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 five-and-a-half 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 Jo, Everyday 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, eighth grader), and Abby (soccer player, seventh 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.)
3. The kids’ most-requested dinners are different from their parents’ most-requested, which are: Fried Flounder, Grilled Leg of Lamb, Tomato Sandwiches, Marcella 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 parties — Secret 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 facebook, twitter, 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.