Saturday, November 3, 2007

Peg Bracken

Peg Bracken, author of the famous I Hate to Cook Book, died on October 20th in her home in Portland, OR. She was 89.

I Hate To Cook Book, published in 1960, struck a chord with many women who also hated to cook. As of 2003, over 3 million copies of the book have been sold, and it is apparently one of the most successful privately authored cookbooks published (Joy of Cooking is the most successful). Bracken's book opens with "Some women, it is said, like to cook. This book is not for them," and her success is due to that very sentiment. Bracken's humor and wit, was in stark contrast to the tomes of domesticity that had filled the bookshelves of the 1950s. As Jessamyn Neuhaus writes in her excellent book Manly Meals and Mom's Home Cooking, "Bracken did not ask her readers to try to like cooking if they simply did not. In fact, she urged women not to feel guilty about disliking to cook." In addition to the original I Hate to Cook Book, Bracken also wrote The Compleat I Hate to Cook Book, The I Hate to Cook Book Almanac, and the Appendix to the I Hate to Cook Book, along with other domestic humor books.

The I Hate to Cook Book is no longer in print, but yes, we do have a copy here at the Library.

Stayabed Stew
(This is for those days when you're en negligee, en bed, with a murder story and a box of chocolates, or possibly a good case of the flu.)
Mix these things up in a casserole dish that has a tight lid.

2lbs. stewing beef, cubed
1 can of little tiny peas*
1/2 cupful sliced carrots
2 chopped onions
1/2 t. salt, dash of pepper
1 can cream of tomato soup, thinned with 1/2 can water (or celery or mushroom soup thinned likewise).
1 big raw potato, sliced
Piece of bay leaf*

Put the lid on and put the casserole in a 275 degree F. oven. Now go back to bed. It will cook happily all by itself and be done in 5 hours.

*If you don't like this, leave it out.


Anonymous said...

I do much of my cooking when I have the flu. Particularly a good case.

The Maiden Metallurgist said...

I love to cook, but I may keep an eye out for an old copy anyway. I love cook books filled with humor even more. I think it makes the recipes more accessible and easier to remember.

Deborah Dowd said...

Retro casserole... I love it. I want to put on my apron (or my negligee, as the case may be!)

Julie said...

Bwah ha ha ha! Bad Home Cooking circa 1950! I'll have to trawl my local used book store for this one! (fave line: 1 can of little tiny peas) LOL!

Lisa said...

I remember this book! We had it around the house when I was a kid. Great to be reminded of it.

Julie said...

Full props for hipping me to Peg Bracken. I link back to you here: