Friday Eating & Reading

What we’re reading and eating this week:

How to Cook for Every Back-to-School Meal, by yours truly.

I’m late on this one, but if you missed Stephen Colbert on WTF talking about faith, sci-fi, depression, joy, all interspersed with recitation of poetry and Shakespearean sonnets, please listen immediately.

My kind of anniversary gift. (How sweet is that?)

Everyone I know is reading this right now, and I plan to join them this weekend.

Lentil-Cauli taco meat FTW!

My daughter’s cross-country team is coming over for a pasta party tonight and I’m going with Marcella’s famous 3-ingredient tomato sauce instead of Rao’s. Let’s see how it goes!

The best cross-sections in picture books!

Related: How to Raise a Reader

Elizabeth Gilbert’s Free 10-Step Writing Program.

What if We All Ate a Bit Less Meat?

A topic near and dear to my heart: Taking Back Family Dinner.

From the DALS Archive: Ten-Minute Super Amazing Magic Guilt Eraser

Attn: Tri-Staters & Locals: The Rivertown Public Market  is returning on September 14! Come for the lobster rolls, the whole hog Carolina barbecue, craft drinks, insta-ready ice cream, the awesome line-up of activities for kids…and to say hi to me!

Lastly: José Andrés’ has already arrived in the Bahamas by helicopter (apparently holding piles of food and supplies on his own lap) to cook and bring relief to families devastated by Dorian. Let’s please do our part and donate to his World Central Kitchen and keep his operation going. So much good in this world, it’s amazing.

Have a great weekend.

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Thank you for the World Central Kitchen donation link. What an excellent reminder, and I just signed up to be a monthly donor. I love Jose Andres and all his work (his book about his Puerto Rico experience was a quick, interesting read).

I’m also looking forward to your Weekday Vegetarians cookbook. I’m a big fan of “cutting back”, or moderation (as much as I hate that word) during the week – we adopted a “no drinking during the week” routine similar to what you’ve talked about before, and treat a Friday cocktail as a celebration of sorts. I think meat eating can follow a similar trajectory. I liked the VB6 (“Vegan Before 6”) idea that Mark Bittman started, but as I almost always eat dinner leftovers for lunch the following day, I couldn’t get into a routine with it. I think a straight-up vegetarian week makes more sense.


I am so happy to see this post. I enjoy reading what you do. I have a question/comment about your last post but I didn’t get there before you moved on, and I was so happy to see this one. Anyway, I have been slowly trying to eat less meat for a variety of reasons. I am the primary cook for my family. My husband is a meat eater, believes you must have meat for every meal. I think I am trying to introduce vegetarian meals slowly to avoid the conflict with him over the issue. Any ideas from anyone?


There are a lot of great cookbooks that cater to the idea of “meat as a side dish”, i.e., meals that are vegetable-centric but also include meat. Specifically, I have LOVED cooking through the cookbook Six Seasons by Joshua McFadden. Many of the recipes are vegetarian, but many also include meat. I also recently dug into Ruffage by Abra Berens – there are ways to prepare each “vegetable”, many that include meat, but it still allows the vegetable to star. Adapting this kind of meal focus might get your husband to become open to more vegetarian foods.


Bit of a sneaky idea, but could you make things like chillis and stews that contain some meat and also a vegetarian protein like beans or lentils, and gradually over time reduce the meat and increase the veg? (If you wanted to be super-sneaky you could use e.g. beef mince AND vege mince together.) Here in the UK, the main-brand cornflakes recipe was gradually changed over several years to reduce the salt dramatically, and because it was done so slowly nobody noticed it was happening!


My four siblings and I all played high school sports, so we had A LOT of pasta parties! I have the best memories of them, both of getting to be a part of my siblings’ parties when I was little, and then going to my own when it was finally my turn. I still dream about the vodka rigatoni one of my teammates’ mom made.

One time when we were hosting, we were all sitting around our big kitchen table, and one of my teammates looked at my mom and said, “so you all just sit around this table and eat dinner together every night??”. My mom looked kind of bewildered, and responded, “well, yes, we do.” Family dinner was just a given in our house growing up. Now that I’m a mom, I realize how much work my mom put in to getting all of us around the table every night, working around 5 kids’ busy schedules, my dad’s crazy work schedule, and her own full time job. Some of my best memories revolve around that table, and we still gather at least once a month for a big dinner at my parent’s – but now we need at least two tables, with spouses and 16 grandkids. All of this to say, family dinner is important and has lasting positive impacts. Thank you for the work you do to promote it and make it an accessible event for all families. What you’re doing is so meaningful. Your recipes are in frequent rotation on my little family’s dinner table.


I loved the article about the importance of family dinners…. It was a very much needed reminder to not be so serious and stressed during that precious time of day. Thank you!

Sara Howard

We just made the Cauli-Lentil taco meat (burrito-bowl style) last night and OMG it was **delicious** — IMO, preferable to beef (less greasy), turkey (too dry/grainy – prob user error), and existing store-bought meat substitutes (too much existing seasoning). KEEPER.


Jenny, have you made the lentil-cauli taco filling? I’m intrigued, but it’s a little fussy (though worth it, if it could replace ground turkey in our rotation- we are like you and trying earnestly to reduce meat dinners) and I want an endorsement before I invest the effort!


I would love if you could label NYT articles, so we know before we click. I’m blowing through my free articles per month accidentally clicking on links that I might think twice about! I saw Cup of Jo started labeling them with a quick “(NYT)” and it’s been really helpful in deciding if I click!