First time here?

 

Welcome to Dinner: A Love Story! I’m hoping you’ve landed here because your most trusted friend told you in the elevator at work or on the sideline of a soccer game, “Hey, I found the coolest, most inspiring website!” That is the best-case scenario because DALS is only four years old, and its popularity, at least initially, was built mostly by word of mouth, which, in my opinion, is the best way to reel in devoted readers. (Lesson #1, btw, DALS = Dinner: A Love Story.) You might have also discovered DALS because you heard about us on NPR or read about us in The New York Times, or New York Magazine, or The Wall Street Journal, or Salon, or Martha Stewart Living, or Whole Living, or Cup of JoEveryday Food, or Real Simple or Bon Appetit, where we write a column called “The Providers,” all about feeding a family; or maybe because you googled “homemade shake and bake chicken.” And that’s fine, too!

But if you’re thinking Where have I been? How did I miss all of this fun? Fear not! I have a strategy for you to get you up to speed fast. (DALS Lesson #2: “strategy” is my favorite word.) It’s super easy, but still, it’s important to pay close attention:

Strategy 1: Read Dinner: A Love Story, The Book! It’s the whole experience wrapped up into 300 recipe-packed, story-packed, color-photo-packed pages. When you’re done with that, check out book two, Dinner: The Playbook for down-and-dirty, roll-up-your-sleeves meal strategies, tips, and recipes.

Now, while you wait for them to arrive, here’s what I suggest: First, read my “About” page. There you’ll learn about the mission of DALS and meet all the players around the dinner table — me (Jenny), Andy (father, book editor, frequent contributor), Phoebe (book hound, seventh grader), and Abby (Olympian dollhouse player, sixth grader). Then, for your convenience, I’ve distilled the last few years into this list of posts which hopefully illustrate the wide range of content you can expect when you come back tomorrow. (And you will come back tomorrow, right?)  If you work your way through the list, I promise you’ll feel up to speed, if not completely sick of us.

Ten Things You Should Know About Us

1. We eat together almost every night, and we hope to inspire you to do the same by presenting quick weeknight recipes, dinner prep strategies, picky eater solutions, and pep talks. (But we also understand that some families get it done at the breakfast table, on the road trip, on the chairlift, on the weekends. Dinner has just been the most logical — and most delicious — way for us to make sure we have a guaranteed family check-in.)

2. We have a lot of dinners in the family dinner rotation, but our kid’s most-requested are: Salmon SaladHawaiian Pizza, Tacos, and a Baked Potato Bar.

3. The kids’ most-requested dinners are different from their parents’ most-requested, which are: Fried Flounder, Grilled Leg of LambTomato SandwichesMarcella Hazan’s Bolognese, anything with this Kale and Avocado Salad, and (for me) a big bowl of buttered skinny egg noodles. Except for the noodles — aka “childhood in a bowl” — this list changes all the time. (If these picks don’t work for you and your family, check out the the complete DALS Archive.)

4. We believe in home-spun birthday partiesSecret Agent, Summer-in-the-Winter, Japanese-themed — unless it’s been a brutal month, at which point we have absolutely no problem outsourcing everything to the nice ladies at the dance studio.

5. I write books. Andy edits books. We talk about books at the dinner table a lot. This is how we have convinced ourselves that it’s perfectly natural to talk about books on a dinner website. Andy has interviewed other book-writers and book-lovers for the site including David Sedaris, George Saunders, and Lemony Snicket, but if you are looking for a quick hit list of what books we love right exactly now, you can check out our FREE ebook, 121 Books: Greatest Kids Books of All Time (the availability of this comes and goes, so jump on it now!) Or, head to Phoebe’s kids’ reading blog Nerd Alert, devoted to her love of all things bookish.

