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The I Hate to Cook Book: 50th Anniversary Edition

The I Hate to Cook Book: 50th Anniversary Edition

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"There are two kinds of people in this world: the ones who don't cook out of and have NEVER cooked out of I Hate to Cook Book, and the other kind...the I Hate to Cook people consist mainly of those who find other things more interesting and less fattening, and so they do it as seldom as possible. Today there is an Annual Culinary Olympics, with hundreds of cooks from many countries ardently competing. But we who hate to cook have had our own Olympics for years, seeing who can get out of the kitchen the fastest and stay out the longest."

Peg Bracken

Philosopher's Chowder. Skinny Meatloaf. Fat Man's Shrimp. Immediate Fudge Cake. These are just a few of the beloved recipes from Peg Bracken's classic I Hate to Cook Book. Written in a time when women were expected to have full, delicious meals on the table for their families every night, Peg Bracken offered women who didn't revel in this obligation an alternative: quick, simple meals that took minimal effort but would still satisfy.

50 years later, times have certainly changed - but the appeal of The I Hate to Cook Book hasn't.

This book is for everyone, men and women alike, who wants to get from cooking hour to cocktail hour in as little time as possible.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446545921
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 07/26/2010
Edition description: Updated and Revised
Pages: 207
Sales rank: 237,192
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

The I Hate to Cook Book

50th Anniversary Edition
By Bracken, Peg

Grand Central Publishing

Copyright © 2010 Bracken, Peg
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780446545921


30 Day-by-Day Entrees


Never doubt it, there’s a long, long trail a-winding when you hate to cook. And never compute the number of meals you have to cook and set before the shining little faces of your loved ones in the course of a lifetime. This only staggers the imagination and raises the blood pressure. The way to face the future is to take it as Alcoholics Anonymous does: one day at a time.

This chapter contains recipes for thirty everyday main dishes. Some of them aren’t very exciting. In fact, some are pretty dull—just as a lot of recipes are in the other cookbooks, but the other cookbooks don’t admit it. And some of the recipes in this chapter are so—well, so simple—that they’d have any Cordon Bleu chef pounding his head with his omelet pan.

The thing about these recipes is this: they’re here! You don’t have to ferret them out of your huge, jolly, encyclopedic cookbook. And they’ll get you through the month! After all, who needs more than thirty recipes? You already have your own standard routines: the steak-roast-and-chop bit, the frozen-TV-dinner bit, the doctored-up-canned-beans bit, not to mention your mother’s favorite recipe for Carrot-Tapioca-Meat Loaf Surprise. And if somebody waves a dinner invitation, you leap like a trout to the fly. So, with these additional thirty, you’re in.

Now, the points that are special about them are these:

1. They all taste good.

2. They are all easy to make.

3. Each has been approved by representative women who hate to cook, and not one calls for a bouquet garni.

4. Some do two jobs. They involve either meat, fish, or chicken plus a vegetable, so all you need is bread of some kind, or meat, fish, or chicken and a starch, so all you need is a vegetable.

5. Many can be made ahead. (Of course, you won’t do this very often. When you hate to cook, you keep postponing it. But once in a while, you wake up full of fire. This is the time when you can lump dinner right in with the other dirty work you do around the house in the morning, and get it done.)

6. Most of them are quick to fix. Actually, you can’t trust the word “quick” any more. Some cookbooks, when they say “quick,” mean that you needn’t grind your own flour. Others mean that you can pour a can of tomato soup over a veal chop and call it Scallopini.

We must face facts. If a recipe calls for eleven different chopped ingredients and cream sauce and a cheese-topped meringue, you don’t call it “quick” if you hate to cook. On the other hand, that tomato soup on the veal chop will taste remarkably like tomato soup on a veal chop, and you can’t call it Scallopini.

The really jet-propelled recipes in this book are in Chapter 11. But here we take a middle-of-the-road path. Thawing and/or cooking time isn’t what bothers you most when you hate to cook; it’s preparation time, which, in these recipes, is mercifully short. For instance


4–6 servings

(So called because a couple of seasons ago, this recipe swept the country.)

2- to 3-pound round steak or pot roast

both 1-ounce packets in the package of onion-soup mix

Put the meat on a sheet of aluminum foil big enough to wrap it in. Sprinkle the onion-soup mix on top of it, fold the foil, airtight, around it, put it in a baking pan, and bake it at 300˚ for three hours or 200˚ for nine hours, it really doesn’t matter. You can open it up, if you like, an hour or so before it’s done, and surround it with potatoes and carrots.


