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What is the absolute worst cookbook you own. And why do you keep it?

I have a lot of cookbooks. Every now and then I weed some out for garage sales or the like. But by a lot, I mean probably 300. I was going through some today and found one that just had the most vile recipes imaginable, yet I've still kept it. (It was a gift.)
My worst cookbook (that I've found so far) Is the Taste of Home Quick Cook Cookbook from 2000.
This is the one that has a recipe for a taco shell, lined with a slice of american cheese, add a cooked hotdog, then top with canned baked beans.

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  1. I have one put out by my mom's church. Full of mushroom soup/Velveeta/Jello recipes Yuck.

    But can't throw it away, because sure as I do, she will want it for something.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sparrowgrass

      My MIL's church has always had a cookbook. MIL has a Home Economics degree circa 1950, and is one of the founding members of her church. The original is jam-packed full of can-o-soup recipes and Velveeta and Jello, they recently put out an updated edition that's much more modern, much more homemade recipes, but I don't think MIL thinks it's as good as her and her friends' version. Understandable. 8^)

      1. re: sparrowgrass

        One of our local groups (maybe Boys and Girls Club?) has a cookbook that my grandmother gave me as a newlywed. For some reason, everyone raves over it, but I really don't get it...

      2. White Trash Cooking by Ernest M. Mickler. It's entertaining.

        14 Replies
        1. re: Veggo

          I agree, but I did add my copy to the Salvation Army bag of give-aways a few years ago.

            1. re: pine time

              I hope my house never burns down and I end up at that salvation army while I wait for the insurance check to clear :D

              1. re: alliegator

                Hey, we're still in the midst of some serious downsizing, and we've called the Salvation Army for multiple very large pick-ups, including some great furniture. The driver told us our stuff would go to some "special store," so our local store doesn't get the good stuff. They must have some system of knowing what sells for the most $$$ where. The agency does good work, so we continue to support them.

                1. re: pine time

                  Oh, I was just trying to make a funny, sorry if I offended. We just moved house in the spring and the Salvation army hauled away a great deal of stuff from us, too.
                  It is interesting that they sort thing for different stores. Huh...
                  You learn something new every day.

                  1. re: alliegator

                    No offense, at all. I think my skin may be as thick as your alliegtor hide.

            2. re: Veggo

              My mom bought me that one. Love the pictures. Disturbing

              1. re: Veggo

                It was so good, I have White Trash Cooking II. ;-)

                1. re: Antilope

                  I also have "Hot Flashes" by Ernest M. Mickler, the author of "White Trash Cooking", a generous gift from c oliver.

                2. re: Veggo

                  While it's obviously presented as comic, I don't agree it's a bad cookbook - it has some perfectly lovely recipes for regional stuff like perlow and cooter pie (not that I'd ever make that one - my brother in law has one as a pet). Although I do love all the recipes for things like Five Can Casserole and the one where you dump a little bag of salted peanuts into a Pepsi. I'd never get rid of it.

                  1. re: ratgirlagogo

                    I completed forgot about the salted peanuts in a Pepsi. I had a friend that swore by that years ago!

                    1. re: Firegoat

                      Wow! I had no idea you were friends with my dad!

                      1. re: ratgirlagogo

                        LOL. I can't remember who it was, but I do know that it was a woman. I'm racking my brain because I remember being completely shocked at the time, but still trying it.

                  2. re: Veggo

                    Oh sweet Jesus, butter me some toast....that is the first book that popped into my head!!!!! I am honour bound to divulge that it went "away" during a remodel/move out of the house purge.

                  3. The Better Homes and Gardens 500 5 Ingredient Recipes.
                    Where did it come from? I dunno. Why do I keep it? Dunno.

                    Fun topic, Firegoat!

                    13 Replies
                      1. re: Firegoat

                        Here we have Quick Turkey Tetrazzini:
                        6 oz. of spaghetti, cooked and drained
                        1 can ready to serve chunky creamy (chunky creamy?) chicken with mushroom soup
                        1 cup cooked and chopped turkey breast
                        1/2 cup shredded parm
                        2 tbsp. sliced almonds

                        Coat a square baking dish with cooking spray (apparently a freebie). Cook the soup, turkey, cheese through on stovetop, add spaghetti, stir, then put in baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and almonds. Bake in a 425 oven until top is golden, 12-15 minutes.

                        Gag me with a spoon!

                        1. re: alliegator

                          I bet this would be especially good if you used parmesan from the green container vs fresh. I'm surprised the recipe didn't specify this!!

                          Love the sliced almonds on top too! You've got to wonder how that came about. Someone standing over the hot mess thinking...wow, I bet sliced almonds would be great with this. I gagged thinking about what this would look like!

                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                            I know--the almonds?! Just, what the...?
                            It sounds like something my MIL would make.
                            I do at least know now why I keep it, to hide things in. Like the receipt from an overpriced pair of shoes I purchased on November 17th, 2005. It fell out when I was putting the book back!

                            1. re: alliegator

                              You have the receipt but do you still have those pricey shoes? ;-)

                              1. re: suzigirl

                                Very good question, and indeed I do. I just had new front soles and heel taps put on them last spring. Worth every penny ;)
                                I can look totally glam when I decide to prepare some trashy 5 ingredient slop.

                            2. re: Breadcrumbs

                              Maybe it was presumed that the parmesan was from the green can.

                            3. re: alliegator

                              Sounds heavy but the almonds were a nice touch.

                              1. re: alliegator

                                Can I use chopped peanuts instead of the almonds?

                                    1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                                      You drink tea with your pinky out dontcha?

