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Dinnertime: Tag, You're It!

Riley Pracht
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Pracht family

The Pracht family recently divided up weekday evenings so each has a night they're responsible for planning and cooking dinner. Pictured: Riley, Bridgett and Scott Pracht (from left) on a family trip to Amsterdam last summer.

Riley Pracht is an eighth grader at School of the Woods who is interested in writing. She is spending the week at The Buzz Magazines learning about what it’s like to work at a local magazine as part of a school internship program.

It’s dinner time. Dad is pulling into the garage, I’m tying my hair into a less-than-perfect ballet bun, the dogs are barking, and Mom is scrambling to cook dinner while explaining the pros and cons of marble to a client. The only contact we have with each other right now is the occasional collision in a hallway. We keep our heads down, and our minds focused on our tasks. We have 30 minutes until dance class, book club and tonight’s basketball game. We each grab a brightly colored dinner plate, and hurry into the dining room. After five minutes of flustered conversation, we go separate ways again to deposit leftovers into the fridge, grab shoes from the doormat, and then we are off. When we are all finally home again, we wave a quick hello, and drift away to separate rooms and TV’s to watch our own nightly entertainment. We hardly exchange more than 20 words the rest of the evening, and then the cycle begins again the next day. 

For years this is how it was in my house, but my family is changing all of that. With so little time together besides dinner, we are making that time count. We are making dinner less frantic by making a system that divides tasks and makes us want to have dinner together: each person cooks on a different night. Mom takes care of Mondays and Wednesdays, Dad has Tuesdays and I am in charge of Thursdays. On Fridays and the weekends we eat out or get takeaway. But even when it isn’t our night to cook, we still help each other out because we know that they will return the favor. Now, every week is almost a competition for whose meal turned out the best. 

On the weekends, we all sit together and figure out what we are cooking that week. None of us are the best cooks, but it is more about the fun of it. Even when the recipes are disastrous - such as the time my mom tried to make pizza and the sauce spilled everywhere - it’s okay. Luckily, we have all found recipes that work for us. 

My dad usually grills something and my mom loves making tacos. My favorite dish to make is risotto. Now, at dinner time, no one is in their own bubble. We’ve divided up days so that the person cooking gets home early and dinner is ready long before we have to leave, giving us more time to spend together.

Riley makes her risotto based on this recipe and her mom shared her veggie taco recipe here

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