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Worst. Cookbook. Ever.

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#1 Chris Hennes

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 01:02 PM

What is the worst cookbook you have ever seen? Bonus points for example recipes...

My nomination is the Blendtec Lifestyles Recipe Book: More than 300 delicious recipes made with one incredible machine (it came with the blender). A few example recipes...

Hazelnut Coffee Ice Cream
1 cup hazelnut coffee creamer
1/3 cup chocolate syrup
3 cups ice cubes

Please tell me this one is a joke. "Ice Cream" made with flavored non-dairy creamer?

Astronaut Surprise
1 cup Frech vanilla nondairy creamer
2 Tbsp orange drink mix
1 Tbsp instant vanilla pudding
2 cups ice cubes

This is also an "ice cream" but apparently they didn't think Tang™ would appreciate the product placement.

Pancakes
[standard pancake ingredients]
Directions: Place ingredients in jar in order listed and secure the lid. Press the Batters button. [...]

Have you ever read a normal pancakes recipe? You know, the ones that say "mix until just combined. Do not overmix!"? Then, there is this one. "Put it all in a blender an press 'destroy'."

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#2 JAZ

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 01:28 PM

I have to admit that I haven't seen this one in person, but I'm going to nominate The Great Alaskan Bachelor's Cookbook: OK for Girls to Read Too! From the back cover: "JUNK FOOD COOKING AT IT'S (sic) FINEST. Just throw a bunch of food together and cook it."

You really have to follow the link and look inside. The first recipe involves two pork chops, four potatoes, American cheese slices, and three cups of milk, which is all layered and then baked for an hour an a half.
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#3 runwestierun

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 03:01 PM

I was at the grocery store just yesterday loitering at the cookbooks. There was a cookbook called Party Food that was authorless. I was pointing out to my friend, Georgia, that all the food was beige and not very party like when she noticed a little beige party sandwich for children. It was a whole wheat sardine sandwich. I just can't imagine getting a whole party's worth of children together who would enjoy that and not mutiny. It was a great party until missy down the road called child protective services.

#4 mbhank

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 03:21 PM

The great French Chef Paul Bocuse published a cookbook quite a number of years ago that even Julia Child said was horrible. A couple of recipes that I remember were Ham Cooked in Hay and a casserole of Ortolans, which are French songbirds. That would be like a recipe for a casserole of Robins here. I still have the book. :smile:

Edited by mbhank, 20 August 2010 - 03:22 PM.

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#5 IndyRob

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 03:37 PM

This is a bit off topic, but with a kismet spin. As I was reading this thread my wife gave me a found copy of the New York Times Book Review section. I paged through it and was three pages from the end when I noticed the title "Your Tired, Your Poor and Their Food". The review begins "One of the sights that greeted immigrants in New York, right after the Statue of Liberty, was a prune sandwich."

I haven't read the rest of the article, or indeed the book, but I wonder if more prune sandwiches might go a long way to solve some of our immigration issues. ;)

Edited by IndyRob, 20 August 2010 - 03:50 PM.


#6 djyee100

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 06:11 PM

It was a whole wheat sardine sandwich. I just can't imagine getting a whole party's worth of children together who would enjoy that and not mutiny.


It's a recipe for the Stepford Children.

:laugh:

#7 Dakki

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 09:53 PM

I have a microwave cookbook packed away somewhere that included gems such as roast beef and (I think) roast turkey, in the microwave.

IndyRob... whatever, man. I'll take the poor huddled masses and their delicious cuisine over prune sandwiches (or "American cheese") anyday.
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#8 IndyRob

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 04:59 AM

IndyRob... whatever, man. I'll take the poor huddled masses and their delicious cuisine over prune sandwiches (or "American cheese") anyday.


I wasn't trying to make a statement. I was just amused by the thought of, say, Italian immigrants being cheerfully offered prune sandwiches and having second thoughts. Mark Twain was out front in extolling the benefits to culture and cuisine.

