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Elisabeth Röhm’s Blog: Family Food for Thought

03/30/2012 at 05:00 PM ET
Courtesy Ellamarie Fortenbach

Elisabeth Röhm, best known for her roles as Serena on Law & Order and Kate on Angel, has marked a year blogging for PEOPLE.com.

The actress recently appeared on CSI: Miami. Beginning in April, she has a recurring role on The Client List, while upcoming films Transit and Officer Down will be out later this year. She can be found on Facebook, Google + and @ElisabethRohm.

In her latest blog, Röhm — mom to 3½-year-old Easton August with fiancé Ron Anthony — participates in the production of a cookbook, which enlightens her about the importance of the family meal.

How often are you able to eat dinner as a family? How do you make sure it happens? Share your tips and tricks in the comments.

“A family that eats together stays together,” so a mom on a mission has shared with me lately. I know she is right and that this makes all the sense in the world. But with our hectic lives and the divide between kid food and grown-up tastes sometimes we find our kitchen table divided. But, but, but …

I’m sure that some of you relate! This mom on a mission — that I had the pleasure to meet and cook with — isn’t giving up on us just yet. She is trying to inspire all of us to keep it together and make time for that defining moment of the day where we are creative, close and fed. “Feeding the mind and the soul through love.” She’s a delightful and yummy soul herself!

Nothing is more inspiring than someone who has hope and is tirelessly giving like this mommy I’m about to introduce you to. I came into contact with Ellamarie Fortenbach through her delicious new cookbook, Cooking With Celebrities and Their Kids. It’s all about her mission, which is why Little E. and I participated. Ellamarie is the real deal and authentic through and through!

Courtesy Ellamarie Fortenbach

Easton and I had the joy of getting messy in her kitchen as a way to participate in her new cookbook that’s coming out in January. Cooking together and finding a connection through mealtime has been important and a challenge for our family. It has been statistically proven that if a family has meals together, the kids do better in school. I’m sure this is true.

Today, most of us are so darn busy! This is a fast and financially challenged world. I know all of us are working really hard and doing the very best that we can as parents. If we don’t make it to a sit down dinner I’m sure that we all still feel encouraged that we are together, loving and present. So what if we don’t have the means or the time to cook a big meal?

However, there is something to be said about having a family dinner. I was drawn to Ellamarie’s philosophy that we should dedicate at least one meal together as a family twice a week. Cooking together and then eating that meal is truly nurturing! Last night we had a big one with my sister, nephew, a friend and of course Ron, Easton and me. It was really nice. I feel so connected today as a family today because we made the time for each other.

Courtesy Ellamarie Fortenbach

I was drawn to Ellamarie’s fantastic food for an entirely other reason as well! I am always humbled when someone gives of themselves completely. She has made a commitment to give 50% of the profits for Cooking With Celebrities and Their Kids to A World Fit For Kids, Kevin Sorbo‘s non-profit.

A World Fit For Kids focuses on Los Angeles public schools, promoting kids to stay in school and teaching about healthy foods. Together this duo is devoted to the wellness and health of children, yours or mine and I am in awe of their vision to create a better tomorrow.

As Kevin Sorbo says, “Cutbacks in our kids education is destroying our children’s faith in themselves and their ability to succeed. However, working together ‘We the People’ — like Ellamarie — may help get the government’s attention.”

Courtesy Ellamarie Fortenbach

This is truly a “Mom on a Mission,” like my friends at Healthy Child, Healthy Word like to tag. “Stay in school” is her motto. Easton and I are in such support of her and had so much fun cooking one of her more sweet treats the other day, Pumpkin Spice Truffles. Oh, the pleasure of food!

When we were cooking, Ellamarie said something in regards to her three daughters that has stayed with me — “I’d rather my children try many new things and just have fun trying. It is when we expect them to be perfect that stops them from wanting to try.”

Yikes! That rang true with me. So now more than ever I’m devoted to making a mess in the kitchen with Easton, PEOPLE.com. Giving her that power and encouragement to cook is truly building her confidence these days!

Courtesy Ellamarie Fortenbach

Join me in a newfound commitment to the family meal! Thank you Ellamarie, we love you! Cooking With Celebrities and Their Kids is going to be good for others, useful and entertaining what with the likes of Kevin Sorbo, Danny Glover, my personal pal Eva La Rue, Maria Canals-Barrera, Peyton List, Steve AzarJoey King, Ariel Winter, Kenton Duty and on and on; all of us cooking it up with our little ones!

P.S. Another special item I came across this week is the “Sleep Bear” my dear friend Sophie B. Hawkins made for her son. If you love her music as I do, you will flip over this bear that sings your kid to sleep with the warmth and tenderness of her familiar lullaby, “As I Lay Me Down.” She’s made it available to all on her personal website Sophiebhawkins.com. It’s the sweetest lovie around!

I love moms who do good things for kiddos! Tell me what you are up to ladies … what’s your vision for a better world these days?

