The Joy of Cooking
August 29, 2011 8:23 PM   Subscribe

In 1931, Irma Rombauer, a Missouri homemaker struggling to support her family after the suicide of her husband, self-published The Joy of Cooking: A Compilation of Reliable Recipes with a Casual Culinary Chat. The New York Public Library later named it one of the 150 most influential books of the century.

Much of the controversial 1997 edition can be found on Google Books. And the National Museum of American History has preserved Julia Child's own copies.
posted by Trurl (61 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
When I was in a Cabin with only an electric range and grill, the Joy Of Cooking was right there next to the stove-top.

The suggestions that, when making pancakes you poured the liquid over the flour rather then the other way around blew my mind. It made mixing SO MUCH EASIER.
posted by The Whelk at 8:25 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

The first apartment I ever lived in was full of the accumulated junk of tenants past when we moved in. There was a 1950s-era copy of The Joy of Cooking. (Sadly, it was lost at some point during subsequent moves.) I enjoyed the section on meat butchering, particularly the part about squirrels.
posted by phunniemee at 8:29 PM on August 29, 2011

My semi-ancient copy has a recipe for whale.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 8:36 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't entirely understand the hate for the 1997 version. My mom got it for me when I started grad school, and it was a good cookbook for a novice cook who needed to feed herself. I understand that it lacked the authenticity that would have been provided by a section on how to butcher squirrels, but I didn't need to butcher squirrels. I promise you, I didn't miss the aspic recipes.
posted by craichead at 8:40 PM on August 29, 2011 [3 favorites]

We have at least 3 editions of Joy that we cross-reference.

Love that cookbook. It's like a well-rounded prairie housewife survival manual, telling you pretty much everything you need to know to live off the land and not die, recipes to technique.

That it also has one of the best selections of batter recipes ever gathered into a single volume is gravy.

I'm also dying to try the pine rosin potatoes someday.
posted by hippybear at 8:41 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

My copy is old enough to tell me how to field dress a deer, which is all I need.

Actually, all I need is the beef Stroganoff recipe, which is divine.
posted by padraigin at 8:51 PM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Despite its quirks, this is my first-reference, basic, go-to cookbook. I grew up with the wonderful Wise Encyclopedia of Cookery, which is good too and probably better for just finding out what foods are and are all about and their cooking qualities, but for some reason has not been updated. Joy takes you right up through relatively recent trends in cooking and has all the good, everyday, practical, basic recipes you'd ever want, and a few show-offy ones too. I have a few pages forever dogeared and bookmarked: roasting a chicken, the "Drei Augen" cookies which I've modified to make Linzer Cookies every year, and basic-proportion recipes like bread pudding and quiche.
posted by Miko at 8:53 PM on August 29, 2011

We got one for our wedding, and while we own others, it's pretty much the only cookbook I use. It's great even for just looking up things like how long something can be frozen.

My only complaint is that our copy doesn't have any pictures.
posted by drezdn at 8:54 PM on August 29, 2011

I don't remember a time before the internet and yet I have a hardcover copy.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:56 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite dinner parties we've had was a "Joy of Cooking" dinner party. Each guest had to bring two dishes from their version of the cookbook.

Our version of The Joy of Cooking is so worn, the spine has broken and pages are falling out. Several pages show heavy use--one of my favorite being the tandoori recipe page, which has a bright yellow swipe of saffron across it. I've always meant to write in the dates when we cook meals for my children to have when they're older.

I made the Roasted Veggie Lasagna tonight.
posted by fyrebelley at 8:58 PM on August 29, 2011

My only complaint is that our copy doesn't have any pictures.

And that is why the '97 edition is inferior.

The 'Eggnog in Quantity' recipe is the go-to holiday cheer around here.

I have enjoyed that book imensley over the years.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 8:58 PM on August 29, 2011

Or, immensely, even. gah.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 8:59 PM on August 29, 2011

And the National Museum of American History has preserved Julia Child's own copies.

Legend says if you sprinkle Herbes de Prevence over these tomes and whisper "bon appetit" you will be granted magical powers and immunity from butter.
posted by device55 at 9:00 PM on August 29, 2011 [28 favorites]

I've always meant to write in the dates when we cook meals for my children to have when they're older.

