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I must say that the majority of the recipes are outdated.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.