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Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table Hardcover – June 5, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 161 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Jenny Rosenstrach writes about food and family with such a marvelous spirit of warmth, friendship and-most importantly-pragmatism that you simply can’t help but fall in love with her. As long as people keep having kids, jobs, marriages and appetites, this cookbook is destined to remain a classic.” (Elizabeth Gilbert, Bestselling author of EAT, PRAY, LOVE)

“Part cookbook, part survival guide, Dinner: A Love Story has all of Jenny’s favorite meal ideas, suppertime tips, and cook’s secrets (read: cocktails) that help make dinner fun again” (Everyday Food)

“[Rosenstrach] entertains with her wonderful writing skills, persuades by sharing her successful strategies, and educates via research and relayed experience… this book shines.” (Library Journal)

“A humorous and encouraging book for readers who believe in the importance of family dinnertime.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“I can’t decide which I like more—reading this book or cooking from it. Jenny is that rare writer who can literally make you laugh and cry—and most importantly, she inspires you to stop just talking about dinner and start making it.” (Adam Rapoport, Editor in Chief, Bon Appétit)

“Rosenstrach emphasizes her strong belief that the family who eats together stays together and combines stories and recipes in this essential collection.” (Publishers Weekly)

Dinner gives me hope that one day my family will also assemble around an actual table and eat an actual meal that was actually cooked by me; a meal not solely comprised of animal shaped cheese crackers dipped in hummus. Although those are good too.” (Samantha Bee, Most Senior Correspondent, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and bestselling author of I Know I Am But What Are You?)

“Warm, funny, packed with recipes and photos, and reassuringly nonjudgmental, it will help inspire the most faint-hearted of cooks to pre-heat the oven.” (Gretchen Rubin, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Project)

“The family dinner, that forum for manners, taste-making, storytelling, and memorable arguments, is no small subject. Jenny Rosenstrach tackles it with gusto as she shares her fascinating story of learning to feed her family....[N]ot only a wonderful read, but a book studded with excellent recipes and tips.” (Amanda Hesser, co-founder of FOOD52.com)

“…compelling…more than just another cookbook. We love Rosenstrach because her writing is natural, honest, and smart” (Bon Appétit)

“At first glance, it’s a cookbook, based on a blog, by Jenny Rosenstrach, a magazine columnist and editor who lives outside New York City. But really, it’s a memoir, and also a how-to manual: a smart, pragmatic, warm and thoughtful guide…” (Wired.com)

From the Back Cover

Jenny Rosenstrach, and her husband, Andy, regularly, some might say pathologically, cook dinner for their family every night. Even when they work long days. Even when their kids' schedules pull them in eighteen different directions. They are not superhuman. They are not from another planet.

With simple strategies and common sense, Jenny figured out how to break down dinner—the food, the timing, the anxiety, from prep to cleanup—so that her family could enjoy good food, time to unwind, and simply be together.

Using the same straight-up, inspiring voice that readers of her award-winning blog, Dinner: A Love Story, have come to count on, Jenny never judges and never preaches. Every meal she dishes up is a real meal, one that has been cooked and eaten and enjoyed at least a half dozen times by someone in Jenny's house. With inspiration and game plans for any home cook at any level, Dinner: A Love Story is as much for the novice who doesn't know where to start as it is for the gourmand who doesn't know how to start over when she finds herself feeding an intractable toddler or for the person who never thought about home-cooked meals until he or she became a parent. This book is, in fact, for anyone interested in learning how to make a meal to be shared with someone they love, and about how so many good, happy things happen when we do.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 5.6.2012 edition edition (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062080903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062080905
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Jenny Rosenstrach is the creator of Dinner: A Love Story, the website devoted to family dinner, and the coauthor of Time for Dinner: Strategies, Recipes, Inspiration for Family Meals Every Night of the Week. For four years, she was the features director at Cookie magazine and special projects editor at Real Simple. Her essays and articles have appeared in numerous national publications and anthologies including Martha Stewart Living, Whole Living, and the New York Times. She is the author, with her husband, Andy Ward, of "The Providers," a column in Bon Appétit. She and her family live in Westchester County, New York.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When I first started reading this cookbook (because yes, there is lots of potential for reading here), I was in love. I like the blog that started it all, so decided to check out the cookbook. Reading it is a delight- so many stories that tell you that the author has really been in the trenches when trying to put dinner on the table for her family with two kids under two years old. She specifically mentions that she counted it as eating around the table if one spouse was walking around the table holding the baby and the other spouse is sitting at the table trying to get the toddler to eat. I definitely laughed in recognition and then made my husband read the "Two under Two" section.

