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Williams-Sonoma Family Meals: Creating Traditions in the Kitchen Hardcover – March 3, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“When as many as eighty-five percent of all American children don’t sit down and eat with their families at dinnertime, it’s vital that we teach our children the importance of a shared meal. Maria Helm Sinskey shows how deliciously you can introduce your children to the principles of caring for each other and the land by shopping at farmers’ markets and preparing fresh, local, organic, and seasonal meals.” Alice Waters, founder, Chez Panisse

“Maria Helm Sinskey is someone Iadmire greatly…a gracious host and gifted cook all rolled into one. Her new book Family Meals reflects her talent in the kitchen. She cooks intuitively, while remaining lighthearted and nurturing at the same time. recipes will make you feel right at home.” Thomas Keller, owner, The French Laundry

Family Meals is the perfect how-to book for families of all ages, exposing you to the importance of good ingredients, good nutrition, and good techniques. Those essential elements add up to great food for all.” Bobby Flay, chef, cookbook author, and owner, Mesa Grill

About the Author

Maria Helm Sinskey is a cookbook author, mother, noted chef, and Culinary Director at her family’s winery, Robert Sinskey Vineyards, in Napa Valley, California. She is a frequent contributor to Food & Wine, Bon AppŽtit, and Fine Cooking magazines. She celebrated the release of her first cookbook, The Vineyard Kitchen, in September 2003. Her many accolades include Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine and San Francisco Magazine’s Rising Star Chef in 1996. She is currently participating in the prestigious Masters of Wine program, and hopes to become the first notable chef to hold the Masters of Wine title. She believes strongly in the importance of the family table and eating locally and organically.


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Product Details

  • Series: Williams-Sonoma
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Oxmoor House; 1 edition (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0848732634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0848732639
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 1.5 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #937,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Many other reviewers have listed the recipes contained herein. Most are pretty lengthy in process. Few could be assembled in less than an hour. This book is beautiful to look at with an ample number of lush photographs. It promotes almost-lost traditions of baking homemade bread, cheese and pickles as well as making marshmallows from scrach, which taste and feel significantly different than those found in the plastic bags.

Who will love this book: Moderns and "country" cooks who enjoy the process of cooking and the time spent with family will love the ideas, photographs and suggestions. The pictures are reminiscent of a rustic style home in the country with a family featured throughout working together on the recipes. Whether most children would eat some of these recipes largely depends on your family. The food has an appeal as it is all "from scratch" and relies on whole foods and real ingredients to a large extent, however whole foods are not necessarily low-fat or whole grain. If you're opposed to packages mixes and the like, this is your style.

Who will not like this book: The health-conscious, whole-grain oriented, anti-sugar, modern, in a hurry to get dinner on the table, stressed-out mom with picky eaters. The recipes are a mix of old school and ethnic-flare, which is nice. However, if your kids are the mac 'n' cheese or pizza type, they will not eat most of these. Also, meal prep is way too long and the emphasis is on taking time to enjoy the preparation, rather than a quick meal, which is what the majority of moms I know are concerned about. The proverbial "soccer mom" will enjoy the pictures and never use the recipes. Also, most bread recipes rely on white flour and sugar is used without reservation.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Maria Helm Sinskey's latest offering, Williams-Sonoma Family Meals: Creating Traditions in the Kitchen, is an absolute delight. Those that want to start cooking from scratch, particularly cooking from scratch with children, will find this book invaluable. While the offerings are not encyclopedic - there are only about 100 recipes - some are truly unusual. Sinskey tells us how to make natural Easter egg dyes, smoke our own salmon, make jam, and produce fresh pasta.

I do have two quibbles with the book. I would label them "minor" but they are not. My academic background is in medical science and I've had lots of experience in medical microbiology. First, Sinskey recommends cooking pork chops "until light pink in the center" - pg. 215. I have huge problems with that. Current USDA regulations state that pork needs to be cooked to only 140 degrees Fahrenheit. However, CDC recommendations for pork are that it be cooked to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. The cysts that lead to trichinosis (found in pork and bear) are not killed at temperatures under 165 degrees Fahrenheit or so. Trichinosis is relatively rare in the US - about a dozen cases a year - but it is fairly common elsewhere. And it is deadly. Since so much of our food supply these days comes from outside of the US, I am hardpressed to consume pink pork and certainly would never recommend that anyone else do so.

My second quibble is similar. Sinskey includes instructions for producing your own homemade sourdough starter by catching a wild yeast. She starts with a bunch of grapes. (The bloom on the grapes contains yeast.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was torn about how to review this cookbook. It seems to be somewhat in between a working cookbook and art. It's definitely one of the most beautiful cookbooks I've owned, and as both a cook and a photographer, I can certainly appreciate all the artfully done photos that comprise a great deal of this book. You could probably even use this book as a coffee table book when not in use, as it's the type that people would just enjoy picking up and looking through. But I'm not sure that all the space used for photos really added to my ability to successfully step through these recipes, and for the size of the book, you get a fairly small number of recipes as a result, so as a cookbook, I felt it fell a bit short of what I look for. This is definitely not a book for cooks that want quick, easy meal to prepare. I don't mind preparing a meal that takes a little while on occasion, but a lot of these take so much time and steps that I'm not sure I'd ever get around to trying them (like making ricotta cheese). If you are the type of cook though that likes to try making all kinds of things from scratch, you would probably enjoy this book a lot. I do think it's the kind of book that would make a great gift as well, for the family approach to meals that it takes, and the lovely photography. It's definitely not the best book for someone who is looking for a really comprehensive set of recipes that cover a wide variety of ingredients and meals.
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Format: Hardcover
I have never bought a cookbook quite like this. The author is really selling us on a lifestyle, and I'm only too happy to jump aboard. Those that have reviewed and complained about the fussiness, or time consuming aspect of the recipes must be accustomed to microwaving TV dinners and shaking fish sticks out of a box onto a cookie sheet (there's a devine fish stick recipe in this book), because this cookbook doesn't contain anything all that elaborate. On the contrary all of the ingredients are readily available, nothing strange or unobtainable, and you can probably start cooking the day you get this book if you have a moderately stocked pantry.

If you find baking a loaf of bread to be too much of a time commitment, you need to overhall your mindset about cooking or skip this book. This book is about relationships, slowing down, and savoring the bountiful food we have available to us in season.

You will be enchanted by the photos (of which there are tons) and impressed by the fact that the author, her husband and her two children grace all the pages. You get to see them in action, cooking, engaging each other and making homemade stick to the ribs food.

I wouldn't call the recipes hyper healthful, and on the flip side I wouldn't categorize them as decadent and unhealthy. This book is all about seasonal comforts, tried and true delicious food. It spans a wide range of tastes, flavors, and food moods.

There are some rich foods, some light and fresh foods, and some strange and welcome recipes- such as marshmallows! I was sold when I saw the star shaped marshmallows bobbing around in a cup of hot chocolate.

I think the most impressive aspect of the book (and unique!) is that the author builds on each recipe.
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