Cooking for Gracie: The Making of a Parent from Scratch
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A touching, insightful and uplifting memoir, complete with more than 40 recipes, that recounts a year in the life of a new parent learning to cook for three.
Keith Dixon’s passion was cooking. For years, he sustained himself through difficult days by dreaming about the lavish recipes he was going to attempt when he got home—Thai curries, Indian raitas, Sichuan noodles. All that changed when his daughter, Gracie, was born five weeks early, at just four pounds. Keith and his wife, Jessica, adapted to life with a newborn as all parents do: walking around in a sleep deprived haze, trying to bond with Gracie and meet the needs of this new person in their lives—all while dealing with the overwhelming fear that they were going to catastrophically fail in their new roles. After Gracie became a part of their family, Keith no longer had time to cook the way he once knew; when he did find time to make something, he learned the hard way that his daughter woke easily to the simplest kitchen noise, and soon realized that if he wanted his family to eat well, he was going to have to learn to cook all over again.
Based on three popular articles in the New York Times, Cooking for Gracie is a memoir of the first year of Gracie’s life, as Keith learns to cook for three—discovering what it means to be a father while still holding on to what made him who he was before his daughter came along. Keith and Jessica’s hilarious and poignant struggles to adjust to life with a newborn will resonate with new parents; foodies’ mouths will water over the tempting meals Keith creates; amateur cooks will laugh at his missteps in the kitchen—and it’s just impossible not to fall in love with the adorable Gracie.
A critically acclaimed novelist, Keith Dixon reflects on food, parenting, and cooking with both humor and reverence, and shares the delicious, accessible parent- and family-friendly recipes he discovered along the way. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, Cooking for Gracie is an irresistible and unforgettable story, for foodies and parents alike, of a family of three learning to find their way together
KEITH DIXON has been on the staff of the New York Times for seventeen years. He is also the author of two novels: The Art of Losing—which received starred reviews in both Kirkus and Booklist and was named “Editor’s Choice” by the Philadelphia Inquirer—and Ghostfires, named one of the five best first novels of 2004 by Poets & Writers magazine.
itself with hot September. The scene appears tranquil to the naked eye, but it’s really not—if this kitchen were the galley of a Boeing jet, the FASTEN SEAT BELTS sign would be blinking right now, directing all passengers to buckle up and prepare for terrible turbulence. I’ve ruined dinner, blackened it to the pan—the haze hanging below the ceiling is the proof. My wife, Jessica, and I were going to eat six pristine lamb chops an hour ago, but as we sat down at the table our weeks-old daughter,
each other, Wait, you mean you did a second bottle at midnight? Wasn’t she sleeping after that? She spit it all up. And you did it again. How much did she eat? How long did she cry? Without a firm record to consult, the answers to these questions would be lost forever, hard nighttime truths displaced by the parallax perspective of brighter daylight. So we put it all down, every bit of relevant information: when Gracie woke up, how long she was awake, what she ate, how we were feeling at the time,
found in a thousand slightly varied iterations from as many sources, but for the information on how to (1) make it in the food processor rather than laboriously knead by hand; (2) roll it out and slice it by hand, which is actually easier than using a pasta machine; and (3) use the freezer to quickly set the pasta before storing it. I’ve tried letting freshly made pasta dry in the open air, but the results often shatter to pieces before I can safely store them. If you decide to make a double
fine in a fifteen-by-fifteen-foot hotel room, I asked Jessica if we should take a family vacation in Spain. “The Barcelona Delusion, Gracie,” I say, and it fits. I decide that I like a good Delusion, and will have another. Eye! Gracie says. Ih? she asks, and says, Eh. I know what she means. She can really talk, this kid of mine, not just with the halting words but with the sign language that Jessica has taught her. When I ask her, Gracie, are you all done with your dinner or would you like
hardback—now it’s a rainfall of words and pages, and it will be left to me to put those stories back later. Gracie brings them down rapid-fire, then tramps round on them, or picks them up and drops them from a great height. Books are fun for Gracie, though for the time being they are, understandably, more cherished for their structural services than for their content. Now she pulls down my copy of Where I’m Calling From—and then, instead of moving on to the next book, pauses, crouches down, and