Summary: Sweethearts, spouses, and parents Ashley and Gabe Rodriguez found themselves deep into marriage and child-rearing when they realized they were spending most of their evenings staring at their computers. Determined not to let their relationship deteriorate, they instituted a weekly date night and reconnected over simple but thoughtful dishes. Just carving out time to talk, cook, and eat together became the marriage-booster they needed, and now Ashley invites you to woo your partner all over again with food, drink, and conversation. (summary from book, photo from perrysplate.com)
Review: Just to clarify, it IS a cookbook, but it's so much more than that. I have never in my life read a cookbook cover to cover like a novel. Nor has one ever brought me to tears. When I finished the book I was alone in my bedroom, almost afraid that my kids would come in and see the tears streaming down my face. I hadn't even tried out a single recipe, but judging from the to-do list I jotted down as I was reading, I knew it was going to be one of my absolute favorites.
In Date Night In, Ashley shares sweet courtship stories and weaves you in and out of the past as she tells how she and her husband reconnected through weekly date nights at home. She recreates food memories they shared early in their marriage and even opens up and shares some rough patches they struggled through. Ashley put her whole heart into this book, and I admire the couple's determination to intentionally carve out time for each other. I loved her writing and felt like she included me in her experiences -- as if we were sitting down in a little cafe together as friends. I felt like I really connected with her because our life circumstances are very similar as well as our desire to climb out of the child-rearing trenches and reconnect with our spouses more often. Ashley is also the talented chef and blogger behind the blog Not Without Salt.
Ashley organized her book by season (which I LOVE). Within every season she groups recipes into entire meals, and every meal begins with a personal story. This is what I meant about reading it like a novel. Oh, the stories. They're sometimes super sweet and sometimes a little heart-wrenching, but always beautifully written and meaningful.
The meal I chose from the book was her Caribbean-Style BBQ Chicken Legs, Mango Miso Slaw, and Thyme and Parmesan Roasted Sweet Potatoes. Also, the Caramelized Pineapple Sundaes with Candied Coconut which turned out to be one of my favorite ice cream sundaes ever.
If you'd like to hear more about the meal (and snag the recipe for those chicken legs), head over to Perry's Plate and read my review over there!
Sum it up: A cookbook with heart. And a whole lot of delicious content to woo your loved one.