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4.7 out of 5 stars
Joy of Cooking
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253 of 257 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2007
I love the new edition. Love, love, love it! When it arrived, I sat down and started reading it. This will sound silly, but I actually CRIED because it was so fantastic and brought back so many good memories.

I have used the 1975 edition since I started to cook. It was the first book I would turn to when I wanted to see the "standard" recipe for anything. I loved the friendly tone and always found the recipes reliable, producing consistently tasty results. Its only weakness was that it had become a bit dated, in terms of modern tastes and food trends.

I was excited when a new edition of Joy was released in 1997. It turned out to be a total disaster. Among other things, it lacked recipes for pickling and canning, ice cream and lots of other American standards. Additionally, the 1997 edition eliminated the friendly tone and instructions I had come to love. Worst of all, the recipes were not reliable. I made a few really bad dishes from it before I stopped using it almost completely. Its only strength was in its updated instructions for cooking meat, fish and poultry.

This new edition is a tremendous achievement. It keeps the down-to-earth tone of the older editions while providing a perfect selection of old favorites and new (primarily ethnic) dishes that are widely eaten in the US. The ice cream and pickling/canning sections are restored. It's actually an improvement on the 1976 edition, and that's saying something!

I love this edition. I'm throwing out the 1997 edition and eventually I may even part with my old 1975 copy, though it has tremendous nostalgia value for me.
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432 of 454 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2006
This edition of the classic work has all of the charm of the previous volumes but has a number of errors. The Simon and Schuster web site notes a number of "revised" recipes. For instance, one problem highlighted on the discussion board is that the pancakes need 1 3/4 teaspoons of baking powder not 1 3/4 tablespoons.

My first dish out of the new edition turned up a glaring omission. The Chicken Papirikas recipe didn't mention the stock that obviously was needed. I knew to put it in but novices might not.

I'm delighted that we have a new volume to work with but I hope that the publisher will issue a more accurate version soon.
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151 of 157 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2007
The day I found out my grandmother was dying was the day I got this book.

She was sick and I was 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 into fourths) hanging out in the pot and just 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" cookbook.

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.

In the years that have followed (quite a few of them too) I have used this book to learn how to cook. I love their instructions for cooking beets, steaming artichokes, roasting lamb, pork chops, pork tenderloins, chocolate cake, great pie crusts ... the list goes on and on.

