It’s a hot and sunny Saturday and we’re on our way to Lynnville, a sleepy little town that you could live in Tennessee all your life without hearing of, but which today has drawn our attention because of an ad I saw somewhere for a blackberry festival. The whole trip, I’m reading to Tim from my latest library find, and right away, we’re both so into the stories about food and parenting and the world of magazine editing that before we know it, we’ve driven the entire hour, past hilly pasture land and giant barns and no places to use a bathroom, anywhere, and then there’s Lynnville, right before us, rewarding our travel with what turns out to be the very anti-climactic main street that today boasts one carnival booth, four craft tents and, off in the corner, a 85-year-old man selling tomatoes.

No. Blackberries.



So we talk with the tomato man, who tells us he’s lived in Lynnville all his life, and we ask him about blackberries, and he says, no, there aren’t any, but you know, he used to pick them when he was a boy, and we buy a bag of his produce, and he gives us a green pepper for two quarters, and we’re back in the car.

We say to each other, laughing at the wasted hours in the countryside, well, at least there were tomatoes! but then I pull out my book and we remember: actually, at least there’s this.


It’s a week later that I finish “Dinner: A Love Story,” the Saturday night we’re flying home to Chicago, just a few minutes before we board the plane. About 80% of the book I’ve read aloud to Tim, either that day to and from the no-blackberry blackberry festival or in the five or six nights following, before we fall asleep at night. Part cookbook and part memoir, it comes from Jenny Rosenstrach, the former Real Simple editor who blogs at a site by the same name. I wasn’t a follower before I read the book, but I am now: after reading Rosenstrach’s stories, which are as much about food as they are about parenting, as much about gathering around the table as they are about building relationships, I feel like she’s someone with whom I’d like to be friends.


While we’re in Illinois, my mom says to us one morning, I have some chicken, what should I make? And I jump from my chair. I know exactly the thing! I tell her. And I run upstairs to my suitcase to pull out this book, to flip to the chicken pot pie recipe, the one Rosenstrach has been making since the early days of marriage and entertaining and which she has been known to monogram for a real wow factor for her kids.


My mom makes it and it has the same effect: I eat three pieces. And later that night, my brother wipes the dish clean. So when Tim and I come back to Nashville and we’re making dinner for friends, it’s this recipe that we turn to, making it the night before and just sticking in back in the oven for 15 minutes before serving.


The thing about chicken pot pie is it’s comfort food. It’s hot and it’s creamy and eating it feels like you’re nine years old again, cradling a cup of chicken soup—but it’s even better! with a flaky crust!—so while I know it’s July and it’s humid and many of us are heading to the pool or the beach or the lake house, and so salads and grilling and fresh fruit sounds more like the norm, bookmark this one (rainy days or not!) because it’s good.


Oh, and while you’re at it, bookmark “Dinner: A Love Story” and make it a must-read. I’m so glad we did.

Chicken Pot Pie
Lightly adapted from Dinner: A Love Story
Makes one 10-inch pie; serves 4-6

I should also add that this was just one of many recipes I wanted to make as soon as I saw them in the book—seriously great read. And on that note, are you on Good Reads? I’d like to thank Laken for reminding me of this place, which is full of inspiration.

1 cup chicken stock
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
The leaves of a few sprigs of thyme (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons white spelt flour
2 cups cooked chicken (we roasted a bone-in breast with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper; then pulled off the meat)
1/3 cup frozen peas
1 ready-to-bake pie crust (recipe below)*
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a boil and add the chopped sweet potatoes, carrot, onion and thyme. Salt and pepper all over. Simmer the mixture for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine flour and milk. When the veggies are soft, add this flour-milk mixture to the pan slowly, stirring until everything thickens. Remove pan from heat and add chicken and peas.

Add the pie filling to a 10-inch pie plate and cover with your pie crust. Cut a few slits on top to allow steam to escape while baking. Using a pastry brush, paint the beaten egg all over the top to give things a nice golden sheen.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until filling looks bubbly inside.

*Pie Crust
My favorite-ever, always reliable, tried-and-true, trusted version.

1 cup flour (I’ve used white spelt, whole-grain spelt, wheat, all-purpose, sprouted wheat)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (i.e., 1 stick) butter, chopped into cubes, kept very cold
1/4 cup cold water

Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add butter and cut in with a pastry cutter or two forks until the batter is crumbly, with pea-sized butter chunks throughout. Add water and stir together; then use hands to form the dough into a ball. Flatten dough on flour-lined parchment paper and roll out into the size of your pie pan; set aside.

