Hello friends! Hope you are well — before I begin, can I just say how thankful I am that you are here reading? Do I tell you that enough? I am so grateful for this space, I think more grateful than I have been in the ten years I’ve been writing. Thank you! Thank you especially to those of you who wrote supportive comments on my last post (and notes directly to my inbox). They all made my day. In other news: I’m working hard to get this book out into the world — the next round of shooting begins this weekend. When I’m not planning, I’m testing and editing, and feeding my all-online high school senior a snack or a treat or a lunch. (Shown above: tomato toast with burrata, olive oil, basil.) I figure, I’m home and I might as well make a crappy situation as delicious as possible for her. Here’s the rest of your PPP…
Project: Beets with Dill-Feta-Pistachios
As I go through my book for the zillionth time, I’m realizing something about myself: I have a real thing for a feta-dill-pistachio trinity. Have you noticed this about me? I absolutely leaned into it on Saturday night when I topped roasted beets (wrap them in foil, unpeeled and bake at 375°F for 1 hour 30 minutes) and I suggest you try it yourself at your earliest convenience. And yes, there’s a bed of herby yogurt there, too, but you’ll have to wait for the book to get that part of the recipe. Oh! How beautiful is that bowl? The nice people over at Signe ceramics are lending me a few pieces for the book’s photo shoot and I’m taking full advantage of having them around, even for just a regular old Tuesday night dinner.
Pantry: Fresh Tomato Pizza
Are you sick of tomatoes? Don’t you dare say yes! Andy made this the other night after a long day and it hit the spot. Press your 16-ounce ball of dough to all corners of a 17x-12 baking sheet, brush the edges with garlic-salt-spiked olive oil, cover with shredded mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, a few rings of red onion, salt, pepper, and basil. Bake at 450°F for 15 minutes or until crust looks golden.
Purpose: JFK Biography!
Here’s something you might not know about me: I’m Kennedy obsessed. One of my first jobs out of college was launching the magazine companion to A&E’s Biography TV series (that’s how old I am) and I remember my boss, Anne, telling me that whenever we had a chance to cover a Kennedy we should. Why? I asked, somehow not getting it. Because, she said, people everywhere have an insatiable appetite for anything Kennedy. For my tenure at the job we wrote about them all — from Jack to Jackie to Joe Senior to Joe Junior to Caroline to Bobby to Ethel to John Junior (who died in a plane crash while I was working there)…even to Letitia Baldrige, who was Jackie’s social secretary during her time in the White House. (I still have a recipe for “Jackie’s fruit sauce” somewhere in my recipe notebook.) And my boss was right — People couldn’t get enough! Eventually I became one of them, inhaling anything I could about America’s most glamorous, and most staggeringly tragic royal family.
Twenty-five years later, my appetite remains voracious, which I learned as soon as I picked up Fredrik Logevall’s new biography JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century. It’s the first of two volumes, much of it devoted to Joe Senior — Joseph Kennedy — son of Irish immigrants, and the iconic patriarch of the family, who was born in working class Boston and drove himself and his children into the most rarefied upper echelons of power. He pushed them to be politicians, bestselling authors, deep thinkers and winners-at-all-costs, once telling Ted, his youngest: “I’ll still love you if you don’t do something serious with your life, but I just won’t have much time for you.”
But JFK is the star, of course, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Logevall weaves an extremely satisfying level of salacious anecdotes (not shockingly, almost everyone, especially women, found him charmingly irresistible right from the beginning) into the more serious bullet points of his resume and biography. Living in the shadow of his older brother, Joe, the “golden child;” breaking from his father’s intractable (and controversial) position on appeasement in the ramp-up to World War II; fighting in the Pacific; becoming a war hero; suffering from his relentless health issues; running for Congress and eventually the Senate. (Volume 1 ends in 1956, before he becomes President.) I love biographies, and I’m not going to lie, it feels really good to immerse myself in a completely different world every night. And it’s not just that I’m pining for the era of the Greatest Generation and all that — it’s just fun to be inside the actual Kennedy family. At their dinner table, where they’re grilled about current events; on sailboat races in Hyannis Port (once, when JFK came in second, his dad wondered why he bothered to compete at all); at the prestigious Choate boarding school and inside Harvard’s old-boy “final clubs;” at Hollywood parties; in the front row of Papal coronations; in the Ambassador’s house in London… it goes on.
And the photos! Here he is with his father, Joe Sr. I can’t remember if this one is in the book, but it might as well be. (The book has really sent me down a time-sucking rabbit hole on YouTube and Google.)
And here he is at…actually I have no idea, but does it matter?
