Saturday, November 20, 2010

Sunday Salon: Weekend Cooking & Review of The I HATE TO COOK Book: 50th Anniversary Edition by Peg Bracken

I'm catching up on book reviews that have piled up these past few months and I plan to have more posted this week. I was sick this past week with a  lousy chest cold and laryngitis but the positive side is that I was able to read several books, write some reviews and visit some book bloggers. I was able to finish Out of the Shadows by Joanne Rendell and Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten. Both were excellent books and I look forward to sharing my reviews here.

Author: Peg Bracken (With a New Foreword by Jo Bracken)

Genre: Cookbook
About (From Hachette ):

"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.

My Thoughts:

I had not heard of this cookbook before it was recently released in an Updated and Revised  50th Anniversary Edition. I am a fan of cookbooks and enjoy trying new recipes and with a title like The I HATE TO COOK Book, I couldn't resist. It was originally published in 1960 and geared toward women who hate to cook, not for those Ms. Bracken refers to as the "good cooks, who like to cook". You may be able to guess that Peg Bracken also had a sense of humor with a title like this and you can definitely find that humor sprinkled throughout the book among her writing. There are two hundred recipes in the book along with household hints. Remember that this was published in the 60's when there weren't concerns about butter and red meat so you'll definitely find a lot of both in this book. The author does assume that most people who hate to cook like to find shortcuts and she shares many throughout the book including using canned foods. This cookbook has 13 chapters and some examples of chapter headings are 30 Day-by-Day Entrees; The Leftover; Potluck Suppers; Luncheon for the Girls;Last Minute Suppers; Little Kids Parties and more. I chose a recipe that I thought we would enjoy in the 30 Day-by-Day Entrees chapter:


( A good, cheap, classic chili recipe that's easy to remember because it's one of everything)

(6-8 servings)
1 pound Hamburger
1 big onion, chopped
1 (or 2) 16 ounce cans of kidney beans, depending on how many you're feeding
1 can tomato soup, undiluted
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon chili powder ( then taste and add more if you like)
ripe olives, if they're handy

Brown the meat and the onion in a little butter and cook, till the meat is brown-about ten minutes. Add everything else, then let it simmer, covered, for half an hour.

My Notes: I didn't take a picture as I would have wanted a before and after picture and I forgot to take a before picture. I followed the directions and  in all honesty, the chili looked terrible. It was grayish in color, not red and hearty like I am used to when using tomato sauce. When I tasted it; it was flat and flavorless, I missed the richness from a heartier tomato sauce. Tomato soup just doesn't cut it for Chili, in my opinion. I added a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes and I added 2 cans of red kidney beans. I also drained the beef after cooking but did add the butter as I wanted to see what it tasted like but I didn't notice any difference in flavor. I also added more chili powder. I didn't follow this recipe exactly and had to doctor it up to enjoy it. 

In looking through the other recipes in this cookbook, I just didn't find much that interested me. It has a great table of contents, index in the back, a section on equivalents and substitutes and a chapter on household hints. I am the kind of cook that enjoys cooking "most of the time" so maybe I didn't appreciate this style of cookbook.

Recommend: To someone who doesn't like to cook, likes older cookbooks, plain straightforward recipes without much fuss or spice or flavoring and a sense of humor added in to the mix. If you like fancier modern day recipes, this cookbook is probably not for you. 

Source: Thanks to the publisher, Hachette for sending me a copy of this book to review. 

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.


  1. This cookbook is pretty funny, but I can't imagine using tomato soup in a recipe for chili. I wonder if canned crushed/diced tomatoes were readily available in 1960.

  2. I've been seeing reviews of this and I know I would enjoy reading this classic. As much as I love to cook, I'm so glad I'm not forced into it every single night.

  3. I've seen a few reviews for this one this morning and it looks like an ok cookbook. Sorry you didn't like the chili much. You know my mom uses tomato soup and her chili is actually good - very rich and rich looking.

  4. I read this book a few weeks ago and loved it for all the memories it brought back. I'd like to think my cooking has progressed in the last 50 years but it was still fun to read.

  5. I checked this out but didn't read it!! Story of my life! I hate it when my finished product looks unappetizing!!!


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