What I’m reading this week:
What if You Just Hate to Cook Dinner? Virginia Heffernan, mother of two, poses the question “Why is food such a big part of raising children?” then proceeds to discuss the condescending language in family cookbooks, including mine. I have a fair amount I’d like to say about this essay, but for now, I’m going to do my mom proud and save it for the burn book I keep in the back of my sock drawer. I do feel the need, however, to address two things that I simply can not let pass. FIRST: The suggestion that I have ever implied, in my books or on this blog, that family dinner should fall entirely on moms. Wow. Where do I begin with this one? Maybe with the 100+ posts my husband has written for this blog, all of which address his day-to-day dinner-making for our daughters, from the post-soccer-practice scramble, to Friday-night Stromboli to his Pork Ragu recipe that people bring up with me over and over again, including, last month, someone sitting next to me on a plane who I had never met before. (People, it’s that good.) I guess I could also point to the “Family Dinner Boot Camp” series I did for Motherlode, the theme of which could be summarized as: “All in.” From the beginning, this blog has been about a return to the kitchen that involves everyone, including the kids who may or may not remember to set the table. If you find joy in making dinner, then you should make it yourself. If you need help from others, then you should include others. If others need help from you, then you should help. If you hate cooking, then dump a can of beans on toast (Andy’s post, btw), serve with some baby carrots and call it a day. There is no one way to do this – every family is different, every situation is different, and I try my best to recognize and respect that. SECOND: I believe deeply in the idea that nobody should be made to feel bad about the way he or she approaches family dinner — or whether they can pull it off at all. I do this blog because I enjoy cooking, and I enjoy helping people who want to make it happen. If my tone here ever makes anyone feel anxious or guilty or less-than, if I ever sound condescending, then I’m failing in what I’m trying to accomplish, and you guys need to let me know about it. I take this kind of criticism seriously, and I rely on you to keep me honest. Anyway, give it a read and let me know what you think.
The bottom line is, you can assume I agree with Luisa and Katie.
Onward! What else:
Abby, my almost 11-year-old, is absolutely tearing through this book right now.
100 Rules of Dinner Re-posting. Just cause.
Is there anything better than when Catherine Newman “thinks out loud?”
“Inside the Biggest Ever Hedge Fund Scandal” A profile of Steven A. Cohen that reads like a John Grisham novel.
Locals: Stone Barns Center still has a few slots open in their Little Cooks and Gardener’s Program. My girls did one of these a while ago and we’ve been dining out on the buttermilk ranch dressing they learned to make there ever since.
Masterchef Junior Season 2 The DVR is already set.
Grain Bowls: I could eat like this every day.
How do you raise kids who are The Opposite of Spoiled? I intend to find out.
Cooking Fast and Slow: A conversation between Mark Bittman and Mario Batali at the 92nd St Y this Sunday. Tickets are still available.
Ice Cream Hacks I can’t believe how much I love this. (Meanwhile: The ice cream sandwich cake reminded me of another classic cheat: ravioli lasagna.)
Another smart birthday party idea.
I’m a year late on this one, but these Fashion Icon Halloween costumes for kids cracked me up. (Anna Wintour!)
Lastly, I had the great pleasure of hearing Lena Dunham read from her new book Not That Kind of Girl in Boston last week. At the end, when she and Mary Karr, who was interviewing her, took questions from the audience, someone asked, “I’m a second grade teacher and was wondering if you had any advice for inspiring girls, and for teaching them to be confident.” I can’t remember the first part of her answer, but eventually Dunham emphasized the need for girls, and women, to have each other’s backs, and demanded we go home and google “Shine Theory.” I did what I was told. Please read it if you haven’t already. It’s a good reminder for everyone, not just second-grade girls.
I read that article and was very surprised by it. Unless your cookbook is very different from your site, I don’t find your writing style condescending at all and your recipes range from the everyday to some things with a little harder to find ingredients but I love all of it. I love your site, keep it up!!
Can I just say how much I love your blog and your books? I give them as gifts to all new parents because they have such a positive approach in encouraging families to come together for a meal. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated (or even always nutritionally sound) – the act of gathering together and sharing our day binds our family together. It allows us to celebrate each other’s successes and cheer each other on through rough patches (can I also tell you how much I loved your mashed potatoes post?).
It may be hard to get started and, you’re right, there is no one approach that will work for every family (there is no one approach that will work consistently for even a single family – families change), but it can be done and it will pay huge dividends in the quality of a family’s life.
i read that article at work yesterday, and from the first few sentences, i had a feeling that she might mention your blog. i found the article to be arrogant and belittling to those who really do love to cook – that somehow having that interest makes me less of a feminist. appalling! at least heffernan acknowledges that the pork ragu recipe really is the jam at the end of the article.
I love your blog, your cookbooks, and your family’s perspective. Sounds like someone got you all wrong. Happy Friday!
you make my day! TGIF and yes, onward!!
i find the idea of that article the exact opposite of how your blog and books are. You make the entire dinner process liberating and approachable. You are realistic and have addressed the various phases of your family. I wonder if people like that are jealous they don’t have a spouse who helps. I don’t either due to my husband’s work schedule. But it is our reality not your fault. I work from home and for me I try to make dinner during the day. That way we just reheat it. This works for me and our family. You never told me to do that but by reading your creative solutions I thought I should try this and it works for now for us.
I love that you include reading/books in your blog. It is a huge aspect or our life. And i just read an article about one of the writers for Girls that went to the iowa writers workshop. I am going to check out your links.
The last thing I will say is i do not understand why people are so bothered by blogs. Don’t read them then. I see it all the time people being negative towards a blog writer or posting. If I come across one that does not interest me I click off of it. Pretty simple and a much more positive way to live!
Your blog is not at ALL condescending; you do not act like you know ALL THE THINGS; you talk about your kids’ picky eating; you talk about the struggles with time and shopping; there is dude-cooking here. That piece was so problematic on so many levels — there ARE very real problems with self-satisfied/undue-burden-on-moms/organic-obsessed/accessibility-income-issue-related attitudes toward healthy feeding of families…but you are not part of the problem. It SUCKS that she lumped you in with the badness AND attributed motivations and tone to you that YOU DO NOT DISPLAY.
Parents have to feed kids. I’m sorry that sucks for her. I’m sorry that makes her feel panicky and guilty. There are ways to address this anxiety. That piece was not a positive one.
BTW I once got snarked at by Heffernan in a NYT piece in which everyone’s name was used but mine. (I was “a writer for Self,” while all the dude-writers discussed approvingly in the piece had their actual names used, presumably because PENII GIVE ONE AUTHORITY.) Fortunately, I learned all kinds of things about the sinister, lady-disempowering things I and my editors intended with a cover story about volunteerism. YAY! I like learning about myself!)
I love the way you cook (taking shortcuts on some occasions and going all in on others), the way you encourage, and how you don’t seem to take any of it too seriously. There is a lot of pressure and judgement in the parenting world these days (including how you feed your children) and your blog is refreshingly free of all of that, in my opinion. What really resonates with me is the idea of breaking bread together- whatever that looks or tastes like. So, thank you!!!
I have a lot to say on this as well, but I am frantically balancing work with family travel, and can’t be as thoughtful as I’d like. I will respond more fully lately. But I will say this: SHAME on the NYTimes, for agreeing to print such entirely unfounded and personal criticisms. This woman clearly has some personal hang-ups around food, and that’s fine – we all have aspects of ‘grown up’ life that are more challenging than others. For her to take what are her own problems and challenges, and blame them on others, is bad and immature enough. But for the editor of the NYTimes to then print them is really unforgiveable. Her comments about you and the other cookbook writers were not grounded in fact, were unnecessarily personal (and bitchy) in nature, and it seems to me the NYTimes is looking to stoke yet another round of Mommy Wars. The NYTimes should expect more of its contributors and itself. When that piece was submitted, it should have been rejected out of hand. More from me later, but just wanted to share. By the way, I haven’t ordered your newest book, even though I LOVE DALS. The reason I didn’t was because dinner is one of those things I actually have under control, and I didn’t think I really needed a playbook for it. However, out of sheer support for you, because I really admire your good work and professionalism, I am ordering it right now. So suck it Virginia Heffernan. Seems to me you don’t just hate to cook dinner, you also hate people who like to. Grow up.
After reading that article, I’m not sure the author actually read your books or your blog. I get that, for example, Jonathan Safran Foer is a little much for a some people, but she’s lumped a very wide range of “family dinner enthusiasts” into her criticism, which doesn’t do much to validate her argument. In fact, it just goes to prove your overarching theme for family dinner–different things work for different families. She’s entirely missed the point — and just a glance at the blog or a flip through the cookbook would disprove so many of her claims. For example, the evidence of division of labor between you and Andy, constant reminders to lose the guilt, suggestions for how to get your kids to just eat food at all, and of course the actual section of your blog where you list ready-made, storebought dinners that make sitting down together possible without cooking a thing….
Virginia Heffernan is a grown woman who has every right to choose the “defrosting” life. We all need to assert our rights as adults to live life as we choose, free from the judgment of others. So, I would appreciate if Heffernan would also extend me and others the courtesy of respecting our liking to cook and not because the patriarchy said so, but because we too are grown adults who would like to make their own choices free from the judgment of others. With that said, all adult decisions are made with knowledge of the consequences and trade-offs of that decision. The health, financial, and social benefits of cooking & the family meal are well-documented. If one chooses to simply “defrost,” then one cannot expect all the same benefits and results because that is not how life works.
in the words of tswift, “haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. shake it off!” (with 2 daughters, I assume you’ve seen the video–it may require a re-watch with some vigorous/angry dance moves)
-love, your entire loyal army of home cooks
OMG – could the author be more bitter??!! That was a really sad– bordering on downright mean– take on something that should bring families together. Wow. Kind of speechless…. Thanks for following it up with all of those empowering and uplifting links!
