Customer Reviews: The Fannie Farmer Cookbook: Anniversary
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on December 4, 1999
I came to Amazon to buy the 13th edition hardcover , because my 12th edition paperback is completely worn out! The pages are torn, crumpled and stained with drips and spills, the cover is gone, and a few pages are loose from overuse and abuse of this cookbook. It is the most useful cookbook I own. I bought this book from a grocery store 15 years ago, and have bought many books since then, but Fannie is the one I go back to. No matter what you're looking for, no matter what your question is about food, measuring, equipment, temperatures--it's in this book. I did not know much about cooking when I first got married, and now I am proud to say I am considered an excellent cook. I learned so much from Fannie Farmer. There's no other book that gives this much information on cooking. I love to cook from scratch, and the recipes in this cookbook call for just that. It's basic, home-cooked food, but there are also elegant recipes just in case you need them. I've read this book so many times, I've memorized many recipes, because they really are the best around. Get this book. You will not be disappointed!
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on December 5, 1998
I've had consistent success with the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. The recipes and instructions include specific techniques and tips that ensure good results, yet they remain straightforward and concise. No fussy details that don't really contribute to the quality of the dish, unlike my experiences with The Joy of Cooking. I also appreciate Marion Cunningham's (and Fannie Farmer's) attitudes that if you're going to cook, you might as well make the effort to do it well, relax, and enjoy the process. This book has a clean design and is very tightly written and edited so that every sentence presents useful information.
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on September 11, 2001
Though I see there have been some negative reviews that this, latest edition of the "Fannie Farmer Cookbook," is not as "good" as the original, I have to say that the "original," published in the late nineteenth century as the "Boston Cooking School" cookbook, would hardly be especially useful today (recipes for squirrel anyone?). Fannie Farmer is synonymous with good, old-fashioned practical cooking--no nouvelle cuisine here--and the updated version simply keeps with the times, adding new techniques which take into account modern equipment and food mores (things like fat, cholesterol and sodium are taken into consider, but this isn't a diet cookbook).
All in all, the "Fanny Farmer Cookbook" is a super all-purpose cookbook, offering well-tested, simple recipes for just about any food you can think of. Alongside the classic "Betty Crocker Cookbook," the "Joy of Cooking" and something new from Martha Stewart (I like the "Martha Stewart Living Cookbook," which is a compilation of recipes from her magazine) and/or Cook's Illustrated (either "The Best Recipe" or the "Cook's Bible"), "The Fanny Farmer Cookbook" will create a perfectly balanced recipe collection for the experienced cook or novice baker.
On a final note, I'd recommend the hardcover edition, as the softcover model I saw in a bookstore was not very sturdy. Cookbooks get a lot of use and abuse, so I'd recommend spending a bit extra to get a the hardcover edition.
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on March 7, 2005
I have been cooking for family and friends for over thirty years; I owned my own successful catering business for a time, and I own over 150 cookbooks. Cooking is therapy for me, and nothing pleases me more than to have someone who enjoys a dish I've made ask me for the recipe. Having said that, I feel qualified to make some complaints about the "Fannie Farmer Cookbook: Anniversary."

For the most part, I agree with editor Marion Cunningham's attitudes about food and cooking, that taste and nutrition are paramount, and sometimes less is more. Many people overseason their cooking, or combine incompatible ingredients. Cunningham is firmly against that, and so am I. I'm also a firm believer in making a new recipe exactly as directed the first time, and if you decide to make it again, then make any alterations or substitutions you think appropriate.

There are many rewards in this perennially popular, omnibus cookbook. (By the way, I can find absolutely no difference between the "Anniversary" edition and the previous one, published in 1996, except the cover art.) Whatever recent edition you may have, I consider these dishes to be outstanding, and they are part of my culinary repertoire: Red Snapper San Felipe, Eggplant-Zucchini Appetizer, Savory Casserole of Chicken, Scrambled Eggs Bourget, Buttermilk Pralines, Pasta with Zucchini, Chinese Chicken in Lettuce Leaves, Green Chili Pie and Vegetarian Baked Beans.

However, two recipes in the Poultry chapter are cause for concern, in my opinion. I don't believe the cooking times for either Sauteed Chicken Breasts (p. 240) or Chicken Parmesan (p. 241) are long enough for the chicken to be safe to eat. Three minutes per side for chicken pieces that are not pounded flat just isn't going to cut it. Common sense, however, should enable most cooks to succeed with those two recipes.

Candymaking is a different story. But since Cunningham is also the editor of the Fannie Farmer Baking Cookbook, I felt comfortable re-learning some of these old candymaking techniques from her. Confections are difficult to make: measurements and times must be exact. An accurate candy thermometer is essential, and the humidity in your kitchen must be low in order to achieve a successful product. At Christmas every year, I spend hours in the kitchen making homemade confections for gift-giving. 2004 was no exception, and I had all the ingredients and materials at hand. Yet, when I made the Toffee on page 752, it was a complete failure. The butter and sugar never emulsified. I tried several old-fashioned techniques to mend the "broken" syrup, but to no avail. Of course, I thought it was my fault the first time this happened, so I tried again. Same story. It made me sick to have to throw away two pounds of butter.

I have made fondant many times, but had not done so for years until this past Christmas. My notes in the margin of the Basic Fondant recipe on page 755, dated 11/30/04: "Follow directions TO THE LETTER. Time everything. Even so, be prepared for heartbreak."

I'm not sure what the problem is in this chapter. Cunningham's ranges for the various candy-making stages seem different than those in some of my other cookbooks. I wound up printing some candy recipes off a recipe website where the contributors are regular people like you and me. The toffee and fondant recipes I found there worked perfectly.