                          2. I know it's popular here, but Bittman's How to Cook Everything, because he is unbearably smug for me.

                            That being said, it makes an excellent sofa prop-up for a broken leg.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: Violatp

                              I borrowed Bittman's book from the library and returned it the next day. He's not only smug, but his recipes were so basic that they sucked the life out of potentially interesting ethnic recipes.

                              1. re: 1sweetpea

                                Ditto - How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is, for ethic recipes, constantly and tragically underseasoned. International foods for white people. A friend and I have experimented and believe that boosting spices etc. by 3-4x makes things 'about right.'

                              2. re: Violatp

                                Have to agree, there is aboslutely nothing in it that inspires me. That said. I hold on to it because I may need to know the basics of some obscure recipe from the past at some point, and it it probablyy has it.

                                1. re: mike0989

                                  "I hold on to it because I may need to know the basics of some obscure recipe from the past at some point, and it it probablyy has it."

                                  This is why I keep it, too, despite almost never really finding what I want in it. In fact now that you've put it into words, I don't know why I even think I'm going to find out "the basics of some obscure recipe from the past" in it. I never do. I almost always end up finding what I'm looking for in the Joy of Cooking, instead. Gee! Why AM I keeping this doorstop???

                                  1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                    Oh, yes to a good old, old school Joy of Cooking! I'm not a fancy, trendy cook, so JoC is a go to for, not necessarily word for word recipes, but techniques.

                                    1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                      I have some really odd old cookbooks (can't think of any names offhand) that I'd never get rid of because they have genuine comedy value, and a couple have some interesting historical info.

                                  2. re: Violatp

                                    I'm sure it's not the worst cookbook I own but it may be the least useful to me since I'm never inspired to cook from it.

                                    Inevitably I'll see a more appealing recipe for the same dish in another cookbook. I'm also just put off by the title of the book.

                                    Why do I keep it? It was a gift from mr bc and he hasn't forgotten he gave it to me...yet!!!

                                    1. re: Violatp

                                      Lol, I will have to vote this one the worst as well. It has its own story. My FIL "likes" to cook but has about 2 recipes. So I helpfully bought him this cookbook for his birthday. Make a long story short, somehow it turned up again in our kitchen, gifted and re-gifted. Now dh, who is learning to cook and is doing quite well at it, uses this cookbook as a go to when he has no other recipe or instructions. Fortunately, he knows enough to doctor up the seasoning.
                                      As for me, I've only made desserts from it and they were pretty sad. Chocolate chip cookies and lemon cheesecake with sour cream topping. They tasted ok but did not look or cook well. Even dd turned down the cheesecake.

                                      1. By the Sackful: A Scrapbook with Recipes from 85 Years of White Castle Craving

                                        I keep it because it's kitschy, but I would never make any of the recipes.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: Sloth

                                          Good heavens, what can you make with recycled White Castles? Wait, not sure I want an answer to that...

                                          1. re: pine time

                                            There is actually a recipe for Turkey Stuffing made of White Castles.

                                            1. re: jcmods

                                              Oh my. Thanksgiving at Honey Boo Boo's? (Never watched the show, just picking a stereotype from seeing only the ads!). Although, back in the day, our family loved a "sack" of White Castles for dinner.

                                            2. re: pine time

                                              Fried rice. You can make fried rice out of anything.

                                          2. Oh dear God! Save us from Taste of Home. I was never served or have served something that vile, ever!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Candy

                                              My MIL thinks Taste of Home is the best of the cooking world.

                                              That's all I have to say about that

                                            2. A fundraising cookbook from my high school; parents sent in their recipes. I keep it for the nostalgia factor, and for a useful filler section on what gets what stain out of what fabric.

                                              Worst recipe? An ambrosia "salad" that included lemon jello, sour cream, sweetened coconut, butterscotch chips, pastel colored mini marshmallows, and canned seedless grapes. I have a primal and visceral reaction to canned grapes, even the ones that pop up by the twosies and threesies in fruit cocktail.

                                              The recipe was submitted by our high school principal, a nun.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: pinehurst

                                                You just brought back a hideous fancy lunch event memory from my Catholic school girlhood - underripe pineapple quarters topped with green jello/mayo/chicken salad. GAG.

                                                1. re: HillsofBeverly

                                                  Oh ya. They served the "ambrosia" on lettuce leaves. I think the chicken salad or lettuce leaves were meant to bump it to the "fancy lunch" status.

                                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                                    I have never eaten ambrosia in my life but was at a community dinner theatre production and the dessert was ambrosia. It was quite good to my surprise.

                                                2. re: pinehurst

                                                  Always knew those nuns were viscous.

                                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                                    Oh lordy, that sounds truly, shamelessly horrible.

                                                  2. Off the top of my head, any of Mom's 1970s Weight Watcher cookbooks, with delights like liver, liver and more liver (they really advocated for liver), mashed green bean "guacamole" and lunchmeat/fruit kebabs. They meant well, but these books established a lifelong aversion to strong artificial sweeteners, fake food (maybe mashed green beans are good on their own, but they are not "guacamole") and meat + fruit (also, I loathe lunchmeat in general). There was a "blueberry ice cream" that was actually good, but it was based on real fruit and dairy.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: HillsofBeverly

                                                      a lifelong aversion to artificial sweeteners and fake food isn't exactly a bad thing!

                                                      I remember Weight Watchers "recipes" of yore (early 70s)--my mom put me on a diet because I was too fat. I frequently had the Weight Watchers pizza--a slice of dry toast, a thin slice of American cheese, and a sprinkle of dried oregano. Yuk!

                                                      1. re: nofunlatte

                                                        You have earned the right to rename yourself 'nofunpizza'.