What can I say after M’s “so suck it Virginia Heffernan”!! Heffernan clearly has issues about food, so why review cookbooks? And why be so snarky about it. Your books and blog could not be less condescending. Your enthusiasm and no-judge style are a regular treat. I own both cookbooks and the “Make Dinner Not War” bumper sticker is the only adornment on the front of my fridge. Keep the faith.
OK, we get it Virginia Heffernan, you don’t like to cook. Fine. But please don’t insult those of us who do. And guess what. You still have to feed your kids. That article was rather infuriating and extremely condescending. And Jenny, I really enjoy your blog, both when you post and when your husband posts.
Omg! So rage-y! It’s almost as if she’s taking this too personally. Plus, what’s the point of slamming specific bloggers and writers? Also, typically people gravitate towards blogs and articles on topics that interest them. If she is not interested in the topic of family dinner, why is she reading books and blogs about the topic? I couldn’t even read the whole thing because I felt like she wasn’t making a point, was just criticizing people. She needs to make peace with the fact that dinner looks different in her home rather than directing her anger towards others.
I also completely agree about dinner being a team effort. I cook, my husband cleans. Would I still be as motivated to cook if I was responsible for everything? Maybe not.
I just skimmed read the article – paying attention to where she mentioned you, and feel that those paragraphs are the embodiment of that saying “what people say about you, says more about them then it says about you” (horribly botched quote)
While sometimes your approach jars with me – you just don’t get the level of pickiness and anxiety I am dealing with (or do you?) – rather than write you off – I double down and say “there’s an approach, lets add it to the inventory” Love your books, blog and ATTITUDE – more than feeding me recipes you are feeding me thoughts on parenting and family.
Wow. Well I hope you get thousands of comments like this one to inform you that you are indeed a POSITIVE force in the world of families and dinners. I have given your book as gifts to friends, because I love your message of not feeling guilty while doing your best to keep your family healthy as well as staying connected to your family. Family dinners are important!! It’s honestly the absolute best part of my weekday. And it doesn’t matter if I made the spaghetti and meatballs from scratch or if I picked up a rotisserie chicken and mashed sweet potatoes from Whole Foods on the way home or if I threw some frozen fish sticks into the toaster oven and served with some veggies and ranch dressing. (All of those happened just last week.) We’re sitting down together, we’re eating (mostly) healthy food, and we’re talking. That’s what it’s all about.
I personally love the tone of your book and found nothing condescending in it at all. You sound just like me! Trying to find things that work. You put names to tactics I already used – like “deconstructable meals”. And if anything, I think your tone attempts to relieve parents of any guilt associated with their approaches to dinner.
Anyway, sorry to go on, but I found that article to be simply awful. I’m really surprised it was in the NY Times at all. And that author obviously wouldn’t have found anything positive to say about any cookbook since she hates to cook! So whatever.
I read the Heffernan piece the other day(I subscribe to the N Y Times and I’m interested in topics related to food). At the time, I felt really uncomfortable with the cruel tone of some of what she said, about you as well as others she named, and the seeming uncaring about the effects on her children’s health and what she is teaching them about how to take care of oneself and the people we love. BTW, there’s no mention of any male person sharing or not sharing a parent’s obligation to feed one’s young. One of the things That I especially love about your blog is that it’s a family that is at its center, and Andy is so obviously engaged in creating with you a vibrant family life. So, I just re-read the Heffernan essay, and also the post by Luisa and the other essay she mentions. I’m going to let these all muddle around in my brain for awhile, as I figure out what I really think about these issues, and I may write about that later. In the meantime, I just want to emphasize again that I so enjoy your blog, and your life- affirming attitude about a very basic topic inherent in human survival through the ages: starting with the time humans lived in caves, we’ve alway had to eat in order to remain alive, and hopefully thrive. In order to bring down the gazelle or rabbit or whatever game was around, we had to work together as a team. And, once we had the game, we had to share. It’s in our DNA. Whether you like cooking or not, it would seem a good starting place to establish a pattern of working together to make happen the presence of healthy, yummy food. Sharing it encourages our other human trait: talking, story- telling, creating a nurturing circle of love.
Everyone has to eat and someone has to prepare that food. Sharing the food that’s prepared is an incredible way for humans to relate to each other. Many of us find joy in that process. As one of those people trying to build that love in my daughter, I really appreciate this blog as an inspiration and a resource – even though my cooking style differs totally from yours. Keep up the good work and don’t let a hater get you down.
Liz K said it all. Carry on, Jenny!
Oh! And while I had to comment after that first article, I went on to read several of the others. Great and inspiring picks this week! Love!
1. Haters gonna hate.
2. This is a superfantastic round-up.
3. Malala, right? Yay!!!!! That news made my life.
I could not disagree more with that article! I have never, ever found you to be condescending or anything other than encouraging. Please continue to do as you do– we need you!
Hi, that article was awful. Allow me to paste the quote I left on the NYT site. (I apologize for the, um, candor of my comment – but I thought her article was really unfair and wanted to make that clear. “Give me a break. You don’t like to cook. I get it. I also get that you’re trying to be humorous. But talk about condescending. You could at least be accurate and fair when dumping all over people who are just trying to get through one of the many chores we all face as we wade through parenting and life. I enjoy cooking and meal planning. Guess what? I’m a real feminist, too. (And yes, my husband helps. He likes to cook, too.) Different strokes, different folks. I’m also regular reader of the Dinner: A Love Story blog and I’ve never found it to be anything but warm, encouraging and pragmatic on the subject of family dinner. Not arrogant, not condescending. Not sexist – her husband regularly contributes and shares in the cooking duties, too. The point is not the cooking. It’s putting aside the some time, every day, to sit with your family – over a home-cooked meal or a meal out of the freezer or a pizza or, perish the thought, takeout (yes, they do takeout in Jenny’s house). The only condescension I’m sensing is wafting from this direction. Maybe your real issue is with the division of labor in your own home. Take it up with your spouse and stop lambasting a genuinely positive, kind person who’s done a lot to make the evening cooking hour a little more sane. If she publishes a book in the process or makes some money out of her ideas, then good for her. Let’s save the derision for people who actually harm the world for the sake of a buck.”
Hi, that article was awful. Allow me to paste the quote I left on the NYT site. (I apologize for the, um, candor of my comment – but I thought her article was really unfair and wanted to make that clear.) “Give me a break. You don’t like to cook. I get it. I also get that you’re trying to be humorous. But talk about condescending. You could at least be accurate and fair when dumping all over people who are just trying to get through one of the many chores we all face as we wade through parenting and life. I enjoy cooking and meal planning. Guess what? I’m a real feminist, too. (And yes, my husband helps. He likes to cook, too.) Different strokes, different folks. I’m also regular reader of the Dinner: A Love Story blog and I’ve never found it to be anything but warm, encouraging and pragmatic on the subject of family dinner. Not arrogant, not condescending. Not sexist – her husband regularly contributes and shares in the cooking duties, too. The point is not the cooking. It’s putting aside the some time, every day, to sit with your family – over a home-cooked meal or a meal out of the freezer or a pizza or, perish the thought, takeout (yes, they do takeout in Jenny’s house). The only condescension I’m sensing is wafting from this direction. Maybe your real issue is with the division of labor in your own home. Take it up with your spouse and stop lambasting a genuinely positive, kind person who’s done a lot to make the evening cooking hour a little more sane. If she publishes a book in the process or makes some money out of her ideas, then good for her. Let’s save the derision for people who actually harm the world for the sake of a buck.”
The article was sneering and ridiculous. I work full time outside the home and have twins, who are five, and figuring out how to feed them well and sometimes expediently, teaching them to love food and look forward to dinner, which at 5 years old they do (when I tell them it’s ready they actually leap up from whatever they’re doing and race to the table), took a while, and you (through your blog and your book) were incredibly helpful and encouraging and non-judgmental. Food and nutrition are important. It’s not a contest, it’s about their health, chronic disease, the environment, pleasure, love — it’s so complicated and essential. I really am incandescent at that dismissive and ugly story. Sometimes the best we can do is a frozen pizza or scrambled eggs, and I never feel guilty about it. I’m doing my best, so is my husband, who also ranges from hot dogs to more complicated things depending on the time and resources we have at the moment. I welcome truly critical pieces or essays or reviews, things that, even if pointing out some flaws or a blind spot have something interesting or provocative to say. I hate these kinds of made up stories that really are just tantrums about the author’s personal ish. Enraging.
I don’t get it. Maybe the author would dislike cooking and making dinner less if she didn’t wait until 5-freaking-o’clock to figure out what to make. I hate making dinner when I do that too: that’s the entire point (or part of the point at least) of all of these new family cookbooks: to help you get it together before everyone is cranky and starving. Like another commenter said: your kids (and you!) need to eat dinner, you can make it be enjoyable for everyone involved, or I guess you can choose to be bitter and rage about it in the NYT.
Ew. She took a lame premise and retrofit your and others’ words to support it. I could have done a better job of writing that, and I don’t get paid to write- let alone paid by the NYT. If you are steamed by this you have every right to be.
