The Joy of Cooking

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In 1931, a St. Louis widow named Irma von Starkloff Rombauer took her life savings and self-published a book called The Joy of Cooking. Her daughter, Marion, tested recipes and made the illustrations, and they sold their mother-daughter project from Irma's apartment.

➳ [Reading] ➶ The Joy of Cooking By Irma S. Rombauer ➩ –
  • Hardcover
  • 915 pages
  • The Joy of Cooking
  • Irma S. Rombauer
  • English
  • 08 February 2019
  • 9780672518317

10 thoughts on “The Joy of Cooking

  1. says:

    The day I found out my grandmother was dying was the day I got this book.

    She was sick and we were both very hopeful that she would get better. She was lying on the couch in the living room and asked me to boil her a potato. I, being 19, had NO idea how to boil a potato! But I did not want to bother her about it - so I went into the kitchen and started up the pot of water.

    Not only did I ruin that cute little potato ... but I saw my grandmother lose it!! She came into the kitchen and saw the whole potato (not peeled or cut) hanging out in the pot and lost it. She started crying... How can I leave you if you can't even boil a potato?!

    My grandfather happened to arrive home at that moment. He did a big sigh when he heard and saw the commotion. My poor frail grandma rolling around on the stool (too weak to stand up even), throwing pans around as she was trying to find another pot to make her potato in. He got her calmed down and fixed her another potato. But before it was even boiled she made him go out to the store "right this minute" and buy me the joy of cooking.

    She knew that she would not always be in the kitchen with me to help me cook -- so she got me a GREAT back up.

    That is how I knew my grandmother wasn't going to get better and that I had better learn how to boil a potato.

    I love you grandmother!

  2. says:

    The 1997 edition is infallible.

    The pre-1997 editions are good if you want to can or pickle your own veg, cook opossum, and make aspic.

    The fifth edition, ie the 75th Anniversary edition shown in the picture above, contains too much retro-inspired nonsense and does not continue the practical and innovative approach laid out in the 1997 edition.

    Basically, the 1997 edition took the heart of the Joy of Cooking, that is, that it is a book that contains all the recipes your average american cook needs, and updated it for the 1997 american palate (added in asian and mexican foods, , removed casseroles made with mushroom soup, etc). The first person narrative of the other editions was mostly removed.

    The 75th anniversary editions does no further innovation, and instead adds in some of the older recipes and sections (with limited practical use, in my opion), and adds a good bit of personal narrative back in.

    If you're serious about cooking, find the 1997 edition, it will never let you down. If you're interested in the evolution of american recipes from the perspective of the Becker family, the 75th anniversary edition is your book.

  3. says:

    I have had my Joy of Cooking volume for many decades and it is showing its age and frailty. I read/heard several interviews with the Rombauer family members that have put together the new 2019 edition of this classic.

    The book cover claims that this edition has revised over 4,000 recipes and added 600 new ones! It is certainly bigger both in format and in weight. I agree with the authors’ choice not to add photos of the recipes both for space consideration and because there is nothing that dates a cookbook quicker than a period photograph.

    What I liked: The indexing is better with more chance to look up recipes by ingredients, ethnicity, or unusual requirements (such as high-altitude or gluten-free). There are many more ethnic recipes and Asian cooking is better represented. The section on tea, tea drinks and tea-making has been expanded. Accompanying beverages (including wine) have been expanded. There is more on nutrition and more suggested menus for events, holidays, etc. I appreciate the additions to the “Eggs” section including Kuku Sabzi and souffléed omelets.

    My favorite discovery? My previous edition has one “classic” recipe for brownies (Brownies Cockaigne). That one is included in the new edition but there is an additional one (Fudgy Brownies), and I like it better!

    Full disclosure: I haven’t bought this book; it is merely a loan from our local library. My cookbook shelf needs to shed more than the previous edition I own, if I am to make room for this one. Should I go for the digital version? Not sure. Below, for anyone who is interested, is the extensive table of contents.

    Getting Started
    Nutrition and Food Safety
    Entertaining and Menus
    Streamlined Cooking
    Cocktails, Wine, and Beer
    Appetizers and Hors D’Oeuvre
    Stocks and Soups
    Sandwiches, Tacos, and Burritos
    Egg Dishes
    Pasta, Noodles, and Dumplings
    Poultry and Wildfowl
    Game and Exotic Meats
    Stuffings and Casseroles
    Savory Sauces, Salad Dressings, Marinades, and Seasoning Blends ‘
    Breads and Coffee Cakes
    Pancakes, Waffles, Doughnuts, and Fritters
    Pies and Pastries
    Cakes and Cupcakes
    Cookies and Bars
    Icings, Fillings, Frostings, and Sweet Sauces
    Ice Cream and Frozen Desserts
    Candies and Confections
    Keeping and Storing
    Food Canning
    Jams, Jellies, and Preserves
    Salting, Drying, and Fermenting
    Know Your Ingredients
    Cooking Methods and Techniques

  4. says:

    I would not consider this my "everyday" cookbook but the The Joy of Cooking is a definite must for anyone that takes their cooking seriously, enjoys spending a bit of time in the kitchen, and needs a good all-purpose reference that covers everything from emergency substitutions to complete banquet spreads.