                                                    2. I just did a cleanout of the cookbook shelf, most of the "donate" pile were gifts from well-intentioned folk.

                                                      The "3-4-5 Ingredient Cookbook" was given to my boyfriend to help him become more adept in the kitchen - unfortunately it was more focused on opening prepacked products than teaching anything valuable. Sample recipe - Kids Steak Kabobs: 1 inch pieces of hot dog skewered alternately with maraschino cherries and canned pineapple chunks. Broil for 2 minutes.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                        1. re: EGtheOG

                                                          A gift card to a book store would have better served your purpose, cooking is personal and it is not easy to gift someone with a book to their liking.

                                                          1. re: Ruthie789

                                                            People know I like to cook, so I too get lots of cookbooks as gifts. Occasionally, I get something good -- e,g, I got Marcus Samuelsson's Soul of a New Cuisine and Elizabeth Andoh's Washoku as gifts, and I loved them. But usually I find nothing of interest. My last two cookbook gifts were The Soup Bible (must have been sponsored by a manufacturer since all the recipes have lots of brand names) and High Fiber Recipes (which surprisingly is not too bad, though I haven't made any the recipes).

                                                          2. re: EGtheOG

                                                            I'm surprised they didn't give it a more 'Polynesian' name.

                                                          3. Great thread.

                                                            Mine is a Hudson and Halls cookbook. They were TV cooks in New Zealand in the eighties. Fabulously camp and entertaining chaps. The food however...eighties food using awful substitutions due to not being able to acquire proper ingredients at the arse end of the world. Pressed ham takes the place of most cured pork for example.

                                                            I'm planning on doing a Hudson and Halls dinner party in a few months where we all dress up in eighties garb and eat only food from the book. There will be lots of meats wrapped in pastry and fruit in savoury salads. I'm just struggling to find guests of a similar vintage to myself who will remember the pair as fondly as I do.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Frizzle

                                                              What a fun idea for a dinner party!

                                                            2. I have a 1969 47-page booklet from Better Homes & Gardens called "Shortcut Cooking." And shortcuts it has! Sample:

                                                              Friday Franks
                                                              1/4 c margarine, melted
                                                              2 Tbl lemon juice (Real Lemon, no doubt)
                                                              8 oz pkg frozen breaded fish sticks
                                                              5 split toasted hotdog buns
                                                              Sandwich spread (is that Miracle Whip?)

                                                              Who care about the instructions, right?

                                                              Want more upscale? From the "Meals for Company" chapter:

                                                              Tomato Soup with Avocado
                                                              1 can tomato soup
                                                              1 soup-can water
                                                              1 can beef broth
                                                              1/4 tsp dried oregano
                                                              1/8 tsp garlic powder.
                                                              Heat to boiling. Float in a slice of avocado per bowl.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: pine time

                                                                I'm am now totally convinced that Better Homes and Gardens should just stick to the garden.

                                                                1. re: pine time

                                                                  That reads like the back of a soup can

                                                                  1. re: pine time

                                                                    Sandwich spread was something different--somewhat Miracle Whip-py with hot dog relish or something like it mixed in. IIRC, it was also a light salmon color, not white like MW. Did not like it!

                                                                    1. re: nofunlatte

                                                                      Hellman's makes one and it's the secret ingredient in my family's potato salad. I expect it's standing in for tartar sauce here.

                                                                  2. Any diet cook book that I have purchased has gone by the wayside.

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                      A well intentioned friend gifted me a diet dessert book called Sweet and Skinny after I had my daughter. It's a horrible book with more chemical shortcuts than I've ever had in all my life.

                                                                      I haven't thrown in out bc whenever she comes over, she's always perusing that book for a few minutes for inspiration.

                                                                      Another one is Baking with Cakeboss. My MIL gave it to me. The photos of the finished baked goods look incredibly amateur... I'm really surprised Buddy put his name on it. The recipes are bare bone basic and I daresay bland. The 'classic black and white cookie' was not tasty.

                                                                      1. re: Nevy

                                                                        A diet dessert book, is never a good thing. Just eat less of it.

                                                                      2. re: Ruthie789

                                                                        In some defense, the Weight Watcher cookbooks of the last 3-4 years have gotten much, much better. Fewer franken-ingredients, more adventurous recipes, and bolder spicing.

                                                                        1. re: pine time

                                                                          WW cookbooks I have had but a few and have never been challenged by them, dieting is tough and I guess that's why I dislike diet cookbooks so much.

                                                                        2. re: Ruthie789

                                                                          Diet cookbooks are not informative! All you need is to learn the calorie count of foods - learn how much you should be consuming, and go from there. That's if you know how to cook. I did this at 13 - I had been cooking for awhile - and lost 30 lbs - - the weight I needed to lose. It's not rocket science - and you certainly don't need bad recipes to guide you!

                                                                        3. The worst cookbook that I own is probably Favorite Recipes from our Best Cooks by: Raleigh Avenue Baptist Church. All of the recipes in it look disgusting. Why do I keep it? I have not looked at all of the recipes yet, and it has a useful equivalents guide plus a couple of other useful pages. I got it for free from the 2nd and Charles freebie bin. I'll get rid of it when I have a lot more cookbooks.

                                                                          The most useless recipe in a cookbook that I own by far, is from Essential Pepin. It tells you how to make a ham sandwich on page 144. I knew that it was a beginner's cookbook, but I never thought that I would find a recipe that tells you how to construct a sandwich in a book that is written for adults.

                                                                          1. My wife is of Norwegian descent and she bought a book of Norwegian recipes from the Sons of Norway (Norwegian-American cultural organization). It has recipes for things such as Fish Pudding (ingredients include fish, butter, eggs, heavy cream) and Jellied Veal Neck & Knuckles (ingredients obviously include veal neck and knuckles, gelatin -- and once the jelly comes out of the mold it's smeared with mayonnaise). No insult intended to Norwegian cuisine, but it's not my taste. I keep the book only to avoid marital discord!

