A whole family comes together to provide generations of recipes to celebrate love
Amy and Matt’s relationship is built on a love of food. When Amy Schoenberger, a Vice President at a marketing agency and Matt Shoenthal, a lawyer, met six years ago, they bonded over their love of Greek food. Since then, they’ve spent much of their time eating out in their New York neighborhood at hot spots like Uncle Boons, Taverna Kyclades and Vic’s. When they got married in July, 2016, they set out to spend more quality time in the kitchen cooking, together.
To commemorate their vows and early goals for their marriage, they worked with their families to create “Acts of Love”, a collection of family recipes for them to cook with each other. I had a chance to interview the couple about the book and how they created the perfect wedding gift to themselves.
Sloane: What inspired you to write “Amy and Matt’s Acts of Love”?
Amy: I had been meaning to make a cookbook of family recipes for so long — first for my sister when she got married, then for my mom, Edith, for her 65th birthday, but I just kept putting it off. So, when we were planning our wedding, we thought it would be cool to have a collection of both of our families’ recipes, now that our families are officially combined. And with so many treasured recipes saved on Cookbook Create, it will be easy for me to make another cookbook for my mom and sister.
Sloane: Tell us about Bubbe and Edith, your mother and grandmother, whose recipes you replicate in your cookbook?
Amy: Bubbe is the most amazing grandmother in the world. She’s like a second mother to me. I grew up visiting her and my grandpa in their house upstate, and when we’d walk in the door, she would hug us and greet us with her signature line: “What are you gonna have?” Her chicken soup is the best thing ever. It’s a secret elixir for any ailment. I love it so much, and am so excited to have the recipe written down to be able to continue the tradition.
My mother, Edith’s chicken soup is just as good as Bubbe’s. That’s who taught her to cook, so it makes sense.
When I got older, my mother taught me how to entertain, like what to set out as appetizers — her vegetable spirals and stuffed mushrooms — and what to serve for dessert — her Super Bowl brownies.
My mom is really big on dessert. Whenever she hosts family holidays, we joke that the pie to person ratio is one to one, sometimes two to one. She also has an emergency baking supply stash (cake and brownie mixes, food coloring, vanilla extract) in case she needs to bake a cake “in an emergency.” I’m not sure exactly what type of emergency would require cake baking, but it’s good to know we’re prepared!
Sloane: What was it like to work on a cookbook together with your husband, Matt?
Amy: Matt and I worked on it with our families; getting the recipes from them was the most time consuming part. It took weeks to pull together. Some recipes were written, some were printed, some were photos taken from newspaper clippings and old cookbooks Bubbe keeps in her kitchen. But it was easy to choose which recipes because we know what we love; we chose our favorite dishes.
Sloane: What did you both learn about the recipe creation process and about your relationship to each other?
Amy: We learned that we like to cook during the winter when it’s cold and we can make comforting dishes. Like Bubbe’s chicken soup!
Sloane: How did you organize the book?
Amy: We weren’t sure whether to organize by family member, recipe, or dish. We ended up doing appetizers, entrees and desserts with a special section dedicated to Bubbe. This structure told more of a story about our families and went from the beginning to end of a meal, from appetizers to desserts.
Sloane: What was the most gratifying/memorable/surprising part of the process?
Amy: Bringing the printed cookbook to Passover dinner, and showing it to our extended family was such a moment. They loved it!
Sloane: What advice do you have for other families or couples trying to make a book of their own?
Amy: Don’t wait. Just dive in and do it. Cookbook Create makes it so easy; collect all the recipes and go for it. You can always make a sequel if you want to add to it!
Sloane Miller, MFA, MSW, LMSW, is a New York City based Psychotherapist and Specialist in Food Allergy Management. She encourages her clients to live well with food allergies, including creating delicious, safe-for-you meals. You can see what Sloane’s cooking right now on her Blog, Instagram and you can find her at Allergic Girl.com.