Seventy-five years ago, a St. Louis widow named Irma 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.
Today, nine revisions later, the Joy of Cooking — selected by The New York Public Library as one of the 150 most important and influential books of the twentieth century — has taught tens of millions of people to cook, helped feed and delight millions beyond that, answered countless kitchen and food questions, and averted many a cooking crisis.
Ethan Becker, Marion’s son, leads the latest generation of JOY, still a family affair, into the twenty-first century with a 75th anniversary edition that draws upon the best of the past while keeping its eye on the way we cook now. It features a rediscovery of the witty, clear voices of Marion Becker and Irma Rombauer, whose first instructions to the cook were “stand facing the stove.”
JOY remains the greatest teaching cookbook ever written. Reference material gives cooks the precise information they need for success. New illustrations focus on techniques, including everything from knife skills to splitting cake layers, setting a table, and making tamales.
This edition also brings back the encyclopedic chapter Know Your Ingredients. The chapter that novices and pros alike have consulted for over thirty years has been revised, expanded, and banded, making it a book within a book. Cooking Methods shows cooks how to braise, steam, roast, sauté, and deep-fry effortlessly, while an all-new Nutrition chapter has the latest thinking on healthy eating — as well as a large dose of common sense.
This edition restores the personality of the book, reinstating popular elements such as the grab-bag Brunch, Lunch, and Supper chapter and chapters on frozen desserts, cocktails, beer and wine, canning, salting, smoking, jellies and preserves, pickles and relishes, and freezing foods. Fruit recipes bring these favorite ingredients into all courses of the meal, and there is a new grains chart. There are even recipes kids will enjoy making and eating, such as Chocolate Dipped Bananas, Dyed Easter Eggs, and the ever-popular Pizza.
In addition to hundreds of brand-new recipes, this JOY is filled with many recipes from all previous editions, retested and reinvented for today’s tastes.
This is the JOY for how we live now. Knowing that most cooks are sometimes in a hurry to make a meal, the JOY now has many new dishes ready in 30 minutes or less. Slow cooker recipes have been added for the first time, and Tuna Casserole made with canned cream of mushroom soup is back. This JOY shares how to save time without losing flavor by using quality convenience foods such as canned stocks and broths, beans, tomatoes, and soups, as well as a wide array of frozen ingredients. Cooking creatively with leftovers emphasizes ease and economy, and casseroles — those simple, satisfying, make-ahead, no-fuss dishes — abound. Especially important to busy households is a new section that teaches how to cook and freeze for a day and eat for a week, in an effort to eat more home-cooked meals, save money, and dine well.
As always, JOY grows with the times: this edition boasts an expanded Vegetables chapter, including instructions on how to cook vegetables in the microwave, and an expanded baking section, Irma’s passion — always considered a stand-alone bible within the JOY.
This all-new, all-purpose anniversary edition of the Joy of Cooking offers endless choice for virtually every occasion, situation, and need, from a 10-minute stir-fry on a weekday night to Baby Back Ribs and Grilled Corn in the backyard, or a towering Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting and Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream. JOY will show you the delicious way just as it has done for countless cooks before you.
Even after 75 years, the span of culinary information is breathtaking and covers everything from boiling eggs (there are two schools of thought) to showstopping, celebratory dishes such as Beef Wellington, Roast Turkey and Bread Stuffing, and Crown Roast of Pork.
Happy Anniversary, JOY!The much anticipated 75th anniversary edition of Irma Rombauer’s kitchen classic Joy of Cooking promises to be as indispensable as past editions of this generational favorite. In addition to hundreds of brand-new recipes, this Joy is filled with many recipes from all previous editions, retested and reinvented for today’s tastes.
Take the new Joy for a test-run in the kitchen with these featured recipes for Roast Brined Turkey and Apple Pie, and watch a video demonstration for their recipe for 10-in-One Cookies. And read on for celebrity chef “Odes to Joy,” Joy timeline, and Joy trivia.
Odes to Joy
I started cooking out of an early edition of Joy when I was only 7 years old. I remember making a basic chocolate cake with 7-minute frosting. The cake turned out fine, but the frosting resembled gruel and was my introduction to the importance of following a recipe to the letter. Evidently my lack of patience and precision had led me astray. But after that first brush with culinary failure, Joy led me to many, many successes over the years; more to the point, I became enamored of Ms. Rombauer’s voice, the matter-of-fact charm that led her to suggest “stand facing the stove” as a sensible first step in any recipe.