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 46 Comments

  1. sarah

    I keep hearing about this book! I will have to check it out for sure, now. And I *love* that you two read to each other. I swoon every time you write about it.

    And chicken pot pie. It’s so dangerous, but so delicious.

    1. Shannalee

      I still swoon about it, too!

  2. Jann

    You know those round hay bales in your first picture? Did you know the government is trying to outlaw them? Yeah…they want to make sure the cows get a good square meal. Heh.

    1. Shannalee

      I don’t actually know anything about that, Jann—do you mean, literally, that they want the bales to be square? And if so, why?

  3. Jacqui

    I’m so glad you wrote about this book! I’ve been thinking about it since you marked it on Good Reads, and then even more when you told me about it in person, and I love how you read it aloud to Tim (I wish I could read in the car without getting sick!). And your story about the blackberry “festival” is priceless, and that chicken pot pie has an amazing looking flaky crust that is making me crave comfort food, even when today is supposed to hit 100 degrees. You’re so good.

    1. Shannalee

      You always leave the best comments. Thanks for these words, friend. Wish you were here to share a slice with us sometime soon!

  4. Kelley

    Yum! I have several unreliable, unremarkable chicken pot pie recipes. Very sad. I will be trying this! :) (And looking for that book! I just finished “The Man Who Ate Everything” by Jeff Steingarten and am about to start “The Agony of the Leaves,” by the tea maestro of Chez Panisse.)

    1. Shannalee

      Kelley! Back in the day when we used to trade book recommendations, I am almost positive you told me about “The Man Who Ate Everything”! Reading good books still makes me think of you now.

  5. Vicki

    Your blackberry festival story totally sounds like something that would happen to us!!! Thanks for the heads up on what sounds like a great book. Never heard of Good Reads. Not sure if I want to start another social media adventure but I will for sure pin this on my books board.

    1. Shannalee

      Ha, I hear you, the social media world is always expanding, but I use Good Reads more like my own private tracker—and the community part is a bonus. : )

  6. Carrie | acookgrowsinbrooklyn

    No blackberry festival! But, that meet-cute with the man selling veggies sounds like it was worth the trip. I hadn’t heard of this book, but I’m always looking for a good read to cozy up with – and if it’s starring food, all the better. Beautiful pot pie – I’ll have to save it for a day when the butter won’t melt upon immediate exit from the fridge!

    1. Shannalee

      Carrie! Your comment reminds me that I love the term ‘meet-cute’ so much, I have to figure out a way to work it into more of life… this post would have been perfect! Thanks for making me smile with the thought of it.

  7. Nancy @ gottagetbaked

    I love reading chef/food industry memoirs! I just finished three of them and have been looking for a new one. I’ll definitely check this one out – thanks for the recommendation! And I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t love chicken pot pie – it’s like a hug in a bowl. Delicious and comforting. Your pastry is gorgeous.

    1. Shannalee

      Nancy, You can’t say you just finished three food memoirs and not say what they are! : ) Which did you like?

      1. Nancy @ gottagetbaked

        Yikes, sorry for the late reply! I didn’t see your question till today – I need to click on the “notify me of comments” button. I read David Lebovitz’s “The Sweet Life in Paris”, Jacques Pepin’s “The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen”, and Ruth Reichl’s “Garlic and Sapphires.” I loved all of them, for different reasons because they’re very different books. I loved reading about Lebovitz’s experiences in Paris (because it’s number one on my list of places to visit in the world). I’ve remember watching Pepin on tv as a little kid and marvelling at the things he made. His book is fascinating for the account of what it took to become a chef in France while he was growing up (so completely different and foreign to what I would ever imagine). And Reichl’s book chronicled her years as the NY Times food critic (including the crazy disguises she donned to be unrecognizable) – it made me laugh out loud but also really think about how people consider food, restaurants and how those topics are discussed. I’d recommend all three!

        1. Shannalee

          Awesome! Thanks for coming back and saying so, Nancy! I’ve read the last one but neither of the first two, and with the way I’ve been loving food memoirs lately, I’ll have to keep them in mind. Thanks!

  8. Laken

    This one has been on my list — glad to hear that you liked it.

