The Time Life Good Cook Series

A couple of years ago my friend Elizabeth Abbott turned me on to Time Life’s cook book series from the late 70s, The Good Cook series. Elizabeth’s mother Maria is a fabulous cook. As I was constantly bugging both of them for cooking tips, Elizabeth remarked, “what you need is the Time Life Good Cook series!.” This series was produced by Time Life books around 1978-1980. There is a separate book for poultry, beef & veal, lamb, pork, vegetables, fish, eggs & cheese, wine, breads, pasta, soups, salads, shellfish, sauces, cakes among many others. I have five of the books and pick them up whenever I see one at a used book sale. They’ve been out of print for ages, and many of the recipes are clearly artery cloggers (no holding back on the fat here!) but they have detailed instructions that are hard to find in more recent cookbooks. Here’s an illustration from the Poultry book:

hanging_fowl.jpg

View closeup of book page of hanging fowl.

Have you ever seen anything like that in cookbook sold these days?

The books are out of print but can be found on ebay or at thrift stores usually for just a few dollars each, a bargain considering the instructional content.

61 Comments

  1. Emile Auld

    Hi Elise,

    I totally agree with you about how great The Time Life Good Cook book series is.

    Like you, I’ve picked up these books in second hand bookshops, usually in the Oxfam Charity Shops, which sell stuff that people have donated.

    The series editor is Richard Olney, so that speaks volumes about the quality of the books.

    I picked up the Pork one by accident, and was impressed by the way that it described cooking techniques, instead of just giving you recipes.

    I just picked up another 8 books in the series.

    If I find any more, I’ll get them.

    For anybody interested in cooking, I think they give you a depth of knowledge about food, that is definitely worth having.

    Sure, in some of the recipes, you may need to tone down the saturated fat, but the underlying techiniques are the same, whether you cook with a lot of fat or not.

    I’d recommend these books to anybody who’s seriously interested in cooking.

  2. Denise Williams

    I bought the Good Cook series back in 1979 when they were first offered from Time-Life. These books and my Mom, made me the great cook I am today!!. Does anyone know how many books are in the complete series? What all the titles are? Thanks for the info.

  3. Peter Large

    I have collected 24 in the series, some in UK and some in USA. There are two books I have, Snacks & Canapes (UK) and Snacks and Sandwiches (USA). They are different but they both have some parts the same. In addition I have Beef & Veal, Biscuits, Breads, Cakes & Pastries, Confectionary, Desserts, Eggs & Cheese, Fish & Shellfish, Fruits, Game, Grains,Pasta & Pulses, Hot Hor D’Ouvres, Lamb, Offal, Outdoor Cooking, Patisserie, Pork, Poultry, Salads, Sauces, Soups, Vegetables. I would like to know if there are any more printed in addition to those above. As an Englisman living in the heart of France I find them invaluable for the many different ingredients available here and in the UK.

  4. Bikram

    I’ve also discovered a time life series on cuisines which have recipes in them. Also unfortunately out of print. Waiting for an uncle to pass it on to me when he goes up!

  5. Jess

    I picked up my first book, Fish, at a used book store for a buck. I love fish and I think it was the first cook-book I ever bought too. I love this book. It’s so nostalic looking & it has a lot of basics that a cook needs to know about the subject. I just picked up Beef the other day at a thrift store and now I’m scouring the internet for good deals on the other ones that I want. Sauces is expensive, it must be in demand!

    Love this series.

  6. V. Northington

    Can someone with the Time Life Good Cook Series please post the recipe for Vanilla Cream Bread from the Bread book? My entire series is buried in the garage with dozens of other unmarked boxes from our move.

    Thanks!