The amateur but highly evolved enthusiasm that Irma Rombauer brought to the world of home cooking was a breath of fresh air after the slightly earlier era of culinary dowagers Fannie Farmer, Mrs. Beaton, and Marion Harland. To those pillars of culinary wisdom, recipes were shorthand for cooks who had spent a lifetime in the kitchen. A pie pastry recipe might be written as “make a paste.” But Ms. Rombauer was there to hold our hands, to put food in a social context and give it attitude, energy, and meaning in a world where food was leaping past the narrow formality of the Victorian age.
For all of our worldly knowledge about ingredients and culinary custom, few cookbook authors have managed to perfectly capture, without artifice or self-conscious chatter, the vernacular of an age. Irma Rombauer introduced us to a room in our home–the kitchen–that was to become a place of enjoyment, not just one of backbreaking labor. She represented the essence of the new American experience, which suggested that everything in life could be transformed into pleasure with nothing more than the proper attitude. And what better way to celebrate this new age than to have a smashing cocktail party with the perfect hors d’oeuvres?
The original Joy of Cooking was mind over matter, the perfect mix of attitude and function. Even as times have changed, the Joy stands out as a watershed volume, a book that speaks to the very heart of who we want to be in the kitchen: producers of our own story, directors of the good American life.
And, according to Ms. Rombauer, all we have to do is take that first easy step and “stand facing the stove.” –Christopher Kimball, founder and editor of Cook’s Illustrated
“I’m often asked to pick my favorite cookbook. Considering that there are over 3,000 cookbooks published each year, it’s a daunting task to try to narrow them down. Speaking as a chef who never went to cooking school, I’ve been enthralled by certain cookbooks, immersing myself from cover to cover and learning about exotic cuisines from all over the world. But for just plain basic information, both the original and revised Joy of Cooking are still my bibles. I can’t tell you how many times my wife Jackie and I have thumbed through the stained and broken-backed copy of Joy in our home kitchen, looking for our favorite angel food cake recipe, our favorite skillet corn bread, our favorite fluffy biscuits, and crisp waffles, and on and on. It’s tough to picture my family table–or, in fact, the American table–without a well-worn copy of Joy of Cooking in the background.” ” –Tom Douglas, author of I Love Crab Cakes!
“I highly recommend this book as a must-have in your kitchen. Chock full of great information, this book takes all of the guess work out and leaves no stone unturned.” –Paula Deen, author of Paula Deen Celebrates!
“In our kitchen, Joy of Cooking is a tool as indispensable as the chef’s knife, the scale, the whisk. We actually own two copies–a shelf-copy for reading, and one whose sauce-splattered, dog-eared pages bear witness to just how much joy we get from Joy.” ” –Matt Lee and Ted Lee, authors of The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook
“Joy of Cooking is the ultimate reference guide that I have been using for years. It’s timeless and packed with perfect recipes for the home cook that stands up to the test of time.” –Tyler Florence, author of Tyler’s Ultimate
“Joy of Cooking is a book I turn to whenever I have a question about food or cooking. The new edition is the combined effort of some of the best cooks writing today; I know I can trust its information. And trust is, to my mind, the essential quality of all great cookbooks.” –Sally Schneider, author of The Improvisational Cook
“When Andrew first contemplated becoming a chef in the 1980s, he asked two Boston chefs of his acquaintance what books he should read. Each independently recommended Joy of Cooking as THE classic with reliable recipes for just about everything. (The second chef urged him to look for an early copy for the sheer entertainment value of reading how to cook a possum.) A decade later, when we interviewed 60 of America’s leading chefs for our first book Becoming a Chef, we asked them the same question–and again Joy was one of their five most recommended books. In fact, we recommend buying two copies, like we did: we keep our chocolate-smudged copy of Joy in our kitchen, and a reading copy on our bookshelves.” –Andrew Dorenburg and Karen Page, authors of What to Drink with What You Eat
“Our Joy of Cooking is dog-eared, flour dusted, chocolate smudged, oil spattered, and easily the most used cookbook on the shelf. The staggering amount of information in the book taught us the basics when we were in our teens and has informed our cooking for the decades since. We wish we had written it!” –Johanne Killeen and George Germon, authors of On Top of Spaghetti
“I received a copy of Joy of Cooking in my late teens. I have treasured the cookbook ever since and still use it frequently as a reference. In the late 80’s I was asked to represent American Cooking in Italy. I cooked all over the country for 2 months. The only book I took was Joy of Cooking. When ingredients that I had ordered did not show up and I had to totally wing it, I used this book to get me out of a few jams–like what the proportions are to make your own baking powder! If I could have only one cookbook–other than my own of course!–it would be Joy of Cooking–-as it is the bible of American cooking” –Kathy Casey, author of Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table
“I have purchased Joy of Cooking for all my restaurant libraries as well as my own. The recipes always work–always–and the informational chapters are accurate, to the point, and incredibly helpful–couldn’t live with out it!!” –Cindy Pawlcyn, author of Big Small Plates
A Brief History ofJoy
• 1930: The United States stock market crashes creating the great depression.
