Thursday, June 30, 2016

What I Learned From Dinner: A Love Story

Recently, I read Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstarch.  It had been lauded by some fellow bloggers and I snatched it up when I saw it at our local library. The book itself is a really lovely combination of memoir, cookbook, and meditation on what it means to be a family with a hectic life. Rosenstarch is judgment free and she chronicles her journey from a single woman with a busy career who ate a lot of takeout to a wife and mom of two who cooks dinner for her family every evening. I loved reading along as she tried out beloved family recipes, figured out how to cook on nights when she and her husband both got home late, and dealt with having picky toddler eaters.

While I loved reading the story, the recipes didn't do too much for me. At first this made me frustrated, but then I realized what it meant. Many of the recipes in the book are on the simpler side, like egg dishes or four ways to customize a homemade pizza dough recipe. I finally figured out that the recipes didn't grab me because I had grown as a cook.

I honestly had to push myself to write those words. I'm a cook. I'm someone who cooks (and bakes) for our family most nights. I bring homemade food to parties and events. I make cookies and breads that I made from scratch to people who are sick or going through tough times. But somehow I still have trouble with the concept. I never grew up as one of those kids who helps out in the kitchen. Husband and I got married when I was 20 and D was born not long after that. I cooked because someone had to and my schedule was more forgiving than my husband's.

That's not to say that there haven't been bumps along the way. I will forever laugh at the time when I didn't understand what a clove of garlic was and added an entire bulb to our salad. My lovely husband was doing his best to eat through the pain when I took my first bite, spat it out, and yelled "Why are you eating that?!?"

Now I am comfortable making (or at least trying) almost anything. I tend to shy away from recipes that call for obscure ingredients that I will never use again, but anything else is fair game. I bake homemade bread every week or two and I've made seafood a few times. I've made gnocchi from scratch.

I've made pies with a homemade crust. I have a go-to macaroni and cheese recipe and sometimes I put that delicious cheesy pasta inside of portabella mushroom caps, because I can. 

So I want to thank Jenny Rosenstarch and Dinner: A Love Story for making me realize that I can cook. I might even be a good cook. Just don't look at my disaster of a kitchen after dinner, ok?


  1. I don't know that I've heard of this before, but it sounds like a good read! I love your garlic story and I think it's awesome you've gotten to be a good cook :) I've managed to mess up even pasta when I first started cooking, but I'm getting there.

    1. I imagine that it's one of those things you keep building on. It was fun to think back on those first few tentative recipes and see how much progress you make over a few years.

  2. I love this post. I didn't grow up cooking either - my parents almost never did! - and my first forays in the kitchen were, er, questionable. I might have made an ex some near-inedible red velvet cupcakes one Valentine's Day. Now, though, I'm known for my baking and love taking on new challenges!

    It's fun to have a hobby that's both enjoyable and often so practical. I'm glad that this book helped you embrace this about yourself. :)

    1. It's so fun to be the lady who makes the great food, isn't it? I'm glad you've grown into your baking awesomeness!

  3. Love the way that you approached this Lindsey! I also really loved DALS but the recipes I tried weren't ones that I loved either. Still doesn't stop me from spouting my love for Rosenstratch (can't wait for her next book Celebrate Everything to come out!).

    And curious if you'd share your mac and cheese recipe! I've tried so many from scratch and just can't seem to get it right. Like when it's baked, the flour gets globby or pasty or something. Also--you should join Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking! :)