has become a ‘table of convenience’.
Last week a surprise phone call from my sister, who lives in Vernon, B.C., had me preparing the spare room for their weekend visit and thinking about what to serve for dinner. Even though we both had our weekend fully (but separately) booked, I wanted to have at least one sit down meal (on a football-free night) during their visit. The opportunity to serve and photograph our Canadian Beef family meal had presented itself.
On Friday, I bought the baseball cut beef sirloin from a local butcher and marinated it in garlic and red wine with a bit of salt and pepper. It really was the easiest thing to do. Ideally this marinating would be done overnight in the fridge but I only had 5 hours so I left the bowl of meat to marinate at room temperature. I knew that the beef was fresh from a local source but I wouldn’t recommend doing this if you don’t know where your meat comes from. Just before grilling, I threaded the chunks of marinated sirloin onto fresh rosemary sprigs.
While hubby was grilling the beef, I was busy propping the table and setting up the camera for that perfect shot. My sister finished the Greek salad and kept an eye on the roasted lemon potatoes which I had set under the broiler and forgotten…
Then someone literally grabbed an olive and I freaked out (Never, EVER prop with an even amount of food items)!
By the time everything was on the table and ready for photographing, everyone was freezing because it’s April and at my request we were eating on the deck. They left to get their jackets and I had to wait so that I could get them into the family shot. Then there was my annoying, yet loveable brother in law, who squeezed that lemon for what seemed like 5 minutes, while pretending to pick his nose and contort his face into all manners of disturbing poses. I don’t know how I managed to get any photos at all, I was laughing too hard!
Then my eldest son says, “hey mom, come over here, this is a pretty great angle” and you know what? He was right!
After all the photos were taken, we were still giggling over how my brother in law is such an idiot while we ate our cold but delicious dinner. Someone suggested we should have made a video of our Canadian Beef family dinner fiasco but I think some things are better left out of social media.
This dinner was fun and it drew us together as a family and gave us a shared memory that we can cherish for years to come. It was almost like we were back on our family farm, eating together out in the open prairie during Spring seeding while our laughter kept us warm in the crisp spring air. I was always in charge of looking after my sister, while mom cut the roast beef and covered the mashed potatoes with pan gravy. Keeping that connection between family, the food, and the land is so important for the future of farming and the future of our food system.
On my last visit to the Canadian Centre of Beef Excellence, I enjoyed a family style burger battle between local celebrities and their friends/families. There were so many great people there to support Canadian Beef as they revealed their new partnership with Canadian grown and raised country singer, Paul Brandt. He’s the ideal complement to the Canadian Beef brand and watching the videos make my heart proud to be Canadian and come from a farming background.
Thank you Canadian Beef for sponsoring this post, for bringing our family together one more time, and for supporting our Canadian beef farmers.
Disclosure: I was financially compensated for this post. As a former beef farmer’s daughter I’ve got my own opinions about Canadian Beef and I am pleased to be able to share them with you.