For anyone learning how to cook / wanting to cook or needing another great book - I highly recommend this and thank my grandmother for giving me great instructions on how to cook.
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132 of 141 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2006
I heard about this book long time ago but never was interested in getting one because I'm only interested in cookbooks with glossy pictures and fancy mouthwatering covers. While I was waiting for my car's rountine maintenance at Costco, I read it just to kill time there. I discovered that it was such a wonderful cookbook that I just got to buy it! I have about 100 cookbooks at home but this one is the best I ever bought. This book covers all kinds of dishes, and all cooking methods. They are easy to read and very illustrative. I think lots of recipes in other cookbooks are originated from this cookbook, or adapted from the ones in this cookbook. I think being the first comprehensive, illustrative and reliable cookbook in history, lots of cookbook authors referred to it when writing cookbooks of their own as time goes by. By reading this cook book, I can see Raychael Ray, Martha Stewart, and many other cooking moguls' recipes here. My suggestion is, buy this cookbook and you can toss away Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals and others. This books has all the recipes you want to cook exactly as it is or to adapt to create your own. This book is valuable in that it helps you build a very solid foundation and understanding in cooking, equipment and all kinds of food ingredients, like "fig" which the Chinese believe to have healing power on your acid damaged GI tract.... Now I can cook it like a tasty American dessert instead of the boring dull tasting Chinese herbal soup my mom taught me to make regularly to stay healthy. Like I say, with the cooking basics and all the wonderful recipes in Joy, I'm confident that I can create better recipes than Rachel Ray or Martha Steward. It's a cook book that is inspirational and helps everybody to discover new knowledge in cookery every time you refer to it! This is the cookbook that I'm definitely keeping and cherishing for the rest of my life ! I highly recommend this to everyone who wants to give a meaningful gift to the ones you care and love!
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95 of 103 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2006
I've never had the luxury of owning previous editions...but, after owning this one for only a short time, I know I'll never part with it. Fascinating book. Lots of great back-ground for the recipes, including the "whys" and "what-ifs." Sections include entertaining, table-setting, menu suggestions, 30-minute dinners, cook a day--eat for a week, and much more! The book is well-written and precise. Great illustrations. The variety of recipes is enough to satisfy the professional cook, but not intimidate the beginner! Definitely a book for all ages and skill levels!
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79 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2008
The infamous and unfortunate late 1990s "update" of this important classic took it in a trendy, low-fat, vaguely-Northern-Italian-accented direction -- and worse, removed so many of the key instructions and techniques that made the classic Joy the one all-purpose reference. A sad day indeed. Fortunately, a happier day followed when it was announced, after some uproar, that the 1975 revision -- the Last Good One -- would remain in print, and so it does to this very day. Do yourself a favor: Forget this unfortunate hodgepodge and go get the real thing, ISDN #0026045702, available in lovely durable timeless hardcover right here at Amazon.
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2008
I am an avid cook and have loved previous editions. This was my wedding gift and I was very excited.
The binding on my new edition began to split and fall apart within a couple months. They glued the edges of the paper to the binding in a way that I can't imagine lasting through the years as my mother's edition did. It's actually a loose stack of papers within the cover. Also, there are numerous recipe mistakes, more than are catalogued on their website. Some favorite recipes are gone.
They really rushed this one through the printers and I can't believe how much they're charging for it. My advice is to look for a used copy from the 70's or 80's
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2007
I bought the 1975 edition as my first cookbook after I was married in 1983. I am happy to report that the dust jacket is faded, yellowed, stained, and quite dirty; the spine of the book is cracked, and the pages are dog eared. I learned to cook with this book and still use it regularly. After all this time, I decided to upgrade to the new edition. It was so tempting - that bright white, clean, brand new cover was calling out to me. So I bought it and brought it home without showing it to my husband who uses it on the weekends to make his breakfast crepes, which are just like the ones his French Canadian mother made. I decided I would give my old book to a very good friend who lives in the city, doesn't really cook, and doesn't own a cookbook. I inscribed the front page to her (saying I hoped the book would inspire her to cook as it did for me) and then told my husband I had given it away. He said "Wait, that book has my crepes recipe". I said "Don't worry, that's such a basic recipe, they wouldn't have gotten rid of that". So I asked my friend to look and see if the recipe was still in the new book, and sure enough it was gone! How could they remove the "French Pancakes or Crepes" recipe?!

My husband said "We have to get that book back!" I said "No, I can't ask for it back, we'll just copy the recipe into the new book." So I asked my friend to bring the book over so we could copy the recipe into the new book.

Meanwhile, she had brought the book into work and had a good laugh with her co-workers going through the book, picking out recipes for meals that she would never make, and looking at the old illustrations. She pointed out the best illustration on page 515 on how to skin a squirrel. It's great! It shows disembodied gloved hands and a boot stomping on the tail and pulling the skin off in one fell swoop. We checked the new book and it's gone along with the crepes recipe!

