The First Annual Dolly Awards

In case you haven’t noticed — it’s awards season! I’d like to thank the Academy for reminding me how remiss I’ve been at following my #1 Get-Fired Resolution. (“See more matinees.”) And to the folks who handed out Michelin stars in France earlier this week — thank you! I can now afford to dream about all the cafes in the Latin Quarter where I might someday dine with my children. I’d also like to express my sincere gratitude to Babble who, through their Top 100 Mom Food Blogs Awards (Please See: #4!!!!) reminded me….there are a lot of Mom Food Bloggers out there. (Wow!) Anyway, all this blue-ribboning made me think — don’t you find it troubling that there’s no higher institution to turn to when, say, you are looking for The Best Movie to Put on For The Kids During a Dinner Party That Would Elicit a What a great choice! From The Parent Dinner Guests? Search no more, the First Annual DALS Awards are here! And are so prestigious that in certain circles — or around certain circular dinner tables — they have already garnered a cool little nickname: “The Dollys!” So with no further ado…

Best Kitchen-themed Coloring Book: Rosie Flo’s Kitchen Colouring Book I first held a Rosie Flo coloring book in my hands when I was an editor at Cookie — and back then, it seemed you could only find one if you were traveling to England during specific months of the year and had an appointment with the Queen herself. Now, thankfully, you can find them anywhere (translation: in Anthropologie or on amazon.) This one is food-themed  (can you see the dress made out of a cob of corn? The one made with ladyfingers and measuring cups?) but there are other themes — animals, garden, the original — that are decidedly less girly. The cool thing about them is that they provide sketches of the kooky clothes and accessories and it’s up to the artist to fill in everything else. My brother showed up with this batch of three for Abby’s birthday last year and was instantly anointed hero.

Best Cookbook for Kids That The Kid Actually Likes As Much As Mom: Kids Cook 1-2-3, by Rozanne Gold. If I was still working at Real Simple or Cookie, my normal reconnaissance to determine the winner of an award like this would include ordering in a ton of cookbooks from a ton of publishers, flipping through all of them, page by page, handing out the best of the first cut to staff members with kids who would be required to test and report back. Most of the selections would be cute but not too cute. And (remarkably) would have covers that fit right in with the story designer’s color palette! This process seems hilarious to me ever since my 9-year-old, with no prodding or direction, wandered over to the cookbook section of our local library, chose this book above, then went home and proceeded to cook from it for a week straight. I believe the appeal was in the Maira-Kalman-esque drawings by Sara Pinto and the fact that all the recipes called for only three ingredients. There was Hot Chocolate from Paris (semi-sweet chocolate + sugar + whole milk), Silver Dollar Sausage Patties (ground turkey + cumin + garlic), Steamy Creamy Tomato Soup (tomato sauce + heavy cream + honey). It should come as no surprise that the book was written by veteran food writer Gold, author of, most recently, Radically Simple which I’ve been meaning to pick up for months now. Then again, why would I? Now that someone else is cooking for me?

Best Way to Justify Screen Time When You are a Food Writer: The Cooking Mama App I’m sure you can play this on your laptop, your Wii, your DS, your Apple TV, maybe even project it into thin air by now — but we’ve only ever played this wildly popular cooking game on my iPhone, and usually in a waiting room situation where I feel some weird sense of guilt over having dragged the kids somewhere. Your score is based on how well you do various cooking tasks — chopping an onion, flipping an omelet, peeling the shrimp. Unlike Andy’s infatuation with Angry Birds, the appeal of which I will never understand, this sweet little Japanese app warms my heart.

Best Sandwich Box That Seems to Hold Everything But a Sandwich:  The Sandwich Lunchbox.
I can’t believe how fun these are, can you? They’re little tin sandwich-shaped and sandwich-sized boxes that I usually just end up using as their snack “bags.”  The girls got such a laugh when their Uncle Doug and his partner Uncle Earl picked them up as a souvenir at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. You can buy them at Perpetual Kid.

