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Weekend Cooking: The I Hate to Cook Book

August 22, 2010

I was excited when I saw that The I Hate to Cook Book was being re-published in honor of it’s 50th anniversary.  I don’t hate to cook, but I don’t relish long hours in the kitchen, so I love learning shortcuts and I figured this book was chock full of them.

When I dove into the book, I discovered that I was wrong – it’s a book full of humor and simple recipes, many of which start with frozen or canned foods.  Peg Bracken is very funny, but I did find some things about the book to be pretty dated, such as references to penny candy bars and cigarettes and the absence of microwave ovens.  Still, when I read, “this book is for those of use who want to fold our big dishwater hands around a dry Martini instead of a wet flounder, come the end of a long day,” I knew she was my kind of gal!  This may well be the only cookbook I’ve read from cover to cover because of the wit and charm of Peg Bracken.  There are adorable drawings by Hilary Knight at the beginning of each chapter.

To be honest, most of the recipes were not for the types of food my family normally eats.  I did see several that I want to try, though, and decided to go with Swiss Loaf for my first experiment.  I had to add more bread crumbs than the recipe called for because the results were too mushy to form a loaf.  We all thought it was good, but not exceptional.

Peg Bracken’s daughter, Jo, wrote the introduction to this book and will be interviewed on Blog Talk Radio on August 26, 2010 at 2 PM Eastern Time.

Swiss Loaf

2 pounds hamburger

1½ cups diced Swiss cheese

2 beaten eggs

½ cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped green pepper

1½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon celery salt

½ teaspoon paprika

2½ cups milk

1 cup dry bread crumbs

Just mix these things together in the approximate order they’re given, then press it all into one big greased loaf pan, or use two.  Bake, uncovered, at 350º for about an hour and a half.

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. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend.  To see who else is participating this weekend, click on the logo.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

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33 Comments leave one →
  1. August 22, 2010 5:07 am

    I can’t cook… I’m not sure if I hate cooking, maybe I don’t, but I do know I don’t see myself cooking something. LOL.

  2. August 22, 2010 5:18 am

    I liked Peg Bracken’s approach to the kitchen — it was there to serve her, and she wasn’t there to meet some impossible standard. She said to fancy up the food, keep three things to sprinkle on top, depending on the color: grated cheese, paprika and something else (chopped parsley?). I still remember that when I want to make something look like more than it is: sprinkle something on top.

  3. August 22, 2010 6:46 am

    I love the author’s attitude, but perhaps if she drank that martini while she was cooking it might work better for her! I would only rent this book just to enjoy her humor, because those kinds of ingredients and foods frankly turn my stomach. I still can’t get Julie’s “famous” comment out of my head about the slimy canned mushrooms! Haha.

  4. kaye permalink
    August 22, 2010 7:44 am

    Some of these older cookbooks probably don’t have recipes we would make today but they are fun to look through just to see what was popular then. Any squirrel recipes in there? ha ha

  5. August 22, 2010 8:10 am

    I reviewed this several weeks ago. The recipe I tried turned out quite tasty but I agree about the canned ingredients. I think the point was that they were time savers and that’s what Bracken liked. I smiled a lot while reading the book (and I read the whole book – something I don’t usually do with a cook book). I still want to try the chocolate cake recipe.

  6. August 22, 2010 8:17 am

    Yeah. That recipe wouldn’t have flown in this house. I really struggled to find something that we’d eat. But I did enjoy all of the author’s wit!

  7. August 22, 2010 8:30 am

    Personally I like mushy meatloaf! So I probably would have been happy having your dinner!

  8. August 22, 2010 8:36 am

    Excuse me…. who ate the meatloaf! I know that you left the whole piece on the plate… so WHO ate it???

    Will tag this book next for my Wish List. The plus side being that it has humour is a BIG BONUS. Girl you’re making my list grow every week… STOP! 😉

    Enjoy the weekend!

  9. August 22, 2010 8:52 am

    It really sounds like a good idea, since I’m into quick and easy, but I guess I’ll have to thumb through the cookbook in the store before I decide. I’ve already got a lot of cookbooks that sit on my shelf and probably are the same recipes. Seriously, I do not want to spend hours chopping and sauteing and stirring.

