"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." — Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time by Laurie David & Kirstin Uhrenholdt

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Summary: Advice and suggestions from celebrities, nutritionists, chefs and parents about how to connect with your children during the dinner hour. 

This book was like the September Issue of Vogue magazine, but for dinner. It's not quite a cohesive book, but a series of short articles, recipes, ideas and games to make eating dinner as a family a goal.

However, it's inspiring and thought-provoking. I loved it. Laurie David, wife of Larry David (Seinfeld co-creator) and environmentalist, hired a chef to cook for her when her work got too involved for her to cook for her kids and still eat together. Their cook Kirstin Uhrenholdt provides many of the recipes but celebrity chefs from Cat Cora to Mark Bittman (currently my new foodie crush) share recipes. Hiring a personal chef is ridiculous to me, but keep in mind they live in Hollywood, where there's often more money than sense. However, if I could afford a personal chef, I would in a heartbeat.

The book talks about meatless Mondays, alternative protein sources and ways to eat better without hurting the earth. There are also game a discussion ideas (my kids eagerly played long), gardening advice, storage advice - really, a little bit of everything; just like a magazine.

What I really wanted, and partially got, were guidelines for how we should act as a family together. Laurie's 10 steps are what I wanted even if Step Five: Everyone Tries Everything led to table pounding, slammed plates and one child in tears.There's also advice from Ellyn Sattler, one of the food experts and someone with whose philosophy I struggle.

I so want my husband to read this book, but he's too busy. (Yes, I do appreciate the irony.) But this advice only reinforces the ways I can practice my beliefs about good citizenship, parenting, and nutrition. My only disappointment was that there was only a casual mention of food allergies and sensitivities, but planning meals when two children have different food issues is difficult even for a nutritionist, and not just a busy mom who loves to read.

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