Dinner: A Love Story [Cookbook Review]

Posted 31 January, 2015 by Trish in In the Kitchen, Mommyhood / 23 Comments

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Dinner: A Love StoryTitle: Dinner: A Love Story
Author: Jenny Rosenstratch
Published: 2012 Pages: 336
Food Type: Family Friendly (but varied)
Rating: Total Adoration with a caveat

On Amazon | On Goodreads | On Indiebound

In Short: Half memoir, half cookbook – Jenny Rosenstratch takes a look at the evolution of her dinner table from before her two kids, during the baby years, through the time when dinner magic finally occurred. She and her husband (but mostly Jenny) also write a blog of the same title.

The Layout: I’ve owned this book for two years and found it absolutely overwhelming. When flipping through the book, it’s tough to find order to the recipes included (and there’s no index in the beginning that lists the recipes in order). I made a few interesting sounding dishes and they were OK but not mindblowing. My love for DALS came when I finally sat down with the book and read it cover to cover more as a memoir than a cookbook. Jenny takes her reader on a journey from when she and her husband courted and started their dinner tradition all the way to their current dinners with two middle age daughters.

While it still makes it difficult to pick up the book and just flip to a recipe, reading through the book in its entirety helped give the story and recipes flow and I found myself loving the look at Jenny’s family dinners. I don’t agree with all of her suggestions–for example she fed her kids separate or dumbed down meals until they were over three–often eating dinner with her husband after the kids went to bed. This is not how we roll in our house. We all eat almost the same foods and certainly all at the same time. By the time the girls go to bed (around 8), I do not want to be eating a separate meal. I want the kitchen to be entirely clean so that I can just sit down and relax.

Dinner: A Love Story

What I did love, though, was Jenny’s very frank discussion of motherhood, as a working mom and later as a more flex-work at home mom. It is exhausting, but it can be so rewarding. And while my kiddos are too young to be involved in activities in the evenings, I do greatly value the time at the dinner table and hope to continue to make it an important part of our daily routine for as much as I can. I loved the photographs that show real life. I loved her humor, her philosophy of getting everyone (especially) the littles involved, and her suggestions for how to make it all work.

There’s too much to talk about here. Pick up a copy from the library and browse through it, but if you buy a copy, do yourself a favor and actually read through it. I think you’ll appreciate the book on a much higher level.

What I made: And here’s the caveat. I didn’t love everything that I cooked. Mostly the chicken recipes. I struggle so much cooking flavorful and tender chicken breasts that I just don’t do it very often. We did have some homeruns, though, and several that I still have bookmarked to make. There is a TON of variety in this book!

Left: Bacony Chicken and Brussels Sprouts. Chicken lacked flavor and I’m the only one who eats Brussels sprouts. Whatevs.

Middle: Pork Ragu. Amazing. I froze half of it so we’ll see how it thaws. Plus, have I mentioned how much love my new Dutch Oven? Recipe on DALS Website

Right: Great Grandma Turano’s Meatballs (and sauce). Delicious and we had enough meatballs to freeze. Next time I’ll make more sauce to freeze. Recipe on DALS Website

Dinner: A Love Story

Also, Baked Chicken in Creamy Tomato Sauce (sauce was good, chicken was meh), and Chicken and Orzo Soup (good!). Seems like there should be more but my copy is in the other room.

Bottom Line: I have so much more to cook from in this book! But I’m so glad to have taken the time to sit down and read through this like a book. I absolutely recommend it to parents of young ones, but I think this book has pretty wide appeal.

 Are you familiar with Dinner: A Love Story? Do you have any family dinner time tricks?





Linking up with:

ook it up Challenge - small

I read and cooked from Dinner: A Love Story as part of Cook it Up: A Cookbook Challenge. The idea of the challenge is to dust off your cookbooks and put them to use. Link up the first Saturday monthly on Love, Laughter, Insanity.



weekend cookingEvery weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking.  “Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.”  Hope you’ll join the fun!


23 Responses to “Dinner: A Love Story [Cookbook Review]”

  1. Well, I’ve only got one kiddo who is and always has been an awesome eater so we always eat together as a family and almost always eat the same foods. I am always silently thankful when I hear about someone with a picky eater. It’s easier and more fun to have someone who wants to eat what you want to eat! That said, our family rule is that you always have to try three bites of something new and one bite of something you didn’t like before. Then you can make sure your tastes haven’t changed and you give everything a real chance.

  2. There is a shrimp recipe in the book that Martha Stewart shared in a magazine a while back (Spicy Shrimp with Lime and Cilantro?) It has become a family favorite… and so quick and easy!

  3. Until I saw you mention this book a few weeks ago, I’d never heard of it. I don’t even think I’ve seen it at work, but it sounds like something I’d enjoy reading, if only for the memoir. I’ll order in a copy to peruse.

    As far as chicken breasts go, check and see if you can find Smart Chicken in any of your stores. It’s all I ever buy and it’s the most tender and moist boneless, skinless chicken I’ve ever cooked with. I hate Tyson and Pilgrim. Stringy and tough. Blech.

    Gotta check out that Spicy Shrimp with Lime and Cilantro recipe JoAnn mentioned… :)

  4. I think overwhelmed describes my feelings about this one. I got it when the Tornado was a baby and there was so much else going on I never really took the time to really sit down and read it. Looks like I definitely should pick it up again. Thanks for reviewing this and reminding me of it!

  5. I totally agree with you here. I read the book, so I really enjoyed and connected with the author. I had more success with the recipes than you did.

  6. I like the sound of this one and have enjoyed other cookbooks/memoirs (Pat Conroy’s comes to mind). I esp love the way she tracked her cooking through the different stages of her life…as I feel like mine has changed as well. And – I do dinner like she does – kids before and adults after kids go to bed. My husband doesn’t get home early enough for us all to eat together – one of the drawbacks of living in a commuter town…and also just the nature of his job. Id’ love for us all to eat together – I assume it will happen at some point, once the kids get older and can eat later.

  7. I do enjoy foodie type memoirs so will add it to my TBR list. Appreciated your candid assessment of the book. Think I’ll check out that pork ragu recipe. :)

  8. I absolutely loved this book although I didn’t get the chance to cook anything from it before it had to go back to the library. I’m glad to hear the meatballs were good, that’s the one I wanted to make the most when I do take it out from the library again. Too bad about the chicken dishes – I tend to have good luck with chicken so hopefully if I make any from this cookbook, they will turn out okay.

  9. Ti

    My secret to flavorful chicken breast is butter and wine. You don’t need a lot of butter but just a dab during the browning and then de-glazing with a bit of white wine seems to seal in the flavor. I build stuff around that base… add tomato-based sauces to make it Italian, or lemon and capers to make it a little more versatile.

    • The pork ragu is definitely worth making. But bland is how I’d sum up the others (except the meatballs and sauce). I’m still going to make a few more and might try the curry–Scott really likes curry but I’ve never had it before.

  10. Oh gracious no – no separate meals in this house ever! We might have eaten a little more bland when the kids were little but they also learned early to eat everything.