July 28, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Maureen Tisdale

Let's Talk Food (& maybe win a cookbook): 'The Homesick Texan's Family Table,' and quality family time

When I started Let’s Talk Food a year ago (I can’t believe it’s been a year), I never thought I’d go quiet for more than a month. Thanks to Dawn’s Strawberry Shortcake and Eric’s Cookies that Improve with Time, it hasn’t been all silent — but it has been unusually quiet.

Two things brought me back. One was stumbling across something that helped inspire this column — a massive Excel document I started to track our groceries and cut back on expenses. I didn’t want all that work to go to waste and had a vision of sharing my Glorious Wisdom about saving money here.

Turns out it was more fun (and more feasible) to write more about what I was making for my family. I’ve yet to share all we learned there — including my favorite factoid, that we could buy rotisserie chicken from Sam’s cheaper than the most generic uncooked whole bird from the three grocery stores we checked unless it was on deep-deep-I-go-bad-tomorrow sale.

But it was a fond memory to come across that Excel beast.

The other inspiration was this book that’s been sitting on my desk telling me to give it away since we had our fantastic trip to Texas back in April, the one that prompted the Road Trip Munchies Let’s Talk Food. I came back from that trip realizing how much better our marriage does when my husband and I have time together (we have offset schedules to keep our 2-year-old in daycare less) and how much our son seemed to flourish when all of us are together — talking and changing at a much faster pace — and how very, very much my husband and I love getting to see and appreciate that while in the same room rather than over the phone while one of us is at work.

So instead of experimenting in the kitchen, I’ve been buying rotisserie chickens my husband and I debone together while we talk after church, and making add-water peanut butter cookies from a package mix to get faster to the point where my son feels the dough with his chubby fingers and helps me press fork marks into the little balls.

I’m still working on my breakfast bar quest — I thought I was there before realizing that they still weren’t holding together right, then took an unsuccessful detour into trying nut butters to make that happen; my husband has once again asked me to go waaaaay back to the second (just slightly too sweet) bar I made, which I’ll likely do this week.

But since April, kitchen time has been more about focusing on the people I’m making food for and with than on the cooking itself.

So “The Homesick Texan’s Family Table” seems just about right for a return to this column from an absence that has been largely due to focusing on my family since that Texas trip. (A mouth-watering cover shot of “Crazy Nachos” in a skillet doesn’t hurt, either.) The book, written by seventh-generation Texan Lisa Fain, touts more than 100 of her recipes ranging from “down-home standards” (fiery wings) to contemporary riffs (Mexican spices in German chocolate cake).

If you’re interested in “The Homesick Texan’s Family Table,” send an email to Eats&Drinks@detroitnews.com with “Cookbook/Texan” in the subject line. Include your name and mailing address in the body. Enter only once by midnight July 31. A winner will be chosen at random from among entries. (If it’s Aug. 1, 2014, or later when you read this, the giveaway will be over — but thanks for stopping by.)

Good luck!

You can also follow Detroit News Food Editor Maureen Tisdale on Twitter @reentiz.