Last-Minute Gift Guide

December 17th, 2012 · 13 Comments · Birthdays, Holidays, Celebrations, Dinner: A Love Story, the Book, Posts by Andy, Uncategorized

I don’t know about you, but this is the time when I suddenly look at the calendar, and then at the list of things I’ve bought for family and friends so far, and then at the list of things I still have to buy, and think, “Rut-roh.” How’s it all gonna get done? And how did I let this happen? In an effort to help make things a little easier, I thought I’d offer up a few suggestions for last-minute gifts here. Satisfaction guaranteed! – Andy

For the teacher who is dedicating him/herself, day in and day out, to the betterment of your child: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the patient cello teacher who — in just three months — has already made your life, and your ear drums, so much happier: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the soccer coach who not only volunteers her time three times a week to guru your kid, but also — true miracle — teaches her what off-sides means: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the mother-in-law who you love dearly but who could also use a little help in the expansion of repertoire department: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the 23-year-old niece, who was weaned on The Food Network and can tell her rutabaga from her kohlrabi: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the 23-year-old nephew, who still claims to hate tomatoes, prompting you to remind him — a 23 year old, grown-ass man — that pizza sauce CONTAINS TOMATOES: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the newlyweds, who want to learn how to make breaded pork chops together: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the lover of long walks, double rainbows, and three-alarm chili: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the guy who doesn’t know what else to get his girlfriend: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the wife, who is an amazing, loving mother and who works full-time and has recently begun talking about starting her own food blog: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the husband, who’s man enough to own a book called Dinner: A Love Story and who would appreciate knowing how to make a proper Manhattan: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the clueless bachelor guy, who should know better by now: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the new mom, who will relate to the chapter on new motherhood and then feel empowered and then just go off and make the Lazy Bolognese, only to be empowered further: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the desperate parents of picky eaters, who are secretly googling “can you survive on pasta alone” after the kids go to bed: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the holiday party host, who would appreciate how much cooler a present this book is when compared to another bottle of Yellow Tail Shiraz in a velvet bag: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the dog lovers, who whose faces will melt upon seeing the picture on page 51: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the person who has twenty bucks positively burning a hole in her pocket: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the Powerball winner who is looking to fill some shelf space in the new, 53-room mansion she just bought: 20 copies of Dinner: A Love Story.

For the committed Buddhist who, while not needing much in the way of material possessions, could still use a copy of this book, for real: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the new homeowner who’s definitely not a Buddhist and is looking for an excuse to fire up her huge, practically virgin, seventeen burner Viking: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the lover of fine food photography: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the cookbook collector: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the principled supporter of the book industry, who holds a special place in our hearts: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the outdoorsman: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the indoorsman: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the ombudsman: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the person who has resolved to stop stuffing face with jalapeno poppers when drunk: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the amateur sleuth: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the tool-and-die man, whatever that is: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the person who, as our 9-year-old just said, “draws pictures of turtles eating tomatoes”: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the person who reads the following sentence — “This book is for anyone interested in learning how to execute a meal to be shared with someone they love and discovering how so many good, happy things can trickle down from doing so” — and thinks, Dang, dogg, that hits me right where I live: Dinner: A Love Story.

For the thoughtful gift-giver who wants to buy a book and then have the author — like, I don’t know, Jenny Rosenstrach — sign a bookplate for said book and then give it to a good friend or relative and say, “Look, I got you a signed book for Christmas!”: Dinner: A Love Story. (Email her TODAY jenny AT dinneralovestory DOT com with subject line “Bookplate Request”; after 12/20, she can’t guarantee they’ll be sent in time for Christmas.)

For our slightly less ridiculous Gift Guide, click here.


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The Week in Review

June 8th, 2012 · 15 Comments · Uncategorized

On Wednesday night, Day 2 of Publication, my 8-year-old was sitting at the dinner table waiting for her chicken with biscuits (recipe on the way) when she  said, “Mom, you weren’t here for dinner Monday or Tuesday night.”

“Yeah?” I said.

“That’s so unlike you.”

“I know,” I told her. “Remember, my book is out this week. There’s a lot going on. It’s going to be a little hectic. You want to hear what’s going on?”

“Nah. Oh, I forgot to tell you about the finals of the KenKen competition.”

