On his blog, Lunch Box Blues, J.M.
Hirsch describes himself as "By day, I'm J.M. Hirsch, food editor
for The Associated Press and author of Beating the Lunch Box
Blues and High Flavor, Low
Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking. By night, I'm just a
dorky dad trying to feed my son a great dinner and pack him a lunch
he'll eat and I'll feel good about." But despite his modesty -
which certainly comes through in our discussion below - we have to
applaud anyone who commits himself to the hard work he also
describes, "As parents, we all just want to do right by our kids.
And sometimes we need a hand. It's wonderfully daunting that folks
have come to me for some of this. "
Enjoy our discussion with J.M. and, if you'd like one of the
three free copies of his book, just comment on this cookbook giveaway
blog to enter.
Every author wants to believe his book made it to print because
it was brilliant. Because he relentlessly pursued an idea that lit
a fire within him.
All I can say is my latest book was published despite my
About four years ago I was chatting with a friend, comparing war
stories about packing lunches for our kids. I rattled off some of
my more creative efforts to get some semblance of nutrition into my
boy. She stopped me.
"You have got to start a blog about this!"
After I finished rolling my eyes, I patronizingly told her that not
even I was interested enough in my son's lunches to read a blog
A few months later, she asked me, "Have you started that blog
I brushed her off again. But she persisted. So like the petulant
child I can be, I relented. "Fine! But I'm not going to like it.
I'm not going to put any effort into it. Nobody is going to read
Except they did. Despite my stupidity, people came. And soon I was
on NPR, Martha Stewart and all manner of media.
People really did care about what was in my son's lunch box.
Well, not really. They care about what is in their own kids' lunch
boxes, as well they should. We live in a confusing time of
conflicting information about food and health and parenting. We all
just want all the help we can to sort it out.
My blog - LunchBoxBlues.com - reflects with blunt honesty how I
approach feeding my son. It isn't perfect. It isn't always pretty.
And it doesn't always work.
But having now served too many years in the lunch box trenches,
I've learned a few tricks and I was happy to share them with
Not long after, Rachael Ray came into the picture. Which I know
makes every blogger-hoping-for-a-book-deal wish hot death upon
It's more complicated than that, of course. I've blogged just a few
years, true. But I've logged nearly two decades as a reporter and
national editor for the world's largest news organization. I wasn't
really new to the game.
So Rachael came along. I'd known her from my day job for years.
I was working on a different cookbook at the time. But when I heard
she was getting her own imprint with Simon & Schuster, I knew
that wasn't the book she would want. I knew that if I ever was
going to write a book based on my blog, it needed to be now and for
And she got it. Immediately. She's worked hard to help reform
school lunches. I told her I wanted to write a book for the other
parents, for the ones who pack their kids lunches. And I wanted it
to be entirely visual.
Because in the morning rush, no one has time to bust out a recipe
to bang out a brown bag special. It needed to be a beautiful,
delicious collection of ideas.
And she got it.
A year later (a pace that left us all a bit breathless), "Beating
the Lunch Box Blues" became the first book released under Rachael's
imprint. It had to go into a rushed second printing the day it was
Writing this blog, writing this book… All very humbling.
As parents, we all just want to do right by our kids. And sometimes
we need a hand. It's wonderfully daunting that folks have come to
me for some of this.
I am a very lucky guy. And my book was published despite my