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Interesting Obit-Peg Bracken, 1918-2007

optimal forager Dec 29, 2007 05:49 PM

I had never heard of this author or of her iconic "The I Hate to Cook Book" (1960), but she sounds like my kind of lady. My favorite quote: "It would never sell, they told her, because 'women regard cooking as sacred'". The article says it wasn't about her hating to cook, but that, at the time, it was many women's job to come up with 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, with no help or takeout available, and she had the nerve to say it wasn't always fun.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/30/mag...

  1. meatn3 Dec 29, 2007 08:19 PM

    I grew up reading her in my mothers Family Circle each month. The books are funny too. They show up a bit at thrift stores these days. She made a lot of people smile over the years!

    1 Reply
    1. re: meatn3
      s
      Suzan Jan 9, 2008 09:14 AM

      I used to read her column in Family Circle, as well. I remember one article in which she lamented that fact that cooking had become sort of an exhibition sport and competitive event. I still think of that comment whenever I read some hopelessly complicated recipe for entertaining guests that contains ingredients I've never heard of! She was a true treasure!

    2. s
      Sharuf Dec 29, 2007 10:26 PM

      Been a Bracken fan since day one. I like her style and attitude as well as her recipes.

      1. OldDog Dec 30, 2007 01:54 AM

        Bless her. 'Peg' Brackens "I Hate to Cook Book" is a real treasure on soooo many levels. If you haven't read it or don't own it, fix that asap.

        1. a
          alias wade Dec 30, 2007 02:11 AM

          The godmother of quick-and-easy. 75% of food network personalities should have been at her funeral to pay tribute!

          1 Reply
          1. re: alias wade
            optimal forager Dec 31, 2007 09:30 AM

            True, but, OTOH, unlike Sandra Lee, she didn't "save" all that time then go blow it decorating the food or going shopping for and setting up "tablescapes". She took it and got the heck out of the kitchen! It's a place I love to be, but the idea of being obligated to be in there most hours of every day.... (shudder).

          2. j
            Jim M Dec 30, 2007 04:37 PM

            Gotta love a recipe that begins: "1/4 cup bourbon, plus more for you"!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jim M
              maria lorraine Dec 30, 2007 05:22 PM

              Yes! And the first line of instructions that says "First, take the bourbon out of the cupboard and have a small snort for medicinal purposes."

              And her recipe for port and walnuts is fun too. The NYT article is worth a read for the laughs alone.

            2. danhole Jan 1, 2008 11:17 AM

              I loved Peg Bracken! She was such a Hoot! Too bad you missed out OF!

              1. susancinsf Jan 1, 2008 11:38 AM

                Her cookbook was probably the first I ever owned, and many of the recipes, in addition to being simple and easy (which was the main point of course) happened to be inexpensive, because they tended to have just a few ingredients, making it a perfect choice for a college student (though I think my mother also had the 'I Hate to Cook Book', which my mother certainly did hate, and I first read it in high school or even junior high). I still have a copy on my shelf...haven't made that whiskey cake in a while, perhaps I should try it again in her memory.

                And yes, I also had the 'I Hate to Housekeep Book', and her tip that the best housecleaning shortcut was to take off her glasses is still one I adhere to... :-)

                Great article, thanks. I particularly love that she collaborated on a syndicated cartoon with Matt Groening's father...

                1. c
                  cocoagirl Jan 2, 2008 05:51 AM

                  the artichoke casserole was one of the first dishes I made for company when I was in my 20's. Both my mom and I love to cook but we always love the Peg Bracken books. I still use many of the recipes, A-1 Fudge Sauce, Roast Beef for 1, Apple date Pudding, another chicken dish with brown sugar and garlic, casual joes supper, elevator lady spice cookies... I have the "Compleat" version which is a combination of three of the books I believe with some ommisions..

                  1. m
                    momjamin Jan 2, 2008 12:27 PM

                    This obit shares a few other gems.

                    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comm...

                    Her books were some of the more readable household books I found on my mother's shelf, and I swiped "I Hate to Housekeep" from mom when I got my first apartment. (My most-relied-upon rule of thumb: start backwards when getting ready to entertain. If the table's already set and the martinis mixed when the guests arrive, they don't know how much chaos might reign in the kitchen.) I recently (in the last year or two) checked the travel book (But I Wouldn't Have Missed it for the World) out of the library.

                    1. cayjohan Jan 2, 2008 09:16 PM

                      I raise a glass to Peg Bracken (R.I.P.) as I am at a few minutes past midnight, still tryng to get the house in order for a dinner party tomorrow night. I think I will take off my glasses, pour a couple of stiff martinis for my guests tomorrow, and go from there. Bracken really inspires.

                      What I find most interesting about this era in cookbookery is Bracken's "I Hate..." book published just the year before Julia Child's "Mastering the..." I think a lot of us were brought up trying to ping-pong between the two frames of thought in popuar cookbookery. Where did we end up? I'm taking a stab at saying most of us ended up somewhere between the two. Tell me if I'm wrong.

                      Even though most of us here love to cook, we also bitch about it incessantly. Bracken recognized that and made us laugh at ourselves. She also poked holes in some gasbags that needed holes, and made people comfortable in their entertaining, even if that entertaining needed glasses-off-martinis-in.

                      The books are fabulously funny, and good out-loud reading. So nice to see a wit remembered well on CH.

                      Cay

                      1. p
                        Phoebe Jan 9, 2008 01:49 PM

                        I grew up with my Mom cooking many dishes from Peg Backen's "I Hate to Cook" cookbook. My all-time favorite was a dish she named Pedro's Special. Basically a quick chili, served on top of a bed of lettuce and Fritos, topped with onions and cheese. (A recipe that was recently ripped-off by a popular southern cook who appears on FoodTV.) No names mentioned. Still make it today. Other favorites include...Skid Road Stroganoff, Maxie's Franks, and Lamb Chop Mignon. I have the1960 paperback edition and truly cherish it. Was sad to hear of her passing.

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