Oh Jeez, Jenny. This makes me sad. If anyone has ever thought that you were being condescending or putting dinner making on only mothers…they clearly have not read your blog. Haters always gonna hate. If cooking dinner isn’t important to someone, which they are totally entitled to feel, then don’t pick up cookbooks or read food blogs.
You are not condescending. When I first read that article, I thought she was being a little sarcastic to be honest, kind of poking fun at herself for her own perceived inadequacy. I think people who don’t like to cook don’t read cooking blogs or cookbooks all that much anyway. And that is fine. I think your blog clearly is geared towards either people who like to cook or are interested in gathering new ideas for how to improve their own skills, or make things a bit smoother for their families if family dinner is what they seek. Don’t sweat it – your readers are the proof.
Cooking almost seems to have become the hot button issue that smoking was/is. People who like to cook and who want to cook are always going to believe it’s the best thing to do (like not smoking). Those who don’t want to cook or who dislike cooking are probably always going to belittle those who do like it and are going to claim that they feel persecuted by those who do cook (like smokers – or at least like the people I know who smoke).
I couldn’t believe how intentionally dense and downright mean so many of the comments were on your Motherlode week. There just doesn’t seem to be any middle ground on the issue of family dinner.
If I were a betting woman (which I am), I would bet the bank this woman has an eating disorder or struggles with her food relationship. The venomous way she describes her disconnection with food and food writers seals the deal for me. I know so many women like this. Instead of confessing to their food issues they attempt to tear down those who are trying, sometimes succeeding sometimes not, to get a relatively healthy meal on the table. She completely missed the premiss of Dinner a Love Story regarding have the family around the table. She should use her Harvard education to research the profound positive effects of sitting around a dinner table with your family instead of personally bashing those who are trying to help all of us achieve the food/dinner balance.
Keep up the great work Jenny (Andy). I have always been a fan.
Also wanted to share this great quote by T. Roosevelt. I think is sums it up about critics and haters:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
You’re awesome. The book(s) are awesome. The blog is awesome. Your approach is awesome. My two-working-parents, two-kids-under-four family loves everything about what you stand for. Let the haters hate. Now go have a glass of wine.
I love how you and Andy love food and family meals! Your tone is always upbeat and real. Don’t doubt yourself, you inspire and encourage so many people.
Reading Heffernan’s article actually made me feel yucky. It started out ok. I mean “why can’t I just crack open a half-dozen Clif bars and keep playing with my children?”… That’s kind of funny. And I can relate. But then it just got really ugly, mean and totally off base. “I like not working and having no opinions and being everyone’s handmaiden.” What is that about? It’s hard being a stay at home parent; it’s hard being a working parent; it’s hard being the one who rallies and makes dinner only to have a cacophony of divergent opinions flung back at the cook… That’s why we need the cheerleaders -who aren’t telling us not to trust ourselves but who are telling us it’s worth it.
I love how this piece triggered everyone inner Taylor Swift.
Jenny, you should have your kids make you an all-purpose “haters gonna hate” playlist. Might be nice for blasting while you cook/work out/condescend .
I read that NYT article and was really shocked that something so hateful was actually published. I tried to write it off as a poor attempt at humor but the line equating liking to cook with having no opinions and being everyone’s handmaiden made me feel a bit sick. The poor woman obviously has some real insecurities that have nothing to do with you or your wonderful blog (or food, for that matter). I sincerely doubt she has even read much here as she has obviously missed the point by a mile.
Please don’t let this vitriolic mess get to you. I love reading your blog and have never found your tone, nor Andy’s, condescending in the slightest.
Ugh. That is all I could think as I waded through that NYT article. You are anything but condescending in your blog and your books, I hope you know that. This is an angry person trying to be funny (it’s not funny).
The truth of the matter is that meals need to be prepared/planned for, every day, three times a day, for forever. You can detest it all you like but it still needs to be done and when you have kids, the same needs to be done for them. So, the best we can all hope for is some guidance on how to get it done efficinetly and enjoy it as much as possible along the way. Your awesome insight helps us to do both and for that, I’m forever grateful.
Finding your blog and your cookbooks has been so inspiring for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Please completely ignore that woman and her essay and keep on doing what you’re doing. It’s making a difference so don’t lose your battle cry! Dinner matters!
Bravo to you. Your tone is never condescending or preachy. It’s a way for people who like to cook or want to cook to have a good time, feel more confident and get good suggestions. I found HER article preachy and condescending. I also hated that she seemed to equate women’s love of cooking with a desire to return to the 19th century. I say if she wants to defrost its fine with me. Not everyone likes to cook. But don’t put us down because we do. What a jerk. Also, this tag of your book should send sales soaring! Good luck!
I think you need a t-shirt that says “The High Priestess of Family Cooking”.
This is awesome!
Haven’t read the article (and I’m not sure if it’s worth my time) but I love your website, love your books. And I don’t know, I just get the feeling that other people feel bad about their own selves and need to take it out on everyone else. haters gonna hate.
To me, I feel like it was one of those scenarios where a person doesn’t identify, so they feel that means they are being attacked. You know?
You aren’t writing for the person who has no desire to begin a relationship with cooking. You aren’t saying that’s bad. To me, you tell the person who really WANTS that, “You can do this. If you want it, you can. Do this.” I’m not exaggerating when I say that reading the “DALS” cookbook and your blog, and finally learning to cook, was a big help in digging me out of my depression. For whatever reason, it all seemed like so. darn. much…to plan, to actually do the work…Then, I read from you, and it was like a friend, giving me a pat on the back, teaching me how to figure it out. I’m sure that sounds quite cheesy, but it’s the truth!
And now, here I am, loving my time in the kitchen.
Dear High Priestess of Family Cooking,
Sorry, need to regroup before I continue because I’m laughing too hard. That is a ridiculous article. You are not condescending. I appreciate your positive, you can do this tone very, very much. It’s totally fine with me if VH doesn’t like cooking (although I humbly suggest she should spend less time obsessing about it if that is the case). I like cooking and I love your website because it fills my dinner roster with new and wonderful entries, many of which become keepers, on a constant basis. My family is glad you are writing your blogs and books!
I did not agree with her at all! Your book is my most popular gift, because it is not condescending. I am also a defroster, and I know that you do not care or are trying to change me.
Hasn’t she written this piece before, btw?
Jenny, let me first say I love your blog – both your writing and your recipes. However, unlike many of the commenters above (whose opinions I completely respect) I actually don’t always like to cook…in fact, sometimes I hate it, like the title of the article says. I feel overwhelmed at around 5pm too, with the stress and pressure of making a meal (or in my family’s case, several meals) that will be eaten with relatively little complaint.
Sounds grim, right? But your blog HELPS me figure it out. I’ve never felt like you condescend to your readers at all. I am grateful for your down to earth tone and your approachable and delicious (!) recipes.
Yet I do understand Virginia’s dinner angst and struggle (even if I don’t agree with exactly how she expresses it) because it feels like everywhere you look – on and offline – there are people expressing how important it is to home cook for your family from scratch, if possible. Not to mention all the advice about WHAT to cook and what not to cook. If I hear about one more book about how French kids eat so much better than American kids, I’m going to throw a snail at someone. Yeah, my kids eat hot dogs and chicken fingers sometimes, so shoot me! 🙂
Well, I’ve gone on long enough, but I hope I’ve made it clear that I am a genuine fan of your site. Thank you for all that you do.
Jenny, I have to agree with some of the criticisms in the Heffernan piece. The tone was unfortunate, because it got in the way of the message. I’m a working mom–a lawyer who works 50-60+ hours a week. I read your posts and am amazed by how little applies to a working parent with a life like mine. You work from home. You seem to have time to put together a marinade in the morning and turn on the oven, peel potatoes, etc. in the late afternoon. I don’t, and I suspect I’m not the only one by far. When I get home from work (around 6:30-7), I need to pull something from the fridge, reheat it, and have it ready to eat. I don’t have time to pound chicken breasts, or stand stirring rice. I know there are plenty of other parents like me. Your series on the Motherlode blog seemed to miss this vital point completely. We don’t have time to make a new meal every night! We don’t have time to get the “whole family in the kitchen” on a weeknight. Some more realism here would be greatly appreciated. I am firmly committed to home cooked meals, and to the idea of family dinner. I make it happen just about every night. But it’s not with recipes like yours. It’s with big batch meals that last days; with roasted vegetables I make on the weekend; etc. It’s not nearly as romantic as you make it seem on the blog.
Oh my that article was disturbing. I love your blog & your books and have never once felt condescended to. Actually I have always felt that your attitude is “be flexible” and “don’t sweat it.” I have made family dinner at my house fit how my family works which means we only get to sit together as a family in entirety on the weekends and I still feel that our meals during the week aren’t lacking at all. The author of that article was extremely condescending and insulting when she judged those of us that enjoy cooking. A love of cooking does not in any way make me less of a feminist. Having the right to make our own choices and be treated fairly are at the base of what feminists, past and present, fight for. I have friends who don’t enjoy cooking and don”t cook, their spouses do. And more importantly, I don’t give a shit!! None of my business!
And obviously she hasn’t tried to make the Pork Ragu. One of the easiest things I’ve ever made & it’s delicious! And freezes well!
