Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The I Hate to Cook Book 50th Anniversay Edition

Publisher's Summary. "There are two kinds of people in this world: the ones who don't cook out of and have NEVER cooked out of THE I HATE TO COOK BOOK, and the other kind...The I HATE TO COOK people consist mainly of those who find other things more interesting and less fattening, and so they do it as seldom as possible. Today there is an Annual Culinary Olympics, with hundreds of cooks from many countries ardently competing. But we who hate to cook have had our own Olympics for years, seeing who can get out of the kitchen the fastest and stay out the longest."

- Peg Bracken

Philosopher's Chowder. Skinny Meatloaf. Fat Man's Shrimp. Immediate Fudge Cake. These are just a few of the beloved recipes from Peg Bracken's classic I HATE TO COOK BOOK. Written in a time when women were expected to have full, delicious meals on the table for their families every night, Peg Bracken offered women who didn't revel in this obligation an alternative: quick, simple meals that took minimal effort but would still satisfy.

50 years later, times have certainly changed - but the appeal of THE I HATE TO COOK BOOK hasn't.

This book is for everyone, men and women alike, who wants to get from cooking hour to cocktail hour in as little time as possible.

Growing up, on my mother’s book shelf nestled between the red and white checked Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and my mother’s personal recipe journal was The I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken. With its distinctive cover designed by Hilary Knight and its provocative title it was easy to spot. I always thought it was a curious choice because my mother loved to cook. Homemade noodles, fresh donuts and Sunday roasts my mother cooked it all.

Now as an adult with a copy of the 50th anniversary edition of this classic cookbook I finally get it: Bracken’s book is one part recipes and the other part philosophy/humor. The recipes seem to hold up fairly well over the years, notwithstanding the generous use of butters and creams (which can probably be easily adapted to modern dietary concerns). But what I really relished about this book was Bracken’s wit. For example, I loved these lines:

“We who hate to cook have a respect bordering on awe for those Good Cooks Who Like to Cook . . . . But we’ve little to say to them, really, except, ‘Invite us over often, please’ And stay aware from our husbands.”

To women in the 60’s these words must have sounded like the sermon on the mount! Even today I still can relate to them. In short, Bracken had a gift for getting her point across with clarity and humor.

The I Hate to Cook Book is as refreshing today as it must have been fifty years ago!

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Anv edition (July 26, 2010), 224 pages.
Advance review copy provided courtesy of the publisher.


  1. This book has my name on it; I do HATE to cook. Thanks for the great review.

  2. I loved how you related the book to your childhood. My mother never had this one, although she did have the standby red and white checked one, and now I have my own copy of that, although the recipes have changed over the years.

  3. I'd like this one :D
    I like to cook but hate cookbooks, the recipes are always so weird and fancy