What a FANTASTIC idea! (Even though I don't have any kids. Maybe the dog will appreciate it.)
posted by LastOfHisKind at 9:01 PM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Only cookbook you need. And if you can find an old edition, grab it.
posted by sammyo at 9:03 PM on August 29, 2011

The version I have is a 1997 printing but it appears to be the 1975 edition, complete with squirrel butchery. I would not have found that out without this post and comments, so thanks.
posted by immlass at 9:04 PM on August 29, 2011

When my aunt moved to New Mexico from Pennsylvania, she was having trouble getting some of her favorite recipes to turn out. I checked the section in my circa 1964 Joy of Cooking on high altitude cooking and the tips helped her adapt her recipes successfully.
posted by gudrun at 9:09 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

From the 'controversial' link:

"The best thing about The Joy of Cooking, however, is the voice of its author, Irma Rombauer."

Bullshit. The best thing about the book is its peerless efficacy as a reference volume, precisely as the article's author's direct quote in the preceding graf notes.
posted by mwhybark at 9:12 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

According to my mother, the secret to the Joy of Cooking is to look for the Cockaigne recipes - i.e., Chocolate Spice Cake Cockaigne, Roast Chicken Cockaigne, etc. Cockaigne (does make you wonder about how much fun Irma and her daughters had, hmmm) was the name of the Rombauer's house in France - the one that Joy of Cooking paid for. Those, said my mother, are the recipes they actually used and they're the best ones in the book.

I have no idea if any of this is true and I am not going to ever check. My mother, who is gone now, gave me my first battered, 1970s paperback version of Joy of Cooking when I was about 17 and I gave it, duct taped together but still holding up, to my daughter at the same age along with the Cockaigne apocrypha. If it isn't true, it should be, and I can attest to the greatness of the Devils Food Cake Cockaigne from years and years of baking.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:14 PM on August 29, 2011 [14 favorites]

1975 edition, smeared with batter, broken-spined, bookmarked with hand-written recipe cards, with particularly important recipes written on the flyleaves -- my friend Tina's carrot cake, Madia Heatter's Joe Froggers, Pam's brownies.

It contains the squirrel recipe, as well as basic recipes for any foodstuff known to man.
posted by jrochest at 9:18 PM on August 29, 2011

And yes, mygothlaundary, the Brownies Cockaigne recipe is stellar: *almost* as good as Pam's. But not quite.
posted by jrochest at 9:19 PM on August 29, 2011

Oh, "Grey squirrels are the preferred ones", there are diagrams, and it also includes notes on Opossum, bear, raccoon, muskrat, woodchuck, beaver, beaver tail(?), wild boar, and Peccary(which I had to look up, yummy).
posted by sammyo at 9:20 PM on August 29, 2011

I'm on my third edition. I am now annoyed I didn't save the old editions. A friend turned me on to it back in the 70's. I'm not even comfortable heading into new cooking territory without at least checking what Joy has to say on the subject. I'm a little surprised to see it still gets respect, seeing how cooking has gotten so uppity of late.
posted by Goofyy at 9:38 PM on August 29, 2011

I've always felt so awful for Irma. She and her husband suffered some major lossses and her husband's death

I have always gravitated to the Cockaigne recipes. And I've heard they are the family favourites. I think the latest version mentions the name of the family home - the version by the grandson. I bought it recently and like it, even without the squirrel.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 9:39 PM on August 29, 2011

and immunity from butter.

And if you don''t like butter, use heavy cream.
posted by three blind mice at 9:46 PM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

I am an atheist.
I call that book The Bible.
posted by artof.mulata at 9:56 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Reading Anne Mendelson's biography of Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, Stand Facing the Stove: The Story of the Women Who Brought America The Joy of Cooking, drove me to seek out a 1943 edition of Joy, which is a lot of fun to read -- if occasionally wince-inducing for the bits of pre-Civil-Rights-era racial stereotyping that pop up sporadically -- and has some great recipes, including the best recipe for springerle I have ever found anywhere, and which I bake every Christmas.

I also have the 1975 edition, the same edition my parents had when I was little, the one with the recipe for Brownies Cockaigne on page 653, which I've made so many times since I was eight years old that I don't need to look at the recipe anymore. (But I still like to look at it anyway, just to evoke the memory of being a kid in the kitchen, making the one thing I was "old enough" to bake without supervision.)
posted by bakerina at 9:59 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Anyone want a 1931 1st edition?
posted by the fish at 9:59 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Joy of Cooking once came to my rescue when I started a fire in my kitchen (self-link).