#9 dougal

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 07:07 AM

The great French Chef Paul Bocuse published a cookbook quite a number of years ago that even Julia Child said was horrible. A couple of recipes that I remember were Ham Cooked in Hay and a casserole of Ortolans, which are French songbirds. That would be like a recipe for a casserole of Robins here. I still have the book. :smile:




But Ham in Hay is a dish with a venerable tradition - and in the present it even finds a place in Fergus Henderson's esteemed Nose to Tail Cooking. See http://www.telegraph...ail-eating.html

Comments from our panel: A leg of gammon is such an enormous thing ... so you might consider only buying half a leg. You will need surprisingly little hay which, as pet shops are far more numerous than good butchers, is easily available. Six good handfuls is plenty.
As the recipe says, the hay is not edible, but neither is the stock, which becomes revoltingly salty by the end of the cooking.
The ham, though, is excellent, surprisingly strongly flavoured by the hay so it has an outdoorsy, countryside feel to it. It is beautifully soft and tender.



The poor little Ortolan has had the misfortune to be considered a gastronomic delight in France - and has therefore been hunted to the verge of extinction.
Laws were introduced to protect it in 1999, but were barely enforced until 2007 (at least in part following the revelations about Mitterand's infamous 'last supper').
Before those dates it was EXACTLY the sort of thing that a 'high end' restaurateur like Bocuse would feel obligated to offer. More here - http://www.telegraph...s-outlawed.html

French gourmands are to be denied what one restaurant critic describes as the "barbaric pleasure" of feasting on tiny songbirds after their government announced that it intended finally to enforce laws that have been on the statute books for eight years. ...
The prized birds can fetch up to €150 (£102) {call it about $150 US} each if sold illegally to restaurants. Diners savour the ritual almost as much as the flavour.




While I think that recipes for Ortolan make an interesting historical document, just as with foie gras recipes, I don't think they should nowadays be seen as an invitation to prepare the dishes.





There are so, so many ways a cookbook can be bad.
It makes it hard to choose the single worst.
For lack of ambition and down-market down-dumbing, Chris Hennes is spot on with the genre of equipment instruction recipe books.
For impracticality, the category would likely be headed by The Fat Duck Cookbook and The French Laundry.
For strong negative shelf-appeal there's The SPAM Cookbook (closely followed by The Roadkill Cookbook ...) I do have an old (well, surprising modern considering - 1930's) Scottish cookery-school book with a recipe for Sheep's Head Broth (I particularly recall the important instruction to brush the teeth clean BEFORE putting the head in the pot).
For recipes that simply don't work, I'd nominate the curing section of HFW's Meat.
While I do greatly enjoy Nigel Slater's ideas for food, I really am put off by Nigel Slater writing about Nigel Slater, or even worse, writing about being Nigel Slater. Kitchen Diaries deserves mention in this context.
On the Cholesterol count, what can beat the original Galloping Gourmet?
For smugness, unexciting food and excessive name-dropping, I propose Ismail Merchant's Indian Cuisine.
I reckon Suas' Advanced Bread and Pastry scores in many areas, but its ability to state simplistic things wrongly is matched only by its (unstated) subversive basic concept of 'faux artisan'. As the politician said "Once you can fake sincerity, you are getting somewhere". I really didn't like that book.

But there's maybe only one book that I actually viscerally loathe ...
As the Amazon UK product description accurately states "How to Cheat is for people who don't want to cook, who think they can't cook, or simply don't have the time to cook."
And its a very, very, very big seller.




Totally coincidentally, it was also yesterday that blogger and occasional eGulleteer Tim Hayward invited nominations at the Guardian for the worst food books.
He got some interesting responses ... (160 so far) http://www.guardian....orst-food-books

Edited by dougal, 21 August 2010 - 07:11 AM.

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#10 gfweb

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 02:39 PM

Any crockpot cookbook!

#11 gfweb

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 07:07 AM

But there's maybe only one book that I actually viscerally loathe ...
As the Amazon UK product description accurately states "How to Cheat is for people who don't want to cook, who think they can't cook, or simply don't have the time to cook."
And its a very, very, very big seller.


http://www.guardian....orst-food-books


Its a Brit Sandra Lee!!!!