• 1931: Irma Rombauer takes $3,000, the modest legacy her husband leaves at his death, and she self-publishes the first Joy of Cooking. She is 54 years old.
• 1932: Irma tries to sell her book to a commercial publisher, Bobbs-Merrill of Indianapolis, IN, and is rejected.
• 1933: Prohibition is repealed and Adolf Hilter becomes to Chancellor of Germany.
• 1935: Bobbs-Merrill receives another submission of the Joy of Cooking from Irma. This version is not the self-published book but a revision, typed and bound in 15 notebook binders.
• 1936: March 26 is the publication date for the first commercial Joy of Cooking. The first print run is 10,000 copies and the book costs $2.50.
• 1937: The Golden Gate Bridge is completed in San Francisco and Gone with the Wind, a Scribner book, wins the Pulitzer Prize.
• 1939: Bobbs-Merrill publishes Irma Rombauer’s book Streamlined Cooking, a cookbook dedicated to convenience foods. The book is not a commercial success.
• 1940: Freeze-drying is invented.
• 1941: Pearl Harbor is attacked and America enters World War II.
• 1943: The bestselling “wartime” edition of Joy of Cooking is published which includes how to creatively deal with the food rationing during World War II.
• 1946: A “post-war” edition is printed with very few changes.
• 1947: The microwave oven is invented.
• 1951: Marion Rombauer Becker joins her mother Irma as co-author of this edition.
• 1955: Gunsmoke debuts on CBS.
• 1961: John F. Kennedy is inaugurated as the President of the United States.
• 1962: Irma Rombauer dies in her native St. Louis. The sixth edition of Joy of Cooking is published.
• 1963: The French Chef with Julia Child debuts on public television.
• 1969: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first to walk on the moon.
• 1970: The Beatles break up.
• 1974: President Nixon resigns and Stephen King’s Carrie is published.
• 1975: The first–and last–edition of Joy of Cooking that is completely Marion Rombauer Becker’s work is published.
• 1979: Margaret Thatcher becomes the Prime Minister of Great Britain.
• 1980: The median household income in the United States is $19,074 and it seems the entire country is playing PacMan.
• 1981: The first genetically engineer plant–the Flavr Savr tomato–is approved for sale.
• 1984: Coca-Cola changes its 99-year-old formula and launches New Coke.
• 1990: East and West Germany unite.
• 1997: After a more than a two decade hiatus, the eighth edition of Joy of Cooking is published by Scribner with Ethan, Marion’s son, at the helm.
• 2006: A new edition of Joy of Cooking, based on the writing and structure of the 1975 edition, is published to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Irma Rombauer’s self-published cookbook.
• For the 75th anniversary edition, 4,500 recipes were tested that used a total of 400 pounds of butter, 300 quarts of milk, 485 pounds of red meat, and 275 pounds of fish and shellfish.
• The average age of a recipe tester working on the 75th anniversary edition was 46.7 years.
• Recipe testers spend 8,798 hours testing recipes and techniques for the latest edition.
• The knife was the first cutlery invented, followed by the spoon, and, much later, the fork (11th century A.D.).
• Caffeine is the most widely used behavior-changing chemical ingested worldwide.
• Eating cheese slows the decay of teeth.
• A light coating of oil speeds cooking and improves flavor of most grilled foods.
• Some of the most requested recipes from past Joy of Cooking editions include Chicken Marengo, Chocolate Cake (also known as the “Rombauer Special”), and Golden Glow Gelatin Salad.
• Ice is considered one of the most important ingredients in making drinks.
• Popsicles, baby back ribs, smoothies, and power bars are just a few of the recipes making their debut in the 2006 anniversary edition.
• The 2006 Joy of Cooking has instructions on using natural ingredients to color Easter eggs: beets for pink; chopped red cabbage for blue; tumeric for yellow; and the skins of 12 red onions for orange to burnt orange.
• Slow cooker recipes are included in the 2006 Joy for the first time.