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Cook up a family affair

Laurie David is an environmental activist and award-winning producer of "An Inconvenient Truth," who freely admits she "doesn't have a perfect family life, believe me!" (She is the former wife of Larry David.)

But her new book, "The Family Dinner" (Grand Central Publishing, 256 pages, $29.99), came from the epiphany, she says, that she'd "done something right" as a mother of two. Now-divorced David always made dinner a must-attend event for her family, and now finds that her daughters like to chat and linger long after the crepes have been cleared.

David's games, decorating tips and conversational gambits help turn the meal into a family experience, at least in theory. That's even if you have a tough time mulling, say, the highs and lows of your week at the dinner table. It may be easier if you dig into crunchy chicken schnitzel with tangy buttermilk potatoes and big peas-little peas, while discussing your first three jobs -- one of David's suggested conversation topics.

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