And go Malala!!!! So incredibly exciting!! Girls can do anything!! (even cook…if they want to)
I found your blog and cookbook about a year ago and have enjoyed the recipes, your writing style, and your honesty and humor about today’s home cooking. I am finding my own path as a mother of three young kids and we eat at home nearly nightly as even takeout adds up quickly. I also grew up in a home where nightly dinners were set in stone and that together time made a huge impact on me. I want that for my kids. And me! So thanks for the inspiration and your tone of solidarity in the kitchen, the exact opposite of condescending.
Keep doing what you are doing because I love your blog! That article is totally missing the point of what cooking can do for ones family, bank account and health. I work, go to school and I love to cook! There are some nights I don’t feel like cooking, and therefore I order pizza or have a pb&j sandwich. I cook for others because I like to, not because it is expected of me because I am a woman. I really think she is setting us women back by putting so much focus on the fact that cooking is a woman’s or mother’s job…haven’t we gotten past that? Ohh so much I could say about that article, but instead I am going to go home and maybe make that Pork Ragu that I have been meaning to try! I hope your family keeps on doing what you do!
I just picked up your cookbook about two weeks ago and started reading your blog. As a full time working mom who is terrible at feeding her children, I can say that I found your writing refreshing and not at all like it is described in your article. I think you do a fantastic job of easing my guilt, and you also are sure to communicate your belief that it’s not just a woman’s job. I don’t think the author of that article read your book!
Sorry for the mistake in my last comment. I meant to write “…not at all like it is described in ‘her’ article!’
You don’t come across as condescending at all. I guess she was trying for humor but it falls flat. I am the main but not the only cook in my family, but not one of us thinks that’s because I’m female and my spouse is male. It’s irritating to see people make a sexist assumption (she’s writing about family meals, she must be focused on moms!) and then accuse you, the writer, of being sexist based on their assumption, not your writing.
That’s actually one of the first things I thought about when I read the NY Times. “But that’s not true–what about Andy?”
Like so many have already stated here, I don’t find your writing (on your blog or in your books) condescending at all. The message I always get is that sure, the food is obviously a component, but what’s more important what what you serve is the connection and rapport you build as a family when you come together to eat.
Boo – that stinks.
You put goodness out and then the nay-Sayers dump on you
Keep doing what you are doing
Have a stiff drink and move on
Never once, not even a single time, have either or your books or your blog, come across as condescending. You provide fun and daily recipes, you give encouragement, understanding, and a game plan to those of us who do enjoy to cook, and who are the chefs for our family. Also, I would like to mention that food is important. Its important to know what is going into your body as well as your children’s bodies. It is the job of the parent, and it is how we care for our human bodies. My favourite part of the day, is sitting down at the the table to share a meal with my family and sometimes friends, no matter how chaotic life can be. For me, and obviously many others, its worth the effort. I love to cook good food for my family. It is something that provides instant gratification. Now talk about doing the ironing on the other hand…..hate it, get angry when I have to do it. Virginia should not knock those of us who love to cook for our families, and value family dinner. Keep up the good work Jenny and Andy.
This actually caused me to comment for the first time here, after following off and on for years – I did read the article through, repeatedly, and I think the author has a valid point. Not so much about your blog, per se (and I couldn’t speak to your cookbook) but about the pervading belief that we HAVE TO COOK AND EAT WITH OUR KIDS OR WE’LL MESS THEM UP FOREVER. And, whether your blog is a specific contributor or not, the majority of that burden will fall on mothers. Period. We know this is true, there have been innumerable studies referencing how much child care and housework women do compared to men, etc. (Yes, your husband is awesome about this – many aren’t.)
If you are already an overwhelmed parent, dinner is hard. When you’re an overwhelmed mother, it’s even harder because the societal and cultural onus weighs heavier on you. If you’re struggling with XYZ, and you read something that talks about how easy XYZ is, it can feel condescending – regardless of author intent. While I don’t see that as the overall tone of your work, the simple combination of pressure to save your kids with dinner, “it all begins at the family table”, and blithe commentary, can trigger that response – particularly when you’re reading a bunch of authors at the same time. In the end, your readers overwhelmingly don’t find you condescending (those that might feel that have already moved on), I don’t think you can avoid triggering said response in people who are already defensive, and I don’t see much value in responding to defensiveness in kind.
I will say that as a single mom, who works long hours, I find fewer than 5% of your posts apply to my life and needs. Which is fine with me, as I’m not expecting you to revolutionize my life. Nor do I give a rats about social expectations. But that puts me in the very small minority.
I have been reading your blog for a while now and love the general tone of it all.
Having read that Virginia Hefferman article had me thinking Manifesto of sorts as that is how it reads as. In the end, it’s a bitter diatribe over her angst of being “forced” to cook and for the kids – and getting many facts terribly wrong.
I don’t think you ever said you should only make dinner from scratch every night, but rather, do the best you can in making an effort, and then provide ways to provide a healthy dinner with leftovers and stuff made on the weekend pulled out of the freezer to thaw and heat. You even say at times that it’s perfectly OK to make a simple meal and let it be.
The point is, you get the family around the dinner table each night to eat being the real point here.
I also get this as I grew up in a household where my Mom was a stay at home mom but we all ate around the dinner table each night, my parents and my 3 older sisters and I for many years. She enjoyed cooking and always had something, even if it was something she made earlier and pulled it out of the freezer a trick I do to this day with things like spaghetti sauce that I make in the crock pot and freeze in portion containers for instance.
I am a single guy, work full time, but will cook a meal most nights of the week, being from scratch, and when I’m not, it’s leftovers of last night’s meal or something from the freezer I made earlier.
I’m also a spontaneous cook and can come up with something fun and interesting, just by seeing what looks good at the grocery store (and on sale), or in my pantry. I may get a spark of creativity from something on a blog even…
Anyway, enjoy your work and what you are trying to accomplish.
Fascinating, They must not have read your intro to your first book where you speak about the fact that your Mom was in law school and your Dad had to learn how to dredge the chicken. From word one you have always been about the fact that dinner is a family affair.
It is comforting to read these comments and know that I wasn’t the only one who approached that article with a knot in my stomach knowing that she’d be throwing darts at my beloved DALS. Rise above, is all I can say. For all the negative out there, you can bet that there is triple the positive. The negatives are few and far between. Great post today – I think I either shared, emailed or forwarded nearly all of them.
Frequent reader, first time commenter. Great blog, love what you’re doing. Her piece is fundamentally bad. People aren’t drawn back to the kitchen because of enslaved roles, and I sincerely do not believe it’s motivated only by nutrition. People are drawn back to the kitchen because what you can create yourself, including many short and easy recipes, are so much better and so much cheaper than frozen food or takeout. And, shocker, cooking is actually fun. It is interesting how we had others make our food (frozen food, food from a can, cheap takeout) and then we started making it ourselves again, so I give her that one interesting point. Outside of that, it’s a completely irrelevant piece that I don’t see many, if anyone at all, relating to or agreeing with.
Like the author of the article I don’t love to cook dinner for my family (small kids, picker eaters kid of a nightmare), but your blog has always been a bright spot in that. I’m fairly certain this woman has never read your blog. I seem to recall a blog post or two about frozen foods (from Trader Joe’s) you feed your kids in a pinch. I have never found you condescending. I’ve also always been impressed by (and a bit jealous of) how you and Andy team up on meals. Your cookbook and now blog has also been a source of some of my husbands go to meals (the ‘you make it, you own it theory’ I’m paraphrasing) and he didn’t use to help with dinner much. So thank you for that!!! I definitely think some of the real food movement has taken the home made lifestyle a bit too far for the typical American family and I have never felt you were part of that. Keep doing what you do.
So I read your blog all the time and have both your books and don’t think you are condescending, but I also totally appreciate virginia’s point. Most men do not in fact help with cooking even now. It is quite rare and I think your husband is not typical. My husband shops and cleans but simply cannot cook. It is still a burden I feel. We both work intense jobs. We are rarely home before 7:30. Our big goal is one family dinner during the week days otherwise the sitter feeds the kids. So our kids may grow up without the daily family dinner I had but I think they’ll survive. And I also totally understand the grind cooking can feel like and so if someone really doesn’t like to cook at all that has got to be tough and just by its nature feel antagonistic. Hopefully you will figure out a way not to take it so personally. I think what she said is just a response to the overwhelming lovefest in favor of the home cooked meal.
Look forward to the next super easy but tasty dinner idea and I always love your kid book ideas. Laura
the saddest thing about that lady’s article is her daughter asking , i imagine hopefully, “what’s for dinner?”. It’s sad that her daughter has to ask her knowing the answer will be grudging.
also, your books are not anything like the other books she cites. Certainly it is bizarre to suggest that your books are aimed only at mothers with no involvement of the father as that is basically opposite of all you two write about.
She should lovingly pick up her salad and rotisserie chicken and tell her daughter in a warm tone that they are having chicken and salad without all the angst. Planning just a little would really help, even if it’s just planning how to pick up the take out or prepared dinner. But all parents have to deal with feeding the kiddos so maybe her rant has more to do with the unending “not what I want to do” demands of parenthood?