#12 Chris Amirault

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 08:16 AM

I have eaten far more bad food prepared with one book cracked open on the counter than all others combined. Shockingly, those dishes were usually served as if they were food, glorious food, morally and culinarily superior to the gruel I usually forced down my gullet.

Thus, for the gastrointestinal misery and self-deluded superiority I endured at cooks who used it as a blunt instrument for decades, I nominate Molly Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook as the Worst. Cookbook. Ever.
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#13 Yajna Patni

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 08:38 AM

Ha Ha Chris, I may have suffered too.... but I would nominate the 70's vegetarian classic Diet for a Small Planet. I stopped eating meat in about 1978, and i didn't then, or now see why vegetarian had to mean no salt, and a lot of cheese. bleagh. I think it was that suffering to be moral thing. I don't do that.

#14 Yajna Patni

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 08:45 AM

I should say in fairness, i am 100% behind the political beliefs of Frances Moore Lappe and Mollie Katzen, its just i don't see why I should eat boring food because of it. Luckily after leaving home at 16 or 17 I headed to India, and ended up in Bengal, where i found veg food that was the exact opposite of boring salt free or bland.
I guess i feel guilty dising their books. But they were naaasty. And as Chris said the food was always offered with an air of violent Moral superiority , and i will shut up now.

#15 Kerry Beal

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 12:03 PM

Funny you should mention Diet for a Small Planet. I often have patients who are new onset vegetarians - so in the process of counselling I'll suggest they get this book for the theory - but I always tell them never to cook anything out of it!

#16 mrsadm

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 12:37 PM

I nominate "A man, a can, and a plan".

Also agree on Moosewood, and on how good Indian vegetarian food can be. There was an Indian restaurant (about 20 years ago) in the Radnor, PA area in a downmarket strip mall - my first step inside had me totally enchanted with the aromas.
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#17 gfweb

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 01:35 PM

I have eaten far more bad food prepared with one book cracked open on the counter than all others combined. Shockingly, those dishes were usually served as if they were food, glorious food, morally and culinarily superior to the gruel I usually forced down my gullet.

Thus, for the gastrointestinal misery and self-deluded superiority I endured at cooks who used it as a blunt instrument for decades, I nominate Molly Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook as the Worst. Cookbook. Ever.


Agreed! Terrible recipes.... usually found in the kitchens of 60ish college profs.

#18 Chris Amirault

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 02:12 PM

When I was in college in the 1980s, those living off campus either cooked from the execrable Katzen books or the Rosso/Lukins Silver Palate books. Whatever their own problems, Rosso and Lukins at least believed that food should taste good and be well-prepared.
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#19 gfweb

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 03:46 PM

LOL the Silver Palate! I remember that as better too. I'm old.

#20 DanM

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 08:20 PM

I don't know why... but I hear Rachel Ray in the back of my head...
"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

#21 Darcie B

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 09:27 AM

I have to nominate everything written by Sandra Lee.

But there is no way to nominate just one book or author. There are too many church cookbooks (which must secretly be sponsored by Jello and Campbell's). I grew up eating "hotdish" and Jello salad made from these books that made the Moosewood Cookbook recipes seem downright heavenly. Really.

I know the church cookbooks are still in frequent use because at my grandfather's funeral in 2006, I counted no fewer than 14 different Jello salads.

For baking, yesterday I saw the worst book I have ever seen. It was a cupcake book and it looked like the decorations were done by the slow kindergarten class. I cannot believe any editor or publisher could have signed off on that one.
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#22 haresfur

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 02:56 AM

I have eaten far more bad food prepared with one book cracked open on the counter than all others combined. Shockingly, those dishes were usually served as if they were food, glorious food, morally and culinarily superior to the gruel I usually forced down my gullet.

