Book Review: Date Night In

Book Review: Date Night In

“It’s a journey in figuring out how to continue to grow in love with each other while mixing and dicing” ~ Ashley Rodriguez

As advertised, this book by popular blogger Ashley Rodriguez from ‘Not Without Salt‘, has more than 120 Recipes to Nourish Your Relationship. It is part relationship-therapy book, part cookbook. It encourages couples to turn off their electronic screens to cook a meal with and for each other.

I first heard about Date Night In {affiliate link} while at the Food Bloggers Conference in Vancouver last October. Ashley announced the January 2015 release date when speaking at the FBC2014 Conference. Intrigued by the idea of a cookbook that is also a memoir and moved by Ashley who wiped away a tear as she talked about her Date Nights with husband Gabe. I knew then that this book needed to find its way into my Library. So, I was happy when I received a review copy from the publisher.

Knowing that I’m a 56-year-old woman married to the same man for 35 years, you might wonder why I would want (or felt the need for) a book that promotes growth in a relationship. After all these years, there’s bound to have been plenty of relationship growth. For a marriage to last this long, there’s no doubt it’s on pretty solid ground. Right?

Well, one thing I’ve learned over our years together, is that our relationship needs constant nurturing to keep it healthy. Couples married for a long time, find it easy and indeed, it seems natural to feel overly secure. That smug satisfaction leads to complacency within the relationship. Mr Fox and I do have a marriage that’s built on a solid foundation of love but we sometimes forget that unless we work at spending quality time together, we will drift apart, or feel distanced from one another.

This book is for people who are in relationships that could use a bit of spicing up. People like me and Mr Fox whose children have grown and left home. After over 25 years of raising a family, it has come down to just the two of us (and our cats but that’s for a different post). Lately, we’ve fallen into the habit of eating meals in front of the TV, often with a tablet or smart-phone within easy reach. A setting that’s not conducive to conversing (or nurturing) … [hangs head in shame]

Cookbook Date Night In

Coming together in the kitchen to nourish each other … that sounds like the perfect plan for a foodista like me and I’ve got Mr Fox on board. We’ll tuck away the TV Trays, set the table and might even make ourselves some fancy cocktails as we set about planning our first Date Night In.

Anyways, enough about us, it’s time to get into the details of Ashley’s new book Date Night In.

“It wasn’t the expense of these meals or the locations that made them memorable, or even the food in some cases; it was the time and experiences we were having together” ~ Ashley Rodriguez

Book Title: Date Night In
Author: Ashley Rodriguez
Publication Date: December 30 2014
Publisher: Running Press
Cover: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 287
List Price: $30.50 in Canada & $27.50 in USA (Note: April 2015 prices at amazon.ca $21.64CAD & at amazon.com $21.49USD)

“Our date nights are part of our fighting for that happily ever after” ~ Ashley Rodriguez

First Impression:

Date Night In is a beautifully designed hardcover book. The front cover has a round cutout surrounded by an embossed quilt pattern. There is an overall retro look and feel to this book. The retro design is reminiscent of a simpler era. Of a time when there were fewer distractions and it was a given that married couples would sit at the dinner table together to share a homemade meal each evening.

Cookbook Date Night In

After the Introduction, and a chapter covering basic items, including pantry items that are pretty standard in a well stocked kitchen, although, Ashley does seem to use a large number of spices in her recipes, there are four seasonal menu sets, or rather, ‘Date Nights’ organized by season. As I thumbed through the book, the Date Nights that caught my attention; My Birthday (page 35) and His Birthday (page 54).

The Date Nights are not restricted to spending an evening inside at the dinner table, or in the kitchen. Part of the appeal of Date Night In, are the menus paired with ideas for different romantic settings, such as, Take It Outside (page 73), By the Fire (page 96), Dinner and a Movie (page 238), and A Winter BBQ (page 217).

The Date Night menu that we Foxes are most likely going to replicate on a date here in this Fox Kitchen, is; By The Fire (page 96). Although, we would need to sub in gluten free buns for the sandwiches and gluten free graham crackers for the S’mores. Or maybe we should go with; It Gets Him (page 118) where all the menu items are naturally gluten free.

Cookbook Date Night In

Each chapter (or recipe set), has a helpful timeline, a grocery list and a pantry list to keep you organized. Timelines are laid out with tasks to do 1-3 days in advance and on the date day and at dinner time.

The classic recipes in this cookbook are chef quality (Ashley has a pastry chef background), with instructions that are easy to follow.

Total Number of Recipes:

Advertised as more than 120 recipes.