I’m sorry if you feel a little like my kids right now, and I promise that we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming soon, but I’ve been so overwhelmed by emails and instragrams and facebook posts and reviews that it just doesn’t feel right not to acknowledge how grateful I am for all the feedback. (Do not mistake this for complaining.) I just wanted to share a few of of the highlights, beginning with the photo below of my friend Kirsten and her adorable daughter Billie, who apparently thinks the skillet of meatballs (or Andy’s head?) is scratch-and-sniff.

The photo on the left was sent by reader Betsy, who I think should be a prop stylist in her spare time. (Eight books, by the way. Now there’s a loyal supporter.) On the right  is me signing books at BEA, a book convention in NYC and first on line was Hallie (not shown), who I lived next door to for the first 18 years (more…)

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A Very Big Day

June 5th, 2012 · 59 Comments · Dinner

So, in case you haven’t heard, today is the day Dinner: A Love Story is officially on sale.  When you pick up your copy, the first thing I’d like you to do is turn to The Acknowledgments on page 299. There are a lot of people mentioned in those pages — as my editor said when she received my first draft of the section, “This should be it’s own book!” — because there were a lot of people who helped make this happen in both small ways (picking up my kids at school when I was in the middle of shooting a pork chop: Annie!) and huge (producing a masterful Dinner: A Love Story Book Trailer: Ed!) But you will see that the very first thank-you goes out to you guys, my loyal dinner-making, book-reading, thoughtful-comment-writing Dinner: A Love Story readers. It’s hard to overstate how much your support these past few years has meant to me and how much I appreciate all those heartfelt emails I receive on a daily basis — the ones that Andy mentioned last week and which, half the time, come with the subject head “Thank you.”

Well, now it’s time for me to say thank you.  Over the last few months I’ve been collecting gifts that fit with the general philosophy of this blog — pots and pans and cooking classes and a week of free dinners and kids’ books and crazy cool lunchboxes and some of the most delicious chocolates you will ever eat. So it’s only fair that today, the day Dinner: A Love Story is published, you guys get the chance to win them. All you have to do is click here to check out the prizes, answer one simple question (what part of the book resonated with you the most?), and follow the instructions on that page for how to proceed. (Please do not leave your “resonant moment” in this comment field. Again, go here!)

You have until July 6 to enter. Good luck!

And: Thank you.

Jenny, Andy, Phoebe & Abby

Split-personality pizzas: Everyone goes home happy. Pizza recipes begin on page 266.

My Dinner Diary in early 2005, when the girls were 2 and 1. Notice all the freezer and takeout dinners.

All photos above by Jennifer Causey for Dinner: A Love Story. Cover design by Allison Saltzman.

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My Book, in Real Simple’s Gift Guide

May 30th, 2012 · 12 Comments · Dinner: A Love Story, the Book

I’m still completely thrilled when I hear that my book has been purchased by someone who I can’t in any way trace back to my mother or mother-in-law, but I think the highlight of my year was hearing that Dinner: A Love Story was on the registry of someone whose wedding I’m not even invited to. It’s true that my book is based on this blog which is based on meals with our 10- and 8-year old, but the book starts with the “Love Story” part, the year Andy and I got married, when kids were about as far from our minds as the pork ragu that would someday make my husband famous. (Well, famous with his mother and mother-in-law at least.) I’m pleased to announce that Real Simple seems to agree about the gift thing — because it’s in their June issue, right there in the Summer Gift Guide (for Newlyweds, Weekend House Hosts, Father’s Day), and last time I checked, no one in my family was on their payroll. As soon as the link is live I will send you there — for now you’ll have to go to a good old-fashioned newsstand. Remember those?

PS: Twitter followers, remember to use #dalsbook (it will be worth your while, trust me!)

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Forward March! Andy, My Drill Sergeant of Leisure

May 29th, 2012 · 24 Comments · Dinner, Grilling, Travel

We are officially T-1 week for Publication Date of Dinner: A Love Story, and T-3 weeks til school’s out, so I thought I’d share a section from the book that is one of my favorites. It’s about the transformation my husband undergoes when we are on vacation.

When I was growing up, we never took typical family vacations. We never booked a house on the Cape for a week or went to Fort Myers in February; we never sat at the kitchen table with a map of the country circling national parks we wanted to visit like I imagined most families doing. Part of the reason for this was that my mother, once she found her calling as an attorney, turned into a workaholic— today, at seventy-five, as partner in her own law firm, she still works harder than all of her children combined—and, like all workaholics, she derives pleasure from work, thereby rendering the need to get pleasure elsewhere useless. (I’ve always gotten the feeling that she finds vacation from reading ninety-five-page contracts a whole lot more stressful than reading those ninety-five-page contracts.)