I find the best thing about your books is that they take me from “not knowing if I can pull it off” (that is, dinner most nights), into feeling “it’s totally do-able”. I think the NYT writer could actually pull off making dinners, but has convinced herself that she can’t. Which is obviously totally fine to have areas that you don’t want to dabble in at all (for me, DIY arts and crafts, for example, don’t get me started)–but she seems conflicted: She actually does want to dabble in cooking for her family (or at least wants to want to)–if she didn’t care, she wouldn’t have written this piece?- but she has convinced herself that she can’t. Funny, I think she needs to read your books…
Just scrolling down to make a comment I saw that clearly everyone else agrees. That article was absurd and it’s exactly what I hate about some so-called feminists. I don’t understand why being a feminist to some people means shaming us women who like doing traditional woman things. Cooking for our families no longer means what it did in the 1950s. It can be a collaborative and enjoyable effort. And with everything that is wrong with our food system today it is SO important to make food from scratch. But your blog is about more than that! It’s about sitting down with our families (no matter where the food came from or who cooked it) and talking about our days. And sometimes that means trader joe’s pizza dough topped with store bought sauce, and sometimes it means pork ragu. I’m sorry you had to deal with that article.
Jenny, your blog is an amazing resource for anybody (woman, man, child, who cares?) who wants to cook for their family. I was raised in a “family dinner” household, and while it is often not easy to put dinner together in my own house, I do it with the help of your amazing blog and books (will be ordering “Playbook” soon). I read the article that you mention, and it really is too bad this person wants to feed their kids Clif bars every night. The only losers there will be her kids, who will suffer from poor nutrition, as well as a lack of appreciation for simple yet tasty food. No need to dignify the author with a response, unless you want to kill her with kindness and send over an oversimplified basic 7 day meal plan for those who “hate to cook dinner”.
You’re the best!
Julie in Cali
I’m not sure what she was expecting to find in a family cookbook – instructions on what to pick out from the freezer section? It’s a cookbook – that should be your first clue that, yes, it’s going to be geared toward people who like to or want to cook.
I’ve read (and cooked) from your books and blog and I think you go out of your way not to sound preachy about family dinner or cooking family dinner. But I’m one of those working moms who enjoys cooking, pre-kids and, for the most part, post-kids.
I love your perspective so don’t let this bit of internet rant deter you!
No such thing as bad publicity, right? Hang in there, High Priestess!
Ah, High Priestess ( and also Andy, who must be your acolyte),
Please, please let this woman’s opinions roll of your backs. She used words like “condescending” and “facetious” to describe you. To the contrary, I find your books and your blog to be supportive, generous, and Real Life. The fact that so many of your recipes help me to create superb dinners is almost beside the point.
I have not read most of the other books she lumps together with yours. I usually cook for my husband and myself now, and guests. Because – am I deceiving myself? – I love to cook and I love to eat good food. I live in Italy now, our children are grown, I get to spend lots of time with our Italian/American grandchildren. I have access to great produce, and meats and poultry.
Enjoying food and sharing it with family and friends, or savoring it on a night when you are all by yourself, can be one of the most pleasurable and comforting parts of a human life. I like your approach. I like your “voice”. I like how you two have developed a way – which you started figuring out when it was “just” two people with jobs and other commitments, and tweaked as your children arrived and grew up – that makes the sometimes hard parts of meal planning or preparation easier, so that you can concentrate on eating food that is yummy and good for you, and enjoying each others’ company.
We gotta eat, we might as well eat food that is good for us and tasty too. If your approach does not work for Virginia, I hope she finds one that does. She sounds so angry and defensive, and even sad. If she really wants to serve herself and her family frozen dinners and takeout food, I hope she can find joy in it.
Hang in there. You know you have a gazillion readers out there, some who never comment or buy the books. The whole Internet/blog thing can be weird at times, but we love you.
if I were you, I’d seriously think about adopting the High-Priestess title, it gives you ultimate legitimacy & think about how great your new business cards will look! Take it as a compliment.
Clearly the article misses a few points and more importantly ignores vital ones only to mash it all together in order to shove one thing down our throats and wallow in a lexical field of acerbic semantics – unfortunately without verve, charme or humour. That’s a shame, because I think we all are in agreement about:
1. cooking (and housework, earning money, parenting, gardening, car repairing, ironing, counting beans, grooming butterflies…) should be shared and not everyone adheres to this ideal (see: last weeks discussion);
2. the recent nutritionism craze has us all enthralled and headless scrambling to eat the latest superfoods for the latest benefits (ironically, this chaotic approach to nutrition that has been critized by her arch belzebub Michael Pollan) &
3. the misguided pressure to be super daddy or mummy, who instills a heavy load of guilt and insecurity even into a Stepford wife.
The real point here is that extreme (defensive) reactions like these are the result of self-consciousness, angst & petulant obstinacy. If you don’t like to cook then don’t do it. Get somebody to do it for you: another person in your household, a professional, a frozen food company, a restaurant. That is your decision and you should stand by it. I don not want, can’t and therefore do not enjoy to repair my car, I’ll bring it to someone who can. End of story.
I would be upset as well and feeling angry/guilty/ shamed, if my children would display this kind of attitude (Have you figured out dinner, yet?) but I’d have them involved in dinner (decision) making, even if it would be opening a tin of lentil soup (it was lentil soup, wasn’t it?). And there is nothing wrong with some prepared foods, you only need to take a few seconds to decide if it is a good or not so good one – reality check, please!
That’s why getting offended by the Ruth Reichl quote – I am paraphrasing here: the most important thing you could do for your kids/family is having a family dinner – is just so wrong and that really made my blood boil. What you eat is important but much more important is that it is done together (before you cry out, that you can’t do it everyday, then when ever you can, For God’s sakes!) or just sit together at the bloody table and talk: no phone, no TV, no playstation, no newspaper, no silence. If common sense does not convince, there are countless studies done which spell it out and if you do get scared by all the latest trends in trends of the nutrionism world, then do this.
I personally think, this IS the MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do for yourself (even if you do not have a family) and Jenny, High Priestess, this is the message that your blog (and books) convey to me. And there is nothing condescending in your way of handing someone tools to do it quick & effectively & wisely (freezer), though I might have missed the spots where you suddenly get all dictator on the reader & imperatively bark, that ‘One must cook every day’.
I, on the other hand, would say exactly that in an extremely condescending and patronising way (channeling Maggie Smith) when I put dinner on the table or equally acerbic while opening the fridge and get out the cheese and slam it on a sandwhich or enjoy the chilli my husband has cooked for me.
Enjoy your weekend and have a lovely dinner, might want to look at my latest post about a lamb tagine with black garlic which cooks (shock) for over 2 hours – shocking.
Jenny, another note: I read your blog because I’m interested in food topics, but the main reason I keep checking your blog is that I enjoy your writing–the tone, the wit, just the way you use words. Plus, my all-time favorite post–“How to Blog”. That post, along with the one by David Leibovitz on the same subject , is so informative, encouraging, altogether to the point. My kids are grown, I have grand-children, for God’s sake, I’m 74 years old, yet I truly enjoy reading your blog and am actually a fairly frequent commenter. Another observation I have is in response to “Anon” above and a few other commenters: your points are valid and interesting, but the reality is that Jenny writes mostly from what she knows and experiences. This is not a fiction writing blog! So, while she worked in the city full-time for years, that’s no longer the case. And, yes, she bases most of her food gathering at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Dan Barber’s Blue Hill/ Stone Barns and obviously is able to spend a considerable sum on high-quality ingredients, that’s what’s available to her, and I would do the same if these places existed in southern Vermont. (Bennington is actually designated as a “food desert”!) I do get somewhat annoyed at times, like when she posted that making tomato sauce is a vacation-only endeavor. Coming from a perspective where food security is a major issue for me, and many of my fellow citizens, Jenny’s worldview probably produces twinges of envy on my part, at times. I also don’t think that she presents her blog as the answer to all concerns (either the person employed full-time outside of the home like “Anon” or the income-challenged). Just read her “mission statement”. I think she does what she sets out to do and I congratulate her on her success. So, Jenny, I just hope that you continue doing what you do!
While, I’m only 25 and do not have children. I find your blog very approachable and your recipes easy enough for me when I was in college and working part-time. Also, thank you for sharing that article about the “Shine Theory.” I am an elementary teacher and will definitely be applying that concept to my classroom. Have a great weekend!
That was a insider trading story
Missed making breakfast… Now it’s time for breakfast for lunch
Thanks for the link
That was a long insider trading story
Missed making breakfast… Now it’s time for breakfast for lunch
Thanks for the link
So I’m going to admit that I don’t read every single post you put up (which actually makes me a little sad in the same way that I know I’ll never read every book at the library…) but from what I have read, both here and in your books, you are sharing the love – not shaming the non-cook. I tried to read that article in NYTimes, and her mood when she wrote it must have been FOUL because I got all tense just reading the first few paragraphs. She’s got a chip and you’re a well-known (and therefore, easy) target. Keep sharing the love, please. Those of us who love to cook and aspire to family dinners (once the bedtime for the shorties is later than 7, obviously) need the inspiration and encouragement! 🙂
Been reading you (and Andy) for years, ever since the article on counting hours to make sure that the parents come our ahead of the babysitter. Don’t think I’ve ever commented till today. Never, not once, did your (plural) tone strike me as condescending, precious or perscriptive. So given that she’s way off, I do wonder what brings about such a rant. There is something recognizable – the feeling of bitterness and failure coupled with a sense you shouldn’t have to feel that this is failure; and it is tied up deeply with motherhood. Anyway. It’s not you, it’s her – but I would still love to hear more of your thoughts on the subject.
