Dinner: A Morning Show Story

June 14th, 2012 · 19 Comments · Deconstructing Dinner, Favorites, Picky Eating, Seafood, Sides, Salads, Soup

So I went on the Today Show yesterday to talk about some themes you know well by now — deconstructing meals, picky eaters, my Trickle-Down Theory of Dinner (see page 10!) and of course, the book itself. I’ve known about this segment for about three months now — my publisher called me with the news while I was watching soccer practice — and if I were a certain kind of person I suppose I would have been broadcasting this news all over the world, posting it on my events page and facebook, tweeting from the green room and all that, but the truth is: I was kinda terrified about the whole Live TV thing. To the point where over the past few months I’ve been dividing my life into two distinct eras:  “Before Today Show” and “After Today Show.” (As in, That Matthew Sweet concert is After Today Show, so I will really truly be able to enjoy it.) In situations like these — admittedly, very very lucky situations like these — my default mode is usually pathological denial, to pretend like it’s not going to happen, until the very last minute when I’m forced to admit I have to somehow rise to the occasion. But here’s the thing about TV: You have to actually practice like crazy if you don’t want to dissolve into a puddle of anxiety or, in my case, freeze on the spot. (Ask anyone I went to college with: This actually happened to me in classrooms all the time.) And so I have been carrying around little index cards with me for weeks with all the possible questions that Natalie Morales (Natalie Morales!) would throw at me. You know, toughies like: Why did you write this book? Why is family dinner so important to you? Does takeout count? Why on earth do you write down what you have for dinner every night? What do your kids think of all this?

My kids were much more focused on their own days yesterday — my third grader had a field trip to the Bronx Zoo; and my fourth grader was getting her Field Day team assignment, which, trust me, is about eight thousand times more exciting than watching her mom prepare a salmon salad on TV — but the two of them took the time to make an index card for me that helped more than the other 25 combined. I carried it with me to the studio and here is what it said:

Remember the Brady Bunch episode where Marcia gets over her Driver’s Test jitters by picturing the instructor in his underwear? That strategy really stuck with Phoebe — she said she used it herself recently at her fourth grade concert — and I laughed every time I read her little reminder. (Side note: Remember, we watched at least three or four Brady Bunch seasons on our long road trip last year and I highly highly recommend you do the same, long road trip or not.)

My friend Charlie (as in The Power of Habit Charlie, who you might say has been around the media block) took the train up from Brooklyn last month so he could do his best impersonation of Matt Lauer at my kitchen counter and dish out some much-needed media advice. Abby, who loves nothing more than pretend play, was so entertained by this craziness and seemed to have absorbed all his pointers. At least that’s the only theory I can think of for how she came up with this “Things not to do and do” list. In spite of my nerves, I did manage to follow her last, most important order. If I can’t do that, man oh man, I’ve got to ask myself: What is the point?

Thanks to everyone for the nice notes about the segment, and please head over to Today’s website if you want the salmon salad recipe. (Or, of course, just check it out on page 62 of my book.) I think my favorite part of the whole experience was a few minutes after we wrapped when Natalie Morales walked out of the studio and, while gobbling up a big bowl of my salad, told me This is delicious! It was 10:00 in the morning.

Reminder: Tell me your favorite part of the book (not on the comment field of this post, but through the official contest survey) and be eligible to win some pretty awesome prizes. You have until July 9 to enter so get reading!

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19 responses so far ↓

  • 1 The Wholesome Hedonist // Jun 14, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Oh God – the experience sounds nerve-wracking! I didn’t get a chance to catch it but I will try and hunt it down. I’m sure picturing everyone in their underwear helped – what a great strategy. Maybe I’ll do that next time I’m stressed at a board meeting. Actually, knowing the people in my office – maybe not. Probably more horrifying than relaxing!

  • 2 june // Jun 14, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Those notes are so cute — and I think all the practice paid off. You did look like you were having fun! And now I want to make that salad!

  • 3 Vicki // Jun 14, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    My friend one of the writers for the Today show and since I am always quoting your blog, she sent me a note letting me know you were going to be on the show. You did a terrific job. Got all your points across. I say there is a weekly segment in your future!!

  • 4 Jenny // Jun 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Thank you so much Vicki! Tell your friend I felt very well taken care of!

  • 5 Hannah // Jun 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Just watched it. You looked beautiful, the salad looked delicious, and I would never have known that you didn’t do this as a regular gig. You were great! Tell your girls those index cards worked magic.

  • 6 Michelle // Jun 14, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    I don’t know if you mentioned this early–I may have missed it–but you didn’t a fabulous job on NPR Weekend Edition talking about your book! And I love love love the notes from your kids.

