In her new new cookbook, Dinner A Love Story: It All Begins At The Family Table, Jenny Rosenstrach helps parents get there kids to the dinner table--and not just on the weekends. Rosenstrach, who's book was inspired by her blog dinneralovestory.com, discusses the inspiration for her blog and book, and how she comes up with recipe ideas.
What inspired you to start your blog?
I had just finished my first book, Time for Dinner, and I found I had a lot to say about family dinner. I cracked the code on family dinner in my house and a lot of people I talked to would ask me questions about it. Family dinner has always had a lot of meaning to me, and has always been an important ritual for me. I wanted to turn the conversation around to how much I loved it instead of focusing on the fact that a lot of people are overwhelmed by all the variables involved. People have a hard time seeing family dinner as something that’s enjoyable, and, although it wasn’t easy, I had gotten to the point where I did find family dinner enjoyable, and I wanted to help other people see it more as something to look forward to every day instead of something to dread.
Why do you think your blog resonated with readers?
We all want to do family dinner. I think we all have the idea that it would be a nice way to end the day—it’s just a question of how to do it. I’m not a professional chef. I’m a home cook, nothing is engineered—that’s what a blog is, its like a living document of what’s going on. The other reason I think it resonated is that everyone has to make dinner!
When did your obsession with food begin?
I’m not food obsessed; I’m journal obsessed. I have been keeping journals on all kinds of things my whole life. I am a documenter. Ever since I was old enough to use a lock and key I've kept diaries. I started writing down what I was eating because when my husband and I first got married, we both loved eating good food and we loved eating it together and we spent so much time planning dinner and learning how to cook. Writing down what I was eating felt like I was giving the ritual more meaning.
When I was a mom working full time in an office, I called it my magic guilt eraser because being able to execute a meal for my kids went a long way making me feel better about being away from them. And it still is. I feel like this generation of parents are hard-wired to feel inadequate about everything, so to have the dinner box checked every day makes me feel better. It’s also time to look into my kid’s eyes and potentially have a real conversation with them
How was writing the book different from writing your blog?
Blogging is one of the most fun mediums—I was shocked by how I took to it. It’s so conversational. It helped me find my voice and the way I want to write. You don’t have to explain everything over and over. With a blog you assume a familiarity with your readers and that’s so much fun.
Blogging is so different from writing a book. I can write a blog post in a waiting room or on the sidelines of my kid’s soccer game. Sometimes it takes me hours, but for the most part, because its every day, it’s like exercising a muscle. Writing a book is really hard! But extremely rewarding.
Where does the inspiration for your recipes come from?
A lot of times we will go out for dinner and the kids will have something, like a grilled shrimp taco, and I think, wow, I have to make this, they loved it. So I get a lot of inspiration from restaurants. I’ve been cooking so long I can always try to recreate a dish.
What’s your favorite weekday dinner to make?
Something my kids love, I love the recipe in the book for pork chops with apples and onions with mustard cream sauce. I'm a big skillet meal person. I love them because they’re fast and they are forgiving; the technique is always the same and you can use a lot of different ingredients.
What is your favorite thing about sitting down and eating as a family?
I feel like if you prioritize dinner, so many happy things trickle down from there. My favorite thing about dinner is being able to exhale. Our days are so overscheduled, that’s why we need time to regroup, and I love the fact that my kids gravitate towards the table at 7 p.m. Hopefully they’ll keep doing that.