I STILL pull it out of the cupboard at least two or three times a week to look up something or other.
posted by kristi at 10:37 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

How I know I am in a committed relationship: When my boyfriend and I moved in together, we had to consolidate some of our belongings. I gave up my Joy of Cooking. Granted, mine was a paperback copy of the '97 edition, and was kind of a mess; his is hardcover. So it wasn't all that much of a sacrifice.

I had no idea about the Cocaigne recipes, which include the chocolate chip cookies and banana bread that I have eaten a bajillion times. Neat!
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:02 PM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

My husband brought this into our marriage. I think if I had to get rid of all my books but one, the Joy of Cooking would easily be the one left standing. So useful!
posted by HMSSM at 11:41 PM on August 29, 2011

Do other countries have an equivalent cookbook you would find in most households? Here in New Zealand, that book would be the Edmonds Cookery Book which has been the standard here since 1907.
posted by netd at 12:33 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I possess a 1975 edition, given to me by my grandparents when I was just a wee budding chef. It has easily 400+ recipes that I've collected over the years, written on whatever was at hand at the moment, from 3 x 5 cards to my favorite yellow mini legal pads and even recipes cut out of boxes, plastic bags, etc, stuffed between its pages. And annotations on virtually every recipe I've used in it, neatly written (well, as neatly as I can write, which is to say not really) in the margins. As well as being the source for so many recipes that I've experimented with and modified over time, it's a mini history of me and my tastes over the years. It's a legacy of my grandmother's and great-aunts' amazing cooking abilities. It truly has meaning to me.

So a few years back, my girlfriend had just moved in with me and, as is my wont, I was cooking a wonderful meal for that evening's little dinner party. She was sitting at the bar across from the kitchen sink, mostly for her own safety, as when I'm in the throes of a cooking binge there is a distinct danger line beyond which being sliced, scalded or parboiled becomes a real possibility. I asked her to hand me my Joy, so I could recheck the ingredients in my great-aunt's bean salad recipe (the secret is THYME!). She starts to pass it to me, over the sink, which is full of water and vegetables being scrubbed. She's holding it vertically and presto! it slips out of its dust jacket and straight into the water. All my recipes come scattering out on the surface and the book itself heads for the depths. I start frantically seining the sink with my hands and throwing the detritus on the counter; baby zucchinis and celery stalks mixing with family recipes for salamis, home-canned peaches and chocolate cake. My brain is ceasing function and my heart is nestled between my toes.

Ah, but for the girlfriend my world would have been crushed at that moment. She was a recent southern transplant, and thus very used to dealing with flooding. Quick as a wink she's shoving me out of the way, grabbing some of her new sketchbooks from the kitchen table and starting to lay out recipe cards on their pages. It was something to behold, very deft yet very speedy work as nothing could be moved once laid down for fear of smudging. In what seemed like less than a minute she had rescued all my recipes and had started in on the Joy, using paper towels and stack of printer paper interleaved between its pages in an attempt to dry it. To her immense credit, NOTHING was lost. Some writing had faded a touch but all was still legible.

I love my Joy of Cooking and give thanks to the ghosts of Irma and Marion every time I remember that incident. I still use that book on what seems like a weekly basis, and refer to it when family members request one of the grande dames' recipes. After that day I eventually went through and transcribed every recipe in there, placing the digital copies as attachments in all my email accounts for backup. I think that, post-WWII, the Joy of Cooking became what the Fannie Farmer cookbook that preceded it was, a sort of bible of American eating preferences. It really is an amazing resource.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 1:50 AM on August 30, 2011 [19 favorites]

I consulted my copy (given to me by my mother upon my moving-out) *very* thoroughly during my first live-lobster cooking. I so wanted to use her recommended, humane(?), ice-pick-to-the-brain-stem method, but my counterpart (who had the lobsters Fed Ex'ed to her from Maine) won out with the old "throw 'em in the boiling water" routine.

