Book Review: I Hate To Cook Book

Back in the 1960s I was a fan of Peg Bracken. She wrote witty and humorous columns and books that most young women back then loved. I had a copy of her famous book for years, but I’m not sure what happened to it.

Well, thank goodness, someone decided to re-publish the I Hate To Cook Book – fifty years later. I loved this book back then, but not because I hated to cook. I loved it for Peg Bracken’s attitude toward food and the life of women in general. With her unique brand of humor she pulled us all together in a sisterhood that forged a new era in food preparation.

The first thing I remember about Peg Bracken is this wonderful piece of advice. She told me (okay, all of us) to fix a nice fortifying drink prior to a big job in the kitchen. Yes, she really did. I have thought of her and that gem of wisdom often over the years, especially during those times when I knew I was facing many hours of food preparation.

Fixing that drink was to be a symbol of my attitude: This is fun. I can do this and enjoy it. I think Peg often made it a martini. Mine was a less glamorous coke, sometimes with a little rum in it.

In I Hate To Cook Book you will find recipes but overall it’s a cookbook that you actually should just read. You’ll like the humor in addition to some very good tips. The number one tip from this book that I’ve kept all these years is in the first chapter.

In the first chapter Peg suggests that a homemaker develop a list of thirty tried and true everyday main dishes. This chapter actually has thirty recipes that the reader can use. The idea is to have a month’s worth of meals that you can confidently cook. Then you just keep repeating them, especially if they are the ones your family loves. You can stop inventing the wheel every night.

The remainder of the book covers menus and recipes for dinner parties, children’s parties, last-minute suppers, as well as chapters on side dishes, desserts, and so forth. There is one chapter containing seventy-five household hints that is still excellent.

I must say that the majority of the recipes are outdated. There is a heavy use of canned soups and other canned items. However, in Peg Bracken’s defense, this was the cutting edge back in the 1950s/60s.

For me, reading I Hate To Cook Book was a lovely experience of remembering the good old days. I recommend reading this book to all of you who remember Peg Bracken’s writing. For those of you younger than me, it may remind you of dishes your mom used to serve. For the rest of you it makes great research into the food customs of the mid-twentieth century.

I borrowed my copy from the library but The I Hate to Cook Bookis also available at Amazon. (I am an Amazon Associate.)

Talking about food is a regular feature on my blog and other blogs as well. Please visit Beth Fish Reads for more Weekend Cooking posts.

This entry was posted in 100+ Book Challenge, B Books, Books About Food, Food Talk, Library Challenge, Weekend Cooking and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Book Review: I Hate To Cook Book

  1. I think this is the only cookbook I’ve read cover to cover. I loved Bracken’s humor, but like you, felt like the recipes were outdated. My family wasn’t crazy about the ones I tried.

  2. I kind of miss those old days of canned soup recipes and smashed up Ritz crackers, etc. It always seemed sort of “nifty” even if not healthy (but we didn’t know that so it didn’t count!)

  3. kaye says:

    Canned soups are still used in my house, ha ha. TBG just cooked chicken the other night with cream of chicken soup and it tasted good to me. I see you’ve been very busy since I’ve been mia. I hope to do some catching up soon. Have a great weekend.

  4. candice says:

    This is great! I remember your “drink” ritual too. (Usually Coke, but I took to smelling it before i snuck a sip after a terrible “rum-burn” experience!!) I love the graphics on the front cover, although I never remember seeing it around the house when I was younger. I have to admit that I’m not excited about cooking foods that use canned soup and smashed up Ritz or potato chips, even though they sometimes taste “good” in a familiar way. Admittedly, i do prepare the annual “green bean casserole” a la Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup around Thanksgiving, and my girls hate it so there is always plenty for Mark & me to indulge ourselves for days…

  5. Mary says:

    I reviewed this a few months ago – I enjoyed the “blast from the past” feel of it. I tried a recipe that was actually quite tasty (and used a cream of “something” canned soup). I like to adapt recipes to the way I eat now (low-fat, etc) and found this was easy to do with the recipes in this book.
    I loved Bracken’s humor too 🙂

  6. Martha says:

    Peg Bracken just cracks me up. I borrowed this from the library a while back. I think I’ll add it to my Christmas list. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. caite says:

    I must admit that I have used that idea of making a nice fortifying drink prior to starting to cook. At times, like when company is coming to dinner, I can get so upset I need a little calming…lol
    And I have set a potholder or two on fire in my time.
    I think I need to read this book!

  8. Oh my gosh I remember Peg Bracken and her columns — and checking her book out from the library. She did have such a great attitude. It’s nice that it’s been republished. — I actully have a recipe of hers which I think came from this book. It’s called “long lost mousse”. I don’t make desserts much any more, but it’s fun to remember the days when I did.

  9. Staci says:

    I checked this one out from the library but I didn’t get to it…so now I need to get it again and read it!! Totally sounds like a fun experience and who knows I just may try some of the recipes!!

  10. JoAnn says:

    I think I’d enjoy reading this…. and I’ll admit to sometimes pouring a glass of wine when I cook 🙂

  11. boliyou says:

    It sounds like a great cookbook, useful and witty. Thanks for sharing it!

  12. Beth F says:

    I remember this book from old but my mother didn’t cook out of it very often. I love Bracken’s humor too and agree that the cookbook is fun to read. I actually like re-inventing the wheel most nights, but having a group of tried-and-true recipes is great idea.

  13. Hey! I wrote about the same book today on Rose City Reader!

    I love it. I now know how my mom and all her friends fed us while we were growing up. I recognize a LOT of dinners from my childhood.

  14. Leslie says:

    Somehow I’ve never read anything by Peg Bracken, and I cook a lot. Those canned soup recipes sound a lot like stuff I ate as a child back in the 60s and I have no desire for that for that kind of nostalgia so I’ll probably check this one out for the humor and the writing.

  15. bybee says:

    I’m almost 100% sure my mom read this cookbook since many of the recipes you mentioned were part of my childhood. I would so love a copy of this…maybe I’ll splurge!

  16. Cerrin says:

    Yes I remeber the Rum and Coke too. heh I always associate it with you. When I get homesick for family I will fix myself a Rum and coke ther is nothing like it.

    I tend to not drink and cook…I forget what I was doing and burn things. lol

  17. kaye says:

    I think I need to get hold of this book before thanksgiving . . . loved your review.

  18. Nancy says:

    Peg Bracken was/is fun. I remember something about an easy way to fancy up the appearance of food by sprinkling something light on the dark food and light on the dark food. You keep grated cheese, chopped parsley and paprika around, and one of the three will work on almost anything. It’s the attitude that impresses me still.

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