We're sitting down with our favorite writers and cooks to talk about their upcoming cookbooks, their best food memories, and just about anything else.
Please pardon us as we indulge in a bit of bias.
Because Jennifer Steinhauer — a.k.a. Jenny, a.k.a. Jestei — is an original Food52er, longtime columnist, and dear friend of the site. (She also introduced Amanda and her husband, Tad!) If Food52 is Oz (which it it does feel like sometimes, with fewer opiates), she is a very prominent brick in our yellow road. And that brick has just come out with a cookbook that we are cradling and bookmarking and belly-laughing with.
Treat Yourself: 70 Classic Snacks You Loved as a Kid (and Still Love Today) is a home cook’s guide to DIY versions of all the treats -- both sweet and savory -- that got you through soccer practices and diorama construction sessions and American History homework when you were younger. It’s also laced with Jenny’s wit and straight-shooting guidance. It feels retro but still new; it’s useful and readable and full of treats that will knock you over the head with nostalgia.
More: We're giving away a copy Treat Yourself each day this week -- enter to win today's copy here!
Jenny also wrote this book, somehow, while working as a reporter for the New York Times, writing a weekly column for us, and being a fully functional human (read: wife, mother, friend, brick). Today, she explains how.
How did you pull off writing this book on top of everything else you do?
I really tried -- and sometimes failed -- to be disciplined in the writing-as-you-go process (sort of like cleaning as you go in the kitchen, which often still leads to sesame oil all over the stove).
Every weekend I would make at least two treats and bring them to the office for taste testing on Monday. Then I would try to write the headnote right then in real time, unless it was back to the drawing board to rework the recipe, which I made note of too. Toward the end I had to bake at work at least once a week too, which everyone enjoyed but me because there is an electric stove there. Also I once almost caught the kitchen on fire, which people felt ambivalent about, to be honest.
Were there any treats you tried to make that just didn't work?
I learned early on I could not master a Ho Ho for the home cook and bagged that. The Fig Newtons took many many tries to get right.
Is there anything in the book that you didn't like before you made the homemade version?
I was never a Payday person, nor did I have much affinity for the Goo Goo Cluster. Now I love them both!
More: Satisfy your sweet tooth with these spring candy recipes.
Can you tell us any funny stories about Amanda Hesser?
Most of my Amanda stories center around her bravery, or fierce need to have a clean sink.
What do you look for in a cookbook?
Something to read; pictures of a finished product that do not make the recipe seem daunting; good organization by food type.
What is the last thing you Googled?
“amanda hesser funny stories”
Photo of Jennifer by Jill Varkus; all other photos by James Ransom.