HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Question about of Joy of Cooking

  • t

My puppy ate Fanny Farmer, so I think this is a good excuse to replace FF with the Joy of Cooking. I've read several postings here about different editions. Which edition should I get? Thanks

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. are you looking for a new copy? If so, your only choice will be the current version that you find in bookstores. Maybe you can get an unused older copy... not sure where. Certainly you can find older versions at specialty used bookstores or online.

    But, frankly, I have the new, current version and I like it very much. My guess is that the older versions are good for very specific recipes that have either changed, or more likely, weren't included in the current version. Not sure what those would be though.

    1 Reply
    1. re: adamclyde

      Actually, the prior edition is usually available in bookstores, new but in a smaller spiral bound format. The type is small and the paper is thin, but I find it's useful to have to compare to the later edition that many people decried.

    2. There are a number of printings, but the primary versions that you're able to find these days are the update from the 70s (look for two author names: Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker) and the most recent major update (three authors, add Ethan Becker to the author list).

      The 1970s one is a good all purpose cookbook and it includes, in my opinion better directions for basic cooking things like cutting up your own chickens. It also includes a lot of instructions around game dressing.

      But, it also includes a lot more fat and lard than anyone in their right mind would cook with today, and it doesn't include much in the way of interesting ethnic ingredients.

      The 1990s update is a lot more modern, with lighter recipes and more inclusive ingredient lists. The ethnic recipes they do include aren't necessarily outstanding, but at least they have a taste of some of the techniques. The instructions are still mostly great, but there's more of an emphasis on somewhat quicker alternative recipes than in the earlier version.

      If you're looking for a recipe book, get the new version. If you're looking for an instruction book, the older one might (but might not) be more to your taste.

      1. For those who have the Joy of Cooking - what are your favorite recipes from this book? I have it as well but find it overwhelming sometimes- so would like your opinions. Thanks!!

        3 Replies
        1. re: javagurl

          We've used a lot of their recipes reguularly: corn bread, banana bread, shrimp with chili paste, high-heat roasted turkey; it's a phenomenal resource

          1. re: javagurl

            I find the baking recipes almost alway excellent and include good technique tips...love the brownies and the devils food cake...

            1. re: javagurl

              The new edition's coverage of pies is extremely thorough and good. The pie recipes are good, too, but I mainly use it for the advice on crusts, rolling out, etc.

            2. Replace the FF and get a JoC!

              After looking the new one over, I've seen no good reason to replace my pre-Ethan version of Joy of Cooking. This isn't gourmet fare we're talking about, but good sensible home cooking with some swell party dishes thrown in. It's very midwestern, while Fanny (at least the older ones - I haven't looked at any new ones) is firmly grounded in New England. I have...well, LOTS of cookbooks, but these two get used as reference works as often as anything Julia or JB ever wrote.

              1. I find my older edition (1960s or 70s) as useful and helpful as it is charming.

                1 Reply
                1. re: neighbor

                  and very useful if you want to learn how to cook squirrel.

                  You can often find the old versions at used bookstores or yard sales.

                2. I use the one by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, don't know the exact date but I've owned it for at least 20 years. I don't recall seeing any 'possum or bear recipes as I believe the ones from the 50's had. I do find it useful as a basic easy to use reference document for all kinds of things. Not all recipes are the greatest, but it does such a good job of explaining so many things that I do go back to it again and again. I wouldn't but a newer one because even though it may have more updated and/or ethnic recipes, you can probably better ones elsewhere. To me the real value is in the instructions and the recipes BEFORE they lightened up in accordance with today's calorie conscious world. I already know how to do that and would rather have the older recipes as a guide.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Ellen

                    Bingo. Correct. I prefer my recipes with all the lard and fat; editors and updaters often make stupid compromises, in my experience.

                    There is always a simple solution to a rich dish. Smaller portions. Works like a charm.

                    1. re: Ellen

                      I have the same edition (R-Becker). It's verry dog-eared and parts of it have come loose from the binding, but I can't bear to part with it. Have had it since the late 60's.

                    2. Join one of those book clubs, you can get a new copy of JOC for about $7 or less.

                      I usually use it for reference and I conjure up my own creation using JOC as a base.

                      1. Join one of those book clubs, you can get a new copy of JOC for about $7 or less.

                        I usually use it for reference and I conjure up my own creation using JOC as a base.

                        1. I use this cookbook every week, nearly every time I cook. The current version is best but the most recent previous one is good for a second opinion. Get the hardcover current edition and the cheapo ring-bound older one, or wait to find the hardcover older edition used somewhere.

                          1. I have both the 50's edition (complete with tons of cocktail, possum, and appetizer recipes) and the newest. I agree that the old version is much more useful, as well as fun to read. The eds. include a good how-to chapter with recipes for homemade cheese, explanations of various sorts of cream, all kinds of herbs, etc. It's all useful, except for the part about cilantro, where they rant and rave about its "unpleasant" odor.

                            I also think the older version is more sophisticated than merely "midwestern." The section on after-dinner cheese course is very good and includes several recipes. As for desserts, they're always fabulous. The rice pudding is superb. Icings, frostings, spritz cookies come out every time. I'm still dying to try "apple souffle cockaigne" and Nesselrode sauce.

                            I do like the newer edition for a few of its recipes, especially the Moroccan Vegetable Stew. I've also made the dal and pad thai and, while not the most authentic of sources, the recipes yield tasty and good results. I also like their eggless orange cake, which I had to make once when we had vegan friends over for dinner.

                            1. I buy mine at garage sales. They are usually priced at less than 2 dollars. I have a 50s, a 64, an 80's and a two volume, soft cover one. They are all great. I really enjoy the soft molasses cookies in the 50s version(I think) and my freind swears by the Saurbraten recipe that they removed in more recent versions.

                              the sour milk pancake recipe is a weekend tradition at my house, and it doesn't seem to have changed (much) in 40 some odd years.

                              peace, jill

                              1. Thanks for the replies, I will get the most recent edition and keep my eye out for the older ones. The recipes for possom and squirrel may come in handy as said puppy has caught a couple.