  7. Jan

    Here’s your vanilla cream bread recipe!
    to make one 9X5″ loaf:
    2 1/2 C. flour sifted with 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    2 larges eggs, the yolks separated from the whites
    2/3 C. heavy cream
    2 Tbsp sugar
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    2/3 C. milk
    1/4 tsp salt
    In a large bowl, beat the the egg yolks with the cream, sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Beat the egg whites until very stiff. Sift the flour and salt into the egg-yolk mixture, add the beaten eggs whites and carefully fold all of the ingredients together until evenly mixed. Spoon the mixture into a buttered 9×5″ loaf pan. Bake on the upper shelf of a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until the loaf is well risen and firm to the touch. Serve hot.

  8. Mark

    They ran an article in the Oregonian last week.
    The Good Cook Series has a total of 28 volumes.
    I am still compiling a list of the titles as I find them.

  9. Debbie

    Here are all the books in the series:

    Beef and Veal
    Beverages
    Breads
    Cakes
    Candy
    Classic Desserts
    Cookies and Crakers
    Dried Beans and Grains
    Eggs and Cheese
    Fish
    Fruits
    Hors d’Oeuveres
    Lamb
    Outdoor Cooking
    Pasta
    Pies and Pastries
    Pork
    Poultry
    Preserving
    Salads
    Sauces
    Shellfish
    Snacks and Sandwhiches
    Soups
    Terrines, Pates, and Galantines
    Variet meats
    Vegetables
    Wine

    I know all of these cause I just bid on a set of them on E-bay………

  10. Rick Lovell

    How wonderful to see this after all these years. I am the illustrator who did the hanging poultry illustration as well as many of the other illustrations in this series.
    I graduated from art school in 1977, and this series was the first major collection of illustrations I did as a professional. I stumbled across this post and am tickled to see that so many cooks found the books helpful, and even liked the artwork!

    Hi Rick, Is the Internet cool or what? Thanks so much for stopping by and saying hello. These illustrations of yours are one of the things that make this series so charming. Thank you! ~Elise

  11. Yvonne Davis

    Hi, I bought the full series of books in the early eighties (or to be more precise my hubby bought them for me). Since I gave up catering in 1999 they have just been in a box in the spare room. I am about to advertise them on e bay and stumbled across this site while researching before posting on e bay. I found the books useful when I worked in catering and am glad there still seems to be so much interest in them

  12. lori lukenbill

    I first saw one of these books at a friends house several years ago. I since have managed to find and purchase 14 of them.

    They are excellent especially if you want to try some new proceure…all the instructions and pictures are right there.

    Great gift for a new cook or one who wants to have a little more adventure in their kitchen!

  13. Tanya van Graas

    I was wondering if anyone knows what extra charts came with the books, as I have the herb and the wine charts.

  14. Jim Egeland

    I think I have the complete set (28) so I checked and found no other charts. I didn’t come across an herb chart and I found no book that contained a herb chart so maybe I am a book or two short. Does anyone know how many there were? I got one a month for over two years (1980-82) for about $15 each. Quite a collection. I wish I used them more but they seem to be more like a set of encyclopedias…look good on the shelf but rarely used. LOL Jim

  15. Tanya van Graas

    I have now found out that there were only the two charts that came with the books.
    The Herb Chart was only in the 1978 and 1979 Poultry book. I am not to sure as to what editions the wine chart was included in but I have a first edition 1979.
    There are 28 English books and 27 US books they are similer but different series.

  16. Febs

    My dear Aunt had 7-8 books from the series. When she moved to live nearby in late 1980s, I often borrowed her books, and before long, all her Good Cook Series were in my house. I loved the basic and simple recipes.

    Unfortunately, she and her husband died on a plane crash in 1997. She was only 42.

    Funny thing was, although we both loved to cook, we never tried any recipe from the books together. I always regret it.

    I still have all her books, like inherited it. Now, every time I tried a recipe from one of the books, or just going through them for inspiration, I always think of her.

