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54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for inspiration
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...
Published on August 27, 2012 by feminaformosa

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57 of 65 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining with some good recipes, but not my cup of tea...
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...
Published on November 3, 2012 by Pamela


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54 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for inspiration, August 27, 2012
This review is from: Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table (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. The author makes it clear that this is what works for her (one suggestion is assembly-line meals where kids can add what they want), but we're all doing what we can do to get by.

Unfortunately, not all the recipes I have tried have been winners. When evaluating a recipe, I like to follow it fairly closely initially. I am mostly cooking out of the second section of the book - the barely making it section - because that is where I am right now. Lazy Bolognese was a huge fail at my house- we usually use a different recipe that really isn't any harder but comes out much better. The pasta with caramelized onions and spinach was pretty good to me, but my husband and toddler daughter weren't nuts about it. The sausages with potatoes, onions, and apples was very successful. I don't even like potatoes that much, and I LOVED the potato, onion, and apple mixture. Downside about that recipe is that it takes a while to cook - not a lot of hands-on time, but waiting time, so if you are trying to really throw something on the table pretty quickly, it might not be for that kind of night. We do sausage a lot at our house, and it is definitely faster to just throw it in the oven and then boil potatoes or "bake" them in the microwave. Does it taste as good as the potatoes/apples/onions? No, it does not. But it is fast. The sausage, kale, and white bean stew was INCREDIBLE. That said, there are other recipes that I still want to try - like the Swedish Meatballs, the pork shoulder ragu, and the pizza dough recipe. The recipes definitely lend themselves to improvisation and adjustment.

I am not sure if all the recipes are on the website - some of them definitely are.

Who will like this cookbook:

- People with small children who feel totally alone and frustrated in their attempts to eat something approximating a real dinner. I love the precision and delicious reliability of Ina Garten's cookbooks, but this is so not where I am at this point right now.
- People who eat meat and/or animal products - there are vegetarian recipes and some veganish recipes,
- People who eat a dairy-free diet (many of the recipes are easily adaptable to be dairy-free, not the case with some of my other favorite cookbooks like Ina Garten's or the Pioneer Woman)
- People who like the blog
- People who believe strongly in the family eating meals together
- People who need new ideas for dinner

Who probably won't like this cookbook:

- People without kids who are uninterested in reading stories about trying to eat dinner with kids or who feel frustrated at the standard definition of family as parents + kids. In the author's defense, this is what her family looks like, and the book is written from her perspective. She never says that all families should or do look this way, but I know people who are very sensitive to this kind of thing. So if this is you, you might want to try a different cookbook.
- People who like standard "meat and three" kinds of meals. I think my husband is in this category, which is why the recipes are less of a hit than I would have hoped.
- Vegans (again, you will find some appropriate recipes, but most of the recipes have some kind of animal product in it).
- People who like to rely on processed and packaged foods when cooking
- People who do a lot of crockpot cooking (you could adapt some recipes for the crockpot, but I don't think the author mentions using a crockpot once in the book)
- People who want dessert recipes
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely reinvigorated my meal planning, June 24, 2012
This review is from: Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table (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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57 of 65 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining with some good recipes, but not my cup of tea..., November 3, 2012
This review is from: Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table (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. Of course, as with anything, you can take other people's parenting advice with a grain of salt, but it bothered me how strongly she pushes this.