Heffernan’s piece for the NYT has hit a nerve, and her frustration is clearly shared by many, mainly women. Whilst, on the one hand, you have families that struggle to put food on the table for whom all this talk of family time and getting the kids to eat widely is largely irrelevant, whose choices are reduced to eating or heating their home or clothing their kids, on the other hand are the parents who contend with pickiness, the drain on time and energy represented by children’s extracurriculars, and the pressure, albeit unspoken, to feed their kids well, a seemingly Herculean task in this age of ‘Mommy wars’, fuelled by endless books, blogs, and column inches. Of course all proclaim that perfection is neither realistic or desirable, with writers of said blogs duly paying lip service. But don’t we parents, deep down, really want our offspring to have it all? And in our eagerness to mould them into little connoisseurs in our own image, mightn’t we be overlooking the fact that children really just need simple fare, or that they actively crave the security of repetition and predictability? How ironic, then, that these children end up eating the very same, limited diet of nutrient poor, calorie dense white and orange foods as their lower income counterparts. Which is to say that, whilst MsHeffernan’s ire is something of a red herring in the grander scheme of things, she may have a point for that demographic of NYT readers who are unlikely to be troubled by genuine food poverty.
Jenny – I have been meaning to comment to you forever about how much I love your (totally NOT condescending) blog and books. You are so wonderful, approachable and I feel like you do “shine” on others….you make me laugh, feel better about myself and are a good reminder not to take it all too seriously.
You kept me company when I read your blog from the beginning while I was up nursing my newborn at night. Since then, your tip about getting sippy cups on the table first has changed my life…….funny what things stick in your head!
Most importantly, I hope you still love blogging and writing as much as we all love reading it!
@Anon: It’s a wonder you have time to read cookery blogs! I have friends, including teachers-TEACHERS!- who work similar hours, among them single mothers. I agree that blogs like this do not really address your particular requirements, and all I can say is that the majority of mums I know, working or not, cook a small repertoire of simple dishes. Their kids have grown up to be healthy, adventurous eaters who, crucially, appreciate the effort that goes onto ‘family dinner’. Go easy on yourself, blogs, like much of social media, don’t always represent the full reality!
Gosh, I think everyone has really covered it, but I had to add that condescending is a word that has never occurred to me concerning your writing. I’m someone who has always enjoyed cooking (does that mean I’m not a feminist anymore according to VH?) but have found your advice on picky eaters absolutely priceless.
We are starting the 30 Day challenge tonight with the kids’ full involvement; they’ve chosen all the meals, ordered them according to our schedule (nightmare sports nights etc), allowed for absolute will-not-try’s such as peas, got their scoring sheets ready, and got very excited about the small prizes if we finish it having tried every meal. Thank you!
And at least she likes your chicken 🙂
I found your blog (and your books) because of that whiny NY Times piece. I think I’m gonna like it here. I’m so sorry you got the blunt end of that stick. No matter how confident we might be or how grounded in our own work we are, getting trolled by the fricking NY Times is pretty much the definition of sucky. I wish you a speedy emotional recovery and, as necessary, wine, words and ice cream.
i too was shocked by the article! dals, of all blogs! As everyone else has already said, this woman clearly has food/jealousy/relationship issues, in addition to being to being an exceptionally poor judge of character.
At least she likes your food! Sounds to me like a whole lotta not your problem. As far as I’m concerned, you can keep cooking and writing; I’ll keep reading and eating.
(currently testing the vanilla pudding recipe to make with 30 2-year-olds tomorrow. wish me luck!)
What a nasty little article that was and, I suspect, more about her own issues with food than any perceived failings with cookbooks/blogs. And I really cannot bear women who call themselves feminists falling over themselves to kick other women just because they choose to cook/work/insert own verb differently to themselves.
You are doing a Good Thing. Never doubt it.
I just put the article down and was thinking of you, Jenny. Well, you and Andy, actually. The way you two tag team dinner, the blog, parenting is what’s always made DALS so fantastic to me. I think there is so much more to be said in the parenting space about equality between parents. But you guys are talking about it! All the time! When we interviewed you for our site a few years ago, you sent me an email asking – so sweetly! – if I would mind changing a phrase in the introduction to “helping moms” to “helping parents” for the very reason that you felt strongly about cooking being a shared responsibility.
Heffernan’s piece is meant to be comic and it is, in many ways. I do feel her pain over the drudgery of family meal making. And many pro-home cooking books, blogs, experts can be holier-than-thou. But not you guys. High Priestess, though? I’d keep that. xoC
Ana (above) wrote that cooking for our families no longer means what it did in the 1950s. I disagree. It means exactly the same thing: to nourish yourself and your family. But just about everything about it is different – from the small appliances most of us use (microwave and others), to the foods available to us and the way we cook them and finally to the fact that sitting down as a family to eat is far less common.
I grew up in the 50s and 60s and raised my own children in the 80s and 90s. I went through the lists of meals in Playbook and lists of quick weeknight meals on a few blogs. I didn’t find anything that I ate while growing up or that I fed my children.
Recently I read that today’s weeknight home cooking is more sophisticated, gourmet, and special occasion type dishes than in times gone by. The bar has been raised and we’re in a competition with ourselves. Whether or not we actually do it we feel a need to do better night after night.
Getting back to the family table is good, but maybe simpler meals is a good idea, too.
Sally–yes, good point about simplification. I would also add that I don’t think it’s a sustainable goal to cook a new meal Every Day. As a full-time employed outside of the home single divorced mother while I raised three daughters, I stumbled upon a solution that worked very well for us. We cooked together on the week-end, making double batches, roasting meats and veggies. From this abundance of food in the fridge, we made all kinds of delicious meals during the week. And, it was wonderful to always have food available, ready to re-heat or for making a sandwich. As for snacks or desserts, I bought a bushel of organic apples, right in the dining room or kitchen, from which you could eat all you wanted, no comment. No chips or store-bought cookies or crackers. We baked at home. I have wonderful memories centered around food: it’s growing, shopping for, preparation, and enjoying!
I am not writing this to be rude, but I do feel compelled to say that I think there is an underlying tone in your blog, and your writing, that basically says you think your kids are going to turn out better because you cook dinner almost every night. That is, frankly, annoying. Even though you try to offer genuine advice, I often will read your posts and my eyes start to roll. To give an example, you have sometimes written about how your daughters have long soccer games that don’t end until late, and yet you still have time to whip up a healthy dinner after you come home and have everyone eat together. Well, what if some families just stopped by the drive-thru and picked up McDonald’s for their kids after a game, for whatever reason, but ate that together as a family? You don’t come out and actually say it, but, to me, it does comes across as condescending to imply that you’re better because you managed to cook. And, as some others wrote, some parents are divorced, work long hours, or don’t have the means or education to cook for their families. I find that while I still have your site bookmarked among my favorites, the writing of other mom bloggers, such as Catherine Newman, Molly Wizenberg, and Alana Chernila, comes across as much more “real,” because it’s much more focused on larger issues around food and families that I find more interesting. I, too, live in the suburbs, work from home, and share the cooking responsibilities with a husband who likes to cook and is just as involved in our children’s lives as I am, but yet I would never in a million years tell anyone that cooking dinner for their kids is the be all, end all. I just don’t think it’s a great message to spew. Instead of reading, post after post, about how you managed to find time to cook, and how we should too, I’d be much more interested in reading about some not-so-great incidents or dilemmas your kids are going through, instead of how you managed to cook another family meal. Just my two cents — sorry.
Jenny and Andy,
Let me say that where I can see where Heffernan is coming from, her tone was off the mark. I printed off her article so that I could re read it. I love your blog and I have every book. I love the recipes that you two create and put up here on the blog, and I love the way they come across. I have NEVER once felt you were condescending in any way. I also have the “The Family Dinner” cookbook as well as “The Family Cooks” and “100 days of Real Food”. I love the recipes in all of these books. Does every one of the recipes that you, David and Leake put out work for my family? No. Do I make recipes from each one of these books? Yes. Do we sit down to dinner every night to a brand new meal? No. Are some of those meals a sandwich and chips some nights? Yes. Do you make me feel bad about that? No. Not everybody’s idea of how to get dinner on the table works for everyone. You need to pick and choose what works for you and capitalize on that. If that means that getting dinner on the table during the week at a decent time is a struggle, make every meal on the weekend and freeze them. That way all you have to do is pull it out the night before or the day of and heat it up. I have a coworker that does that and she swears by it. I don’t do that, but I love the idea. Anyway, please keep doing what you are doing, because I love your blog and I come visit it every day.
@NL: I wouldn’t let any insinuations, real or imagined, get to you. The food blogging world is really very, very small, good for occasional inspiration, but certainly to be taken with a healthy pinch of salt. Look at that other self styled (albeit tongue firmly in cheek) domestic goddess, Nigella. Much as I love her writing and recipes, recent revelations just go to show that even family dinner is no guarantee that things will come up rosy. Or, indeed, that much cooking even takes place at home!
You’re fabulous. She’s caustic and clearly dealing with some emotional issues. Hopefully she gets the attention she was looking for. And hopefully you will make something comforting and restoring while she dines on whatever bitterness she’s been accustomed to. Be well.
Jenny, I’ve never commented here before, but I wanted to say that love your recipes and your Bon Appetit articles! I think your writing is practical, accessible, and fun to read – pretty much the opposite of preachy and condescending. Thanks for continuing to share your stories and great ideas with all of us (even those who, like me, are generally silent).
Hi, Jenny –
I read the article today and needed to take a breather before responding. I’m really personally irritated by the tone that she took (it seems unwise to alienate all women + men who like to cook? no? just me?), but more then that, it seems like her article really goes against the point that she’s trying to make.
