Dinner: A Love Story and Smitten Kitchen

Dinner: A Love Story: It all begins at the family table combines cookbook with memoir, as author Jenny Rosenstrach describes how she learned to cook while valuing family meals as a newlywed, then how adding children changed the tenor of their meals, how having people over for dinner has changed as she’s grown into adult- and parenthood, and what her family has gained through years of eating and talking together.

I enjoyed the memoir part, and think that Rosenstrach’s insights were interesting, even though her approach and mine differ in many ways.  I also found some recipes that I’m eager to try.  Overall I think the most helpful part about the book is seeing how the family’s ideas about food and family dinner changed over time, and how they stayed the same.

If you enjoy food memoir/cookbooks, you’d probably like this one.

And on the subject of love-themed cooking memoirs, I should also mention The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.  I’ve been a fan of Deb Perelman’s blog for lo, these many years, so I was happy to see that she had put together a full cookbook.

Like her blog, the cookbook is well-written, with enough backstory to be interesting, but not so much that you say “yeah, yeah, get to the recipe.”

And the recipes.  Maybe it’s because I read it at 38.5 weeks pregnant but WOW.  Peach sour cream pancakes, maple bacon biscuits, baked ranchero eggs with blistered jack cheese and lime crema…it’s a good thing I’m not supposed to be on my feet much or I’d be cooking all this stuff at once and would gain another 20 pounds before the baby arrives.

Don’t worry, there are also healthy recipes, like one for a kale salad that even people who don’t like kale (and I know you are myriad even though it’s not cool to admit it) will love.

I really appreciate that Smitten Kitchen recipes don’t use extreme ingredients (at least they don’t seem extreme to me) and that Deb is a very detailed tester, so she doesn’t include steps that don’t matter, but if she does include a step you know you really need to do it.  As a chronic corner-cutting cook, I find that helpful.

I really enjoyed reading The Smitten Kitchen Cookbookand highly recommend it.

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