So, I make these comments not because I have nothing better to do than complain, but to pass on words to the wise. Sometimes I think that the Farmer book is too large. It tries to do everything and therefore is less successful in some areas than others. Some restaurants are like that, too.
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on January 10, 2000
I'm 25 and my mother has had her 11th Edition Fanny Farmer Cookbook since before I was born. The pages are falling out and the covers are taped to the binding. Holiday after holiday, this is the only cookbook my mother refers to and my mother is famous for her good cooking. Some say the recipes in here are bland. Listen, if you want to learn how to really cook as though you've been cooking all your life, this is the only cookbook that will teach you! There are basic recipes for poultry, meats, breads, deserts, all from scratch. The recipes are all simple, easy, and delicious. The best part is, once you've learned those basics, it's no time before you start adding your own flavor to make your own recipes. It's perfect for those who can't cook and for those who can because you always need the basics. I just brought one for me and one for my mom. Now I finally have my own Fannie Farmer Cookbook and my mother can finally retire her old one.
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on March 15, 2000
I first received the paperback edition of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook for Christmas, and found it to be extraordinary in the realm of cookbooks. The recipes are simple, with excellent explanations and plenty of additional resources. I have been able to count on finding a recipe I can make without running to the store for extra ingredients, and they've always come out excellently. I wasn't sad when my paperback copy fell apart and I had reason to purchase the larger hardback edition. Not only is it easier to read and stays open more easily than the paperback, but the already good organization and layout is enhanced by the additional space on the pages, as well as the additional colors used for pictures and emphasis. Could something as good as the Fannie Farmer Cookbook get even better? It certainly has in this hardcover edition!
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on March 12, 2002
I first discovered the FANNIE FARMER COOKBOOK when I was 6 years old in my very own mother had (perhaps?) the original.....Brown hardcover with the Distinctive script writing on the cover. Needless to say, this book was very well used and referenced; and it is now on its last leg......cover now practically off the binder, nearly all of the pages soiled and/or torn. When I moved out of the family home and on my own into the Washington, DC area (my mother, unfortunately, has now been deceased for 6 years), among my first items to get was my very own FANNIE FARMER COOKBOOK. None of the bookstores - not even [local retailer] - had it. When I was looking on one day, I saw this version and, again, needless to say, I snapped up a copy immediately. This version is every bit as good as the original - filled with basic cooking suggestions, equivalent measuring techniques, siggestive items, and basic, easy to follow instructions. For the millenium, I was delighted to see recipes for vegetarian and diet conscious food items with the food flavor basically kept intact BUT without the added fat. A perfect equivalent is Fannie Farmer's THE 1896 BOSTON COOKING SCHOOL COOKBOOK (which is also sold here at and which I also have and review on this site). Both are MUST have staples for any kitchen in any household......whether you are single (as me), a married couple, or a family of 10.
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on March 13, 2001
This book is a must in every kitchen. I consider myself to be a fairly accomplished cook, and I'm not afraid to try new and complicated recipes in the latest cookbooks. Fannie Farmer, however, is my *ANCHOR* cookbook. I always go back to this cookbook when I'm thinking of modifying or combining other recipes, because Fannie is packed with basic tips and procedures for making sauces, roasting, baking, proofing dough, and so on. This book will tell you the best way to bake a potato, roast chestnuts, and roll out pie-crust. It offers lots of variations, substitutions, and so on for 1000's of recipes that constitute the basics of today's American cooking (including the influence of world cuisines). I've given this cookbook to several younger friends as bridal shower gifts. It's the best start to your kitchen library!
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on February 24, 2007
I'm 72 years of age; I've had Fannie Farmer cookbooks since I was a young bride. My last one is now in pieces, and I bought this book with enthusiasm to recapture some of those recipes and good food information I've enjoyed over the years. I haven't gone completely through the book yet, but here are some comments, if they haven't been duplicated by other readers.

Some recipe titles are in gold print, which SEEMS to suggest a new recipe; but the recipes treated this way don't look all that innovative.

The illustrations are all in GOLD print! Faint, and not very illustrative. Some of the illustrations show outmoded items. There's a picture of an old-fashioned flat-iron being used as a weight. Not too many of those around my house anymore!

Indexing and organization are VERY important in a cookbook. The Index should be cross-indexed to make finding a recipe easy, whether one is looking for the name of recipe, general type of dish, general ingredients, etc. This index is not easy to read; it runs on: sub-categories are not clearly set off, and there is no top-of-page indication of where you are: paging through it, it's not clear what general heading one is on.

I'm finding some glib references in the recipes. This morning, I saw a recipe which called for "fillets of beef." I have never seen, "fillets of beef" as a cut in my meat department. The faint diagram of a beef carcass doesn't show where she thinks the "fillets" are. If she means, "filet mignon" or tenderloin, she hasn't made that distinction, and if she just means, "boneless strips of beef," maybe that would have been clearer, and perhaps a suggestion of boneless strips of just what cut of beef. At one recipe she says, "this recipe is an exception to the rule of not adding seasoning before cooking" intrigued by that, I went back and found she also says, "always salt the meat before cooking."

I don't think this is the best basic book for a new cook, and the first Fannie Farmer cookbook I had definitely was a book which took a cook from basics to more complicated cooking.

I'll keep the book, but I wish I'd gone to a bookstore where I'd have had a chance to page through this and the other editions available.
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on May 9, 2014
My wife received her first copy (paperback) as a teenager so I married that book when I married my wife. 25 years later the old paperback just wasn't holding up anymore. So I thought it would be a great gift. She loves the book and I use it quite a bit, kind of like cooking for dummies, you won't regret buying it. I wouldn't advise buying as a anniversary gift however!! :)
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