6. We feel parenting is a series of euphoric, exhausting, life-affirming moments —  interrupted by packing school lunches. This is why we once drew up a Lunch-Packing Contract for each other, outlining exact conditions for who is on lunch duty and how it needs to be executed. (Apparently there are a lot of parents out there who dread this task as much as we do, because a year-and-a-half after that post went live, it continues to be our most popular.)

7. We love a well-made, well-iced cocktail. Andy favors a Manhattan in the winter and a Dark & Stormy in the summer. I am a Gin & Tonic girl the whole year through. But you may want to do some research on what drink best suits you.

8. My favorite posts by Andy are: Sense Memories (his recollections of the birth of our first child and chicken salad, not necessarily in that order), Let There Be Rock (includes his genre-coining moment “Music Couples Cook To”), and Anything Plus Broccoli (wherein he justifies the hot dog as a healthy dinner). Andy’s favorite posts by me are: Now Accepting Applications (about new dishes on the holiday table) Absolute Value (about my dad), The Napkin Note (about my mom) and One Meal Fits All (about how I attempt to convince myself the family is all eating the same exact meal, even though we are decidedly doing nothing of the sort).

9. Our most popular Bon Appetit columns have been: Braised Short Ribs, Yogurt-marinated Grilled Chicken, and Convincing the Kids to Eat Brussels Sprouts. But you can visit the Providers Archive and decide for yourself.

10. Our parenting philosophy: I have convinced myself that if we eat together every night and fight hard against The Death of Anticipation, our kids will turn out just fine.

Some Obligatory Housekeeping

Like what you read? Subscribe to our newsletter, buy the official DALS “Make Dinner Not War” bumper sticker, and follow us on facebooktwitter, Pinterest, or instagram. Lastly, we love hearing about your dinner conquests and complaints, so please feel free to email me whenever you’d like. Your feedback is, in fact, our favorite part of the whole DALS enterprise. Well, that and the writing-for-free part, of course.

Thanks for stopping by,
Jenny & Andy

All photographs on this page by Jennifer Causey for DALS. 

 

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35 Comments

heather

How am I just now hearing of your blog? So glad to find you, i will be coming here often. And I, too, love a dark and stormy!

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Debra McCall

Just finished (and really loved) your book! I am a bourbon-loving “foodie” and love your writing style and recipes. Thanks!

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Patty Henshaw

Hi Jenny,
LOVE your book and have been carrying it around to grocery stores with me :) ! Great job. I’m so inspired and am loving your amazing blog. Thank you so much.
Aloha,
Patty Henshaw

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marlasweetbutter

We would love to carry your book at Sweet Butter Cafe Bakery Marketplace in Sherman Oaks, CA and our rep can’t get it for us. Can you please contact me? Thanks! Love you and your blog!

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Vanessa

I am just going back to work after two back to back maternity leaves…I feel like your blog (and book that should be here by next week!) will save my life!! Well, at least help with the dreaded question “what’s for dinner?” or “what should I pack for the kids’ lunches?”.

Thank you!!!

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chelsea

found ya via on old issue of Real Simple Magazine! It was the June 2012 issue I believe. Love the blog and I am truly looking forward to stalking you from here on out all the way down in Louisiana.

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Aaron

Finished reading the book cover to cover. Picked it up on the “candy” aisle at public library. Usually I thumb through cookbooks looking for new exciting recipes but actually read every word of it and as a father of four little ladies ages 9-2.5 that makes sure we eat dinner together almost every single night I felt this book was written just for me. Thank You!

Aaron

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Julia A.

I just found your site via apartment therapy and I’m already on board. This is is great. My husband and I used to LOVE to cook. Spending hours shopping for and preparing fun new dished all the time. Now we have two little kids (4 and almost 2). We’re just starting to get back to dinners as a family (an not just piecemeal).

Lunches are easy, the little one loves leftovers, the big one loves peanut butter and jelly (EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.)

Not sure why I wrote a mini-biography… Thanks!