5–6 servings

(This is for those days when you’re en negligee, en bed, with a murder story and a box of bonbons, or possibly a good case of flu.)

Mix these things up in a casserole dish that has a tight lid

2 pounds beef stew meat, cubed

1 can of little tiny peas*

1 cup of sliced carrots

2 chopped onions

1 teaspoon salt, dash of pepper

1 can cream of tomato soup thinned with ½ can water (or celery or mushroom soup thinned likewise)

1 big raw potato, sliced

piece of bay leaf

Put the lid on and put the casserole in a 275˚ oven. Now go back to bed. It will cook happily all by itself and be done in five hours.

Incidentally, a word here about herbs and seasonings. These recipes don’t call for anything exotic that you buy a box of, use once, and never again. Curry powder, chili powder, oregano, basil, thyme, marjoram, and bay leaf are about as far out as we get. And if your family says, “What makes it taste so funny, Mommie?” whenever you use any herbs at all, you can omit them (although if you omit chili from chili or curry from curry, you don’t have much left, and you’d really do better to skip the whole thing).

But as a rule, don’t hesitate to cut the amount of a seasoning way down, or leave it out, when it’s one you know you don’t like. This goes for green pepper, pimento, and all that sort of thing, too. (I mention this only because we ladies who hate to cook are easily intimidated by recipes and recipe books, and we wouldn’t dream of substituting or omitting; we just walk past that particular recipe and never go back again.)

We must assess ourselves. I, by way of example, think rosemary is for remembrance, not for cooking, and the amount of rosemary I have omitted from various recipes would make your head swim. The dishes turned out quite all right, too.


3 ample servings

(Very easy; very good with beer; good even without it.)

1 pound ground round steak

1 chopped onion

1 garlic clove, minced

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce plus ⅓ can tomato juice, beef broth, or water

¼ teaspoon oregano

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 16-ounce can kidney or pinto beans with liquid

1 medium-sized bag corn chips

a bit of lettuce

more chopped onion

Brown together, in a little oil, the ground meat, onions, and garlic. Stir in the tomato sauce, oregano, and chili powder. Now dust off a good-sized casserole, grease it, and alternate layers of this mixture with layers of beans and corn chips, ending with corn chips. Bake it, covered, at 350˚ for forty-five minutes, and uncover it for the last ten. Before you serve it, strew some shredded lettuce and chopped raw onion on top, for that Olde-Tyme Mexicali look.


4 servings

(Don’t recoil from the odd-sounding combination of ingredients here, because it’s actually very good. Just shut your eyes and go on opening those cans.)

All you do is mix up these things in the top of your double boiler

1 can condensed chicken noodle soup, undiluted

1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

¼ pound chipped beef (you can parboil it first to make it a little less salty, but you don’t have to)

½ green pepper, chopped

3 tablespoons chopped pimento

1 teaspoon minced fresh onion (or ½ teaspoon onion flakes)

⅓ cup grated cheese (whatever kind you have in the fridge, or Parmesan if you have it)

1 small can mushrooms (if you have one)

Heat it all over hot water and serve it on practically anything—toast, English muffins, rice, or in patty shells.


4 servings

8 ounces uncooked noodles

1 beef bouillon cube

1 garlic clove, minced

⅓ cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 pound ground beef

2 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon paprika

1 6.5-ounce can mushrooms

1 can condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1 cup sour cream

chopped parsley

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. Then add the soup and simmer it—in other words, cook on low flame under boiling point—ten minutes. Now stir in the sour cream—keeping the heat low, so it won’t curdle—and let it all heat through. To serve it, pile the noodles on a platter, pile the stroganoff mix on top of the noodles, and sprinkle chopped parsley around with a lavish hand.

Now, you noticed that chopped parsley in the Stroganoff we just passed? This is very important. You will notice a certain dependence, in this book, on PARSLEY (which you buy a bunch of, wash, shake, and stuff wet into a covered Mason jar, and store in the refrigerator, where it will keep nicely practically forever), and PARMESAN (which, if you were a purist, you’d buy a rocklike chunk of, and grate it as you need it. Inasmuch as you’re not, you buy it in bulk at an Italian delicatessen or in a box with holes in the top, at the grocer’s), and PAPRIKA (which you buy an ordinary spice box of and keep handy on the kitchen stove).

