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The I Hate To Cook Book - The 50th Anniversary Edition of the American Classic by Peg Bracken Books in Review
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The I Hate To Cook Book - The 50th Anniversary Edition of the American Classic
by Peg Bracken
Grand Central Publishing
ISBN 978-0-446-54592-1
Published July 2010 - Hardcover - 208 pages - $22.99

I decided to put this book under two categories, Cooking and Humor, because it fits in both.  I'd never heard of this book before, and yet this is the 50th Anniversary edition, with over three million copies sold!  Still, it's never too late I always say.  Author Peg Bracken's daughter, Jo Bracken, says in the Foreword, "The I Hate to Cook Book was born from a group of professional women who would have been much happier sipping martinis with their husbands than spending the cocktail hour in the kitchen, slaving over a hot stove".  Long story short, they pooled their recipes and this is the outcome.  Mind you, this was back in 1960 when there was such a thing as "cocktail hour" at home!  However, Ma Bracken was a writer but had a family to feed (which tends to disrupt one's writing somewhat), so she combined her talents with one heck of a funny cook book.  Daughter Jo says her mom had "words of wisdom".  As I started reading Ma Bracken, I knew I was going to love her.  Now, as much as I love to cook, sometimes, I agree with her on this: "Your husband won't take you out for enchiladas if he knows he can get enchiladas at home".  I loved her humor and how much she hates cooking, and makes no bones about it, and her first recipe Sweep Steak is hilarious.  She has "hints" along the way that'll make you chuckle or laugh out loud.  Here's one to not show your lack of cooking skills, or not to serve nude food: "You put light things on dark things (like Parmesan on spinach) and dark things on light things (like parsley on sole) and sprinkle paprika on practically everything within reach".  You can almost see Ma Bracken in her kitchen, elbows out and holding ingredients between thumb and forefinger with the other digits sticking out straight.  You'll love her rationalizing along the way; it's a case of "any excuse" will do.  Not just a case of opening a can, but very often that's nearly all it is, along with clever humor sums up this book.  As if her recipes are not enough, there is a bunch of household hints, of which I loved #60, but many are obsolete nowadays.
Conclusion - Charming.  A wonderfully uplifting read for both those who love or hate to cook.

book cover

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