  10. August 22, 2010 9:26 am

    the humor would cover a lot of flaws for me.

  11. August 22, 2010 10:04 am

    I think I might be entertained by this book (and illustrations by Hilary Knight … of ELOISE fame?!), but probably wouldn’t cook from it 🙂

    • August 22, 2010 10:06 am

      That’s the Hilary Knight! The illustrations are fantastic, as you might surmise.

  12. stacybuckeye permalink
    August 22, 2010 10:34 am

    Love the title but the book is probably not for me.

  13. August 22, 2010 11:56 am

    Sounds like my kind of cookbook. I’ll have to check on this one since I seem to have started collecting cookbooks. 🙂

    Enjoyed your review.

    Thoughts in Progress

  14. bethfishreads permalink
    August 22, 2010 12:04 pm

    This looks like a book I would like to flip through, but I’m sure I’d want to cook from it (like others have said).

  15. August 22, 2010 1:46 pm

    I still have my original copy of the paperback that I received as a shower gift in 1965. I did use-use-use it because I didn’t know the first thing about cooking!

  16. August 22, 2010 5:40 pm

    I’ll have to check this book out sometimes. I enjoy cooking, but I hate spending hours in the kitchen. I hate having to clean everything up. If it cleaned itself up, cooking would be much more fun.

  17. August 22, 2010 6:44 pm

    I think this one would be more enjoyable simply to read it, rather than actually using it as a cookbook!

  18. August 22, 2010 8:21 pm

    I am not sure if this book would work for me as a recipe manual, but I sure would like to get a look at it to see what’s inside!

  19. August 22, 2010 9:40 pm

    I am just just just beginning to love to cook.

    I could always do it. I always did.

    But something new is at work in me now. Pleasure from taking more risk, perhaps.

  20. August 22, 2010 10:11 pm

    This book probably wouldn’t make it in my kitchen, but that said, I would keep it on my coffee table for browsing.

  21. August 22, 2010 10:47 pm

    I just got this book and looking through the recipes is cracking me up! I love kitschy stuff like this!

  22. August 23, 2010 1:09 am

    If you get past the canned soups and such, there are a few gems in this book.

    The cookies especially are wonderful. I’ve been making her overnight macaroons (an oatmeal cookie) for years. You can use olive oil and increase the flavoring a bit and they’re just wonderful.

    Not only that, they seem to cure sea-sickness for most people!

    Despite everything, when this book came out, those of us who grew up trimming the crusts off white bread sandwiches and making tiny, shrimp-filled cream puff for bridge club thought the culinary equivalent of Cosmo had just been published!

  23. August 23, 2010 2:14 am

    I need this book lol. That actually looks yummy!

  24. August 23, 2010 10:13 am

    I just picked this up from the library Friday…when I was flipping through it in the car, I thought the same thing you did…that it would be a fun read but probably not produce a lot of recipes that I would make. I’m still looking forward to reading it, though!

  25. August 23, 2010 2:15 pm

    Sounds like I would like the tone of the book, might find it fun to read, as long as I’m not expecting to use a lot of the recipes.

  26. August 23, 2010 5:41 pm

    The author sounds like my kind of gal/cook!

  27. August 23, 2010 10:43 pm

    I think I will join this meme too! I am not much of a cook and i really do not have any cook books… but I still enjoy these posts all around 🙂

  28. August 24, 2010 12:23 pm

    This recently caught my eye and I’ve been looking forward to reading it. Thanks for sharing!

  29. August 24, 2010 3:46 pm

    Like you, I don’t hate to cook — but I definitely prefer to whip up a tasty meal quickly and then move on to more enjoyable activities (like reading!). This sounds like a book I would like!

  30. August 24, 2010 9:18 pm

    I love to cook, but this sounds like a book that would be interesting to flip through, though I’m not sure I’d make any of the recipes.

  31. August 26, 2010 8:32 am

    My mom has a copy of the original – these are exactly the sort of recipes she likes, because she hates to cook. It’s a great book, but not one I’d be cooking from very often.

  32. August 29, 2010 9:02 pm

    My mom had this book (and her I Hate To Housekeep book) and I remember reading it as a kid and finding it funny (even though some of it went over my head I’m sure!)

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