The reason for these little garnishes is that even though you hate to cook, you don’t always want this fact to show, as it so often does with a plateful of nude food. So you put light things on dark things (like Parmesan on spinach) and dark things on light things (like parsley on sole) and sprinkle paprika on practically everything within reach. Sometimes you end up with a dinner in which everything seems to be sprinkled with something, which gives a certain earnest look to the whole performance, but it still shows you’re trying.

To repeat, the important thing is contrast. Once I knew a little girl who often made herself Cracker Sandwiches. That’s right; she’d put a nice filling of oyster crackers between two slices of white bread. I think she grew up to be a hospital dietitian.


6–7 servings

(This is a somewhat more interesting sort of a meat loaf.)

2 pounds hamburger

1½ cups diced Swiss cheese

2 beaten eggs

½ cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped green pepper

1½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon celery salt

½ teaspoon paprika

2½ cups milk

1 cup dry bread crumbs

Just mix these things together in the approximate order they’re given, then press it all into one big greased loaf pan, or use two. Bake, uncovered, at 350˚ for about an hour and a half, then yodel for the family.


6–8 servings

(A good, cheap, classic chili recipe that’s easy to remember because it’s one of everything.)

1 pound hamburger

1 big onion, chopped

1 (or 2) 16-ounce cans of kidney beans, depending on how many you’re feeding

1 can tomato soup, undiluted

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon chili powder (then taste and add more if you like)

ripe olives, if they’re handy

Brown the meat and the onion in a little butter and cook till the meat is brown—about ten minutes. Add everything else, then let it simmer, covered, for half an hour.

Just a word here about what to serve with things. You may have noticed that many recipe books are full of suggestions. “With this,” they’ll say, “serve Curried Peaches, crisp hot cornsticks, and Angel Torte.”

The reason they do this isn’t just to be helpful. Between you and me, it is also to make that entrée recipe sound better. You can make meat loaf sound almost exciting if you talk long enough about Crusty Cheese Potatoes and Heart of Artichoke Salad and Lime Sherbet and Fudge Cake, but you still haven’t changed the basically pedestrian quality of the meat loaf. Furthermore, when you hate to cook, what you serve with something is what you happen to have around; and you wouldn’t dream of cooking all those things for one meal anyway.

So this recipe book won’t suggest accompanying dishes very often, except in cases where it is really hard to think of one, or when the entrée looks a bit pathetic and needs bolstering.

Now for the LAMB department. Lamb, when you hate to cook, usually consists of chops or a leg of. It was a great day for me when I discovered lamb shanks.


4–5 servings

4 lamb shanks, cracked

1 peeled cut garlic clove

¼ cup flour

1 tablespoon paprika

1½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 cups hot water

1¼ cups uncooked rice

Shake your shanks, well rubbed with garlic, in a paper bag containing the flour and seasonings. Brown them on each and every side in the hot oil. Add the water and the garlic clove—speared with a toothpick, so you can find it later—and simmer, covered, for an hour. Then add the rice, simmer, covered, for another half hour, and you’re done.


4–5 servings

(This has the easiest barbecue sauce you’ll ever make, and it’s very good, too.)

1 large onion, peeled and sliced thin

1 cup ketchup

1 cup water

½ cup mint jelly

2 tablespoons lemon juice

4 lamb shanks, cracked*

flour, salt, pepper, to dredge meat in

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Combine the first five ingredients and heat them until the jelly melts. Dredge the shanks in the flour, et cetera, and brown them in the oil in a Dutch oven or electric skillet. Be sure you pour off the excess fat after they’ve browned. Then pour the sauce on, cover, and simmer—basting once in a while, if you happen to think of it—for an hour and a half.


You start with inch-thick lamb chops. Have the butcher cut the bones out of them. Wrap a bacon strip around each, and fasten it with a toothpick. Put a teaspoon each of Worcestershire sauce and ketchup on each chop, set them on a rack in the oven—with a drip pan beneath—and bake at 350˚ for about thirty-five minutes, until the bacon is crisp.

This makes a pretty company platter, incidentally, with some fat tomato slices and parsley around the edge.


4 servings

(Fruit salad is good with this, because there are enough vegetables in it anyhow.)

