Jennifer Steinhauer: Renaissance Woman, Goo Goo Cluster Convert

June  3, 2014

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.

Today: Our very own Jennifer Steinhauer of Weeknights with Jenny takes us down memory lane. 

Molly Wizenberg  Delancey on Food52

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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.

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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. 

Strawberry Cake on Food52

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.

Oatmeal on Food52

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. 

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Marian Bull

Written by: Marian Bull



Jill E. April 1, 2016
It is so funny that today I thought about my old friend, Jennifer Steinhauer. That I haven't seen since shortly after High School. And I decided to Google her, and came upon this article. And there is a what looks like a photo of her from the 80's. And photo credit is being given to "Jill Varkus". Perhaps that's just a coincidence, but I think I remember that jean skirt of hers! If Jen ever sees this comment, I enjoyed reading the article! :-) Jill Virkus Powers
mcs3000 June 4, 2014
Jenny is one of my faves - both here and NYT. I am hoping to make the Twix bars very, very soon.