The item at the tippy top of my Christmas list was the Dinner: A Love Story cookbook. Odds are, you have heard of and hopefully read the blog. If not, here’s the crash course. It’s written by Jenny Rosenstratch and occasionally her husband, Andy Ward. Jenny has written for Cookie, Martha Stewart, Real Simple, and Bon Appetit, and Andy writes for GQ. They have two young kids, and the blog is aimed at parents trying to make simple, but still healthy and interesting, meals. They believe strongly in the family dinner, and have managed to make it happen even when their girls were very young and both worked long hours. Their zeal for their family’s time together and their collective writing resumes are enough to have sold me, but it’s the warmth, humor and self-deprecation that make this blog so addictive. Jenny and Andy’s relationship is at once incredibly sweet and oh-so-familiar in their gentle needling of each other. (A recent favorite line, by Andy: “At this point, I threatened to add roasted red peppers, but Jenny shot my sh*t down.”). And here’s the snippet that sold John on DALS, Andy replying to a male fan of Jenny’s, some fella named Keenan:
“Jenny, you are the best. I hope that husband of yours appreciates how lucky he has it.” Memo to Keenan: Yeah, that husband of hers does appreciate how lucky he has it. But also: KEEP YOUR DISTANCE, BRO.”
Let’s just say “keep your distance, bro” has entered the John lexicon, on heavy rotation.
Of course, the recipes are excellent as well, and you certainly don’t have to have kids to thoroughly enjoy them. I have made quite a few, (this is a favorite) and have pretty much all of them bookmarked. So, that brings us to the cookbook. It actually reads more like a memoir, and not a traditional cookbook, which I love, because I’ll take as much of Jenny’s writing as I can get. There is always a story behind the recipe, and about 10 pages in I felt like part of the family… or, more to the point, just really REALLY want to be, for reasons such as… they call their 5:30 cocktail, which became non-negotiable once they had a baby and a toddler, their “medicine”. They make these bumper stickers… (which you can order on the blog).
To tell the whole truth, I’m only about halfway through the book, because I want to make it last… but I already know it’s in my top 5 favorite books… like, ever. In case it’s not completely clear, I recommend you buy it. Now. Oh, and here is what may be my favorite part of the book, Jenny’s acknowledgement to Andy.
“Your daughter said it best when she noted the the moment you enter the house after work is like the part in every song when the beat kicks in. I couldn’t have said it any better, except I might extend that metaphor to my life in general.”
I think if a blog and cookbook can make me believe in love, marriage, and family dinner, it’s worth almost any price. Luckily, it’s only $30… go get yours and feel inspired.