Decent instructions for Chicken Parmagianne as I recall, though.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:37 AM on August 30, 2011

The pie crust dough (and instruction on pie crust dough in general) is good. The pizza dough, not so much.
posted by Joe Chip at 3:15 AM on August 30, 2011

Weird. It's like I'm in some alternate universe. I'd never heard of this hatred for the '97 edition. In fact, I'd heard that the more recent edition (a couple, maybe five years ago) was to be avoided because of it's revisions.

Which is sad, to me, because my '97 edition survived the last year of college, a year in China, and 11 years in Japan. I have dozens of cookbooks now, but that battered, broken-spined hardcover and I've been through a lot together, and if I could only choose one, that'd be it. I know a lot of people seem to recommend Bittman's How to Cook Everything on AskMe, but the Joy of Cooking is still the best, for me at least. I've learned so much about cooking from that one book. The explanations of each style of cooking are enough to build upon to create your own recipes without using the ones in the book. Every stew I make comes from the preface to the section on stews, and possibly the fanciest thing I've ever made (whole, boned chicken stuffed with prosciutto and parmesan stuffing) came from the illustration on how to debone a whole chicken.

I love that book.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:22 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

1964 edition speaking: Irma Rombauer never actually used or even tested all the recipes in the original JoC. Julia Child, working on her own book, was disturbed about this and sensitive on the same accusation (cf. Julie, Julia for the dramatisation.) But it is definitely true that the "Cockaigne" recipes were both tested and used by the Beckers, if not the Rombauers. And it is also true that "Brownies Cockaigne" are the epitome of that recipe (except you can cut the sugar, or use brown) just as the JoC recipe for Hot Fudge is the only one you need.
No one has mentioned the attempt to organize cooking that later editions of this book made. "The foods we eat/heat" was an attempt to get cooks thinking analytically about what they were doing. And there was the "Equivalents" section -- far more useful than the diagram of squirrel-skinning.
But there's the funny stories, too: the French chef who is on a camping trip in the American West and witnesses flapjacks tossed in a skillet. "Crepes sauvages!," exclaims the chef.
posted by CCBC at 4:09 AM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

I used to work with a food stylist who was an incredible cook. When I asked her about Joy of Cooking she replied that it was an important reference. Something like "Joy of Cooking won't have the best recipe for cake, but it's helpful if you need to know exactly what 'cake' is."
posted by Drab_Parts at 5:11 AM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

1964. My mother got it on her wedding. That book contains the flavours of my family and memories; it's indispensible.

It was falling apart and a couple years ago I decided to do something about it. What does that mean? When a book is falling apart.... you engage the services of a bookbinder and have it rebound! But I didn't want a generic cover and endpapers as is usual for rebindings.

It happens I own a printer that can print on canvas. So I scanned the logos and legend from the falling apart, designed a new cover and endpapers, and printed them on linen and heavy sketch paper. Then I laminated the linen so it would last forever, and gave the covers and the book to my friend Marlene.

Photos of the designs for the cover and endpapers.

A couple weeks later, she gave me this.

It wasn't cheap, but when a book can't be replaced this is what you do to take care of it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:12 AM on August 30, 2011 [19 favorites]

The Joy of Cooking has been helpful to me a ridiculous number of times. But there's no JOY in the book. The writing is clear and helpful, but I always found it held a strong whiff of bitterness about the entire cooking process. And I love to cook/bake. I always found that part odd.
posted by atomicstone at 5:24 AM on August 30, 2011

Something like "Joy of Cooking won't have the best recipe for cake, but it's helpful if you need to know exactly what 'cake' is."

This, to me, has always been the best feature of my favorite cookbooks...Recipes that work as starting points, rather than as hard lines drawn in the sand.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:43 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I taught myself to cook using my Mother's 1964 edition of the Joy. It was a good reference book, but it was also indispensable when cooking for a family with widely varying tastes - the recipes are representative, but keep to the middle of the road.

When I moved out, I bought myself the 2006 edition. I brought it with me to my marriage. It now vies with Bittman's How to Cook Everything for primacy of place as our go-to book.
posted by LN at 5:52 AM on August 30, 2011

I have a thing for buying cookbooks. I love how they look on my shelf, and I like just picking one at random and choosing a new recipe to try. I picked up my first copy of Joy of Cooking just a couple of years ago when my mom insisted that every kitchen should have it, and it quickly became indispensable. I love the introductions to each section (ex. "On water bath preserving", and similar). I also appreciate the combination of simple, quick (cheap!) recipes side by side with random things like anglerfish. Along with The Flavor Bible, it's pretty much my most used cookbook out of the dozen or so that I have.
posted by torisaur at 6:25 AM on August 30, 2011

Something like "Joy of Cooking won't have the best recipe for cake, but it's helpful if you need to know exactly what 'cake' is."