Some of the problems I had:
– don’t the kiddos have to eat? And that doesn’t seem to be in place because of the cookbooks, but rather, a constant. A need which will hopefully be solved by a parent. I don’t think that there’s an inherent gender bias to that need.
– that 3-D printer of a meal… it exists. Right? http://www.soylent.me/ The slogan is: never cook again.
– and the really difficult part for me is: feminism is all about that right to choose. The right to choose what kind of woman you want to be. Whether to have kids, who then need food. Whether or not you’re a cook. So to say (implicate?) that cooking family dinner essentially means becoming a subservient, thoughtless person is beyond ridiculous. Cooking doesn’t do that. Stupid editorials in the NYT might, though.
Your Friday Round-ups always send me into a long, but extremely enjoyable, online reading frenzy. Seriously, I clicked *just about* every link and read through happy that you shared!
As for the first portion: I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said. BUT, please keep writing and being you just as you are! I find every post delightful and inspiring, regardless of anyone’s take on the “right way” to be a parent.
@Laura: Heffernan’s point is simply that women like her, mothers who don’t enjoy cooking, feel pressure to do so in this age of competitive cooking and parenting, fuelled by a slew of books, blogs, and columns. Of course, she should just turn a blind eye to this media onslaught, and perhaps ask her own mum or a good friend how to deal with getting a quick, healthy meal on the table. But no, Heffernan herself belongs to that very group of chattering tastemakers, and as always, those that shout loudest get heard. Never mind that many low income families simply can’t afford decent food, or that single parents struggle daily to get anything on the table for their kids. Instead, the conversation that needs to take place about poor childhood nutrition gets hijacked by media folk like Heffernan, and here we are again, talking about picky kids, after school sports and feminism!
@Laura: Heffernan’s point is simply that women like her, mothers who don’t enjoy cooking, feel pressure to do so in this age of competitive cooking and parenting, fuelled by a slew of books, blogs, and columns. Of course, she should just turn a blind eye to this media onslaught, and perhaps ask her own mum or a good friend how to deal with getting a quick, healthyj meal on the table. But no, Heffernan herself belongs to that very group of chattering tastemakers, and as always, those that shout loudest get heard. Never mind that many low income families simply can’t afford decent food, or that single parents struggle daily to get anything on the table for their kids. Instead, the conversation that needs to take place about poor childhood nutrition gets hijacked by media folk like Heffernan, and here we are again, talking about picky kids, after school sports and feminism!
Apologies for duplicate comment!
i love to cook and i love to cook alone! (my husband does all the cleaning and never complains; my son is learning to set the table). thanks for all you do, jenny!
and thanks for the heads–up on Masterchef Junior!! my son loved the first season and I’m excited to watch this next one with him.
I read the article and popped back over here to leave you a note. The article made me laugh a bit, I’ll admit. She just hopped on that steamroller and was ready to flatten anyone with a differing point of view! You were first in line! Watch out! Seriously. Sheesh.
I stay at home. I love to cook. I also knit and sew, and I made my kids’ lunches every day in stainless steel lunch boxes. Apparently, I do these things not because I enjoy them or feel it works for my family situation, but rather because I negatively judge all women who don’t and want them to feel small. I have been the direct target of commentary like that in the article for a while now, eventually falling out with a long-time friend who blasted me for exchanging my brain for an apron and abandoning all women have worked to achieve because I claim to enjoy what I do. Le sigh.
This article seems to me just one more instance of a woman acting overly defensive about her own choices and condemning anyone with a different approach. Defrost away, woman! Play with your kids and enjoy your life! Live and let live!
There are a lot of women out there looking for a soapbox to stand on, but I’m not one of them and I never felt you were either. I find your website and your books funny, warm and encouraging for those who want to change or enhance their cooking. The numerous supportive comments above show that. Relegate that article to the burn bag, Jenny, and pour a glass to toast its departure. Maybe she’ll read up on Shine Theory in the meantime.
I’m only 4 years into this parenting journey but one thing that I have learnt is that parents tend to pick their battles – breastfeeding, sports, 3 hours of violin practice a night, or home cooked dinners etc etc. If eating decent food together is not your battle then yes all this stuff does probably feel a bit intense. But if this is the chosen battle then your work is a great aid in the trenches night after night.
And yes the 3 meals a day for the next 18 years (19710 by my calculations) does feel depressing/ daunting/ intimidating from time to time.
But as Gretchen Rubin writes “the only way out is through” – might as well enjoy the process rather than feeling miserable every night forever….
Or in other words – haters gonna hate. And if they’re going to hate, better be the biggest and the best. Yeah!
Keep on keeping on…..
Chin up, Jenny. That article was total horsesh*t, except for the part about how good your recipes always are.
All the to-cook-or-not-to-cook blather seems to gloss over the essential question: What do you want to eat? I guess if you are happy eating frozen meals every day, or have enough money to hire a cook or get take out every night, you can get around this question. But most of us like to eat decent food and are not rich, so we don’t have to spend a ton of time angsting over whether or not to cook.
There’s not much left here to say that hasn’t been already said. I really enjoy your blog and books and have gifted both books numerous times, most recently to my darling babysitter who just had her first baby. Her mom actually told me that she needed to get into a cooking routine (the baby was just two weeks old) and I immediately thought of your Playbook. I love how you ended your Friday Roundup with the link to the Shine Theory. Not only is the article excellent but ending your post with it was genius!
Also, I don’t really think that article is worth responding to, but you asked for honest comments on your blog. I love this blog, but I am someone who already enjoyed cooking and had family dinner every night even before discovering your blog. I suspect most of your readers are like that. My guess would be that you’re not reaching many people who are intimidated by cooking or just don’t like it.
I also don’t feel that you are being competitive or judgmental in your blog. However, I think you need to watch out for an air of privilege. I think this blog works when it feels like an average family trying to get dinner on the table. Usually, it does. But occasionally it feels more like intellectuals having dinner parties, dining at fancy restaurants, or delighting in upscale products/fancy cocktails. I intend these statements in a spirit of constructive criticism, because I really like this blog.
stupid, jealousy-ridden article by virginia. i could hardly believe that was published. it served no purpose than to publicly name authors who have put more work into their recipes, writing, and overall daily dinner efforts than virginia could ever be capable of achieving.
I literally can’t even process that article. It’s like a foreign language to me. Yet to me, cooking IS family. I would be lost without the connection of homemade food to table in my home.
Keep it up Jenny – seriously, this article is SO completely off course. You totally rock.
I also read the article first before reading your entry about it. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog and your books. Cooking with and for my family was the way I was raised and it makes me very happy.
I don’t always make something perfect and sometimes there isn’t enough time to do everything I want meal-wise, but I think thats how it goes for everything in life.
I feel sorry for this woman – she clearly has issues with food stemming from witnessing a begrudging mother in her own childhood. My mom
& dad were not gourmet chefs by any means when I was a kid – in fact, my mom’s sloppy sandwiches convinced me (a now-reformed perfectionist) to start making my own lunches at age 9 or 10, which I think was purposeful on her part – but their efforts to feed our family in my youth inspired my own love of cooking from an early age (dad grilled & made enchiladas or meatloaf, mom made lunches, salads, and baked cookies – I was so fortunate, I now realize). Having the skills to cook basic meals inspired confidence and pride in myself. I continue to find such joy in making food (though I haven’t truly cooked in 6 weeks b/c of my newborn). Just because Virginia doesn’t share this pleasure with those of us who cook does not mean we are martyrs or holier-than-thou – give me a break. She just missed the mark entirely. The point is to try to sit down with your family to eat when you can – to share the age-old ritual of a meal – community. I’ll keep reading your fabulous blog while I wait for enough free time to get back in the kitchen!
Re that article, Margaret’s comments (above) sum up my feelings. I love your blog and it always inspires me. Moving on–my 12 year old and I also read Picture Me Gone last winter and LOVED IT! If she hasn’t read it already, Abby might also like A Hitch at the Fairmont, which is what we’re reading now, or Dead End in Norvelt, which we just finished.
Finally, Kristen (comment 109) touched on the issue that I tried to raise in response to Jenny’s caviar on potato chip app article back in the summer. I got a lot of flack from many of Jenny’s supporters when all that I was trying to point out was that she ran the risk of losing her target audience (moms with young children trying to get dinner on the table every night) with articles about caviar apps. Finally, someone else who also enjoys Jenny’s blogs and books but gives a bit of insightful constructive criticism. Thank you Kristen!
I like your blog very much and I read it regularly. I also read the article by Virginia Heffernan and I didn’t think it was caustic (although, obviously, she didn’t name me by name). I thought it was an attempt to poke fun at the dominant school of thought that feeding your family homemade meals is sacrosanct – and to give a voice to people who are brought low by that idea.
We love to eat in my house and so we cook, but I do understand what she was trying to say.
Although it probably felt very personal to you, I don’t think she meant it to be. Unfortunately, because your work is well known, she chose to use you as a specific example of a broader trend.
Having said that, I wouldn’t waste one second trying to justify (to her or anyone) what you write about. You don’t need to – your recipes and dinner-making suggestions are great and you have a loyal base of readers for them.
@SusanJ: “Having said that, I wouldn’t waste one second trying to justify (to her or anyone) what you write about.”
But of course she MUST respond, keep this conversation going. Heaven forbid we actually start talking about those who eat badly because of poverty.
