Where was this book in November!?! At the time I was dating a new person nearly every night and (not surprisingly) many of those ended up in the kitchen. While I only began to dabble in the idea of “date night in”, in her aptly named book Ashley Rodriguez, creator of award-winning blog Not Without Salt, shows that she is the master! In the intro she gives a very humble caveat that she “will never claim to be a marriage expert…” and while that might be true (who is a marriage expert after all?) she certainly has this Date Night In thing down pat.
When I discovered this book, I immediately picked up a copy intending to slowly peruse it and try a couple recipes. Instead, Ashley so quickly drew me in through her honest and heartfelt stories that introduce each menu that I read it like a novel until after midnight. She talks truthfully about the ups and downs of marriage and the fun and struggles that she and her husband Gabe have personally experienced. She doesn’t try to extrapolate her experience to speak for the masses and by doing so shows a portrait that I (and I can imagine, many others) are able to see pieces of themselves in.
The book is organized simply, first by season and then by menus for each night. Each menu is totally complete, including a cocktail (key to me for making “date night in” feel like something more than just dinner), appetizer, entrée, and dessert. Ashley’s use of seasonal ingredients makes the meals special yet unpretentious, simple yet out of the ordinary. She also gives readers an easy to follow grocery list for each menu (squeak of joy when I say it). As someone who has spent a lot of time over the last year thinking about what it takes to make cooking easier, I can tell you that the grocery list piece is clinch to actually getting organized enough to get dinner on the table, especially for recipes that you don’t know by heart.
I know this is going to become my go-to “date night in” resource as I keep cooking adventures a weekly tradition with Bachelor #1. And since the book starts in Spring there isn’t a better time than now to just start at the beginning and work your way through. The very first menu begins with a Rhubarb Sour, and since early rhubarb has started showing up in grocery stores I’ve been itching for an excuse to pick some up – looks like I now have one!
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