Number of Gluten Free Recipes:

This book is NOT strictly gluten free but is still a good value for those who are gluten free as, by my count, there are over 80 recipes that are naturally gluten free and more than 15 recipes that are easily adapted by switching things like bread, buns, crumbs, crackers and pasta noodles.

First Half Dozen Recipes added to my ‘Must-Make-List’:

Although I’ve marked many recipes in this cookbook, here are the first few that got my attention …

Roasted Strawberry Jam (page 16)
Hot Dates with Olive Oil and Sea Salt (page 39)
Honey and Sriracha Chicken Wings (page 60)
Bittersweet Chocolate Malted Shakes (page 156)
Roasted Red Onions with Golden Raisin Gremolata (page 194 – I would make this one for my husband, or help him make it. I don’t care much for onions but like to see him happy)
Fresh Carrot Salad (page 233 – the “wisp of cinnamon” in the description got my attention)

Cookbook Date Night In

Index:

The Index lists recipes by ingredient and by type. For example, Brussels Sprouts Slaw with Grapes and Feta (page 202, with photo on 203), is in the Index under Brussels Sprouts and under Grapes, as well as under Salads.

One thing this book could use, is a glossary of terms. There are a few things the author mentions (mostly ingredients) that I have never heard of. Good thing we’ve got Google.

Photographs:

The book design includes lots of images both of ‘the food’, and of ‘the couple’. I would describe the images as minimalist. Focusing on the subject, without a lot of distractions.

Most of the photographs are by the book’s author, while photographs of ‘the couple’, Ashley and Gabe, are by the author’s brother-in-law, Boone Rodriguez. Images of the couple definitely set a romantic tone. Most often, the camera focus is not directed at them. Or if it is, the focus is on their body language. It allows for a touching and loving softness to shine through the images. The indirect camera angles have a romantic feeling that touches your heart.

Cookbook Date Night In

Gift Giving:

This book is a suitable gift for newlyweds, or nearly newlyweds, or foodies in your life who enjoy a little romance. It would make a great Mother’s Day present, especially if it came with the promise of ‘a Date Night In’ [wink, wink, hint, hint … I’m looking at you Mr Fox]

Appeals to:

Foodies (it is a cookbook after all), or anyone in a relationship “who wants to spice things up with seasonal meals at home with a table for two”.

Date Night In is for couples who after some time together, find it easier to communicate with others than they do each other. It’s for couples who want to re-establish the connection that was the reason behind them getting married in the first place.

“It’s clear that it is not just us, but many couples, who have the need and desire to date” ~ Ashley Rodriguez

My Final thoughts:

As each new Date Night chapter opens with a short introduction, the story of Ashley and Gabe builds Date by Date. This book truly is part cookbook, part memoir and the introductions before each Date Night menu, are a lovely way to get to ‘know’ them.

“It was just us sitting over a great meal, connecting and that was enough” ~ Ashley Rodriguez

I admire (and marvel at) the relationship model portrayed in this novel cookbook. Ashley shares personal stories about their Date Nights in a very down to earth style (the same style as on her blog). Her descriptive writing makes it easy to imagine ourselves, with our partners, in the kitchen working together to create an intimate dining experience. Mr Fox and I are eager to have our first Date Night In.

One of the loveliest things you can do in the kitchen and in a marriage, is to make fond memories.

Enjoy!
Laureens Signature

Disclaimer: All opinions expressed here are my own. I did receive a copy of Date Night In from RUNNING PRESS Book Publishers but was not under any obligation to post a review. I did so because I felt this was a book you, my readers, would enjoy.


Laureen Fox
Meet the voice behind this Fox Kitchen blog. Laureen is an enthusiastic amateur cook and Canadian Food Blogger from Vancouver BC. She loves spending her days creating good wholesome food in this Fox Kitchen. Evenings will find her blogging about the best that living without gluten has to offer.
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Review

4 comments

  1. April J Harris says:

    I love the sound of this book, Laureen! What a fabulous way to encourage couples to reconnect and grow together. Thank you for sharing your review with us at Hearth and Soul – I’m definitely going to try to get hold of this book!

    • Laureen Fox says:

      April, I’m sure you’ll love the book. If we as couples don’t grow together, we’ll grow apart. Right? Ashley did such a lovely job in putting this book together.

  2. I know another couple who’s actually working through this book right now, and they’re loving it! They said it’s been super fun, and they’ve been taking turns every week with one cooking for the other. Now that you’re the second person I’ve heard it from, I might have to check it out. I hope you two enjoy it :)

    • Laureen Fox says:

      That’s so cool to hear of other couples who are working their way through this book. Mr Fox and I are pretty good about sharing time in the kitchen. Mostly I cook, and he cleans. We need to work on extending it beyond the cooking and cleaning tho. Turning off the electronics is going to be key for us.

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