Is there cookbook that radically changed the way you cook? You know the one. Worn, stained, binding bent (and maybe even held together by tape). Insides covered with notes, post-its, paper clips. And (in my case anyway), it probably opens right to the recipes you use the most.
As a young newlywed, that book for me was The Silver Palate Cookbook. And for those of you who are of “certain age”, I bet you feel the same. At the time it was the most exciting book ever, and I referred to it again and again. The authors really promoted the idea of stepping up your game in the kitchen. Their emphasis on “unusual” ingredients – blueberry vinaigrette! curry! kiwi! (this was the 80’s, people) – presentation and even table settings made a young cook like me feel accomplished, glamorous and confident. Twenty five years later, I’m still making their zucchini bread, sour cream coffee cake and “Chicken Marbella” (prunes with chicken? groundbreaking).
I rarely buy cookbooks any more (you can read my post on how I organize my kitchen to learn more). Between the magazines I subscribe to and the many blogs I read, I no longer have a need to invest in a book that MAY have a handful of recipes that I’ll actually use. Of course baking books are another story. But I digress….
So I didn’t pay much attention to Dinner: A Love Story. Which was not so easy to do. I read the blog regularly, and – because the author lives in a neighboring town – was subject to many (MANY) Facebook and Twitter posts by mutual friends, raving about it. I started to weirdly feel like I wasn’t supporting a friend, so I finally gave in and bought the book.
When it arrived, I stood at the table and casually started flipping through it. Then I found myself sitting down and reading in earnest.
And then I took it up to bed. And read the entire thing cover to cover.
I’m now working my way through pretty much every recipe – and have loved every one I’ve made so far.
This will be the book I give each of my children when they move out on their own. The book I give as a bridal/baby shower gift. The book that – in my humble opinion – really and truly speaks to how we cook today.
No gimmicks. No “3 ingredient” recipes. No dumbing down in an effort to keep it simple. Which every recipe is (simple, that is).
I love the fact that most of the recipes require just a bit of initial prep, followed by hands-off time (in the oven or on the stove) to finish.
I love how many of the dishes can be “deconstructed” to suit a family’s varying tastes and preferences.
I love how ALL of the recipes are easy enough for a busy weeknight, but sophisticated enough to serve dinner guests.
And I really love the stories that accompany the recipes. Stories that reflect a writer/wife/mother/cook who is flawed, tired, stumped for ideas and trying her best. These stories resonate for me and my own journey.
It’s funny, poignant, smart and accessible – and I’m so, so happy to have this book in my kitchen.
I want you to have it too, which is why I am giving away a copy of Dinner: A Love Story on the blog this week! Simply leave a comment letting me know the book that changed the way you cook. Be sure to include your e-mail address if it’s not already linked to your comment. The giveaway is open through Friday, October 19th at 5 p.m. EST. The winner will be chosen at random, and announced on Saturday, October 20th.
Good luck! Update: Caroline U. is the lucky winner! Thanks for participating!
Note: I was not compensated in any way for this post. All comments and opinions are completely my own.