Recipes that work as starting points, rather than as hard lines drawn in the sand.

That's definitely why I love the book, and why I'm really enjoying reading (not using, yet, just reading) Ratio.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:31 AM on August 30, 2011

I imprinted on the 1975 edition. In support of my claim for its primacy, I point to the fact that it took 20 years before anyone thought of "improving" it. Also, of all the editions, it bears the strongest stamp of daughter Marion - who is credited with making the book into what it became.

I hope I'm never hungry enough to eat a squirrel. But if I am, the 1975 will be there to tell me how to cook it - as I am certain that I will keep it for the rest of my life.
posted by Trurl at 6:32 AM on August 30, 2011

I have fond memories of the book (I seem to recall that the edition my college dorm had contained armadillo as well as squirrel, possum, etc), but I don't like to use it for cooking. I much prefer ingredients to be grouped at the head of the recipe - I tend to not realize I'm missing things in Joy of Cooking recipes, even after skimming it. I also prefer more explanation as to WHY I am preparing things in a given way - JoC completely lacks that (at least, in my memory, I do not own a copy).

My go-to cookbooks are the first edition The Best Recipe and Mark Bittman's 10 year anniversary How To Cook Everything.
posted by maryr at 7:14 AM on August 30, 2011

That's true, I do hate how the ingredients are salted into the text. It's too easy to miss something.
posted by Miko at 7:18 AM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

Or to miss that you were supposed to have prepped something. "One *sauteed* onion? Shit."
posted by maryr at 7:34 AM on August 30, 2011

Something like "Joy of Cooking won't have the best recipe for cake, but it's helpful if you need to know exactly what 'cake' is."

A lie.

I love to cook and have a bunch of cookbooks, but like many here TJoC is my go-to cookbook. It's indispensable both for trying new things and reminding myself how to make things I haven't in a while.
posted by Gelatin at 9:09 AM on August 30, 2011

It was all downhill when they removed how to prepare turtles your children catch and bring home.

Pro tip: starve the turtle for a few days in a bathtub full of water.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:53 AM on August 30, 2011

I'm kind of surprised to see so much love for TJoC in this thread. I had the 1975 edition and found it valuable as a general reference source (What temperature do I roast chicken at? What is quinoa?), but I never really liked the recipes all that much. Thus, it was one of the first books I ditched when the internet + Google came along.

I think the recipes are a bit bland and Middle American, which is not surprising given the book's origin in 1930s St Louis. The 1975 edition is geared toward ingredients you could find in any small-town supermarket, with a few oddball things like skinning and butchering your own game (again, something that's probably more useful to small town or rural cooks). Traditional American cookery is not really my thing but there are a few dishes I really like and even there, Joy's version seemed dull. Safe, familiar and inoffensive, the kind of thing Mom used to make. (Mom did, in fact, use this cookbook a lot when I was a kid.) That kind of food evokes too many memories of quarrelsome family dinners bickering over baked chicken breasts, tater tots and succotash. For me there's no joy at all in The Joy of Cooking.
posted by Quietgal at 10:14 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was raised with a reprint of the 1975 edition of Joy of Cooking. It is the study indefensible to which I turn when I need to mid-American, early-Century cooking or a reference on substitutions or canning or freezing.

The big problem I had with the 1997 revision was that it eliminated the home-spun person-ability and single authorial voice (no matter how Aunt Crazy it was at times) in favor of chapters written by other published chefs meeting some criterion of name-recognition or associated titles in the publisher's stable. I am not a fan of it, even though I appreciate some of the other work by some of those other cookbook authors.

And the story at the head of the section on freezing has won me a small wager three or four times as to whether there is a recipe for walrus in the JoC.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 10:27 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

The '97 edition is a perfectly fine generic cookbook. But it wasn't JoC, with substitutions, explanations and recipes I'd never want to make but still found interesting to read.