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Elena

Took DALS out of the library, and don’t want to return it. We already eat dinner together most nights, but I find your book/ blog inspiring and re-invigorating. So far, we’ve done the Shrimp with Feta, Lazy Bolognese and I’ve made stock from leftover rotisserie chicken. Today, butternut squash soup with apples from farmers market!
Thanks and keep the simple ideas & approach coming.
Elena, NYC

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Colette @ JFF!

Hi, there. Just stumbled on your blog today; love it, very cute.
BTW, our dining room looks almost exactly like yours…similar floor, French windows, doorway on the right leads to the kitchen. Does yours?

Anyhow, subscribed to you. Hope you check out my blog.
Cheers,
Colette

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Lisa

I bought your book on the recommendation of a friend. Dowloaded it to my Nook and devoured it! Your writing style is so funny and refreshing! I have been cooking since I was 6 years old. I have two boys 14 & 16 who are great eaters and appreciative of whatever I set on the table. My husband is more picky, although he claims he is not. HA! I usually cook from scratch at least 5 nights a week, just because I love to and also because it just tastes better and is cheaper than eating out or buying ready made. Your book is a lovely read and I just wanted to stop by and give you a “Well done!”

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Elizabeth

Delightful! Who knew a cookbook would be my new favorite read?!? So inspiring. I’m starting my own dinner diary. Thanks for blazing the trail!

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Candace Olander

Great blog. After raising three boy, the youngest will be 30 in a couple of months, we had dinner at home together almost every night. During the growing up years there was lots of complaining when “everyone else” got to have pizza @ McDonalds every night – with their friends. Now dinner at home is one of their favorite memories. They also wonder how anyone could do it!

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Dorry

Oh, what a treat! You have officially replaced my book before bed; I now read your blog for nighttime reading! Thank you!!

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krystina

For the record… I finished the book about a week ago and am now totally subscribed to the site. I keep poking through the archives and am bookmarking so many things to try!

But I just started a blog not too long ago myself, and reading about your addiction to Google Analytics and your husband’s comments seriously made me laugh so hard on my bus home from the city that people were looking at me. I’m the same way! I kept texting my husband stuff like “I have no clue how, assuming organic search, but someone in Australia found my site!”

Love it.

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Carrie

Hi – I’m so excited to have found you. I tried the chicken with soy lime sauce last night on “try something new night” and got half thumbs up from 2/3 kids, which is pretty great for something new. I’m curious how you guys handle new things at the table. My kids always try to get me to demand a certain number of bites, which I don’t like to do. But I do want them to try at least a few bites. I’ve read different expert opinions on the subject – what’s your take?

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sue cabot

You can’t know too much about other people’s strategies for sharing meals and for cooking creatively and simply — even though grandmothers like me know a fair amount already. And I’m ready to share that.

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Lorrie

I don’t know how I’ve managed to miss you in all of those other publications, but there you were when I was trolling on Pinterest this morning. Hello!
Your blog makes me wish I still had kids at home. Well, almost.
I’m looking forward to reading more!

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Michele Brennan

Just read your article in the Reader’s Digest and laughed out loud at #21. I have always said Don Pepino’s was the best sauce, both pizza and tomato sauce.

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barbara wood

Hi – Just had to stop by and tell you that while up in Ct, my daughter Robin made your pork ragu for our family dinner. Was so good…can’t wait to make it.

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Tracy

I was just at a tennis club in Westchester County waiting for my older kids to finish their lesson when a group of older gentlemen, who had just finished their game, started chatting in the waiting room. One of the men said to another man, “I saw your daughter’s byline in the Times.” And the proud dad started talking all about his daughter’s success with Dinner: A Love Story. From their brief conversation, my interest was peaked! I spent the rest of the hour in the waiting room combing through the pages of your blog. My kids are 9, 7, and 3, and what to make for dinner is on my mind a disturbingly large percentage of every day. I really enjoyed the lunch-packing contract, as I also dread packing lunches and have been there with the morning mac & cheese hustle/cutting stems off strawberries/thinking about a balanced lunch and recyclable containers, all while trying to feed 3 kids 3 different breakfasts, all within 30 minutes.