Lastly, but most importantly - the food! The recipes are a pretty decent collection of the basics with some more exotic ideas interspersed throughout. They are very accessible and straightforward. I didn't find the recipes especially healthy or unhealthy - there's a nice mix of splurge meals and everyday workhorse type meals. If you are starting from scratch in cooking for your family and don't have your "back pocket recipes", this could be a very useful addition to your collection. For me, as a moderately experienced cook before kids, with a good recipe collection of the basics (breaded chicken, red sauce, risottos, etc.) I wasn't as interested in the recipes, because they were for the most part variations of what I already had. That being said, I found a couple keepers and I do think the cookbook is worth a read - I would just check it out from the library first to make sure it's your style. Hope this helps.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Inspiring. Get the hard copy instead of electronic., July 24, 2012
By 
RK "RK" (Minneapolis, MN) - See all my reviews
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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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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't even THINK of raising kids without this book, June 6, 2012
This review is from: Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table (Hardcover)
Jenny's blog -- and now THE book!!! -- is the go-to when you're feeling incompetent and fraudulent in your parenting ability. Here you'll find a friend, a kindred spirit. She gets it. Jenny doesn't pretend that her kids enjoy eating the same meal; that she doesn't eye the tater tots on a regular basis; or that she enjoys having her kids "help" prepare dinner. Her intrepid approach actually (gulp) makes me want to prepare my family's meals with regularity. A fun and super-clever read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I Wanted To Love This Book, May 22, 2013
This review is from: Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table (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. The recipes were a bit more adventurous and healthy than typical family fare, which I liked. She also portrays and teaches the give and take between recipes and freestyle cooking technique as well as any author I've read. For those reasons, this would make a great gift as a cookbook for a new bride or a mom wanting to transition to home cooked meals.

This book fell flat for me as a cookbook memoir because of the sheer volume of parenting advice that assumes children will upend the entire family for years with their sleeping and eating habits. It gave the book a split personality in both content and writing style. You can proactively parent, just like you proactively make dinner. If she had chosen to present their parenting style as a choice with both good and bad consequences (like she did her choice to pursue a writing career full time after having kids), I wouldn't have knocked a star off my review.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jenny is someone special..., June 5, 2012
This review is from: Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table (Hardcover)
And it comes through in this funny, heartfelt book.

Building a family isn't something you do all at once, and Jenny shares her story with humor and insights into the ups and downs (and recipes!).

I really enjoyed it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific addition to the family dinner memoir genre. Loved it., October 4, 2012
By 
L. H. (SD United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table (Hardcover)
I have kept a book list for nearly 20 years now. I started it in January of 1993 and have kept it up ever since. (In reality, I started it in 1992, but for whatever reason when I decided it was a "real" thing I tossed those random months that didn't go back to January. Argh.) I thought this was impressive, my list of 40, or 60 or 80 books a year. (My annual reading tops out at 116 books in 1999.) Jenny Rosenstrach has me beat though. She has a list of every dinner she's eaten for the last 14 years. Sure, it's not as many years, but it's every day! Every one of them! I can only aspire to such things.

Even without my awe at the Dinner Journal, Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table is a terrific book. It's one of those mixes of memoir, how-to, self-help and cookbooks that come together in a terrific book. (I had a similar reaction to A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table and The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time . Rosenstrach's goal is to get the reader to see that making dinner for a family doesn't have to be a painful, heavy obligation. You can learn to love having dinner without being a terrific chef or a stay at home Martha Stewart. There's no guilt to not eating together every night, if little kids need to eat an early dinner, so be it. Once they learn a few manners, everyone can sit together. Mostly. In either case, dinner should be pleasant, and not a chore. The book is full of pictures from the author's actual life, of both the food and her family. Its a nice book, full of text, but not heavy and preachy about what you should and shouldn't been feeding your kids. I completely enjoyed it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and Inspiring, June 9, 2012
This review is from: Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table (Hardcover)
As a reluctant cook, who considers dinner a bit of a chore, I am inspired by Jenny and am finding the joy in the experience. She gives you guidance without the guilt. I love this book!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Chatty and disorganized, July 26, 2014
By 
Withheld (Parma Heights, OH United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table (Hardcover)
This book caught my eye because I find it a constant challenge to get dinner on the table for or family of five. There is a lot of chatty advice and support for parents who want to do a better job with dinner. I enjoyed the autobiographical snapshots of the author's life...to a point. After a while there was just too much of the author--her fabulous magazine publishing career, her vacation plans, her Brooklyn-to-suburbs move, her fascinating friends, etc etc ad nauseum. I'll try some of the recipes, but there's not much new here for reasonably competent cooks. And it's organized by the author's life phases, which is impractical when you want to page through dinner entrees looking for a recipe to make. Overall, not a very useful book.
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Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table
Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table by Jenny Rosenstrach (Hardcover - June 5, 2012)
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