Local family beats the quarantine blues with themed dinners

Local family beats the quarantine blues with themed dinners
The Organeks have been organizing themed family dinners for four weeks to bring the family closer together. (Courtesy photo)

By Cody Mello-Klein | cmelloklein@alextimes.com

The repetitive routine of days spent at home during the pandemic calls for creative solutions, and one local family has found a way to break up the drudgery of quarantine life.

Four weeks ago, the Organeks held a family dress-up night. Kelley Organek and her husband brought out their wedding china for the second time ever, and the couple and their three children dressed in their finest formal wear.

That night, the Organeks had an idea: What if every week, the family had a themed dinner with special dishes and costumes?

“During that dinner, we started talking about how it would be fun to have something to be thinking about all week and being creative about and bringing the family together,” Kelley Organek said.

The last four weeks, Saturday dinners at the Organek house have been based around a different theme, selected by one member of the family. Each member of the family is responsible for one course of the meal, and each course has to be related to theme for that night’s meal.

“We’re really spending more time together cooking,” Organek said. “It’s bringing us together during a time when we’re forced to be home together. It’s just something that we’re all working on and it’s uniting the family in a new way.”

The first week, their 11-year-old daughter chose to theme the meal after one of Netflix’s biggest social distancing-era hits: the documentary series, “Tiger King.”

The second week, their son chose a sports theme. The three kids wore their favorite jerseys, Organek dressed up as a soccer mom and her husband, who has gone all out for every family dinner, dressed up as a 1970s news anchor to interview his kids.

“My husband really loves Halloween, so this is like Halloween every week,” Organek said. “He has a lot of fun. And he makes a lot of things – he sews – he really has very high-quality craftsmanship when it comes to making these things.”

The third week of the Organeks’ family themed dinners, the family dressed up as characters from “Napoleon Dynamite.” (Courtesy photo)

The weekly event has also provided a creative jolt for their 13-year-old son, who has found a new passion in the kitchen.

“He just finished family and consumer science at the middle school, so he loved that class,” Organek said. “He definitely, during the stay-at-home [order], learned to cook a lot more things.”

The third week was all about the film “Napoleon Dynamite,” courtesy of the Organeks’ high-school-age daughter, and the meal took full advantage of the film’s unique palette, featuring a mix of quesadillas, tater tots, steak and a dessert casserole.

This past week the meal was themed around the Spice Girls, and, now, the themes are decided through family consensus.

More recently, the Organeks have brought their weekly family festivities to the neighborhood, sitting outside, in full costume, and chatting with their neighbors – at a distance of course.

The Organeks’ family dinners aren’t going to cure the pandemic or completely deter the quarantine blues, but, for Kelley Organek, bringing a little bit of variety to the week is a welcome relief right now.

“It’s just really fun,” she said.

Right now, that just might be enough.