Best Gift I’ve Received Since DALS Launched: Vintage Peg Bracken Cookbooks As long as we’re talking Uncles giving gifts, I’d be remiss if I didn’t hand out a big fat Dolly to my Uncle Mike who, last Christmas Eve, presented me with his original copies of Peg Bracken’s I Hate to Cook Books (The 1960 original and the lesser-known 1966 follow-up). I happen to know that Mike, who decidedly doesn’t hate to cook, who in fact cooks up a seven-course feast for the family every Christmas Eve, treasures these books and treasures Peg Bracken. (Though how can you not treasure someone who writes this headnote for her “Hushkabobs” recipe: “So called because the family isn’t supposed to know it’s just that old Sunday roast still following them around.”) So it goes without saying that I was touched by the hand-me-down. PLUS! Mike didn’t even know this at the time of the gift-giving, but I’ve been reading it and re-reading it as I write my own book, because all I want in the world is for the Dinner A Love Story book to be a fraction as entertaining and helpful as Bracken’s. Is that too much to ask? Probably. But since that book is still a little ways away, I encourage you to scour ebay for the original IHTCB or pick up the 50th anniversary edition that came out last year.

Best Kids Magazine That Every Few Issues Contains a Recipe (Or At Least Some Information About a Vegetable): It’s a tie! Ask and Spider, both published by Cricket. Here’s something that doesn’t seem to happen that often these days: A person dropping everything and literally jumping for joy when she notices that her favorite magazine has arrived in the mail. This is the scene that plays out every month in our house when any of the Cricket magazines arrive. Phoebe was given a subscription to Click (ages 3-6) by her grandparents when she was 3, but Cricket publishes magazines for kids beginning at age 6 months (Babybug). Ask is the science-geared one (for ages 6-9) where my girls might find a story about forest fires or the way wind works or a comic strip titled “The Alchemist’s Apprentice: How I Learned to Make Gold.”  Spider is “more fictiony” as Phoebe describes it, and contains poems, stories, and activities including…recipes! This past weekend, in fact, we spread Phoebe’s honey-butter on our biscuits for breakfast. She learned how to make it from Spider. PS: A 1-year subscription to any of these magazines makes a really great birthday gift.

And finally….The Best Movie to Put on For The Kids During a Dinner Party That Would Elicit a “What a great choice” From The Parent Dinner Guests: The Love Bug Sure there’s a little innocent romancing between Dean Jones and Michelle Lee, but there’s also campy chase scenes through hilly San Fran, there’s Buddy Hackett (!!), there’s a nostalgic soundtrack that will lend a retro vibe to your pork ragu feast (this was 1968, think Partridge Family theme song), and finally…a car that drives itself! (What more do they need?) I can’t take credit for the choice — it was my friends Tom and Liz who popped it in the DVD player for a group of seven kids, ages 4 to 9, while all the parents gorged on their Mexican lasagna. But Santa must have thought it was a good choice, too, because our very own copy ended up under the tree last year.

Congratulations to all the 2011 Dolly-Award Winners! I’m already starting the arduous awards process for 2012, so please feel free to send in your own nominees below. ATTENTION DESIGNERS: I’m in desperate need of a logo for all my awards ceremony literature (and this post)! I will send you a free cookbook or a bumper sticker if you send me a jpeg (jenny AT dinneralovestory DOT com) that works with the food-kids-fun theme. This act of grace, of course, will also instantly qualify you for Dolly’s 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Rosie Flo coloring books have been very popular in this house, too! Can’t wait to check out the 1-2-3 cookbook.


Love your site! I nominate Mollie Katzen’s kids cookbooks, Salad People, Pretend Soup, and Honest Pretzels! After checking them out constantly from the library, I got my own copies and did my own Me and Mollie project inspired by Julie and Julia. I’m not done with it yet, but some of the posts are at

Sheri Richards

My favorite kid’s cookbook is by the amazing Mollie Katzen of Moosewood fame: Pretend Soup and other Real Recipes. The illustrations are charming and the recipes are yummy.


It’s such a good idea to get kids magazine subscriptions for birthday gifts. My kids are older and so I feel like their friends already have everything. We usually just do an amazon or B&N gift card but this is so much better. Thanks for posting!


Just reading this post from your muffin tin tapas post and had to tell you that I follow my husband around the house quoting your book. So you have succeeded in your goal!!! It really is just so entertaining. I keep quoting parts to my friends. I love it! Job well done!