I just discovered that Peg Bracken the woman who practically invented slapdash cookery passed on October 20, 2007. She had suffered from pulmonary fibrosis and was 89 when she died at her home in Portland Oregon.
Peg Bracken was the anti-Julia Child, and her philosophy of cooking was many ways the antithesis of almost every thing we self-serious cooks believe in. According to Margalit Fox writing in the NY Times (23 Oct. '07)
"In Ms. Bracken’s culinary canon, ingredients should be cheap, common and above all convenient, ideally frozen or tinned. Canned soups loomed large in her recipes. So did crushed cornflakes, powdered onion soup mix and Spam of the pre-electronic type. So did alcohol, though in many cases her instructions called for it to bypass the cooking process entirely and proceed straight down the cook’s throat."
Ms. Bracken was a trailblazer and helped to make it possible for other "guess what, cooking is easy" cooks like Graham Kerr and later Mark Bittman, Rachel Ray and many others to reap the rewards of the love-hate realtionship that so many Americans have with food and cooking.
I will never forget coming home from grammar school and flipping on the TV to watch "Superman" or "Officer Joe Bolton presents The Three Stooges" and seeing Ms. Bracken's deadpan visage and hearing her monotonous voice buzzing through the tiny speaker in our GE, B&W portable TV. Her introit was almost always the same
"Hi, my name's Peg Bracken and I hate to cook. That's why I wrote the 'I hate to Cookbook.'"
Sigh. Goodbye Peg, you were one of a kind.