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Dinner: The Playbook: A 30-Day Plan for Mastering the Art of the Family Meal Paperback – August 26, 2014
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“Your hard-to-please crew will wolf down these inventive ways to introduce ‘fancy’ foods. Jenny Rosenstrach created them for her family, and she swears you’ll be shocked by the clean plates. . . . Dinner: The Playbook mixes ‘You can do this’ inspiration, practical planning, and easy recipes [with] hard-earned wisdom for getting a kid-pleasing meal on the table, night after night.”—Redbook
“The master of simple, low-stress cooking. You might know her from her blog, Dinner, A Love Story; her new book, Dinner: The Playbook, is full of the same secret strategies for busy women.”—Glamour
“Families and novice cooks who accept Rosenstrach’s challenge will definitely find a few ‘keepers’ here.”—Library Journal
“Jenny Rosenstrach has truly mastered the art of the happy family dinner. This is the most sensible advice on cooking for kids I’ve ever seen: no gimmicks, no tricks, just practical advice for working parents. I wish this book had been around when my son was small.”—Ruth Reichl
“This book is for anyone who loves the promise of a home-cooked dinner but gets bogged down by the day-to-day reality of it: picky kids, picky spouses, the extinction of the nine-to-five workday, and the pressure—oh, the pressure—to get it on the table before everyone collapses into a hangry (hungry + angry) meltdown. Which is to say that this book is for me, me, me. And I bet it’s for you too.”—Deb Perelman, author of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
“Well, Jenny Rosenstrach, on the behalf of my whole family, thanks for the most practical—and yet still inspired—cookbook on our shelf. You are singularly responsible for my return to the kitchen.”—Kelly Corrigan, author of Glitter and Glue
“Jenny Rosenstrach is warm, wise and a genius when it comes to dinners. . . . As a mother of two young children, I was always racked with guilt when serving hummus and crackers for dinner or suggesting yet another night of scrambled eggs. But this brilliant guide is—no exaggeration—changing my life. I was more than happy to let Jenny be my boss for thirty days and whip me—and my family’s dinner—into shape. Think of this book as the world’s most delicious boot camp.”—Joanna Goddard, blogger, A Cup of Jo
About the Author
Jenny Rosenstrach is the creator of Dinner: A Love Story, the award-winning website devoted to family dinner, and the New York Times bestselling author of Dinner: A Love Story (Ecco), Dinner: The Playbook (Ballantine), and How to Celebrate Everything (Ballantine). She was the features director at Cookie magazine for four years and special projects editor at Real Simple for six. Her essays and articles have appeared in numerous national publications and anthologies, including The New York Times Book Review, Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, Whole Living, and the op-ed page of The New York Times. She has appeared on NPR’s Weekend Edition and NBC’s Today. She and her husband, Andy Ward, write the Providers column for Bon Appétit. They live with their two daughters in Westchester County, New York.
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Having “A 30-Day Plan for Mastering the Art of the Family Meal” could be just the answer. Unfortunately, Dinner: The Playbook does not provide the help that it promises. Instead the author has made the process of meal planning even more complex. She instructs the reader to start out the meal planning adventure by serving thirty different meals in a row. Forget about leftovers, forget about repeating family favorites. Then the already harried cook is supposed to keep a report card, getting feedback from every family member on every meal. If this hasn’t put off the average reader yet, Rosenstrach then proceeds to list ingredients that she insists should be in every kitchen “if the budget allows.” Things like anchovies, miso, fish sauce, and chile paste. While these are fine add-ons, they seem like a rather strange list of things for readers who are struggling just to get to basic family meals most days of the week.
There are some good things in the book; I especially liked the Prep for the Week section. Overall, however, the text is disorganized, and the chatty style became pretty tiring pretty quickly. The recipes range from overly simplistic (an omelet that, strangely for a “family” cookbook, serves only one since her kids “don’t eat eggs” and a basic marinara sauce that includes enough processed tomatoes that there seems to be no reason to go to the effort when one could just as easily purchase a prepared marinara or other spaghetti sauce) to 11 ingredient barbecue sauce and chicken with peanut curry sauce recipes that are time-consuming enough that it seems odd to find them in the “Go-To Weeknight Meals” section.
Overall, it is hard to think of an audience to whom I would recommend this book. If you do like the writer’s style, you would be better off just going to her blog and getting her regular posts there, rather than trying to struggle through this.
So, after reading the Dinner A Love Story blog and cookbook, I have not been disappointed by content of Dinner The Playbook. And, the direct and 'simple' combination of recipes, commentary, and ideas represented. The most valuable evidence for feeding a family does not come out of test kitchens and recipes by committee. They come from actual practice and valuing that time around the table with quality food preparation and ingredients. And, repetition sometimes is necessary when you're tired and desperate. I would have yearned for my mother to have had this book and not be afraid of trying something new and making a shopping list for a week and not a day…..we even had a garden!
Yes, there is food porn and butter and a long and winding road. But, what the first book and blog taught me was how nourishment is vital and primary to raising my family. The ancient poet, Rumi, wrote that the two highest spiritual practices are cooking and tending animals. For those who remember M.F.K. Fisher's food columns/essays on the importance of clarified butter sitting in the refrigerator, this book may not fit the bill. But, for those who talk the talk, must walk the walk….from the refrigerator to the stove, from the salad spinner to the oven and have a wonderful seven day menu for the family that you actually secretly love even though they may intimidate you and so we fall back on frozen pizza and fish sticks!! Knowledge lessens anxiety. Having Jenny Rosenstrach's 30 day plan can be a life-saver and the kids will feel that and know that…and that it's not been a drive by dinner….and because I am calmer, the kids may wonder what's going on and seeing some "Joy" in cooking and less of the Ordeal of the Evening Meal.
I don't want my kids to grow up with Cajun food ("Everything was Blackened") and pass that on….oh, I forgot the stove was on!!!???!!! This book isn't about developing another generation of foodies but showing how a plan can also convey another way of expressing love.
Most recent customer reviews
But there are a few I can't wait to try.
And I don't have any young children at home any more.