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The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time Hardcover – Nov 3 2010
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"The Family Dinner is a great, fun cookbook, but it's so much more than that-- it's an empowering recipe for joy, health and healing."―Dr. Dean Ornish
"If you can muster the energy for only one tool to raising a healthy family, make it having family dinner. This book will help you make those meals easy, fun, and of lasting impact."―Tom Hanks, Actor, Producer, Dad
"I, like Laurie, truly believe in the sanctity of the evening meal and the health benefits of sitting down and eating together are the cherry on the top!"―Dr. Philip Landrigan, Dean for global health, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
About the Author
Laurie David, ex-wife of Larry David, is a media savvy powerhouse. She founded the Stop Global Warming Virtual March, produced the Academy Award winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, and launched the Stop Global Warming College Tour with Sheryl Crow. She's been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Today, and Good Morning America; is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, and is author of The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming (Scholastic, 9/07).
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Tom Hanks approves! Foreword by Dr. Harvey Karp! Recipes from Alice Waters!
It sounds like a slice of perfection, but this book misses the mark in a big way.
My main problems with this book are:
1) Laurie David is completely out of touch. When she went back to work, she hired a chef so she could serve dinner promptly at 6:30. Congratulations. How many people can relate to this? Is this the right person to dole out tips and strategies for putting meals together? I couldn't read half the recipes without wondering if a real person with real time constraints had actually cooked these things. Which leads me to...
2) Some recipes are just plain nuts. I'm supposed to create a buffet with 30 different options so my family can bulid their own salad. This just makes me feel angry. What a waste :( However...
3) Some of the recipes insult my intelligence. Chicken Parmesan made from frozen breaded chicken cutlets? Yeah, I've got that covered. I bought this book for dinner ideas. Next!
4) The book is cluttered with anecdotes from celebrities (claiming their perfect mothers sat them down to dinner every night, with flowers and music) but I'm not sure why there are so many of these stories, or why I'm supposed to care. After the first few, they get very repetitive, lead to no recipes or tips, and just lend to the tone of the book feeling self congratulatory.
5) This book reads like a warning! Have family dinners- or else! Statistics about teen drug use don't make me want to get in the kitchen, they make me sad and worried. What happened to empowering family cooks? I'm not feeling it. If there is a place for this kind of information, stick it in the introduction and then drop it. Don't keep sprinkling harrowing facts in with the recipes.
There are some good recipes in here, I can't ignore that. But I STRONGLY believe the best reason to buy a cookbook (rather than perusing thousands of the well tested, well reviewed, FREE recipes that exist online) is to get inspired about cooking. This is not that book.
-Dinner: a Love Story (a real mom with a real life, real budget, etc)
-The Splendid Table's How To Eat Supper (food pairings and menu suggestions! Great tips throughout)
-any book that has pictures that match the recipe (ha! page 50 (left side) of the family dinner features a full page picture of edamame. Page 51(right side) has a recipe for cabbage and noodles, and savory sausage and white bean stew. No edamame in either of these. What happened there? It frustrates me! Did no one edit the layout of this book?) But for those who get it right- Donna Hay is fabulous, and Nigella, Ina, and Martha do well with the beautiful food.
This is a wonderful book for families with children of ANY age. I've tried two recipes (Butterfly Pasta with Kale and Nanna's Happy Chocolate Chip Cookies) and both were excellent. But it's not all about the recipes; rather, it's the theme of family togetherness and a reminder that a return to gentler times (no cell phones at the dinner table) is a good thing. I just love the feeling of this book.
One thing I have to share is that the authors talk about drinking water at the dinner table, which we've always done. However, they offered the idea of having a pitcher of water, perhaps with a lemon slice or some berries in it, on the table. Hmmm. So one night I put out a pitcher of water. It was gone so quickly, I refilled it. Throughout the night, everyone returned to table and kept refilling their glasses. Since then, we have a pitcher of ice water on the table almost all day long (it's winter vacation and the kids have been home for 2 weeks), and I think we're all drinking much more water than we ever have before. For that tip alone, I'm grateful!
Even though the recipes from The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time won't get a lot of play here, I still enjoyed reading the book which not only included recipes but also a lot of advice and information on how to make dinner time family time, which, when a family is apart all day like mine is, is important. I enjoyed reading the section about the Shabbat Dinner. A woman who was Jewish, though not necessarily terribly religious, decided that she was going to start the weekly tradition of a Friday Shabbat dinner. The family had to be there; the dinner included Blessings over the candles wine and challah, Gratitudes (everyone says something for which they are grateful), Highs and Lows (everyone shares high and low points of the week) and Tzedaka (everyone throws loose change in a box; when full they decide on a worthy cause to which to contribute it). She even discusses how she has managed to do family dinners even after a divorce.
The book included conversation starters that may even get teens talking. It gives advice about stocking a pantry and about getting kids involved with cooking. It even suggests letting grandparents in on the action. To prolong the evening of togetherness, after dinner games are included. I'd like to than Anna at Hachette for sending me a review copy of this book.