  • 7 Michelle // Jun 14, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Oh my! Typos galore. You DID a fabulous job on NPR (and maybe you mentioned it EARLIER). Next time I will proof before I hit enter!

  • 8 Juliana // Jun 14, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Those notes are the best! You did SO well for someone (I am this way too) prone to freezing up. Great job!

  • 9 654carroll // Jun 14, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    what time did you have to wake up, and what time did you leave your house, and do the Today show people do any hair and makeup, or were you in charge? i need to know ev.er.y.thing.

  • 10 rona // Jun 14, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Congratulations! You did great!

  • 11 Larisa // Jun 14, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    I’m new to your blog but i LOVE it. I love your voice and what you are saying. Anyway, you did a great job on television! The timing thing must be so difficult but you got through it all! It was so nice to see your deconstructing idea (for children) then the combined version for the adults. Love it. great job.

  • 12 Lisa D (@This Little Piggy Went to The Farmers Market) // Jun 14, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    Good job on TV! Your philosophy is so sensible. Loved the way you told Natalie it was good to expose kids to more veggies than just the ones they eat. Those notes from your girls are classic

  • 13 Sarah // Jun 15, 2012 at 7:38 am

    Yay you did a great job!! I seriously think I would’ve passed out from nerves. The salad looks delicious, I’ll have to add that to my must-try list. And the note from the girls is so cute and sweet:-)

  • 14 Torrie @ a place to share... // Jun 15, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    just watched… you did woooooonderful!!!!

    AND- your book came yesterday!!! it’s killing me not to open it, but i refuse to do it, until i have a very good length of time to ‘dig into’ it … later today- for SURE. :)

  • 15 KimP // Jun 15, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    how cool are you?? love the interview, can’t wait to make the salad!!

  • 16 Sara D // Jun 18, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    I can’t get the video to play :( I guess I’ll just have to look up the interview from NPR. I am hoping for your book as a birthday present, the wait is killing me!

  • 17 Sarah Y. // Jun 22, 2012 at 11:56 am

    I can’t get the video to play, either. Bummer.

    I just love your book and I am planning to make this recipe for my family tonight! It looks delicious. I noticed that the recipe doesn’t have any instructions for when/how to toss the salmon in with the veggies. I assume I just do this at the very end? Before or after the vinaigrette?

    Your fan and an obsessive recipe-follower

  • 18 Sherry // Aug 6, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Ever since my kids became old enough to watch TV in the morning so I could get ready for work, (which is probably way too young…) I don’t get to watch the Today Show much anymore. So I regret I missed your segment. But I love this post because I stumbled upon it when I was looking for a great, easy dish to feed the neighbors for dinner two weeks ago. Even though I have your book on my counter at home, I hadn’t gotten to this page yet, and besides I was at work and needed a recipe I could print and run to the store with on the way home. Long story short, my neighbors were so impressed, and a little embarassed that I would go through SO MUCH trouble to make them such a FANCY meal (which I prepared in its entirety while they were standing in my kitchen having drinks). They took the printed recipe with them when they left, and we enjoyed the leftovers all weekend. When they had us over for a casual dinner this weekend, they were still going on and on about the Salmon Salad, to which their hotdogs and hamburgers would never compare (but since someone else was making me dinner and feeding me, they were perfect!)

    I’ve made it since then for just us, sorting individual ingredients in my little kids’ plates while we eat the assembled version. And it is such a generous recipe…I’m eating the leftovers at my desk right now!! Such a winner. So easy, so delish, and oh-so FANCY!!

  • 19 Juliana // Sep 30, 2012 at 12:05 am

    Confession first. When I saw the photo of the salmon salad in the book, I quickly moved on. I remember reading this post, and even watching the video clip when you posted it, and *still* thinking that this salad wasn’t for me (even though I loved the cook-in-shifts-in-one-pot method).

    BUT, on Thursday I left our freezer door ajar for about 7 hours, so I have been madly trying to use up things that defrosted and refroze (because I am not sure if that’s ok for things like fish). Since we have had salmon a lot lately, I really wasn’t looking forward more salmon … but I remembered this recipe, and thought maybe it would be good because it would be different.

    AND HOLY COW. This was so, so tasty. I didn’t manage the scallions because it was getting dark out (I have a little container garden with scallions for just this sort of purpose) or lemon/lime, and I added raw kale because I love greens, but it was pretty close to your recipe. I was so amazed at how delicious it was. I think it’s the best dinner we’ve had in weeks.

    Thanks, Jenny!

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