                                                                            16 Replies
                                                                            1. re: drongo

                                                                              But, I bet it also has recipes for lefse, krumkakke, and other wonderful things!

                                                                              1. re: wyogal

                                                                                Lefse, yes. And I have an electric lefse grill and make lefse sometimes. Krumkaker, yes, though I have not made.

                                                                                But then there's the poached cod with egg sauce (torsk med eggesaus), lutefisk (doesn't seem to have an English translation), ..............

                                                                                1. re: drongo

                                                                                  lutefisk is an entity unto itself, no way to translate that into any language, except, ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

                                                                                  1. re: wyogal

                                                                                    Have you ever seen the king of the Hill "Revenge of the Lutefisk" episode? It's great.
                                                                                    A small snippet:

                                                                                    1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                      One of my favorite episodes- Bobby Hill hiding under the table at the church potluck, wracked with guilt, eating the whole batch of lutefisk, asking it why it was so good- the only person that noticed it was missing was the new pastor because she'd made it.

                                                                                    2. re: wyogal

                                                                                      A dear friend in Washington State married into a Norwegian family there. They gathered for some family fest. As yet unfamiliar with lutefisk, she looked for a place to change her newborn's dirty diaper. There was a handy tub of what looked like diapers soaking in it. So she added the baby's to the tub, only to learn later that the tub was salt dry cod soaking in lye. She was afraid to fess up, but they said that the lutefisk that year was the best they had ever tasted. I hated the equivalent in Rome: stockfish.

                                                                                      1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                                        This may be the funniest food story I have ever heard.

                                                                                    3. re: drongo

                                                                                      I gave dad a bite of my (once and only) lutefisk in 1998 when we were in Kirkenes, Norway. The look on his face was priceless. I'll have to put mummified fish preserved in ash on my Top 10 list of "been there, done that." Everything else was spectacular.

                                                                                      1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                                                        We had it every year at Christmas. Churches would host lutefisk dinners between Thanksgiving and Christmas, sometimes even holding them in school gymnasiums. I always opted for the Swedish meatballs.
                                                                                        If one puts the lutefisk on top of boiled potatoes, and adds a ton of dry mustard, and melted butter, well, it's a little better.
                                                                                        The first time I took my husband home for Christmas, he actually tasted it. And became even more endearing to my folks!
                                                                                        It looks cooked when raw, and raw when cooked. Kind of jellied.
                                                                                        One year, I was homesick, and searched the town over, and found some. I fixed it. cured my homesickness rather quickly, and with one bite. ;)

                                                                                  2. re: drongo

                                                                                    Yeah, no offense intended to your wife's wonderful heritage, but that sounds like something frat boys would make the pledges eat in order to join the fraternity.

                                                                                    1. re: DatatheAndroid

                                                                                      To be fair, the sweet stuff is good (as in wyogal's post above). The savory not so much (for me). Though I like Slottsstek -- which is basically a pot roast. We serve it with lingonberry preserves, gherkins, Swedish mustard, Swedish horseradish sauce, Swedish multigrain bread (all from Ikea and of course not really Norwegian, but the closest we can easily find here in central New Jersey).

                                                                                      1. re: drongo

                                                                                        Drongo,, I share your opinion about Norwegian cuisine--sweets and baked goods can be amazing but the savory is bland to awful. My dad was born and raised in Norway and my mom was a blend of Norwegian/Swedish/Danish. She cooked to please my dad. Overcooked meats, boiled potatoes and veggies...seasoning consisted of salt and pepper. Strong flavor a were found in things like fishy-tasting fish items--fish balls, fish cakes, herring for breakfast, and of course, lutefisk.

                                                                                        Every time I went to Norway for a family visit, I lost weight...despite eating plenty of sweets. The main meals were that sad.

                                                                                        1. re: drongo

                                                                                          I'm not surprised that the sweet items are good. I'm not knocking most of the savory dishes, just the ones that you mentioned. Slottsstek sounds like a good savory dish, I'll have to add it to my recipes list. I'll have to add the sweet items as well, I have a massive sweet tooth. :D

                                                                                      2. re: drongo

                                                                                        A lot of the North Sea area (Denmark, Sweden, Norway) has great baked goods. The Danes are great bakers and there's a lot of culture sharing up there.

                                                                                        I think Scandinavian food can be very good, in a simple, fresh way, but because its simple it can also suffer from bad cooks and too much repetition.

                                                                                        In no way take this as an apologetic for lutefisk. I just married into the culture. I'm not willing to go that far. :P

                                                                                        1. re: Tam38

                                                                                          My grandmother was Norwegian and my Grandfather, a farmer in North Dakota, was Swedish. I've never had lutefisk - though I've heard stories about it! I have made lefse with my Mom - and found a great place to order it online.

                                                                                          Grandma was a wonderful cook! Their garden was huge - we had fresh peas, fresh green and yellow beans, potatoes, corn, etc. She also had a fabulous raspberry garden. They raised their own chickens and at one time geese. And when I was very young they had dairy cows and sold milk and homemade butter - I remember I helped Grandma make the butter and I remember the "separator" for the milk - separating the cream from the milk.

                                                                                          Her baked goods were fantastic - all of them - from cookies to cinnamon rolls to german chocolate cake, etc. And her homemade bread and rolls.

                                                                                          She DID live in North Dakota so I don't know if she had access to the seafood you are talking about - although my Mom used to talk about lutefisk dinners the churches had when she was young! :)

                                                                                          1. re: Jeanne

                                                                                            I don't know if you can call the precursor to lutefisk seafood.
                                                                                            It would be quite at home on the shelf in the local supermarket in the middle of the Sahara desert.

