"Cooking for Gracie," Keith Dixon

Pros: Lovely, engrossing memoir-with-recipes
Cons:
Rating: 5 out of 5

Review book (published 2011) provided by Random House.

 

I’m not a parent. Yet after reading Keith Dixon’s Cooking for Gracie: The Making of a Parent from Scratch, I feel as though I have at least a little of the taste of what all those insane changes to your life are like. Keith’s daughter Gracie was born five weeks early, and her unexpected early arrival threw her parents’ lives into chaos in more ways than one. The thing that Mr. Dixon kept coming back to, however, was his cooking.


 

Dixon had always loved to cook, but now Gracie woke up at the least little sound. Cooking was one of the few ways he could think of to help his wife, particularly since she ended up having to drastically change her diet, so he had to learn a whole new way of cooking. In no way did he give up making delicious meals, whether they’re ginger-scallion rice with fried egg, farfalle with marinated tomatoes and mint oil (absolutely delicious, by the way!), or pan-roasted sweet apple sandwich with bourbon butter. His recipes include hints to help you pull off recipes around your baby’s sleep schedule, such as “Stage 1: Prebedtime” and “Stage 2: Postbedtime,” with the former section including any noisy steps.

The general aid-by-example to help you figure out how to cook delicious food around your baby’s schedule is wonderful. The recipes themselves are a foodie’s dream. However, my favorite part of the book is the memoir passages. Dixon bares the best and the worst of his attempts to figure out how to care for his wife and daughter, and the results are sweet, funny, whimsical, and melancholy by turns. I shed a few tears; I laughed out loud. I read a couple of entertaining passages to my husband.

I can think of few people who wouldn’t enjoy Cooking for Gracie. To give you a taste of Dixon’s style of musing, I’ll quote from one of my favorite passages:

The situation finds a fresh level of complication when you wake up (because the baby is crying) at 6 a.m. to go feed the baby with the distinct impression that you already did the 6 a.m. feeding—at which point you realize that you were dreaming about feeding the baby in between sessions of feeding the baby. These complications achieve a Borgesian complexity when you fall asleep while feeding the baby and somehow manage to dream about feeding the baby while you’re feeding the baby.

It’s a writing style thing at that point—the writing quality is lovely, so it’s mostly a question of whether the style and topic appeal to you. As for me, I loved it!

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