Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'm in love

I'm in love. With a book.

It's not the first time I've been in love with a book and it's not likely to be the last given my book obsession, but for now this book can rest easy that for at least the next several weeks it has my undying devotion.

For those of you who have been following along, (you should know that I enjoy writing as though people are actually reading, even though in truth it matters little to me whether they are or not... make sense?) anywhooooo (have you- my hypothetical reader- also noticed my inordinate attachment to paranthetical phrases and parentheses in general? No? Well, hold on to your Strunk & White's Elements of Style because there are more coming up).

Again, anywhoooo....for those of you who have been following along, you will remember that this little blog adventure all started with a book. Not this book, a different book, but a book nonetheless. Books are frequently the source of my best and worst ideas. Anyway, today's post isn't about that book, we will get to that book, it is about a book I found as the result of the first book, the book we aren't talking about today. Are you with me?

The object of my affection is this book. And given the fact that I've been pretty candid about the fact that the Family Dinner is my Achilles heel of homemaking, you might find it to be a case of opposites attract. You'd be right.


But this is no ordinary God-Save-The-Family-Dinner manuscript. There is no shaming, no guilt-inducing lectures, no "how easy was that?" Barefoot Contessa table settings, and no recipes requiring ingredients that can only be ordered on the Internet. And did I mention the writing is superb?

There is all of that and so much more, but really this Patron Saint of Family Meals, Jenny Rosenstrach, had me at the Introduction which she titled "Notes from Jenny" and is essentially a bullet-pointed disclaimer as to what you will not find in her book. Each one of them is excellent, draws you in, makes you smile, and gives you faith that this is a person you want to hear more from, but in truth, it only took the very first "Note" to have me clicking the "BUY" button on Amazon.

You will not find dire warnings that your children are going to become meth addicts if you're not eating with them five nights a week.

It was then that I felt the crushing weight of guilt I had laid on my own shoulders begin to lift. Then my next move (as my new, lighter self) was to launch the Jenny Rosenstrach Fan Club, declare myself her #1 Fan and have T-shirts made up. It might have been overkill but love knows no boundaries.

Having now worked my way through over half of this brilliant book, I am still every bit as enthralled. I am charmed by her anecdotes, inspired by her recipes and feeling ever so much less guilty for the periods of time when my efforts at sustaining the Family Meal have been less than stellar. I honestly didn't think it was possible for a book written to promote the Family Dinner to do anything but instill a high level of shame and guilt for anything less than consistent, nightly, homecooked, organic, farm-raised, grown in your own vegetable garden while your daughter provides background music on the piano she taught herself to play because she was never allowed to watch television, family meals. But this book doesn't.

I leave you with these words from Jenny herself, given to you by way of her #1 Fan:
All I hope for with DALS [Dinner: A Love Story], really, is to provide recipes and strategies that inspire you to keep fighting the fight. I know how many reasons there are to fly the flag of surrender. Believe me, I know! Your kids refuse to eat anything, your fridge is full but your brain is blank, you don’t know how to cook, you have no desire to cook, you have a big project due tomorrow, you have no help with the cooking or the planning, you can’t even get everyone seated at the table at the same time, let alone eating the same meal. These are all legit, of course, but if you’re here reading this, it probably means that somewhere in the back of your mind you feel a little bad about your dinner situation. I’m not saying you should feel bad about it. (On DALS, you will never read those studies saying that kids who don’t eat family dinner will, you know, be gobbling handfuls of ecstasy by sixth grade.) What I’m saying is that there are things you can do — really easy things — that will make you feel a lot less bad about yourself when it comes to feeding your kids. You have my word: I will not be asking you to cook from scratch every single night — or even every other night. The only thing I will ask you to do is to stay in the game.
You got it, Jenny. I'm staying in the game.


Your #1 Fan


  1. What a great resource. Going back to work full time next week has me worried about dinner. Might have to take a look at this.

  2. Mindee- I don't know if this book will offer much more than you already know (being an excellent meal planner yourself) but I do know you would enjoy it very much and would likely give you some great new recipes to try. It's one of those books that is part narrative, part cookbook- and completely entertaining.