My mother taught me how to read and use the recipes in the '51 edition. After that, all cooking became my job, even after I tried to make taffy by myself and got it all over the floor (Mom got home to find me on my knees with a hammer and a flat head screwdriver, trying to chisel the unpulled taffy off the linoleum).

I prefer having all the ingredients up front, but having them scattered through the recipe forces me to read the entire thing before I start. Gather your ingredients, clean as you go and check Joy first, then even an 8 year old can cook dinner for 4.

These days, I still have to have an old Joy around. It, Madeleine Kamman's _Making of a Cook_ for techniques and _Laurel's Kitchen_ for vegetarian stuff are the three cookbooks I must have in my kitchen.
posted by QIbHom at 10:36 AM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

One thing I learned from Julia Child is that Irma Rombauer did not test every recipe in Joy of Cooking, prior to publishing it. I had deduced that as a child in the 1960s, when I made several 'main entree' dishes that were so bad, they were inedible. (My cooking skills as a child were excellent. As a motherless child, I cooked the evening meal for a family of 3 every night starting before age 10). Ever since then I have had strong reservations about Joy of Cooking. In 1981 my home burned to the ground. My ancient copy of Joy of Cooking went with it, and I never replaced it. I am happy to hear there are baking recipes in Joy of Cooking that have brought much pleasure to many, many people! If I find Joy of Cooking as a used book at a reasonable price, I'll bring it home and give it another chance.
posted by Galadhwen at 10:36 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

How I know I am in a committed relationship: When my boyfriend and I moved in together, we had to consolidate some of our belongings. I gave up my Joy of Cooking. JOC when she moved out and he hadn't had a chance to get a copy of his own yet.

I earned my "Good Girlfriend" Badge by getting him a copy for his birthday a couple weeks later.

And that got promoted to a "GREAT Girlfriend" Badge when he say, "oh, EXCELLENT! You got me an edition that still tells you how to skin a possum!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:04 AM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

say = said
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:04 AM on August 30, 2011

1975 edition. The first recipe I made out of it was challah bread, which my friend Anne and I tackled one Saturday afternoon in junior high, teaching ourselves to knead, but before succeeding, laughing uproariously at the webbed hands we rapidly developed.

It was the book I slipped out of my mom's cookbook collection most often as a teenager and eventually read all of - even the meat parts, though I'd become a vegetarian at 15. The section about herb gardens filled my head with dreams.

My mom bought me a copy to take to NYU with me. In my second year of acting school there, one day in improv class I had to give an extemporaneous instructional monologue. I decided to fill my classmates in on how to skin a squirrel (referenced by phunniemee above), complete with demonstration of how to step on the tail to peel the skin off.

I was the only vegetarian in the room, but I got from my classmates a resounding "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWW!!!" That was one of the things that convinced me that it was time to leave acting behind and go into the food business. And while I'm not able to work any more, at this moment I'm looking out on an herb garden that includes most of the usual suspects but also anise hyssop, chervil, epazote, fenugreek, and six kinds of basil.
posted by jocelmeow at 12:44 PM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

I happen to be one of Those Beckers, albeit distantly removed. I can verify that this particular batch of Becker descendants are still using that eggnog recipe and winning rave revews.

My sister has become obsessed with the family legacy and wrote a comparison of versions that I think may become a dissertation. I'm dying to push her to turn it into a book one day.
posted by Stacey at 1:17 PM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]

As QIbHom mentioned, having the ingredients in the body of the text has made me a better cook in terms of prep. I'm forced to read the entire recipe, which means I usually check out a recipe hours, or even a day, before I start cooking, just so I know what I'll need to get ready.

As I said, I use the book as templates for other recipes. The stuffing section, in particular, has been a huge help. I can't think of another book I'd want to use when preparing a Thanksgiving dinner for twelve, even if I smoke the turkey (sadly, not in the book).
posted by Ghidorah at 4:08 PM on August 30, 2011


I have this and particularly this bookmarked which may provide answers to your question. And a nice summary of the latter.
posted by Wyatt at 10:18 AM on August 31, 2011

I may have the exact quote wrong (I can't find my copy at the moment), but iirc, the JoC section on cake houses includes something to this effect in the introduction: "No matter how peculiar the media or incongruous the scale, the instinct to build persists" I love that.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:31 PM on August 31, 2011

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