Well that was it. We had to ask for the book back. I gave my friend the new edition, tore out the page that had my inscription to her on, and put the book back in it's place on my kitchen bookshelf. I will never give away my 1975 edition again!
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
The `New Cookbook, 14th Edition' from `Better Homes and Gardens' is a heavyweight contender for best `if you have to have only one cookbook...' title, weighing in against the perennial champion, `The Joy of Cooking', now at its 75th Anniversary edition. The first of these contenders has been my mother's favorite for at least the last 40 years, and her original copy is so beat up (thus the purchase of a new edition), I can't even see the publication date on its binder, where the covers have literally fallen off the spine.
Looking at the bare figures, `Joy' would seem to be a clear winner, with almost twice (1132 versus 656) the number of pages and almost three times (4000 versus 1400) the number of recipes. Going one step deeper and comparing the Tables of Contents, `Joy' has 39 chapters to `Better Homes' 23 chapters, meaning that `Joy' gives some topics a highlighted treatment missing from `Better Homes'. And yet, `Better Homes' has things going for it, especially considering the fact that there are millions of people such as my mother who have been going to it for so many years.
`Better Homes' most obvious attribute is its 3 ring binder style, which means that every page will lay perfectly flat AND one can easily remove any page and photocopy it on an inexpensive home multipurpose copier / scanner / printer. No small consideration compared to `Joy's' sewn signatures which are a bit awkward if you are looking at candies at the end of the book or appetizers near the front of the book. This virtue is diminished just a tad by the fact that the binding is a non-standard size, not carried by your local Staples. (I looked, to try to replace the binder laying on my workbench in three pieces!). Another virtue associated with this design is the tabbed dividers for each section. This makes browsing to look for a nice egg recipe much easier than in `Joy'. The next obvious virtue is its color pictures. This is not a clear win, since `Joy's line drawings of how to techniques are often superior to `Better Homes' static pics.
`Better Homes', after over 40 years on the bookshelves, primarily succeeds at the one thing every `general purpose' cookbook must do well. It has good recipes for virtually every basic, and most of the not so basic preparations the average home cook will want to do in the kitchen in the course of a year. The only stock recipes I could not find was one for Genoise and one for the en papillote cooking technique. Not only do both appear in `Joy', but the Rombauer / Becker clan gives us two different recipes under both rubrics! But, `Better Homes' still has things going for it!
Looking at the layout, writing, and selection of recipes in `Better Homes', I find much that I like. Many standard recipes are provided with well-written variations, and especially variations I am really interested in trying, such as the blueberry variations on pancakes and muffins. There are also many full-blown parallel recipes when there are several classic ways for making a basic dish, such as biscuits, both rolled and cut and drop biscuits. I am also fond of how most of the recipes are written. Few details are overlooked, yet the writing is crisp and no nonsense direct and to the point. The one thing which will most appeal to the average home cook is that the book makes a point of using only familiar ingredients certain to appear even on the smaller local supermarket shelves. On the other hand, there is little or no holdover from the dark days of 1950s cooking making heavy use of canned or dried ingredients. On the other hand, canned mushrooms, mushroom soup, and hydrogenated shortening are not missing entirely and more than once I found recipes where butter does better than Crisco.
The two things which most impressed me were the overall selection of recipes and the excellent introductory chapter on `Cooking Basics'. There is an entire library of cookbooks who try to give a good treatment of this subject, and end up giving us just a short chapter of filler to pad out their standard 250 pages. `Better Homes' does it right, as befitting its `be all things' ambitions. The recipe selection is broad enough to appeal to even the more adventuresome home cook, with its recipes for breads, homemade pasta, and homemade salad dressings. My problem with some of the more elaborate recipes is that the product is almost certain to be not as good as what you get from a commercial source. The cinnamon bun recipe, for example, is not nearly as good as my standard from `Baking with Julia'. I was also skeptical of it's hot cross buns recipe, a preparation which is remarkably difficult, as baked goods go. Remarkably, `Joy' passes on both these recipes, reinforcing my belief that for these specialties, one will be far better off going to a book specializing in baking for an authoritative recipe.
IF I were limited to a single cookbook, my personal choice between these two is `Joy of Cooking', simply because it's recipes are just as good as `Better Homes', and there is more of it. But, if your family tradition belongs to `Better Homes and Gardens', you will not be disappointed by their offering.
My final word on Joy is that I miss the notebook binding style, which made every page lay flat. Still a great book, however!
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2009
I had the 1997 version of The Joy of Cooking, which I used all the time. My biggest objection to that book was that the binding fell apart fairly soon after I bought it. Since the book was falling apart, I threw the old copy away after I bought what I thought was the new "improved" 2007 edition. So far, after using the new edition for a couple of months, all I can say is I wish I hadn't been so hasty to throw the older copy away. First of all, some of the recipes I often made, such as banana bread, are totally different and not nearly as good. Others, like an applesauce gingerbread are no longer in the book, and others, like a good recipe for sauteing summer squash also are different and not as useful. I had to get the older version of the book out the library to photocopy some of the other recipes that I miss.

Also, some of the pages of the book were ripped on the edges, and from some of the other reviews I can see that this may be a problem, due to the cheap construction of the book in general. I will probably, for the time being at least, continue to refer to the book, but with some trepidation. Besides worrying if the binding will once again fall apart or if the newer recipes will be any good, according to some previous reviewers, some of the recipes are riddled with errors--all in all not a good combination. I'm considering a better alternative might be buying an older edition of Joy of Cooking once again or an altogether different cookbook.
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