4 medium-thick lamb or pork chops

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

6 tablespoons uncooked rice

1 large onion, peeled and sliced

2 ripe tomatoes, cored and sliced

½ green pepper, cut in rings

salt, pepper

1 can broth (chicken is best)

1 tiny pinch of marjoram

1 tiny pinch of thyme

Brown the chops in the oil in a skillet. While they’re browning, put the rice in the bottom of a greased casserole dish, and slice the vegetables. Next, lay the chops on the rice and top each one with slices of onion, tomato, and green pepper, salting and peppering a bit as you go. Pour the broth in, add the marjoram and thyme, cover, and let it fend for itself in a 350˚ oven for an hour.

The Problem of Falling in Love You often do, when you hate to cook, fall in love with one recipe which seems to have simply everything: it’s fast, it’s simple, and the whole family likes it. And so, like impetuous lovers since time began, you tend to overdo it. You find yourself serving the little gem three times a week, including Sunday breakfast. Your problems are solved. You’re serene. Oh, you love that little recipe!

But no recipe can stand such an onslaught. After a while, it just doesn’t taste as good as it did the first time. You begin to wonder what you ever saw in it. Presently, you stop making it. Eventually, it’s lost in limbo, and that’s the end of that love affair.

Two things are responsible for this all-too-common occurrence: first, you overdid it, and, second, you probably started to kick it around. You felt so safe with your own true love that you began taking it for granted, not exactly following the recipe, using vinegar instead of lemon juice, or canned mushrooms instead of fresh mushrooms (because you had some vinegar or canned mushrooms). Soon, without your being aware of it, the recipe has undergone a sea change and become something rich and undoubtedly strange, all right, but not at all the same recipe you started with.

The moral is this: Instead of going steady, play the field. When you make proper contact with a recipe, don’t make it again for an entire month. Keep it warm and cozy, your ace in the hole, in your card file, or checked in your recipe book, while you try some more. Presently, you’ll have several aces in the hole, which is a very delectable state of affairs indeed.

In the PORK and HAM department, we come to


4–6 servings

(This is a fast, good franks and kraut routine.)

½ onion, chopped (or 2 tablespoons minced dried onion)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

¾ cup ketchup

¾ cup water

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

1 28-ounce can sauerkraut

10 or 12 frankfurters or hot dogs

You make the sauce first. Sauté the onion in the oil until it’s tender, then add the ketchup, water, sugar, and mustard, and bring to a boil. Now open the sauerkraut, drain it well, and put it in a big casserole. Arrange the frankfurters—slashed or split—on top, pour on the sauce, and bake, uncovered, at 350˚ for thirty minutes.


4–5 servings

(It takes about seven minutes to put this together. Dr. Martin is a busy man.)

Crumble 1 to 1½ pounds of pork sausage (hamburger will do, but pork is better) into a skillet and brown it. Pour off a little of the fat. Then add

1 green pepper, chopped

2 green onions (also called scallions), chopped

2 or 3 celery stalks, chopped

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup uncooked rice

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon salt

Dr. Martin then puts the lid on and lets it simmer at the lowest possible heat while he goes out and sets a fracture. When he comes back in about an hour, his dinner is ready.


Use the grater with the big holes to grate your potatoes (1 to 2 per person) for scalloping; it’s much faster than slicing. Then prepare them in your habitual scallop fashion, whatever that may be. (If you don’t have a habitual fashion, you might put over them a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup slightly diluted with a third of a can of milk.) Lay the pork chops (also 1 to 2 per person) on top of the potatoes and put the casserole dish in a 350˚ oven, uncovered. If you happen to think of it, turn the chops over in half an hour and salt and pepper them. You bake this for an hour all told.

And so to CHICKEN.

It’s a funny thing about chicken. Grandma got along nicely frying hers, and she lived to a sprightly old age. But these days the word is “baked,” not fried—oven-baked.

That is what these two recipes are, by pure happenstance, although in the first one you cheat a bit and brown the bird first.


5–6 servings


vegetable oil

2½-pound fryer (or 2½ pounds breasts or thighs)

¾ cup uncooked rice

salt, pepper

1 tablespoon grated onion (or half a garlic clove, minced)

6.5-ounce can of mushrooms

2 chicken bouillon cubes dissolved in 1¾ cups water

½ stick butter

Flour and then brown the chicken in a little vegetable oil. While it browns, put the rice, salt, and pepper in a greased casserole and strew the grated onion about. Put in the mushrooms, juice and all. Arrange the chicken artfully on top, pour the bouillon over it, and dot with the butter. Cover it. Bake it at 350˚ for an hour.