    What do I like most about The Joy of Cooking? It is fairly encyclopedic, covering about as broad a range of cooking topics as it can; while most of the recipes are from the Western tradition, it also dips into some less traditional preparations (e.g., ceviche). The book does not assume that you know anything about cooking -- not sure what a "dash" is? You can look up an explanation for that. What's the difference between a filet and a cutlet? It explains that, too. (HINT: they're basically synonymous.) It has a great index, is organized well, and has recipes to cover almost any occasion and varying degrees of culinary sophistication.

    What don't I like about The Joy of Cooking? It's encyclopedic nature can be a little intimidating sometimes. If you already have a good idea of what you want to make, there's a good chance that you'll find a great recipe; if you're looking for ideas though, the text may overwhelm you. Speaking of text -- the pictures are all illustrations. Granted, they're good illustrations but I tend to prefer photos in my cookbooks (helps me decide what to try next).

    One last point about The Joy of Cooking: I would recommend it to everyone except vegetarians. The book assumes an omnivore's diet so if you eschew the animals in your diet, I would estimate that greater than half of these recipes would not appeal to you.

  5. says:

    In their attempt to modernize the book, the authors omitted many recipes and techniques that are still relevant. Where is Sole Florentine, for heavens sake? And while not many families routinely can or freeze food as a winter survival strategy, there are still times when I would like to know how to do it - when my CSA gives me more corn than we can manage, or when local strawberries are beautiful, fresh, plentiful, and cheap. The lack of ice cream recipes is frustrating, especially given that so many manufacturers are making good quality electric powered ice cream makers.

    On the other hand, there are lots of new recipes that reflect the increasing influx of immigrant culture (and food!) into America.

    I'd say, Definitely buy this book, but don't chuck your old editions of Joy just yet. You're going to need both!

  6. says:

    For Christmas, I decided I was going to have Japanese strawberry shortcake (as in a sponge cake filled with strawberries and cream). I needed a basic sponge cake recipe and couldn't find one anywhere, not even in my usual high-altitude baking bible, Pie in the Sky, nor in the other book I had, The Best Recipe. It was December 24th, the only other recipe I'd found was online from New Mexico but which I did not trust (it asked me to beat the eggs until stiff, a HUGE no-no at high altitude). Almost at the end of my rope, it suddenly occurred to me to try this book.

    And I found it: High-altitude Sponge Cake, on page 750!

    I now have a beautiful Japanese strawberry shortcake in the fridge chilling until dinner. Christmas Eve is saved, thanks to Joy of Cooking!

  7. says:

    I don't know why it took so long for me to include this very worthy book to my Goodreads Library. This is my second copy. The first, a paperback, became so tattered and worn that my son presented this valued edition as a gift. I have been cooking for more than forty years, but continue to return to this book for ideas, information and special recipes. On many occasions I search for new ways to prepare foods and will find the ideal formula for preparation. Frequently I will "tweak" the recipe in order to please the palates of my diners, but JOY has rarely failed to please me.

    It is important to note here that this is far more than a recipe book. It is possible to sit down and read this hefty tome for information and sheer enjoyment. Aside from the wealth of sections for appetizers, through to a huge array of desserts, there are sections describing a multitude of food facts. One can learn about different grains, exotic fruits and vegetables and the preparation and significance of many ethnic foods. Historical and geograpical factors are also included.

    I would recommend this above all other cookbooks for both novice and experienced food preparers! A perfect engagement gift!

  8. says:

    No pictures, but everything in this cookbook is delicious.

  9. says:

    i love this old 1973 edition rescued from my mom's basement. the writing style is awesome: you can hear them chiding you for your awkward kitchen skills. heavily uses ingredients that are out of fashion now, so that's historically interesting: lots of parsley, livers, anchovies, tarragon.

    the recipes are not all so daunting: some of them are forward-looking to today's minimal cooking in their simplicity and flexibility. saved me many times when my fridge was sadly understocked.

    also, you can cook ANYTHING with this. including bear. whale. 'possum. (although for the latter, it suggest you raise it on a diet of milk and grains for a week before boiling it. this book is not for the weak!) i actually enjoy reading this book for fun during breakfast.

  10. says:

    I enjoyed flipping through this, and I made a pretty good dinner ALL BY MYSELF. (what an achievement right?) The Joy of Cooking just has so much depth to it, with hundreds of recipes, add ons, possible amendments, and very interesting segments on cuts of meat, best way to use grains, and well thought-out menus. it's the OG of cookbooks for a reason, and in my eyes the best cookbook of all time.

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