  17. Brenda

    This series is one of my two favorites…I was lucky enough to get the full set from an estate sale about 4 years ago (My Dad happened upon them for $10. The biggest bargain ever.) I must admit I haven’t cooked too many recipes from them, but I refer to the books constantly for technique, or just for good reading. If I were ever forced to cut my bookcase to one shelf, it would be these, an old Joy of Cooking, and Vincent Price’s A Treasury of Great Recipes. I’m glad to see so many people out there who love the books as much as I do.

  18. Andrea - Pensacola, FL

    I used to love to cook from those books! I’ve been lookng for certain recipes via the ‘net, with no luck. I lost my set in a divorce — sure would like to find another one! Anybody got a Vegetables book? I’d love to see if my favorite cauliflower recipe is in it. Can’t really remember the titles of the recipes anymore (been over 7 years…)

    E-mail me if you are willing to look something up for me — andreaj13 AT cox [dot} net.

    I’m really only interested in a couple of recipes out of it… one has fresh grated beets (Russian Beets?) and the other one had cauliflower and whole garlic cloves… and you fried it in olive oil or something (no breading!)

    Any help would be appreciated! Maybe I’ll find a set one day and buy it again!

  19. George

    I have this set and they are excellent for techniques as well as recipes. I also have and use “The Southern Heritage” cookbook set from Oxmoor House (Southern Living). Like the Time Life set they are out of print but can be found on ebay and other internet sites. I recommend this set for their recipes and nostalgic Illustrations.

  20. Brenda

    This is my favorite series of cookbooks. I’m confused about the “Outdoor Cooking” book though….On e-bay I have seen the “Outdoor Cooking” cover with the turkey on it many times. But it looks like there is another “Outdoor Cooking” with a different cover (kebabs on the grill). Can someone out there help me….Are these two the same book but just with different covers? Thanks to anyone who can shed some light on this for me!

  21. Mike Knowlton

    I have the sets of Time-life books in my heap for sale. Mom left them in my care with instruction to sell them and raise enough to keep her in hair care and other sundries when she went into a nursing facility. I still have no clear idea of the price a complete set should get her so I am reluctant to sell the sets. Any ideas out there? I am not a true Web-head so E-Bay intimidates too much.

  22. Susan Lewis

    You can find all of these books at Amazon Marketplace. I am re-collecting, as my original set was lost over the years, having moved many times. The Poultry book, pictured above, is my “Bird Bible”, I absolutely cannot live without it. It was the first one I replaced.
    They are all useful, relevant, and special. The series does pre-date the “Food Police” and the “Convenience Revoultion” If you’re not into cooking for the joy of it, skip these.

  23. Lisa Hopes

    I am so excited I found the whole set on ebay…all 28…so I bought them. I have been wanting this set for a long time. I can hardly wait to receive them and get cook’n

  24. Colleen

    My husband would be absolutely tickled if he could get the recipe for “beef vindaloo” featured in the beef & veal book. We moved to Mexico & had to part with our collection! Big mistake!

  25. Baker

    I just stumbled across this site while looking for info on Time-Life books. Does anyone know if there’s a complete list of the UK edition of The Good Cook? I’m missing only one of the US edition(Dried Beans and Grains) but am intrigued by the titles I’ve found(but not seen) of some of the UK volumes. I presume “Biscuits” would be “Cookies and Crackers” to us Americans. But what’s Offal, or what is Pulses?(As in Grain, Pasta, Pulses)

    And to reply to Colleen, I have the beef book, if I see you reply again here I’ll type that recipe up for you.

    And BTW, Elise, this place is great!

  26. Colleen

    Hi Baker – yes I check in every week or so to see if anyone was able to locate the “beef vindaloo” recipe – I would love it if you could post the recipe – thanks so much in advance!

  27. june ryan

    Hi Baker, offal is the english word that describes stuff like liver, kidneys and heart.
    Pulses are dried beans, peas and lentils(eg all dried legumes)
    I have 26 of the titles and love the technique part of the books and I would love to know what all the English titles are.

