Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Taking The $#@! Out Of Dinnertime

Lord knows I love a good challenge. Any type of challenge that requires crafting, cooking or baking in a short amount of time pretty much wins my attention every time. I think it's why I gravitate towards shows like Top Chef and Project Runway.

It also explains why I have kept a copy of an April, 2008 article from Cookie magazine (R.I.P.) in my recipe binder for so long. It is crusted with so many ingredients it can practically stand upright on its own. In the article, the author documented a 30-day challenge of cooking a new meal every night for her family. She had discovered that her family had hit a dinner rut by eating the same rotation of pizza, breaded chicken nuggets, hamburgers and sauteed shrimp and wanted her children to try some new dishes and foods. Some would call this Dinner Suicide but I call it Dinner Genius.

At the same time that the article came out, my son was nearly 4 years old and we were just starting to see an end to our dinner battles with him. So you can imagine my shock and surprise when his sister came along and presented herself as our Dinner Waterloo. I suddenly realized that my son's "battles" at the dinner table were more softball than hardball, because that little blond elf pictured below can seriously ruin a good dinner.

But I know from experience that if I keep trying then I will eventually find some middle ground with her eating what we are serving for dinner. She'll come around eventually, right? I know she won't starve (like we seriously thought our first child would if we didn't cave in to every demand at the table). Her diet is a puzzle that will  never be solved: She'll eat the broccoli, but not the rice. She'll eat the chicken, but not the green beans. She'll inhale kale chips, but throws a fit if you give her cereal in a bowl.

I believe it was a year after the article came out that I made the connection that the writer of the '30 Dinners in 30 Days' Cookie article was the same Jenny Rosenstrach of Dinner: A Love Story. When I realized that the article and blog were written by the same person (a true 'A-ha!' moment), I felt like I had found a comrade in arms. Her children are a few years older than mine and seeing firsthand how her humor and perseverance with dinner has paid off makes my future look really good from where I sit. When I find myself getting a little glum about making dinner or feel like I am in a rut with what I put on the table day in and day out, I pull out the Cookie article and get inspired all over again. If she can do it, so can I.

Since Conde Nast put the magazine to rest in 2009 you can find a copy of this article by going to Wayback Machine and searching the url: www.cookiemag.com. From there go to April 2008 and you will see the link to the '30 Dinners in 30 Days' article at the bottom of the page.

Her recipes have reached cult celebrity status at our dinner table and I cannot wait for her book to come out this Spring.

This article really changed my outlook on dinners for good. I started to see dinner as a fun time to be had with my family rather than a chore that I had to gut through before putting them to bed. I thank Jenny for this, she really showed me the light and the fun to be had with dinner.

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