World Chefs: Harper helps those who don't find cooking a joy

Tue Jan 18, 2011 5:02am EST
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Jessica Harper is an actress, writer, singer, songwriter and now the author of a new cookbook for people who don't always experience the joy of cooking.

With more than 100 simple recipes as well as comical recollections of the frustrations of cooking several times a day for a picky, not always appreciative family of four for 20 years, Harper's "The Crabby Cook Cookbook" is a type of survival guide for anyone who has to feed a family with different likes, dislikes and dietary requirements.

She spoke to Reuters about why she wrote the book, the realization that she was not the only crabby cook and how to survive H.A.S. or Hostess Anxiety Syndrome.

Q: What made you write the book?

A: "One day my sister and I were emailing each other commiserating about the fact that we were both about to make dinner for the 1,000th time for our picky families and I had just discovered a new easy casserole that miraculously all my family would eat.

"So I emailed her the recipe but I used language like 'you hurl the stinking broccoli into the dish and you rip the flesh from the chicken and dump it in.' I admit I may have also used a few words that won't be printable. But as soon as I finished writing it I had this idea and my sister had it simultaneously. She wrote me back and said 'You know you should write a book like that.' And I said, "Yeah, a crabby cookbook for people who don't always experience the joy of cooking."

Q: You are certainly taking a different approach from Julia Childs and most other authors of cookbooks, so how would you describe it?

A: "There are 135 recipes that are easy enough and crowd-pleasing enough to get anybody through the day and hopefully much longer than that. And at least half of the book consists of stories about family feeding, which hopefully people will find amusing enough so on a night when they are not cooking they will be reading the book, in the unlikely event that they will ever have such a night."   Continued...