  28. june ryan

    Hi, It’s me again. Since I posted my last comment I recounted my collection and find that I have got 27 vols not 26. I have been doing some hunting on the web and discovered a further volume in the series called The Well Equipped Kitchen. However this volume is not uniform with the others as it only has 48 pages. I’m wondering if this the elusive title I’m searching for?
    Here is a list of the 27 vols of the English edition that I have on my shelf. Note that Offal has the same cover as the US Various Meats book.
    Beef and Veal
    Beverages
    Biscuits
    Breads
    Cakes and Pastries
    Confectionery
    Desserts
    Eggs and Cheese
    Fish and Shellfish
    Fruits Game
    Grains, Pasta and Pulses
    Hot Hors d’Oeuveres
    Lamb
    Offal
    Outdoor Cooking
    Patisserie
    Pork
    Poultry
    Preserving
    Salads and Cold Hors d’Oeuveres
    Sauces
    Snacks and Canapés
    Soups
    Terrines, Pates, and Galantines
    Vegetables
    Wine

  29. Zoe

    I’ve just bought 13 volumes from eBay here (in Australia) and am now searching to complete the set – the technique information is fantastic. And I got the Beef one in my haul, so I hope you do keep checking back Colleen; I’ll give the US measurements:

    Beef Vindaloo

    1 pound stewing beef cut in serving pieces
    1/2 tbsp ground coriander (cilantro)
    1/2 tsp each ground cumin, mustard seed, chili
    1 tsp ground tumeric
    1/4 tsp ground black pepper, ground ginger

    wine vinegar (doesn’t give a quantity; you’ll need enough to make a thick paste with the spices)
    1 large onion, sliced
    2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
    2 fresh or picked green chili peppers, finely chopped
    2 oz ghee or other fat
    salt
    lemon juice

    Mix spices into a paste with vinegar. Lightly fry onion, garlic and chilies in ghee for 3 to 4 minutes. Add spice paste and cook for 3-4 minutes longer. Add meat, cover pan and cook for at least 2 1/2 hours. Add just enough water from time to time to form a thick rich gravy. Add salt and lemon juice to taste.

    It’s credited to EP Veerasawmy in “Indian Cookery”. Hope you enjoy it!

  30. Robert Bargher

    I hunted used book sales to find a full set for my youngest son, he wants to be a chef.
    And now I have extra copies of,
    – Poultry
    – Vegetables (2 copies)
    – Sauces
    – Soups
    – Shellfish
    – Salads
    – Breads
    – Outdoor Cooking
    – Hors d’Oeuvre
    – Beverages
    – Pies & Pastries
    – Dried Beans & Grains
    – Variety Meats
    – Fish
    – Beef & Veal

    If you are interested in these books, write me at rbargher AT yahoo.com

  31. Barry michael Balch, Ph. D.

    I lived in Berkeley up the hill from Cheze Pannise in the early 1970s. Very serious Richard Olney country back then. That’s when I started my collection of the Good Cook.

    Diferent versions were published in Europan countries and in America. The American series has 27 (I think) volumes and the British version has 28. At least as far as I have been able to figure out. Olney (and others such as Jeremiah Tower) prefer the European editions to the American editions.

    Check out the London branch of Amazon for the European versions of the series.

    There was also a one volume “condensation” published in England. The “first” volume also came with a 50 page “pamphlet” about cooking utensils.

    Olney”s “autobiography” REMINISCES has many nice stories about the production of this series. It does not appear he had much control over the American edition. And he appears to have been a rather unpleasant when drunk alcoholic.

    Good read none the less. Also check out Simple French Food and The French Menu Cookbook. I am not impressed by his other books.

    Each of the 28 volumes is focused on a specific ingredient. The volumes are then structured around specific cooking techniques:
    General introduction
    Sauteing
    Frying
    Poaching
    Braising
    Compound
    Followed by a recipe anthology.