Until next time…

– Elisabeth Röhm

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Showing 31 comments

michelle on

Elisabeth – I am curious as to why you don’t get married?

alicejane on

This post actually made me really nostalgic! I don’t have a lot of memories of my dad (he died when I was 13) and of the ones I have, many are negative. But one aspect of him that I have held on to dearly is that he always had a meal on the table for us and we had dinner as a family everyday. Dinner was often one of the only times during the day when he was relaxed and would joke with us.

Beautiful pictures of you and Easton, Elisabeth, and I love that you allow her to have fun in the kitchen!

Lou on

I like Elisabeth’s posts about parenting but another celebrity cookbook? Sorry, not interested.

Jenn on

I love Easton’s dress! I cook a lot of meals with my almost-4-year-old. I find that even if she’s not willing to eat the finished project, she’s willing to eat the veggies and whatnot as she throws them in!

Maggie Parkinson on

Totally agree with the idea of family dinners. What will your child have the fondest memories of in adulthood: being driven from one ‘enrichment’ activity to another, with a snatched bite of food in between, or relaxing and catching up with family over home-cooked meals?

Siera on

@michelle. Maybe because it’s she and her fiance’s decision on when they choose to get married.

m on

We have family dinner around the table every single night, and usually the kids help cook a few dishes per week. It’s how I grew up, and studies have repeatedly shown it to be beneficial for all involved. Not everything I make is fancy, but we are there, together, laughing.

One tradition we started is having the boys make dinner for the girls–my husband and son are in charge of dinner one night a week for my three girls and myself. They take such pride in it and it’s SO sweet!

c on

Great to see things promoting family cooking!

Courtney on

I grew up eating dinner every night with my family at the table, as did my husband. It’s harder for us now, with a toddler and a baby, and both working full time (our mothers didn’t work, so were home cooking the meal and had it on the table at 6 each night)but it is something I strive for more often than not. I cook a lot, as does my husband. But sometimes if I am feeding the baby at 5, and our toddler eats at 6, and we don’t eat until the kids go to bed, that is ok, too. BUT as my family grows, we will eat dinner together at the table every night we can. It’s just what we believe in.

Kim on

My mom cooked dinner every night for us. We would talk about our day and just visit. I love that Ellamarie is drawing attention to this fabulous tradition. Families CANNOT be too busy to spend time together and find out what’s going on in each others lives.

As a teacher, I know children have a lot going on too, and they need to know they can tell someone and have a place to do it. When we sit down to the dinner table and eat a meal together, it creates a new type of relationship.

The cooking time is also a great time to be together. Let your kids read to you or tell you about their day then as well, or let them help in the kitchen and be part of the meal making process. This will entice them to carry on the tradition when they have their own families. This is a wonderful way for families to connect!!

I like the emphasis on healthy eating as well. Kids are shuffled from one activity to another, grabbing a “quick bite”. And we wonder why obesity in children, and adults, is such a problem. Whatever happened to Mayberry and that slower lifestyle????

Kim on

I LOVE the idea of this cookbook. Some people won’t listen to anyone EXCEPT a celebrity. What a great idea for a celebrity to stand for family values and show them with their own families. I think this is a great and creative way to reach many people. I will buy this cookbook to share with my own niece!!

Elaine on

Our children are grown but we still have a family dinner every Sunday at our house. The kids are there every Sunday without fail. Doesn’t need to be fancy, bar-b-que, roast, tacos, doesn’t matter. It’s a great way to end the week before another hectic one!

Melisa on

Michelle–

I am curious as to why you think it is any of your business?? And read the article. It lists a “fiance”. @@

JessicaB on

is there another way to have dinner? unless the parents are working, i’m thinking this is how its done.

Bree on

I love the photos of you Elisabeth and your daughter Easton. You are so cute together!

I am sure Easton loves cooking with you.

Years ago, my sisters and I would help our mom prepare meals too. We shared a lot of love and laughter during those times together.

I think this cookbook by Ellamarie featuring celebrities cooking with their kids will strike a cord in the hearts of many. Memories of cooking with my mom along with my sisters and then sitting down to share the meal will always bring a smile to my face.

mimi on

i dont think the first comment by michelle (about why they aren’t married) was being snarky. it seemed like a genuine question to someone who is choosing to put a part of themselves out there online for everyone to read about. personally, i couldn’t care less why but obviously someone is curious and expressed this without being nasty.

anyway – i agree about family meals. we eat together every night and it’s lovely!

Mom from IL on

You & your daughter look so connected, that’s really what being a good parent is all about! The cookbook sounds great! You are correct that cooking, baking & eating meals together is always a wonderful way for families to share a necessary part of life. My son still lives at home and when his sister & fiance come over for a meal, he always makes sure he’s there to spend this time w all of us.

Robin on

I agree with Michelle. If Elisabeth is going to put herself out there with writing this blog, she can at least answer the question. Why doesn’t she get married? Is the guy that she is with really her fiance’ or is she just saying this to make herself look right in the reader’s eyes? Her child is almost 4 years old, how long is she going to use the fiancee’ excuse? I bet that she will never marry the guy.

sharise on

If you can’t have dinner, then do breakfast. It works for many of my military family friends.

Jillian on

Elisabeth answers questions posted here all the time, so she very well may address the marriage question.

