A New Book for 'Cookie' Lovers

'Time for Dinner' features brilliant ideas from the editors of a beloved magazine

Fans of the now defunct Cookie magazine can put their mourning on a temporary hold, thanks to the release of Time for Dinner, a book that features feeding strategies and recipes from three former Cookie editors: Pilar Guzman, Jenny Rosenstrach and Alanna Stang.

Filled with unique ideas that make feeding your family far easier, the book was complete and ready to publish before Cookie folded last year. It was nearly never printed, but knowing how loyal Cookie readers missed the magazine, the folks at Conde Nast made it happen.

The three authors understand that getting dinner on the table can be an arduous task, so they’ve developed chapters that show you how to make a Sunday dinner that lasts through Wednesday, how to feed your entire picky family with one meal, how to use ingredients that are already in your refrigerator and so much more.

I chatted with co-author Jenny Rosenstrach, who is also the creator of the blog Dinner A Love Story.

iVillage: The opening of the book says it’s “more parenthood playbook than cookbook.” Can you explain what that means?

JR: When you’re cooking with kids around, there are so many variables that are beyond the typical question people struggle with: “What do I make for dinner?” We have hundreds of recipes for that in the book, but I think the trickier question is not just what to make, but how you’re going to actually get it done—how you’re actually going to have the time to cook for them. And that’s not even talking about the way to present the food, and how you get them to eat it and all the strategies behind debuting a new meal at the table. We have lots of ideas for that, lots of picky-eating how-to. The book is not just what to cook, but how to get it cooked.

iVillage: Several recipes in the book, such as Juice-Box Salmon, seem like they might have come about by trial and error. Is that true?

JR: That one is Victoria Granof’s genius move. She didn’t have any poaching liquid—she wanted to use lemon juice, but she didn’t have any fresh lemons. She just had her kid’s juice box and found out it was the exact right amount of liquid. Cooking is just an extension of parenting, which is one long improvisation. No one knows what they’re doing until they do it. You have to make a decision with whatever you’ve got in front of you. I think you have to learn the basics before you can learn how to riff off the basics, but we’re doing both of those in the book.

iVillage: What’s your favorite concept from the book?

JR: I love the chapter called “If I Could Just Make It to Wednesday.” It was Pilar’s philosophy of cooking. Her thing is that you don’t have to cook every single night. The chapter helps you get to Wednesday without starting over again every night, and it teaches you how to wing it a little, even if you’re not confident in the kitchen.

iVillage: You have two daughters, ages 6 and 8, so you must be familiar with feeding picky eaters. What are your strategies?

JR: One of my daughters was very picky for a while, but we just did what I think is the real lesson of this cookbook—we just kept going. We didn’t let it stop us. We didn’t ever pander to her palate. We always made sure there was something for her to eat, but we didn’t make it the lowest common denominator—we didn’t start with her. We started with us and we figured out how we could get to her. I’m not an expert on the psychology of picky eating, but in my experience, exposure is half the battle. If you keep plugging away and exposing them to new things—not even pushing it on them, exposing them to it—it’ll eventually happen.

iVillage: Is cooking dinner for your family still a daily battle for you?

JR: Oh my God, yes! Totally! Some days I’ll spend an hour making a new delicious meal, and one of the kids won’t try a single bite. Or even worse, someone wolfs it down in five minutes and then runs off. It’s never going to be this glorious little candlelit affair, sharing conversations about current events. It’s not! I think people need to lower their standards. No one eats like that.

The worst thing you can do is to give up trying, though. It’s frustrating and I understand that, but so much quality of life happens at the dinner table. If you’re giving up on that because of the kids, then you’re giving up on so much more.

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