                                                                                      3. I bought a cookbook at a yardsale in Maryville, TN, for 15 cents. It is 59 pages of culinary horror. "Tasty Treats from Treasured Teachers" from the Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child in Summit, New Jersey. I keep it because of "Aunt Astrobertha's Favorite Aspic." Because ...... Astrobertha.

                                                                                        It's lime jello with chopped canned pears and cheddar cheese, topped with mayonnaise and shredded carrots. But ...... Astrobertha.

                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: tracytrace

                                                                                          Well you've just ruined my next dog's life. "Here Astrobertha!"

                                                                                          1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                            No sh!t, huh - sitting here laughing my butt off, thanks for the smiles!

                                                                                          2. re: tracytrace

                                                                                            Astrobertha?! Were they fans of the Jetsons?

                                                                                            1. re: tracytrace

                                                                                              Bahahaha! This is great! Thanks for the laugh!

                                                                                              1. re: tracytrace

                                                                                                I told my husband about this, and told him he will know he's in trouble if this ever makes it to the dinner table.

                                                                                              2. Recipes from the Kitchen of Snap, Crackle Pop! Its recipe for Easy Bean Appetizer: heat a can of fat free refried beans with half a pack taco seasoning and a dash of Tabasco. Stir in a cup of diced Velveeta, stir until melted. Off heat, add 4 c Rice Krispies cereal. Pour in to an 8" x 8" pan. Cool. Cut into squares and serve with salsa. Yum! I keep it because it is slender, has a cute cover, and I might someday forget the recipe for Rice Krispies Treats

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: maxie

                                                                                                  Might have a winner here. Evocative of a misguided moment in the early seventies when I had a late night desire for brownies but was out of pecans. So I used Cheerios. Bad move.

                                                                                                  1. re: maxie

                                                                                                    Maxie, that sounds so disgustingly good I might have to make it!

                                                                                                  2. Alton Brown, I'm Just Here For The Food. It's lame.

                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: emglow101

                                                                                                      I have that book! "Version 2.0".

                                                                                                      I haven't cooked anything from it. But I quite liked reading the book. An easy read -- lots of white space on each page.

                                                                                                      1. re: drongo

                                                                                                        I also have V 2.0 - I found the book really awkward to page through, but it's been awhile since I looked at it. Perhaps I'll do some lazy Saturday reading today.

                                                                                                        I was gifted a Paula Deen cookbook about 5 years ago. I couldn't find my go-to biscuit recipe one day so I figured her book would be a good reference. Wouldn't you know, she actually suggested refrigerated biscuits because "no one will know the difference!" Say what you will about her (new or old opinions aside), I would expect a Southern cook to offer a freakin' biscuit recipe!

                                                                                                        1. re: EGtheOG

                                                                                                          I have the Alton Brown "I'm just here for More Food" the baking edition. It had weird fold over tab pages that made it annoying to just flip through to read. Also, no photos at all. I have one of his other cookbooks I love but just hate this one. Put it in the garage sale once and no one bought it, so here it sits.

                                                                                                          I have a "Paula Deen and Friends" cookbook I picked up at a garage sale a year or so ago. It has 3 recipes for biscuits inside. I haven't tried them.

                                                                                                          1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                            I guess I got the dud. It's been donated now so I can't check which PD book it was.

                                                                                                            I started utilizing the Amazon Wish List to keep track of the cookbooks I want, but my mother says it's boring to pick birthday gifts from it. I'm not sure how it's different than a non-digital list?

                                                                                                        2. re: drongo

                                                                                                          I have both versions, and I don't hate them. He has a lot of good techniques, and when he goes off into outer space like he does every so often I just ignore that one.

                                                                                                        3. re: emglow101

                                                                                                          Can't agree with your assessment; it's one of the more reliable books of the Food Network era. Worth it to me for the flank steak recipe alone, but there's much useful info throughout.

                                                                                                        4. My campbell's soup crockpot cookbook. I only keep it because it's helpful for when my husband has to cook for himself when I'm out of town.

                                                                                                          1. I can't say it's my worst cookbook, but my Farm Journal's Country Cookbook keeps me amused with poetic prose like: "In the winter when the men work nearby in the barnyard and feedlot, the warmth of a cheerful kitchen and thoughts of full-bodied coffee and yeast breads draw them to the house both morning and midafternoon." Lots of talk throughout about pleasing the menfolk and always having large amounts of food on hand ready to serve unexpected visitors.

                                                                                                            I just opened at random to a page for Frozen Sandwiches: "Country women who pack lunches praise frozen sandwiches. They make them at slack times to have ready for quick use....While fillings introduce pleasing variety, different breads also provide change." Some of the fillings are beef and ketchup filling, baked bean and salami filling, sardine and pimento filling.

                                                                                                            Ahhh! I just came across bacon and peanut butter filling--now I know where my mother got that! (Her handwritten notes are throughout the book, so I can't throw it out.)

                                                                                                            Can't help sharing: "Colorado Loose Hamburgers". Yikes. I'm guessing this is before the term "Sloppy Joes" became popular.

                                                                                                            16 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Thanks4Food

                                                                                                              That cookbook actually sounds like some fun

                                                                                                              1. re: Thanks4Food

                                                                                                                I wish I had this! Sounds great. Also, I LOVE PB and bacon sandwiches. With onion.

                                                                                                                1. re: tracytrace

                                                                                                                  The Settlement Cookbook. It has a long introduction about keeping a man happy through food and it also gives great advice for cooking fora crowd, like for 50 or more people (ie. how to double and triple recipes).

