Sunday, November 7, 2010

Opening Sentence of the Day: The I Hate to Cook Book

"When my mother wrote The I Hate to Cook Book in 1960, hers was a world with too few hours, not enough days, and never enough time."

-- From Jo Bracken's Forward to the 50th Anniversary Edition of The I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken.

"Some women, it is said, like to cook."

-- From Peg Bracken's Forward to the original 1960 I Hate to Cook Book, reprinted in the anniversary edition.

I am reading this from cover to cover, like a real book. The recipes are great, in that church supper kind of way that 1960s cookbooks tend to have -- lots of condensed cream of mushroom soup (known as "the casserole maker" at my house) and things served on rice. But the best parts are Bracken's funny asides and tips, like this one for making "Indonesian Curry":

. . . Simmer it all from half and hour to an hour, while the rice cooks.

This gives you a nice breather. You may now put your feet up and have a highball, or else you may dirty up a lot of little dishes with

chopped peanuts
chopped green onions
chopped almonds
toasted coconut . . . .

to serve as side boys with your curry. Take your choice. 

Bracken wrote humorous newspaper and magazine pieces, and several books, about cooking and housekeeping. She clearly had a huge influence on the housewives of my mother's generation, since my friends and I grew up with meals I now recognize from The I Hate to Cook Book: pot roast made with dried onion soup mix, a "Mexican" casserole made with taco chips, Turkey Tettrazini, etc.

What seems funny now is that Bracken wrote for an audience of housewives looking for an excuse to cook quick, easy meals -- they hated to cook.  Today, women (and men) don't need an excuse for wanting a homecooked meal that doesn't take hours to prepare.  This is still the book for them.



  1. This sounds like a fun cookbook, loved the opening line!

  2. I loved reading it. I also tried one of the recipes that was deemed a hit at my house.
    I remember this book when it was first published - I think my mom might have used it.

  3. This is a great coincidence that we both posted on this book on the same day. Can we say "great minds think alike" and all that?

    I'm so glad to see someone from your generation enjoying the humor of this book. I agree that it is one to be read just like a regular novel.

  4. I have SO got o check this book out!

  5. I remember the original so I can't wait to read the new one.

  6. Between you and Margot, I'm going to have to read this one!

  7. Sharon: It is fun! She is very clever.

    Mary: Which recipe did you try? There are several I want to make.

    Margot: It is great minds! Or great bellies. :) I definitely think she is funny, especially with all the drinking and smoking. It's like Mad Men.

    Diann: Please do. I have several girlfriends I think would like this for Christmas.

    Beth: It says "updated and revised" or something like that, but I can't tell how. Yes, the recipes now call for olive oil, which I bet the originals didn't. But they also call for odd things we don't use anymore, like frozen shrimp soup.

    JoAnn: I think you'll like it. It is pretty entertaining.

  8. I also recognize some of these recipes from my mom's kitchen...and I have also used some of them. The funny thing is that now they would be like true home cooking. Dang, I'd love a copy of this cookbook. That cover is great!

  9. I used to love this book as a teen. Way before I knew anything about cooking (pro or con), I just liked her attitude. Sounds like it has aged well.

  10. Bybee: I can see that this is going to be a favorite of mine. It has all the comfort of childhood, but without the sticky, splotchy pages of an actual vintage cookbook. :)

    J.G.: It seems flippant and funny as an adult, but I don't know how I would have reacted to it as a teenager. Maybe I would have found it funny, but I may have thought cooking was too serious to joke about.

  11. Oh, how I love this cover!

    Sounds like a fun update to a great book.


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