Cooking can be meditative, bonding and enjoyable. I don’t think enjoying cooking is anti – feminist and whether one enjoys cooking or not, I think eating together as a family is so important! It’s a lovely part of the day!
I am not sure I can say it any better than anyone else has so far, but you should clearly IGNORE VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN. She is just plain wrong!
I thought that Heffernan article was just ridiculous and not thoughtful or trying to be useful in any way. I thought she was just trying to be rudely funny.
I’m so glad, Jenny, that you responded with typical thought and clarity. WAY better than I could do!
Jenny, did you see this?
Send Virginia a Dark and Stormy and tell her to lighten up! Your cookbooks and blog are terrific so don’t let the “mean girl” get you down or make you doubt yourself. Personally, you’ve been a life saver for me as Mom of a picky eater and I look forward to every blog entry!
Oh sweet Jenny. This lady is just cranky. Don’t think about her and anyone that acts like her. I started reading your blog months ago and just finished your first book. You have not only NOT seemed condescending but you have inspired me!! Keep up the good work girl!!! “Onward” and upward!!!
I know I am a few days late and you’ll prob never see this comment but please know that I read your blog, have both your cookbooks, and that they have inspired me to help my husband have an easier time putting dinner on the table for me and our daughter. Yes, my husband. Take that, Virginia Heffernan.
Wow, there was a lot of anger and condemnation in that article. Interesting that her writing made me feel bad and somehow less than, but your writing never has. (Even though my husband doesn’t share in the cooking and sometimes we get dinner is from a drive thru and sometimes we eat at different times instead of all together, etc.)
The article protesteth too much. Your blog and your books are at the top of my “recommend” list for families wanting to do better at dinner and not knowing how. Don’t change a thing.
It’s such a hard subject. I love to cook and there are nights where I just don’t feel like doing it, but I do because I feel like I should. My husband will always say why? Don’t cook if you don’t want to, but I do put that pressure on myself. I will say there is one blog (not yours) that I don’t read anymore because the person is always making everything from scratch Tortillas, wraps, rolls, pasta etc. I just don’t like that persons POV so I stopped reading it. Life is a balance, but we shouldn’t judge what others do or don’t do.
The reason I came to your blog this morning is because I am already dreading cooking tonight so I was looking for some suggestions from you.
GAH I have so many feelings that I don’t even know where to start. First of all, I read your book almost every night before falling asleep. I am a career woman that loves to cook, especially for people that I love, and nothing makes me more excited than thinking about cooking for my kids one day. Your book is like a grown-up’s fairy tale: smart, realistic, but full of uplifting points about what really matters in life. I fall asleep at night after reading a few chapters happy, full of thoughts of family and food and work and marriage and a perfectly imperfect life full of love. I can’t tell you how much of a resource your book has been to me as a young professional woman who is excited to balance work and family with a sense of humor and lots of delicious pots of braising goodness.
So, my experience with your writing being said, please rest assured that you never, ever come off as condescending. Exactly the opposite. And, I’m sorry, the fact that Ms. Heffernan didn’t notice that Andy is a regular contributor to this site and a major shoulder-er of the cooking burden is simply lazy journalism. It seems to me that she had a point to make and simply forced her sources to fit her points. And, that is not nice. Do I agree that the whole “everything-is-killing-us-and-our-children” health craze is pretty ridiculous? Yes. But, you should have never, ever been included in that round-up. If it makes you feel better, it seems to me that, despite her grumpiness, she couldn’t help but be enamored by you and your wonderful recipes (and I agree with others that you should totally take, and flaunt, that “high priestess of family cooking” title). Keep up the good work, Jenny — the haters gonna hate, but you are doing incredible work and literally blazing trails on the daily. You rock!
I’d like to respond to anon’s comment, number 51. We wouldn’t read this blog for inspiration if it wasn’t inspiring. Can you imagine logging on to find, “Wasn’t feelin’ it today, people, we’re ordering pizza and you should too.” Maybe that’s more realistic but not anything I want to read. I love to cook when I have time, money, and energy. Which means I love to cook once a week. The other 3-4 times I tolerate cooking, I get satisfaction out of cooking, etc. A LOT of us work outside the home, juggle elderly parents and kids and soccer and whatnot. I can’t cook involved things every day. But until I can afford to pay someone to cook healthy meals for us I will always look for faster, easier, simpler, tastier things to make, and I find a lot of that here. Your job, Anon, is obviously important to you or you wouldn’t work so hard at it– and I admire that you don’t want to sacrifice home cooking for it. But you have to admit that it’s all about choices. It’s like looking at the mechanic’s family and saying, “you have no idea how easy you have it, you never have to pay for car repairs.” Jenny has it “easy” like that, as she has a cooking blog and is a food writer and cook and therefore it’s a bit easier for her to make cooking look easy. Maybe you could get Jenny to write a deposition for you to even things up. I by no means say that to be snarky; this subject has been much discussed this week at my job (where I have about 150 female coworkers, about 30 male), with some people agreeing with VH and others championing cooking as a necessary life skill, just like other life skills (changing the oil, re-wiring a lamp, etc). I tell my husband all the time that in my next life I will be married to someone a lot more useful, like an electrician or carpenter, but in truth I would “settle” for an Andy, as my husband turns the kitchen upside down making ramen, I swear. (It begs the question though: for the record my husband is really really good at telling jokes, so he makes an excellent dinner guest). Have a great weekend all.
I grew up determined never to learn to cook. My mom had nine children, and spent most of her time in the kitchen. I married a man who loved to cook—yay for me! An even better gift than all the great meals he made me was how his cooking showed me that you could cook and NOT sacrifice any other part of your life.
Now I love to cook. I just linked to your site, Jenny, as one of a handful that have been my companions & teachers in the kitchen. I share this quote with my three sons who are all learning their way around a kitchen: “Taking care of yourself by cooking is as much a part of life as taking care of yourself by eating.”-Christopher Alexander
My book club read your DALS book—(how many cookbooks make for a great read?!) and some who work from home were amazed at your stories of rushing to the train to get home for dinner, and some who work full-time outside the home were simply thrilled to find easy tips. Your site couldn’t be more inclusive and less judgment.
I’m mostly annoyed that the author of that NYT piece will get tons of attention/comments because she chose to attack such well-loved writers. Please continue to share what works for you, knowing we’ll take what might work for us, leave what won’t, and enjoy the writing either way.
Chiming in here to add to the above comments supporting you and telling you how much I love reading your blog…….my kids are grown so we don’t do family dinners but I still love your blog……you write with great humor and I wish you had been around writing a blog and books “a few” years ago when I was struggling to feed my children! This Virginia person should not read family cookbooks if she does not want to cook!….duh!……that is the purpose of “cook books”!……actually I don’t really think she even read yours as she would know your husband does his share of the cooking. I agree with one commenter about being surprised the NYTimes printed this vengeful article…..I do see many negative comments on the article. I was tempted to comment myself and tell her not to go to your husband to get any books published!!……as “apparently” she is a writer…..but a very bitter one!……talk about starting mommy wars……wonder what she thinks of stay at home moms!!?…….I fear to ask!……..hey, I love all moms…..those who work and those who stay at home!……Moms Rock!!……well so do Dads….(:
I am not keeping up with my Feedly at all! So I just read this and then went ahead and read her, rant, or whatever that was. She was paid money to write that. She was probably provided with copies of the books she mentions as part of this paid gig. No one can make her feel guilty about her lack of interest in cooking but herself. If she doesn’t want to cook that is fine. But to be paid to write that? What a waste. I did some snorts at all the comments (close to 500 now in total!) suggesting cookbooks or to make this or that via scracth. They clearly didn’t get it. She wants to be validated in her desire to continue following the method of cooking that was popular in the 80’s. FTR, I was born and raised by 2 working parents in the 80’s and cream of xzy soups were not common, nor was frozen premade crap. They cooked because that is what they were raised on. Home cooked meals. Dining out was a treat and that included pizza which was picked up, not delivered. What a waste.
I love your blog and your books and have used many recipes you and your family have shared. She gets it wrong implying that you and alone are cooking for the girls. It is clear to anyone who has ever taken the time knows that Andy plays an active role in all facets of the family/home life there.
I suport you!!
Wow…still reading comments over there. The ‘no one is my house helps (read: does it my way so I will do it all and resent the world for it)’ whiners are out in force over there too.
I took me exaclty once to understand (nearly 15 years ago) my husband is not me and I am not him and we will never do things the same way. Let it go people! Let.It.Go!!
OK, I’m going to move on now.
I meant to write this comment a week ago and then got distracted:
I read the first few lines of that article – up until she started slamming you – and then I promptly closed it. Her intention to be funny just wasn’t.
I bought your book when it came out a few years ago. I am no Suzie Homemaker, but I found your writing and recipes so accessible that I used it (and your website) all the time, and also bought your book for two friends. I’m heading over to amazon right now to buy the second. Keep doing what you’re doing!
I read that article and it made me furious. Did she even read your books or your blog? Ignore the ignorant and rock on, I say.
How strange that she lumped you into this article. I JUST started reading your blog last night. As a working mom who resents cooking every single night, I’m lovin’ this blog! I just saved a bunch of recipes that even I should be able to pull together and my picky daughter will actually eat. Also, I love your writing — it’s warm and friendly and about as far from condescending as you can get. Keep doing what you’re doing, please! 🙂
Wow. The lady doth protest too much, don’t you think?
Angry and defensive for no reason other than her own personal stuff. Don’t worry, Jenny. You’re loved and supported.