Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December 2014 : Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach

Dinner: A Love Story: It all Begins at the Family Table

Meeting Details:
We are meeting at Trish's house, check your e-mail for the address and contact numbers
Thursday December 4th at 7:30 with discussion to begin at 8:00

Discussion Questions:
Did you like the book?  Do you have a favorite recipe?

What have you given up or sacrificed in order to commit to something that’s as important to you as family dinner is to Jenny?

One of Jenny’s readers wrote to her and said “I like the balance you struck between looking forward to ‘someday’ [presumably when kids are not so exhausting] and feeling lucky to be right where you are.”  Jenny says she struggles with this all the time.  She’ll be rushing around or not fully engaged in what her kids are saying or doing and then realize that this period is going to be over before she knows it.  Do you catch yourself beating yourself up for this?  How are you working the issue out in your family?

How do you feel about the transition from processed foods to wholesome ones in the chapter “It all started with an Egg”?  It seems the process for Jenny happened in manageable, affordable stages and not overnight.  Is this an overwhelming topic for you?  How do you shop?

Jenny said that in many ways she wanted this book to communicate how satisfying the rituals surrounding dinner can be.  Not just the dining part of dinner, but hanging out while we make dinner, summer evening walks after dinner, going to a special restaurant for birthday dinners, etc.  What rituals do you have around dinner or otherwise?  What rituals do you want to start?

Jenny says that she and Andy stopped doing a lot of things when they had kids – traveling on long flights, going to drinks after work with friends, sleeping – but they never really stopped cooking because they've always loved to cook.  In this way, Jenny feels as though having kids was very clarifying:  it became very obvious to her what needed to be prioritized.  We always make time to do the things we enjoy.  Do you agree? 

When Jenny was teaching herself how to cook, she took the instruction “reduce sauce by a third” to mean “pour a third of the sauce down the drain.”  Jenny’s babysitter told her she didn’t have a Dutch oven – only an American one.  What were some of your laughable learning-curve mistakes?
When Jenny put Phoebe to sleep on their first night home from the hospital, she asked Andy if he thought they needed to set an alarm to wake her up to nurse.  What did you do as a first-time parent that you laugh about today?

Many of us have had kids under three for the past several years (for me it’s been 16) … How would Jenny’s rule number 1 work in your family?  (If you have a kid under three, you might not want to include him or her in the family dinner festivities just yet.)

How do you deal with picky eaters?  Do you take the same approach as Jenny does with the two-out-of-three philosophy? (part three specifically: “Everyone is eating (more or less) the same thing.”

Jenny has kept odd journals all her life – the dinner diary was just one of the more practical ones.  What kind of journal do you keep?  Why do you think we write things down?  What would your dinner diary look like if you kept one over the past seven days?

Would you recommend this book to anyone?  Who and why?

I think it would be fun to have our own dinner together as book club and the conversation can focus around discussing the book.  To that end, please bring something you've tried or have wanted to try. We can try to sample meals from the three sections of her book, or we can just enjoy whatever we feel we’d like to bring.  I will leave the details up to you.  Leave a note in the comments so we won’t bring doubles.


  1. Chicken thighs with braised leek (and quinoa)

  2. Baked potato bar - baked potatoes, butter

  3. Danielle is bringing bacon, salsa and sauteed mushrooms
    Stephanie is bringing feta, cheddar and sour cream
    Some one else could still bring: boiled chopped egg, sliced green onions, olives, caramelized onions, steamed broccoli or avocado, or another delicious topping if you like!


Tell us what you think!