Thus, for the gastrointestinal misery and self-deluded superiority I endured at cooks who used it as a blunt instrument for decades, I nominate Molly Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook as the Worst. Cookbook. Ever.


Guess I'm off to the eGullet hall of shame because when I read this I had 2 different editions of the Moosewood open as I tried to morph between the two. :shock: Guess I won't invite you over for black bean soup.

Yeah some of the recipes suck but that's the same for most cookbooks. ... ok maybe I should say some of the recipes don't suck.

My vote would be for almost any blender cookbook.
It's almost never bad to feed someone.

#23 paulraphael

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 02:41 PM

When I was in college in the 1980s, those living off campus either cooked from the execrable Katzen books or the Rosso/Lukins Silver Palate books. Whatever their own problems, Rosso and Lukins at least believed that food should taste good and be well-prepared.


Yup, my world too. All my friends cooked out of Moosewood and Enchanted Broccoli Forest (and nothing else), while all our more sophisticated parents cooked out of Silver Palate.

I've never cooked recipes from any of these books, but I remember thinking my friends' results beat dorm food, at least by a little.
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#24 IndyRob

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 03:12 PM

I think anything with a corporate brand in the title could qualify.

How about Crunchy Topped Mini-Biscuit Wedges...?

1 (10oz.) can Hungry Jack Refrigerated Flaky Biscuits
1 TB margarine or butter, melted
3/4 cup finely crushed corn chips

Cut into quarters, drizzle, toss, add crumbs, toss. Bake.

Or, Mini-Biscuit Wedges...?

No corn chips. Replace with grated parm and paprika (or garlic powder). Kinda' like Doritos in biscuit form, I guess.

#25 LindaK

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 03:29 PM

I haven't read it, but the New York Times recent hailed the reprint of the I Hate to Cook Book in a recent book review, which described it as a cookbook for those "who appreciate...processed-cheese, canned-soup and alcohol-laden recipes..." Sounds like a contender.


 


#26 paulraphael

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 03:43 PM

The secretaries at a friend's office banded together and created a cookbook for all the administrators. A sweet gesture, most likely made under the assumption that suit-wearing types don't get enough old timey home cookin'. This was in the era before Blurb ... done entirely by hand with Kinko's technology.

I was just learning to cook at the time and thought I might be able to learn from the nice ladies. I was especially intrigued by the technique tips scattered among the recipes. One of these stood out ...

How to prevent lumps in creamed soups:

Shake the can before opening it.


But even this is no match for Chris's Blend Tec ice cream.

#27 IndyRob

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 04:03 PM

Shake the can before opening it.


I think this shall become my standard response to any cooking problem.
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#28 andiesenji

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 04:07 PM

I haven't read it, but the New York Times recent hailed the reprint of the I Hate to Cook Book in a recent book review, which described it as a cookbook for those "who appreciate...processed-cheese, canned-soup and alcohol-laden recipes..." Sounds like a contender.


In my opinion, not even a distant contender.
Even though I love to cook, I love that cookbook - I have all of Peg Bracken's books and recently got the 50th anniversary book.

Several million women have found the book to be helpful when they have little time and even less energy because a decently flavored meal can be tabled without spending hours in the kitchen.

It was not aimed at the experienced or avid cook.

It is fun to read - just the chapter titles are evocative of her humor.

"30 Day-by-Day Recipes - Or the Rock Pile"

"Household Hints - Or What to do When Your Churn Paddle Sticks"

All written with her tongue firmly in her cheek and as you read, you can almost hear her chuckling as she puts word to paper.
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#29 rlummis

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 07:26 PM

I think that the Moosewood books are being unfairly maligned; they are far superior to their truly ghastly predecessors in holier-than-thou cuisine. My nomination is The Vegetarian Epicure. I expect that it was also, in its day, an advance over the food being served in communes and student housing.

#30 Chris Amirault

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 08:35 PM

Comparing Vegetarian Epicure and Moosewood Cookbook to see which is worse is sort of like trying to decide whether a flat tire or a shattered windshield is worse. They both really, really suck.
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