Another reason we never went on typical vacations was that my sister, Lynn, was a nationally ranked tennis player who competed in tournaments all over the country. Naturally, we’d all tag along with her on all of these trips no matter where they were—Charlestown, West Virginia, Raleigh, North Carolina, Indianapolis. They were always during July and August, and the organizers seemed to find some sick pleasure in selecting venues where the average temperature was a hundred degrees in the shade and never ever near a water park with one of those long, twisty mountain slides. But the truth was, I didn’t mind. I was ten, eleven, twelve years old. All I needed was a hotel pool to be happy.

But now that I am not a kid—now that I am a grown-up and I have kids of my own—vacation is a different story altogether. I need the pool, yes, but I also need a whole lot more. Most of the time I need a kitchen. I need a grill. I need to go to a place with lots to do. In fact, from the moment we arrive at wherever we happen to be vacationing, Andy and I are crafting ways to make sure we are squeezing the maximum amount of pleasure out of every moment of our waking hours. We take our vacations seriously. Before we have finished our morning coffee we have a plan for the day, one that usually includes exercise for the grown-ups (we usually tag-team our runs while the kids watch their morning TV), a large chunk of time in or near a pool or beach, some sort of afternoon adventure that involves exploring the local terrain (like a road trip or a hike or a bike ride), and of course, shopping for dinner that we will make in our own kitchen while drinking gin and tonics.

One morning when we were on vacation in South Carolina (where Andy’s parents have a house near the beach), the girls were finishing up watching an episode of The Backyardigans, and Andy looked at the clock.

“It’s ten o’clock in the morning and we still don’t have a plan,” he said.

“It’s only ten in the morning,” I said, taking a sip of my iced coffee that Andy had prepared the night before so it would be ready for us when we woke up.

“Yes, but we have a lot to do today.”

“We do?” I asked. The way he said it made it sound as if we were on deadline for something serious. “Like what?” (more…)

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My Book: Cover Reveal!

November 11th, 2011 · 55 Comments · Dinner: A Love Story, the Book

When I first sat down with my book editor Lee Boudreaux and the designer Allison Saltzman, they asked me what I wanted in a cover design. Oh, you know, I told them, I don’t want it to look cheffy or foodie. I don’t want it to look too precious or too slick. I’d like it to be homey but not dowdy, familiar to old readers but striking for new ones. I want it to appeal to recent grads and newlyweds and especially to parents. I want it to reflect the vibe of this blog. I want it to have good energy and I really want it to feel personal, like it looks right at home on my kitchen counter. I’m not Sean Brock or Gabrielle Hamilton. No matter how many times I make his brussels sprouts, I will never be David Chang. I’m a home cook who has figured out one thing — that making dinner for people I love brings me daily happiness  – and I need this book to appeal to people who suspect that carving out a nightly dinner ritual might do the same for them.

Was that too much to ask for?

Apparently not, because I think they nailed it, don’t you?

To pre-order, please visit Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Indie Bound.

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Dinner: A Love Story, The Book!

January 21st, 2011 · 48 Comments · Dinner, Dinner: A Love Story, the Book

But before we get to that news, a little wind-up.

About five or six years ago, when Andy and I were still in the toddler trenches — hovering, floor-timing, being awake a full four hours before “starting” our workdays in the office — I asked my coworker Tom, a father of two middle-school aged kids, if I was going to be this tired for the rest of my life. No, he told me. It all turns around at about age 6, when they can make their own breakfast. When you don’t have to wake up with them to pour the juice and toast their bagels. When they can scroll through the DVR offerings and select Sponge Bob for themselves. This was an unimaginable concept to me and one I wasn’t entirely sure was in the cards for us. I had the same thought that I had a few years earlier, when Phoebe hadn’t hit her “pincer grasp” milestone: Am I going to be the one parent in the history of child-rearing that doesn’t figure all this stuff out? (It’s a fine line between exhaustion and paranoia.)

Not long after this conversation I hit a more memorable milestone than the one Tom described. It was one of my Fridays off and I was playing with the girls (who were just about 3 and 4) in Abby’s room. The two of them had locked into a pretend game with their new pirate ship and I had a radical thought: What if I left the room, went (more…)

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