                                                                                                                  1. re: williej

                                                                                                                    Food is love we all know that. Sounds like the woman's role is to be tied to the sink, how to double and triple recipes! It should have been titled how to be a Domestic Goddess.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruthie789

                                                                                                                      I love this book.

                                                                                                                      My grandmother, who was a Hungarian-State-trained cook and who made her living for 50 years cooking, in Hungary and then in New York City and Maryland, owned this book and used it. She passed it to my mom, who used it. Mom passed it to me, and I have gingerly used it because it's falling apart. It has recipes for some great family treasures.

                                                                                                                      The original intention was to help Eastern European immigrant women to not only preserve their foodways, but to adapt to 'American.'

                                                                                                                      I love this book. I just wish it wasn't falling apart.

                                                                                                                      1. re: nikkihwood

                                                                                                                        Great family treasures are special. I have some too. Books are subjective.

                                                                                                                        1. re: nikkihwood

                                                                                                                          I love this one too. I admit that I've never read the intro but we've had it in the family for years. My great-great-aunt bought it for my mom as a wedding gift (though it has always been my dad who uses it). My gramma has a beat-up copy as well. My sister and I tracked down old copies from ebay when we left the house. It's not the best for everything but it was great for the Eastern Europeans immigrants in our family too!

                                                                                                                          1. re: nikkihwood

                                                                                                                            How do you cope with the large amounts eggs , cream butter etc that the recipes call for?

                                                                                                                    2. re: Thanks4Food

                                                                                                                      'Lots of talk throughout about pleasing the menfolk.' Must not make joke, must not make joke. I was going to ask if you had tried any of the recipes, but then I actually read the next paragraph. Those recipes frighten me.

                                                                                                                      1. re: DatatheAndroid

                                                                                                                        I've made a few of the dessert recipes like cherry cobbler and a baked chocolate pudding, but that's about it.

                                                                                                                        Can I share a couple of my favorite photos from the book? Does that chicken make your mouth water?

                                                                                                                        1. re: Thanks4Food

                                                                                                                          LOL I want to share some from my Betty Crocker one dish cookbook now. All technicolor like those. And... one sandwich recipe starts with, open the can of aspic and slice into six slices, place on the bread....

                                                                                                                          1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                            Sounds like that infamous cranberry lasagna...was it you who suggested the "chef" as the next Food Network Star?

                                                                                                                        2. re: Thanks4Food

                                                                                                                          I just bought a cookbook from 1932 with a recipe for peanut butter and diced pickle-filled sandwiches. Not even on a dare.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Thanks4Food

                                                                                                                            Bacon and peanut butter with brown sugar are to be found in Joy of Cooking for a broiled open-face sandwich.

                                                                                                                          2. I feel like we need another thread for maybe not "worst" but more "obscure" "odd" "something you think few other people have"

                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                              If you start one , will you post the title here so I can join?

                                                                                                                                1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                  Just realised I forgot to thank you. Oops. Thanks

                                                                                                                            2. Cooking with the Nuns at Kylemore Abby. I don't know where to buy suet in Los Angeles. Why do I keep it? I'm going to have a hard enough time getting into Heaven as it is.

                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                                                                                                                                  Suet in Los Angeles, you ask? Older (ten years ago!) CH thread may let you cook from that book afterall.

                                                                                                                                2. I used to own an autographed copy of Sandra Lee's first Semi-Homemade cookbook. It was self-published and predates her show. I did keep it for years, not knowing if I would need it professionally, but then, even though I don't believe in throwing away books, I will admit that I tossed that one in the recycling...no need to inflict that on the world. For those who wonder...she's every bit as crazy as you think she is, and then some!

                                                                                                                                  1. Kept for the witty stories about the recipes, but not the recipes themselves "Serve It Forth", edited by Anne McCaffrey with John Greagory Betancourt. A collection of recipes from science-fiction authors.

                                                                                                                                    Example of one I'll never prepare Liquid Nitrogen Grapefruit Sorbet. as provided by author Jerry Oltion. "One of us knew how to make grapefruit sorbet in an ice-cream maker, but we didn't have an ice cream maker. We did, however, just happen to have a lot of liquid nitrogen on hand..."

                                                                                                                                    ETA -But on leafing through the book, I've now discovered a recipe for Sherried Walnut Cake by Lois McMaster Bujold that will get made when the daytime temps are cool enough to have the oven on that long.

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                                                      OMG, as a huge geek I think I'm going to HAVE to look for that.

                                                                                                                                    2. I, too, was given a copy of White Trash Cooking as a gag gift for my 40th birthday. It rules in the egregious recipe department.

                                                                                                                                      HOWEVER, James Lileks' 2001 book "The Gallery of Regrettable Food" has beaten us all to the punch with a photo compilation of THE worst contrived post-war kitchen kitch that passed as edible offerings just beamed in from Venus. Check it out.

                                                                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                                                                                                        I'm enjoying the section on Jello: http://www.lileks.com/institute/galle...

                                                                                                                                        This one makes me think of the photo I included above of the Jellied Beef Mold: http://www.lileks.com/institute/galle...

                                                                                                                                        Edit: Can't help adding this one: http://www.lileks.com/institute/galle...

                                                                                                                                        This site is cracking me up. I love it! One of those "I wish I had thought to do this" experiences.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Thanks4Food

                                                                                                                                          I love that site! Mmmm..."jellied beef mold." Doesn't just the name make your tummy rumble? lol

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                                                                                                            Chef Paulo, my husband and I are laughing our heads off at this website--and we've decided to forward some select pages to the monastery where we've volunteered to fill in for their vacationing cook. :-) (See http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9104...)