I love cooking with my children. We have five children and I spend a lot of time cooking. My girls love cooking with me. I occassionally can get my boys to help out. We eat dinner together as much as possible, but sometimes can be a challange because of sports/activities. But, we made a committment that no child eats alone. So, we always sit with our children while they eat to catch up on their day. It is one of our favorite times!

Mommytoane on

Well, eating at the family table definately did not make some of us less judgemental. Michelle asked a simple, innocent question. Its time to drop it, move on and focus on the post at hand.

I grew up eating at the family table. It didn’t do anything for a family bond in my case, but its a rare case. With my daughter, until she was 8, we didnt actually get to have many family dinners. My husband worked a different shift, so was gone all afternoon and didn’t get much time with our DD cept on weekends. Weekends we always made it a special thing to cook and eat dinner together.

For me, its not just the eating together, its the cooking together that helps. Its in those messy, goofy moments where you actually learn a lot. I have learned that cooking, helps my daughter at school. Before she could really read, she was reconizing words on cans and boxes. By the time she was adding/subtracting…she was working with fractions, and volumes as well (shes 2grade levels ahead in math, 4 in reading) and its great for the texture/touch aspect of life too.

Honestly, for my family, I would say our biggest bond comes from the cooking of the meal, not the consuming of it. We have so much fun cooking, talking, playing and learning that by the time we eat, we’re just quietly eating our food and talking very little.

And I have to agree. ADORABLE dress!! Easton is always dressed so darn cute.

Karah on

I love cooking with my kids. My husband and I try to cook with them a few times a week (they are 4 and 6 and know how to make grilled cheese, eggs, cake, cupcakes and a few other things from scratch) and we eat together as a family every night. Sometimes schedules have to be rearranged (both kids and adults) but it’s important to us.

Janice D on

I think this is fantastic. I’ll bet there are lots of Mothers today that wish their Mother had spent more time with them in the kitchen. When I was young – I thought I hated dinner – there were seven of us at home and it always seemed so much trouble then–but now-WOW how I miss that one hour every night and wish I could re-live some of those great moments. If this brings one family closer – its worth every minute. Love ya EllaMarie- and keep up the good work. Hug your beautiful daughters for me…

Janice D on

We all love watching what celebrities wear and what they are doing and I think this is fantastic to see someone care for their children enough to spend time with them in the kitchen. I grew up in a family of 7 and the only time we all had together was at dinner – best memories were made then and should still be. We are all too busy today and slow down and enjoy life and our families. Kudos to you and Ellamarie. You are at the top of my list anyday…..Keep up the work Ellamarie -and hugs to your beautiful girls from Mississippi

Elisabeth Sjoli on

I think its great to have the kids help you out in the kitchen.Great quality time. a blog with heart elisabethsjoli.com

Jess B on

I love this story. We’ve started this tradition in our house too. I found out last night that even more fun together can be found in the cleanup after dinner! My daughter asked to do dishes with me. Yes, we (and the floor) got a little wet. But, I’ve never had so much fun or been sad when the last dish was done. Another great way to bond!

Rose Sommers on

Our mother was a great cook and close to all her children. Ellamarie Fortenbach is doing a great job in drawing attention to this tradition of the family cooking together. More family cooking shows and blogs like Elisabeth Röhm’s are great! Our children will grow up with good family memories…not to mention the happiness they will have in preparing a food dish of their very own! A great inexpensive way to bring family and friends together!

Kim on

I recently lost my husband to cancer but have fond memories of the dinners we had with our two kids (now 23 and 21) and they have those memories too. They watched their Dad (he worked out of the house) prepare dinner, when they were more cooperative (about Easton’s age) they would accompany him to the market and pick out veggies and he’d go over their vitamin count etal. and they were each into eating at an early age. Its funny, I hear women say this dinner together is hard because the kids get hungry and Daddy or Mommy doesn’t get home till seven…or whatever. Get the kid an apple and send him to his room to entertain himself. If he brings back the apple core (meaning its eaten) he gets dessert. There is no law on the books that toddlers can’t eat dinner at 8 or 9. Scoff if you will but my daughter was eating spicy eggplant at 2, and my son still makes the best omelettes in the world. Dinners have made us crazy close and they talk about Daddy cooking all the time.

Kelly Rae on

My husband and I are the proud parents of a 16 year old McKenna and a 18 year old son Austin and we have always beleived in family dinners, even if are children are not eating they sit with us and it is a great time to interact with our children. I run a daycare for the past 16years and it is very sad the amount of children that eat by themselves or in front of the t.v. Family dinners are great..if you don’t do them you should give it a try.

Henry H. on

Great idea for a cookbook. My experience has been that making a meal with the kids makes it taste that much better because it has an extra and special secret ingredient: TLC! I don’t mind cooking or planning a meal alone, but the idea of doing it with the kids and having some extra and eager little hands helping certainly makes it more memorable. Plus… they can’t complain they don’t like it — because they made it! Even the broccoli! I also bring the kids to the market to help instill healthy food habits early on. But sounds like a delish idea for a cookbook!…

VerBer on

One of the best skills you can teach a child is how to cook. If they participate, they will be willing to try new things. Easton is super cute.

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