4–6 servings

(Closely related to Sunday Chicken, p. 100.)

1 cut-up fryer (or any 6 good-sized pieces of chicken)

salt and garlic salt


1 can condensed cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup

1 cup heavy cream (don’t cheat and use milk; the cream makes a lot of difference)

chopped parsley

Take your chicken and salt and garlic salt it a bit, then paprika it thoroughly. Next, spread it out, in one layer, in a shallow baking pan. Dilute the soup with the cream, pour it over the chicken, and sprinkle the chopped parsley prettily on top. Bake it, uncovered, at 350˚ for one and a half hours.

Speaking of cooking, incidentally, and I believe we were, one of its worst facets is grocery shopping. When you hate to cook, a supermarket is an appalling place. You see so many things that they all blur, and you finally end up with a glazed look and a chop. So take this cookbook along when you go shopping. Then, when you see a can of shrimp, for instance, it might ring a far-away bell, and you can look in your little book to see what we’d do with it, we women who hate to cook. We’d commit


4–6 servings

1 cup uncooked rice

½ cup chopped onion

½ teaspoon curry powder

1 tablespoon butter

1 can frozen condensed cream of shrimp soup (or 1 can undiluted cream of celery or mushroom soup with 3 ounces of fresh or canned shrimp)

1 cup sour cream

1 cup cooked shrimp



Start the rice cooking. Then, in the top part of your double boiler, simmer the onion and curry powder in the butter till the onion’s tender but not brown. Add the frozen soup, set the pan over hot water, and stir till it’s smooth. Add the sour cream and the shrimp, and heat till it’s hot clear through. Serve over hot rice, with sprigs of parsley and a spatter of paprika.

(If you keep a jar of chutney in the refrigerator—it keeps practically forever—you can serve it forth whenever you make a curry dish, and you’ll feel less guilty about skipping the chopped peanuts and green onions and all those other messy little odds and ends.)

Also, even simpler and cheaper, we’d make


3–4 servings

1 cup uncooked rice

½ stick butter (4 tablespoons)

1 can chicken broth diluted with ½ can water (or 2 chicken bouillon cubes dissolved in 2 cups hot water)

a bit of chopped onion, green or otherwise

2 4-ounce cans shrimp

Use a heavy, ovenproof skillet. Cook the rice in the butter till it’s the color of a nice camel’s-hair coat. Add the chicken broth and onion, cover the skillet, and bake for thirty-five minutes at 325˚. Now open the can of shrimp, drain them, and pour the little rascals in. (If you can afford two cans, so much the better.) Bake for ten more minutes.


3–4 servings

(This is about the easiest tuna casserole that ever happened, and it’s quite good.)

Beat two eggs and add a can of evaporated milk. Then add

2½ cups cream-style corn

6.5-ounce can chunk tuna, broken a bit with a fork

1 green pepper, chopped

1 middle-sized onion, grated

Pour it all into a buttered casserole dish and bake it, uncovered, at 325˚ for one hour.


3–4 servings

(Handy to know about, because you probably have on hand everything it calls for. Incidentally, if you keep canned cream sauce in the house, it hurries things up.)

1 can chunk tuna

3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1 cup cooked rice (about ⅓ cup uncooked)

1 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon parsley

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons curry powder

2 cups cream sauce

2 tablespoons chopped green onion (for garnish)

Mix the tuna with eggs, cooked rice, onion, parsley, and salt. Stir the curry powder into the cream sauce, add it to the tuna mixture, and bake it all in a greased casserole at 325˚ for an hour. Put the chopped green onions on top of it before you serve it, and put a bowl of chutney on the table.

(It is good psychology when serving a casserole dish to use individual casseroles instead of one large one. They look more interesting, and, also, if they’re not entirely eaten, you need have no compunction about throwing the leftovers out; see Leftover Rule, p. 37.)


3–4 servings

(A whiffle is a soufflé that any fool can make. This is a dandy recipe for those days when you’ve just had your teeth pulled. It has a nice delicate flavor, too, and it doesn’t call for anything you’re not apt to have around, except the clams. You can even skip the green pepper.)

12 soda crackers (the ordinary 2-inch by 2-inch kind)

1 cup milk

¼ cup melted butter

6.5-ounce can minced clams, drained

2 tablespoons chopped onion

1 tablespoon chopped green pepper

¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

dash of salt, pepper

2 eggs, beaten together

Soak the crumbled crackers in the milk for a few minutes. Then add everything else, eggs last. Pour it all into a greased casserole, and bake it in a 350˚ oven for forty-five minutes, uncovered.