I easily made a whole week's meal plan using recipes from it. The book is mostly recipes for main dishes- if you are looking for lots of dessert recipes or sides, I think you will be disappointed. The recipes are organized into three sections:

1) recipes that are great when you don't have kids but have more time to craft a delicious meal
2) recipes that are suitable when you are just barely surviving with tiny kids and the idea of organized dinner seems to be a laughable pipe dream
3) recipes that are better when the kids are older and you have a little more time back, and the idea of everyone eating around the table seems doable.

Each section has lots of stories and anecdotes that really add to the loveliness and warmth of this book. The third section also has lots of tips and strategies that the author has put into place to avoid being a short-order cook for her children (one of whom is very picky). None of these tips involve hiding vegetables.
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Format: Hardcover
This book reads like a novel and is pretty entertaining. The author's adventures in dinner prep and anecdotes about her daughters are fun and keep the book moving. The recipes integrate seamlessly into the text, which makes for a nice reading experience. And there are some family dining tips I really found useful - like how to get the non-cook involved with dinner preparation. However, it is not organized very efficiently for daily use in the kitchen. It is divided into 3 sections: life before kids, new parents, and family dinner, and I found it difficult to flip through to browse for recipes or meal plan efficiently. To me, the book is best for reading through, picking the recipes that are of interest to you, and then adding them to your collection. It's not the kind of book you go back to repeatedly. I got it from the library and feel like I got what I needed from it without purchasing it.

Purely subjective, but...I was not a fan of her parenting advice or attitude. I was never a reader of her blog - if I was, perhaps I would have known whether I liked her style of writing. By the end of this book, the tone really started to irritate me. It may not be an issue for you, but you should know that this is a cookbook with a lot of the writer's voice and opinions in it.

As other reviewers have mentioned, the family dining advice is sort of controversial. The author encourages families to serve two separate meals - one for the adults and one for the kids, until the youngest reaches the age of 3. Aside from the fact that for most people, this would not actually make dinnertime easier, this is pretty much counter to all childhood nutritional advice I've ever read.
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2 Comments 75 of 84 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
I admit: I usually check out books like this from the library, which is how I read it in the first place. However, we've already used at least 6 of the recipes (all of which were a hit with my 9 year-old), and it's just such a pleasant read, it's nice to select a recipe and then recall the back-story. So, she's getting my money - which in my time of frugality, is saying something. Can't believe I actually planned - and shopped for - a week's menu, and it was a pleasure! So nice to inject some fresh ideas into our weeknight repertoire, especially. Highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Lots of fun ideas - not only recipes, but about how to think about dinner and weave it into your family's daily life. Reminds me that even though it can be lot of work, it's enjoyable, and it's an investment in your family's health and emotional life. And what could be more important? One suggestion for other Kindle Users - I would suggest NOT purchasing this as an e-book, but getting the physical copy instead. You will want to reference the recipes, and that's hard to do with an electronic version.
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Format: Hardcover
The premise of this book was fantastic: Dinner is a love story, a way to connect with and strengthen your family. Like the author, I have a passion for the family dinner hour, and was excited to get a copy of the book.

What I liked:
*She enjoys food and cooking. This is not a "since-I-have-to-cook" book.

*The food writing is crisp, clear, and inviting.

*She cooks every night even during the years she worked a long day with a commute. Impressive!

*She loves her husband and enjoys his input and company in the kitchen. This was HUGE for me.

*The dishes range in complexity and price point and reflect the real-life kitchen of a foodie. I appreciated the recipes that were twists on standard family fare especially.

*She is opinionated. I don't agree with some of her opinions, but I enjoy a writer that that doesn't apologize, candy coat, or backpedal.

What I didn't:
* Her parenting advice and anecdotes are as prominent as the recipes for much of the book. She portrays herself and her husband as a victim of her children's erratic sleep and eating habits and chronicles their various contortions to accommodate them. For a proactive parent, this was a frustrating read.

*Making dinner every night seemed to be her personal litmus test for being a good wife and mom. I realized about halfway through the book that a sit-down home cooked dinner is the end goal, not the means to an end.

*I would have loved a more extensive pantry list.

*Wow, there are a LOT of seafood recipes.

Overall impression:

This was a book I expected to love given the title and publisher blurbs. She kept her focus laser-sharp on family dinner.
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