    I love that you, too, read out loud from your library books while riding. I love the style of this post and the changes around the blog. Love all of it.

    Ps. There’s no blackberries here, either. Too hot and too dry.

    1. Shannalee

      Thanks, friend, and thanks again for GoodReads, seriously. I feel like I’m finally reading for pleasure again, after a long time away, and I’m so glad.

  9. Carrie

    I am cracking up about the blackberry festival. Too funny! The pic of the old man selling tomatoes is priceless. Good to know about Dinner: A Love Story. Almost purchased it recently but wasn’t sure…so thank you for your “review” of sorts along with the scrumptious photos of the chicken pot pie!

    1. Shannalee

      You’re welcome! Hope I could be just the nudge to spur you towards this one—it’s great!

  10. angela@spinachtiger

    I love pies of any kind, but the chicken pie brings me back to childhood. Doug and I listened to an audio book on vacation called Relentless Pursuit. It made the first 8 hours of a 12 hour drive fly by. Reading together can be such a joy.

    1. Shannalee

      I love that you guys listen to books together!

  11. Marissa

    Ha! The no-blackberry festival – but you came away with a great memory instead. Your crust looks impossibly flaky! Can’t wait to try this…

    1. Shannalee

      The best memories always happen that way, it seems. : )

  12. Christine @ The Pantry Drawer

    I love this and everything about it. Food isn’t just about taste, it’s about the experience and the comfort you get from its nostalgia. I am definitely going to add this on my “To Read” list on Good Reads. Thanks!

    1. Shannalee

      Your comment makes me think of Marcel Proust’s madelines. In other words, yes!

  13. Amy P

    I have been in need of a great read and this sounds perfect- thank you for the lovely recommendation!

    1. Shannalee

      Especially coming from the perspective of a parent, you should enjoy this one, Amy! Would love to hear your thoughts if you get to read it!

  14. Nicole @Eat This Poem

    This post has convinced me that I absolutely need to read this cookbook. Added it to my Amazon wish list!

    1. Shannalee


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  16. Kim

    I am definitely putting this book on hold at the library!!

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  18. Bethany ~ twoOregonians

    Adding that title to the library list! I miss being home and checking out tasty books… World travel is lovely, but there are some pretty tempting reasons to return home and re-open my settled life: namely, library cards and midnight helpings of homemade pot pie.
    P.S. Good luck next time on the blackberry hunt ; )

    1. Shannalee

      Library cards really are one of the best parts of keeping a regular address, it’s true. Of course, constant travel does lend itself towards more opportunities for … blackberry hunts and so on. : ) Hope this book and some pot pie find their way to you soon!

  19. HopefulLeigh

    I made this a week or so ago! I bookmarked so many recipes from that cookbook but pot pie was the first one I knew I needed to make. I’ve never made chicken pot pie before, nor do I ever crave it but the way Rosenstrach described it in the book made a believer out of me. It turned out excellent.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Hooray! (Not sure why I never saw your comment until now, but it pleases me nonetheless.) : )

  20. Laura

    Another amazing recipe – we tried this one two nights ago and The no-fail pie crust is just that, no fail, even for a novice-pie-person like myself. The only mishap was that I didn’t seal the crust well enough around the edges and we had a bit of a mess in the bottom of our oven…but like I said, novice-pie-person here. Such a great recipe! Thank you

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Laura, Oh, that’s happened to me, too! One trick is to place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack below the pie, to catch any drippings. Glad you still enjoyed the meal! Thanks for coming back to say so.

  21. Brenda

    This was so delicious! I used butternut squash, carrots, garlic and onion for the veggies. My husband told me it was one of the best things I’ve made in a long time! He took some leftovers for lunch today…and the easy crust boosted my pastry-making confidence. Now I have a chicken carcass to use for stock =). Thanks for this delicious recipe!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Brenda, and I use this crust for EVERYTHING. : ) You’re all set now!

  22. felicia | Dish by Dish

    Shanna, found this in your popular `posts… and I’ve now downloaded a sample kindle version of Dinner: A Love Story! Thanks for the intro… as usual, I trust the books you recommend. and I’m hooked onto the idea that dinner at the family table should be able spending good quality time together over food that you enjoy, not just frozen pizzas or chinese takeaway.

    sending love to your dinner table!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Aw, Felicia! I’m so glad! I hope you like DALS as much as we did. : )

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