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Thanks4Food

                                                                                                                                              See? I told you they look like they were just beamed in from Venus! Any dish that requires more than five minutes to guess its contents yet has a distinct facial expression should be avoided. Names like "Rosy Rice Ring" could be confused with a skin disease and my favorite, Benedictish Frankwiches, conjures up an image of torch-bearing townspeople chasing Oscar Meyer around a monastery with a bucket of hollandaise. Fortunately, my mom did not have the pantry stocked floor to ceiling with a gross of Jello boxes (hey, a double entendre!) and I survived childhood in tact. She did, however, once serve a lima bean casserole with bacon and brown sugar. My brother and I couldn't fathom this combination and we both cried. Hell, I even think dad cried. That was as close as I ever got to the truly regrettable.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chefpaulo

                                                                                                                                                " a lima bean casserole with bacon and brown sugar"
                                                                                                                                                Honestly this does not sound that bad to me.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                  It probably wasn't but it looked kind of bizarre and kids' cognitive distortions can get carried away. A few years later, mom started taking lessons from Madeleine Kamman and -whoa - French cuisine entered our home and started my foodie legacy.

                                                                                                                                          2. A church cookbook from 1982. It includes a lot of casseroles, mayo-based salads and jello or cool whip creations.

                                                                                                                                            I keep it because it reminds me of many sweet church ladies I knew growing up. Loved the ladies, their contributions to church potlucks...not as much.

                                                                                                                                            1. Ani's Raw Food Kitchen: Easy, Delectable Living Foods Recipes by Ani Phyo

                                                                                                                                              BLEHHHHHH!!!!! I tried the raw vegan think for a while. But the food is just depressing. I keep it because....because...I dont know! If this ever..and I mean EVER gets into your possession, KILL IT WITH FIRE.

                                                                                                                                              But with people even including church cookbooks, does the nutrition plan included with the P90X fitness program count? I admit, i wouldn't be ripped without it but...it was pure torture eating this food. The worst part was that I had to consume huge portions and it was often a workout to finish them. Good thing the program really does get you ripped in 90 days. The recipes are horrible.

                                                                                                                                              1. I'm going to answer this by giving my most useless cookbook: The Fluff Cookbook which was given to me by a friend. Hello? First of all, I'm diabetic and even if I wasn't, I can't envision a scenario where I would make a Fluff and prune puree sandwich for lunch.

                                                                                                                                                1. A shout out to Firegoat! This thread is great.

                                                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: suzigirl

                                                                                                                                                    Yeah, but I scanned this thread in vein for a reference to a Spam cookbook. I love the stuff. My confreres hate it. Can anyone help me convert them?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                                                                                                      My confreres who have recently been released from prison have proved to be relatively easy converts.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                                                                                                        I suppose you could take them all on a trip to Spam-crazed Hawaii, but even that might not do the trick.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                          Guam is even crazier for Spam and that's where I learned to like it. It is comfort food. Spam fried with brown sugar and clove, macaroni and cheese, and canned spinach. It may sound vile, but even the canned spinach back in the late forties tasted better than the last package of frozen chopped spinach I opened in a pinch.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                                                                                                          Maybe you hit the wrong vein? Try a smaller needle....

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                                                                                                            I'd think that spam can be substituted in any recipe that calls for ham.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                                                                              Do it at your peril! It doesn't taste like Ham. It tastes like Spam.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                                                                                                                Very true. And when I get a craving for Spam musubi, as I often do, don't you go trying to palm off any goddamned HAM musubi on me. It's gotta be Spam.

                                                                                                                                                        3. I have a copy of White Trash Cooking. I have to admit that some of the pies and sweets recipes do look lovely, though certainly not low calorie. The savoury food...is not very me.

                                                                                                                                                          But my most disappointing cookbook, and hence the actual 'worst', is something called The English Summer Cookbook. Very few recipes and many of them are absurdly basic, unoriginal and boring, e.g. for boiling vegetables, making dressing (there's a place for recipes like this, obviously, but this wasn't a book aimed at beginners at all). The index also makes it look like there are a lot more recipes than there are because it lists all possible substitutions there e.g. 'burgers, lamb burgers' even though the lamb burger recipe just involves substituting minced lamb for beef. This wouldn't ordinarily annoy me as much as it did but I felt it just added insult to injury. The tone of the book really irks me also. So the recipes aren't bad, awful, or inedible, but it's my most annoying cookbook...

                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: limoen

                                                                                                                                                            Oh, wait - that's right, you've reminded me! The Primal Blueprint cookbook is just terrible. All the pictures of the food are really unappetizing and the recipes come down to 1. take a protein 2. take a non starchy vegetable 3. boil 4. salt and pepper

                                                                                                                                                            I exaggerate a bit, but not that much. Why I still have it? I thought I would sell it back to Amazon for a few bucks but haven't gotten around to it yet!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                                              That is uncharitable. I would instead say that you take a protein and punish some avocado over it and call it a day.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Well I don't have it anymore but the Moosewood Low Fat cookbook was pretty bad. Vegetarian AND low fat? Entirely unnecessary 90s concept. It had me doing things like cooking chopped onions in liquid instead of oil, to eventually form an inedible soup base. I had a friend over for dinner that night and she looked at me in pity... no, you can't do that, she said.
                                                                                                                                                            The bottomless black bean/quinoa (quinoa before it was cool) was fine, once we started adding a measure of oil to our servings.

                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: julesrules

                                                                                                                                                              I have that one - I almost never cook from it but the black bean chilaquiles are one of my vegetarian standbys. I should just copy that recipe and donate the book.