Anyway, if you are as into the Kennedys as I am…this one’s for you. (Or maybe for your parents? I just sent one to my Dad.) Pick it up at Amazon, BookShop, or, of course, your local library.
Stay safe. Wear a mask!
The goal of the Project, Pantry, Purpose series to keep us sane, distracted, connected, and USEFUL. It began in March 2020. Please continue to comment below with suggestions for recipes, projects (for kids and adults), good deeds, donation ideas, stories, movies, games, puzzles. Or just tell me how you’re doing, what your story is, and especially how DALS can help you or people in your community. You can also email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The gratitude goes both ways! I’ve been reading your blog since… college? Just past? I remember making breaded chicken cutlets in one of my first small apartments at 22, trying to impress the roommates I was subletting from and splattering oil all over the pages of my book. (Still there.) Now, turning 30 in less than a month (yikes), the kitchen is (slightly) larger but the cookbook pages are just as stained. It’s been such a comfort to have your posts during these times – you helped me in becoming a grown-up, so I love having your help getting through the pandemic! Best wishes to the whole clan <3
Thank you so much Amanda!
College! Go Phoebe!
I’ve been reading DALS from London for at least 6 years and PPP was a huge pleasure during lockdown. I am so grateful for all you do for us and share in this space.
I have a six year old and a two 2yr old and I like to see you as a message from our future! I aspire to what seems to be the loving and equitable relationship you have with your daughters and the one they have with each other – what a huge achievement.
How to Celebrate Everything is my go-to birthday present for friends turning 40
My English teacher heart is swelling looking at that poem annotated in the first picture (or at least it looks like a poem!) and my stomach is growling looking at that delicious tomato burrata creation. Now I must put burrata on the weekly shopping trip! Also, getting set to make your challah tomorrow, so I’m excited for that. Thanks so much for these dispatches :).
Thank you Jenny!! I LOVE biographies and just was looking for something new to read. I read Ted Kennedy’s biography a few years ago and thought it was incredible. I can’t wait for this. Ordered (along. with pre-ordering Barack Obama’s latest!).
Also thank you for this pizza idea! I am a die-hard Lahey pizza dough fan and make the recipes from your first book regularly. I am always looking for new combos to try :).
It has been amazing to have you posting so often. Your recipes and cookbooks are treasured…thank YOU! I am looking forward to the new one!!
It’s kind of embarrassing, but the thing that’s compelling me to comment is your pan in the tomato pizza photo. I always cringe apologetically when anyone sees my spattered old baking sheets (how do other people keep theirs clean?!), so I felt so validated to see your well-used pan. Thanks for making me feel normal.
My college roommate (a great cook) and I have a saying: you can tell how good a cook someone is by their sheet pans. (Favoring the well-patina’d ones of course.)
Have you read the biography of Rosemary Kennedy by Kate Clifford Larson? Highly recommend. It’s a glimpse of the family from a different perspective. Her life was tragic, too.
I just had my stack of your cookbooks out while meal planning this weekend, and am beyond excited for the next book! Many of your recipes have become regulars on our table, and I can’t wait for new vegetarian inspiration.
Jenny, I cannot thank you enough for keeping me going with PPP. It has been a lifeline for me these past 6 months. I’ve been wanting to comment for the longest time but always feel my words aren’t adequate. But seeing your high school senior stuck at home and you writing how crappy the situation is made me finally write. I also have a high school senior at home (as well as 3 other high school age kids) and the situation is…crappy. You’ve inspired me and I’m going to make my senior a crostini with lemony ricotta , topped with olives and roasted red peppers. That’s what I can do today.
I am forever grateful to you for keeping me sane, wonderfully distracted and connected to people I don’t know but who I feel are friends. You have provided warmth, ideas and hope during this surreal time of pandemic, ugly politics , social injustice and climate disaster (I live in California 10 miles from the Bobcat Fire). Thank you. I can’t wait to get the new cookbook!
Robin, thank you so much for this note. I hope you are staying safe in California and that your senior enjoyed that delicious sounding crostini. xoxoxo
Love your posts! I was wondering if you could share what brand of baking sheets you like?
Thank you for writing, Jenny! I always look forward to reading your posts ( and books).
I have been reading since, I think your third blog post? I actually hadn’t noticed the feta-dill-pistachio obsession, but you know what I do associate with you? Dredging stations! I thought about this when I was making your pan-fried fish sandwich for the second time in, ahem, two days, and my 12-year-old (who was a babe when I started reading DALS) begged me to make more slaw. The gratitude goes both ways, Jenny! I truly do not know where I would be without your yogurt-marinated chicken, playdate cookies, fruit crisp, and NYT book reviews that I read more than once because the writing is so beautiful!
The tomato pizza looks interesting, gotta try it soon. thank you