Copyright ©2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

And early champion of quick cooking died over the weekend. Her name was Peg Bracken. In 1960, she published a cookbook meant to liberate American women from long hours in the kitchen. Bracken called her work the complete "I Hate to Cook Book."

Her allies in this fight were canned and frozen foods and mixes. The enemy - the 1950's mindset that trapped women in a homemaker's role.

Unidentified Man: The American housewife - wife, mother, laundress, counselor, maid, chef.

BLOCK: Well, Peg Bracken wanted women to enjoy life. And the book was playful, encouraging readers to spend less time cooking and more time smoking cigarettes and drinking martinis. Some of her recipes were called Skid Road Stroganoff, Aggression Cookies, Stay-a-Bed Stew and Soul Survivor.

In an interview with NPR at 1999, Peg Bracken said the book grew out of her own attitude toward food.

PEG BRACKEN: Maybe, I really have a love- hate relationship with food. I'm interested in it, but certainly, not wholly involved. It's the dailyness of it, particularly if you're a woman. I know that the times supposedly have changed, but nevertheless, it is still usually the women who wakes up in the morning, knows that this heavy-heavy hangs over head. At the end of the day, when she opt to be sipping a cocktail and watching whatever she's watching or reading, she's got to be out there doing that kitchen menu at.

BLOCK: Although her book would eventually sell more than 3 million copies, Peg Bracken told NPR it wasn't easy to get it published.

BRACKEN: Six male editors turned it down because they said that women regarded cooking as rather sacred. They didn't want to see it kicked around.

BLOCK: It took a female editor to understand the book's potential and it went to print. Peg Bracken lived to see the culinary pendulum swing the other way with gourmet cuisine and slow food gaining favor, but she never waivered from her belief that if you can't stand the cooking, you need to get out of the kitchen fast.

Peg Bracken, author of the complete "I Hate to Cook Book" died Saturday in Portland, Oregon at the age of 89.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.