                                                                                                                                                            2. 101 Ways to cook with hamburger. My Mom gave it to me when I moved out at age 18. My then boyfriend (now husband) wanted to throw it away immediately . I'm glad I kept it, if for nothing more then to remind me of what it was like to be young and on a super tight budget.

                                                                                                                                                              p.s. this was 30 years ago..

                                                                                                                                                              1. Harrowsmith cook books. I am putting this one in because of shortfall from expectations.
                                                                                                                                                                Years ago ago I got the Ms. one of them, then a second of the three. I had thought, oh great! All these down to earth types using real and varied ingredients; wholesome dishes with relatively uncomplicated recipes; full bright flavours. And the picture on the cover of one of the different squashes was so alluring and fed into my (mis)conception.
                                                                                                                                                                Recently I got the the hardcover consolidation of the three books at a second hand shop. $4, like new. Wowee! I spoke with the Ms. about it and asked if she had the Harrowsmith books in the country in which she is currently living. (heavy book, luggage limits). She answered no, she has never cooked from them and doesn't want my find.
                                                                                                                                                                I started to go through it. No wonder. I know that the recipes did come from "the people" , but the people needed leadership which they didn't get. For e.g. Almost every fish soup/chowder recipe has bacon or salt pork in it (yuck to me), the Hungarian goulash is (2lb) round steak, 1 cup tomato juice, 1.5 cup onion,half tsp Hungarian paprika (hot? sweet?) salt and cornstarch; the watermelon pickle has 11 cups of sugar and and boring and not enough spice (a bigger recipe). Almost all recipes using flour do not specify the type of flour. Even if it doesn't matter (?) surely even the most inexperienced cook would ask .
                                                                                                                                                                The book didn't teach at all and no pointers in the directions.

                                                                                                                                                                I don't wan't to cook from the book. I am afraid that if I didn't know about the dish and made the recipe I might be put off all forms of the dish . What the book is good for is go through it for ideas of what you might want to cook, and then find a recipe that you like elsewhere.
                                                                                                                                                                There are about 1800 recipes (consolidated book) , and in a good layout , especially for the suggested purpose. The page is divided into three columns and the recipes run down their column.
                                                                                                                                                                The Ms. contents herself with her approx. 400 other cookbooks.

                                                                                                                                                                I also don't like the Ottolenghi books. I got all three of them at the same time. My excuse for the impulsive purchase is that they were a local bargain if bought abroad from Amazon UK and shipped.
                                                                                                                                                                Same reason for dislike. Shortfall from expectations.

                                                                                                                                                                Perhaps the single worst recipe is from a (very bourgeois)
                                                                                                                                                                women's service club cook book, 1948, 3rd edn no less. French salad dressing. Two thirds of a cup of olive oil or as an alternative...... mineral oil.
                                                                                                                                                                This one can put you off the entire book, regardless of the other recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                1. Last week, stuck for hours between medical appointments, I went to a nearby B&N store with certificates in hand. I bought "The Kinfolk Table." From the viewpoint of printing and layout, it is one of the most beautiful books I have seen in a while, but nothing adds up. It is easily the worst cookbook I have ever owned. Why do I keep it? Maybe I won't, but for the moment it appeals to me as a perverse example of what happens to a good book concept when there is no strong editorial direction. The photos don't relate to the theme. The scanty recipes don't relate to the theme. The essays really don't either. No focus and no direction.
                                                                                                                                                                  Felicia C. Sullivan's review of it on the Amazon page is spot on. I wish I had read it before buying the book.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. I suppose it's the "Seaside (Oregon) Centennial Cookbook." It has nostalgia value.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. This thread reminds me of Herbert Beerbohm Tree: "It adds a new terror to life and makes death a long-felt want." (Review of the first Gramophone.)

                                                                                                                                                                      1. A prediction. Worst Cookbooks of the future - gluten free.

                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Antilope

                                                                                                                                                                          No, worse yet - vegan, low sodium, sugar free and gluten free.
                                                                                                                                                                          Cupcakes made accordingly are guaranteed to be thrown with zeal by any child at the adult serving them. I've already tried same and will definitely side with the child.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. Then, of course, there is the "Banana Slug Cookbook" sold in the Seattle area. This large creature (though not really quite banana-size) is found in the forests of the Pacific Northwest and down at least as far as Napa Valley. The book contains all kinds of tasty-looking recipes. But there is a disclaimer you'd better not miss, "Not for Human Consumption." Pity. They look like a good source of protein.

                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                                                                                                                            On the coast, at least to Santa Cruz, where it is the athletic team mascot for UCSC.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. That's a recipe??

                                                                                                                                                                            I have a lot of crappy cookbooks. I can't decide what to do with them- donate to the hospital Auxiliary's book sale or take to Bookman's and try to sell the damn things. I think I should take them to Bookman's, then donate the remainder. But basically i'm a world-class procrastinator and don't know when I'll get around to it.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. Dione Lucas had a TV show in the 50's. I saw the rebroadcast of the series in the 70's. I loved it and recently purchased 2 of her cookbooks, used (because they are out of print). What a mistake. Both are entirely French gourmet, which is not at all my personal preference of cooking or eating. They are gathering dust on my bookshelf. If I ever need the room they are taking up, I'll happily toss them. The books are titled: The Dione Lucas book of natural French cooking.... and Dione Lucas Gourmet cooking school cookbook

                                                                                                                                                                              1. hehehehe!!! That recipe is so funny! I looked up the cookbook on amazon after reading your post, and was surprised to find that it had only positive reviews (six of them!). Well, to each his/her own :)

                                                                                                                                                                                1. I'm not sure which is the absolute worst, but all those free ebook cookbooks on Amazon generally leave something to be desired. One of these days I'm going to go through them all and permanently delete the ones I'll never use.