Sunday, 21 May 2017

"The I Hate to Cook Book" (1960)

"Some women, it is said, like to cook. This book is not for them."
Peg Bracken

Ruth Eleanor "Peg" Bracken (1918-2007) was the US-American author of books such as "The I Hate to Cook Book" (1960). "The I Hate to  Housekeep Book" (1962) and "The Appendix to the I Hate to Cook Book". Her recipes had unusual names and sardonic comments. She offered quick-witted recipes that were founded on the principle that her "standard position in regard to cooking is on the sofa with my feet up". Bracken understood "the silent tyranny of cooking", the demands, the social pressures, and the need to ease the 1960s' housewife's tasks. Male editors did not agree. The first half-dozen editors - all men - she approached, thought US-American women were not unhappy with their lot and did not want to publish her manuscript. Things changed when she finally found a woman editor at Harcourt Brace; more than three million copies of the book were sold (via), various editions were published (via).

"Male editors were afraid of it because they were convinced that women regarded anything that had to do with cooking very seriously and would not stand for an attitude that was the least bit flippant."
Peg Bracken

Her book aimed to make cooking easier by using common, convenient ingredients (e.g. crushed cornflakes instead of breadcrumbs). She also used plenty of alcohol or suggested taking a shortcut and just drinking it. It was about saving time as her books was meant to appeal to "those of us who want to fold our big dishwater hands around a dry Martini instead of a wet flounder" (via).
"When the sun has set and the party starts to bounce, you want to be in there bouncing too, not stuck all by yourself out in the kitchen, deep-fat frying small objects or wrapping oysters in bacon strips." Peg Bracken
"We don’t get our creative kicks from adding an egg, we get them from painting pictures or bathrooms, or potting geraniums or babies, or writing stories or amendments, or, possibly, engaging in some interesting type of psycho-neuro-chemical research like seeing if, perhaps, we can replace colloids with sulphates. And we simply love ready-mixes." 
Peg Bracken
Skid Road Stroganoff (literally via)
Start cooking those noodles, first dropping a bouillon cube into the noodle water. Brown the garlic, onion and crumbled beef in the oil. Add the flour, salt, paprika and mushrooms, stir, and let it cook five minutes while you light a cigarette and stare sullenly at the sink.

Trivia: Before becoming famous, Bracken worked as an advertising copywriter along with Homer Groening, father of the great Matt Groening (via).

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image via