4 servings

(Except for plain fried fish, this is the easiest sole recipe I’ve run into. You can make it with halibut, too.)

4 sole fillets

1 can frozen shrimp soup, thawed (if not available, use 1 can of undiluted shrimp or celery soup and throw in 3 ounces of fresh or canned shrimp, if you feel like it)

Heat the soup while you lay out the fish effectively in a shallow greased baking dish. Bake the fish at 400˚ for twenty minutes. Then reduce the heat to 300˚, pour the soup over the fish, and bake it for another fifteen minutes.


4 servings

1 package frozen fish sticks, thawed

1 can condensed cream of celery soup

½ cup milk

1½ tablespoons chopped chives or green onion tops

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons grated Cheddar


Put the fish sticks (3 to 4 per person) in a shallow buttered baking dish. Thin the celery soup with the milk, and measure out a cupful. (Save the rest for somebody’s lunch or throw it out.) Add the chives, lemon juice, and cheese to the thinned soup, pour it over the fish sticks, and sprinkle with paprika. Bake it at 425˚ for twenty minutes.

A parenthetical note here. It is understood that when you hate to cook, you buy already-prepared foods as often as you can. You buy frozen things and ready-mix things, as well as pizza from the pizza man and chicken pies from the chicken-pie lady.

But let us amend that statement. Let us say, instead, that you buy these things as often as you dare, for right here you usually run into a problem with the basic male. The average man doesn’t care much for the frozen-food department, nor for the pizza man, nor for the chicken-pie lady. He wants to see you knead that bread and tote that bale, before you go down to the cellar to make the soap. This is known as Woman’s Burden.

But sometimes you can get around it. Say, for instance, that you are serving some good dinner rolls that you bought frozen and then merely put into the oven for a few minutes, as the directions said to. At dinner, you taste them critically. Then you say, “Darn it, I simply can’t make decent rolls, and that’s all there is to it!”

If you are lucky, and have been able to keep him out of the kitchen while you were removing the wrapping, he will probably say, “What’s the matter with you? These taste swell.”

Then you say, in a finicky sort of female voice, “I don’t know—they just don’t seem as light as they ought to, or something….” And the more stoutly he affirms that they’re okay, the tighter the box you’ve got him in. Admittedly, this is underhanded, but, then, marriage is sometimes a rough game.

And don’t worry one minute because it’s a little more expensive to buy these things than to make them. Maybe you’re hell for house cleaning. Or maybe you do your own wallpapering, while that lady down the block, who so virtuously rolls her own noodles, pays vast sums to paper hangers. Maybe you make your own clothes, or sell Christmas cards at home, or maybe you’re just plain cute to have around the house.

As we slog our way through the month, let us not forget about BEANS. It is a rare budget that doesn’t benefit from a modest bean dish once in a while.

Most of the time, when you hate to cook, you just add a little extra chopped onion, chili sauce, and a tablespoon of molasses to the can of beans you bought at the grocer’s, and you bake them about thirty minutes at 325˚, and they’re very good, too.

If you feel exceptionally energetic, though, you can also add a can of apple slices and a can of chopped luncheon meat to those other ingredients. This is good makeweight for growing boys, should you be blessed with any.

Also, if you have some kidney beans around, you can make


3–4 servings

(This couldn’t be better or simpler, except that you must be around to service it every two hours for six hours. Don’t be afraid those already-cooked beans will cook to a pulp. For some mysterious reason, they don’t.)

2 average-sized (1-pound) cans kidney beans (do not drain)

3 big raw tomatoes (or an equal quantity of drained canned tomatoes; raw are better)

2 raw onions, sliced

½ pound bacon, the leaner the better

In a casserole dish, alternate layers of the beans, the thick-sliced tomatoes, and the onions till you run out. Bake at 300˚ for two hours, uncovered.

Now cut the bacon in half (the short strips work better) and lay half of them on top. Put the casserole back in the oven, uncovered, for another two hours, by which time the bacon should be brown. Punch it down into the beans, and put the rest of your bacon strips on top. Bake it uncovered for another two hours, and you’re done.