Thanks to your dad for bragging about you (rightfully), and thanks to you for addressing this universal need for dinner ideas! I will be ordering your book tonight!

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Raoul

Hi Jenny!

I was rereading my Dec 2013 issue of Bon Appetit and I’m so glad I did since I found your link. I love your story on sticking to traditional eats when it comes to important dates like Christmas and Hanukkah.

Looking forward to reading you and your husband’s posts from the past 3 years (hope I find the time).

Raoul

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Jenny

Hi Jenny!
I just wanted to let you know that I read your book “Dinner-a Love Story” cover to cover in 2 days. I am a full time working mom of a 2 and 1/2 year old and I am so excited to begin incorporating your recipes into our meal rotation. My family believes strongly in eating organically raised foods and we shop at our local farmers market as often as we can. Your book was both inspirational and extremely helpful. Congratulations on all of your success! I will be going to B&N this weekend to get your new book!
-Jenny

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Lisa @ The Meaning of Me

So far, I’ve read the About page and this First Time Here page, and two recipe posts – chicken parm meatballs and the chickpea sandwiches post. The chicken parm meatballs brought me here. Found it via MSN’s healthy meals for trick or treat night slideshow (or something like that) and these meatballs looked ah-mazing.
Your perspective and philosophy sounds so much like ours that I’m adding you to my daily feed right now. And that lunch contract thing? Genius. Nothing divides a marriage quite like lunch-packing duty. :D

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Heather

I am new here. My most trusted friend actually DID send me here, though not via an elevator and I already feel like you and I could be best friends. I am mom to 6 children (yes six, yes, all mine.) Our family also ate dinner together most every night- it was our one way to connect at the end of each day. Most of my children are out on their own now, and sadly the dinner table has gone from 8 to 3 or 4, but is no less important than it was when it was packed to over flowing. We still make it a priority to have Sunday dinners all together, and anyone who can make it shows up! I am very blessed to know that the tradition of good food, great company, and time together remains just as important to my children now that most of them are grown up.
My friend sent me a link to this site because I am working on creating a website/blog and writing a book. (I am also new to that!) Yours is actually only the 2nd “blog” I have ever really been on. Face to face is more my strong suit, but I am muddling through learning the technology side of life!
I absolutely LOVED your article How to Blog: My Rules. LOVED it…I am so glad my friend loves your site and loves me enough to tell me I need to be here every day too!
Thanks for the awesomeness of all you do. I’m looking very forward to looking all around your site…and telling my friends about you as well…no elevator ride necessary!

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Alicia

I just found you through A Cup of Jo Blog today and I am officially hooked. I’m going to ask for your book for Christmas! I’m 25, not married yet nor do I have any kids (hopefully one day!) but I already know that this philosophy will be big for me some day when I have a family of my own.

My mom and dad always made sure we ate as a family no matter how busy everyone was (2 working parents and 4 kids with active sports lives makes for a very busy household). I always loved how I knew dinner would be waiting when I get home. Some of our best memories and laughs were at the dinner table with my family and I know I want my kids someday to feel the way I did growing up.

Thank you for sharing your recipes, I can’t wait to cook some of them!

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Gabriele

Hi. Just found you via Cup of Jo. I knew you were awesome when the 1st cookbook I saw was Marcella Hazan’s :) )) . I also try HARD to cook and have the family dinner every night. Both of my kids are in their teens now. And they tell me …” You know we are the only ones we know who eat together as a family? ” I was a bit surprised by that. My daughter just started cooking a little. Only rule…I have to leave the kitchen. My husband cooks on the weekends. I am really looking forward to reading your blog. Happy I found it!

Reply
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Reply
Cathy

I’m looking for some inspiration for dinner, most nights it’s just me and hubby, but occasionally one of the 4 adult kids is around to eat with us too.

Cathy

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