Or you can make


3–4 servings

3 green onions, chopped

½ green pepper, chopped

½ pound ground beef

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 cup red wine

2 1-pound cans kidney beans

Just fry the onions and green pepper in a little oil until they’re tender, then add the crumbled ground beef and brown it. Next, add the chopped tomatoes and the wine, and simmer it all for five minutes. Add the beans, pour it all into a casserole, and bake, uncovered, for thirty minutes in a 350˚ oven.

Then there is always CHEESE.

Now cheese is something of a yes-and-no proposition. It isn’t too trustworthy, because you have to concentrate on it; and when you hate to cook, you don’t want to. After you’ve produced a curdled Welsh Rabbit or a Welsh Rabbit that resembles a sullen puddle of rubber cement, the tendency is to leave cheese severely alone.

However, cheese has the virtue of keeping nicely, so long as you haven’t unwrapped it (or so long as it’s grated and in a covered jar in your refrigerator; see Leftover chapter). And when there’s a good half-pound or so of cheese in your refrigerator, you always have a comfortable awareness that there’s at least one supper on ice. (What that supper will probably be is soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, and there’s nothing the matter with that, either, particularly if you spread the bread with butter and a little dry mustard mixed with vinegar.)

Then there are these two recipes. Neither can make a monkey out of you, and they are both very good.


4 servings

butter, garlic clove

6 to 8 slices stale or lightly toasted bread

3 eggs

1 cup dry white wine

½ cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon mustard

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon pepper

½ pound grated Swiss cheese (2 cups)

Ready? Mince the garlic clove and cream it into enough butter to spread the bread with. Then spread it, and put the slices butter side down in a big shallow cake pan or casserole dish.

Beat up the eggs, and to them add the wine, the broth, all the seasonings, and the cheese. Pour this over the bread, and bake, uncovered, at 325˚ for thirty minutes.

(This is a handy dish, incidentally, if you’re going out somewhere, to a cocktail party, for instance, before dinner. Before you go, you can do everything up to pouring the mixture over the bread.)


4 servings

(A cross between a pudding and a soufflé. If you like, you can serve it with mushroom sauce—some of the canned varieties aren’t bad—or creamed tuna, or you can top it with a few bacon strips.)

1 cup uncooked rice

4 eggs

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons melted butter

¼ pound grated sharp cheese (1 cup)

1 teaspoon salt

Cook the rice without salt. Then separate the eggs. Beat the yolks slightly, add the milk, butter, cheese, salt, and cooked rice. Beat those egg whites now till they’re very stiff. Fold them into the egg yolk–milk business. Pour it into a greased baking dish and bake at 350˚, uncovered, for twenty-five minutes.

Finally, let us—all of us ladies who hate to cook—give a thought to SOUP.

A hearty soup, that is. A satisfying soup. A soup that—with crackers, carrot strips, and a dessert made by somebody else—will fill up the family. Here are three good ones.


3–4 servings

2 cans potato soup, diluted with milk according to directions on can

5 slices bacon, chopped

4 slices salami, slivered

12 green onions, chopped, including some of the green


black pepper

Warm the soup in the top part of a double boiler. Meanwhile, fry the chopped bacon, drain it, and pour off all but one tablespoon of fat. In it, fry the salami and the onions. Add them, plus the bacon you just cooked, to the soup. Parsley and pepper it up, and serve.


6 servings

2 cans tomato soup, condensed

½ can pea soup, condensed

1 can chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream

1 can crab meat (5 ounces), shrimp (4 ounces), or lobster (6.5 ounces)

  cup sherry

Heat everything but the wine in the top of your double boiler. Just before you serve it, add the sherry.


3 servings

(As a matter of fact, this isn’t exactly honest, because it doesn’t call for salt pork. But who has salt pork around these days besides butchers? The clams are canned, too, instead of fresh. But it tastes honest.)

2 slices bacon, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium potato, shredded on large-holed grater or thin-sliced

7-ounce can minced clams

2½ to 3 cups of milk

good sprinkling of salt and pepper


Fry the chopped bacon and onion together till the onion is tender. Add the potato, the clam juice from the can, and enough water to cover the potato. Simmer till potato is tender—ten to fifteen minutes. Add the clams, the milk, and the salt and pepper, heat, and serve it with a good big chunk of butter melting in the middle.

That’s thirty. Of course, some months contain thirty-one days. But on the thirty-first, you eat out.


Excerpted from The I Hate to Cook Book by Bracken, Peg Copyright © 2010 by Bracken, Peg. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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