    The recipes appear to differ to a very minor degree depending on weather you have the American or European editions. The editions appear to be 90% the same regardless of publication location.

    Shortly after beginning to buy the volumes in this series I cooked his version of cassoulet (this would have been 1979 or so).

    What did I know I was getting myself into? Confit was impossible to find (even in the gourmet ghetto) and finding duck legs was a serious challenge.

    If memory serves, I finally scored the duck legs through Bruce Aidells who was the line chef at Le Poulet in Berkeley at the time. Ah, the gourmet ghetto in the 70s.

    That cassoulet turned out to be the best meal I have ever cooked. Cooking cassoulet has become my Thanksgiving ritual ever since.

    A great serious of cookbooks.
    Buy them.
    Cook from them.
    And don’t look back.

    Barry

  32. Nath

    Hi…My friend stumbled upon the Classic Dessert book in this series and I’ve just been looking around on the internet to find a copy to buy for her.

    I’ve found books with “Classic Desserts” and “Desserts” title on Amazon UK and I’m not sure whether their contents are the same. Would appreciate it if anyone could shed some light on this matter.

    Thank you!

  33. rt gonzales

    I’m from the Philippines and have found the Good Cook series really amazing. I have about 6 books and am ever on the look out of the other titles from book sales here in Manila.

    I’m into organic vegetable trading in manila and found the series very helpful, the illustrations and photography are really amazing.

  34. Terry

    We got rid of our set of these cookbooks when we had to move and I have regretted it ever since. Our library does not carry copies. We had a favorite spinach and mushroom pasta recipe that I made all the time. If someone could post this, I would be eternally grateful! Thanks.

  35. Lois

    I would love to have the set of these books! I have searched everywhere! If anyone knows of anyone who will sell their set..I am interested.. I love cookbooks and this is the one set that I really do want!

    I suggest keeping your eye out on eBay. Full sets come up occasionally. ~Elise

  36. June Ryan

    Hi Terry
    I have tried to find your mushrooom and spinach pasta recipe but without success. It was not in the pasta book or the vegetable book. Can you remember which volume it was in?

  37. Terry

    Thanks, June. I ended up looking online and bought a used copy of the Pasta book. The recipe is Spaghetti with spinach, mushrooms and cream, p. 98, although I use less butter and cream to make it a little healthier. It’s delicious.

  38. June Ryan

    Hi Terry, Thanks for your reply. I’m glad you were able to get a copy of the book. The English edition is called Grains, Pasta & Pulses so our pages 98 are not the same. Happy cooking.

  39. Jim Egeland

    Hi, I bought the entire set of cookbooks (28) from Time-Life (one a month) during 1982-83 and the set differs dramatically from June Ryan’s stated collection (Sept 13, 2008). I have about 8 different volumes than she has. Time-Life must have varied the collection over the years. I never really got into cooking and have never really used my set so I am going to sell them to someone who is really serious about cooking with these wonderful recipes.

  40. Carolyn Kopp

    I have acquired 23 Time Life Books and they are the Foods of the World from 1968 – 1970 books.
    Are these the same books everyone is talking about? I would be interested in knowning if anyone has ever used any of the recipes from these books. These books are in very good condition.

    Thank You

    Carolyn

  41. Ursula O'Brien

    G’day Elise
    Thank you for a wonderful thread – I’m delighted to find a group of on-line devotees like myself! And I thought it was just me being obsessive….

    I’ve been searching for the series over years, and am about 8 books short. I’ve located some in a bookshop, and have been a bit confused by the UK/USA differences, so would appreciate some help, please.

    I assume that ‘Candy’ equals ‘Confectionery’, and ‘Cookies and Crackers’ equals ‘Biscuits’. But what does ‘Patisserie’ equal – ‘Pies and Pastries’ or ‘Cakes and Pastries’ or ‘Cakes’?

    Is there a US equivalent to ‘Game’?

    Also, how helpful do you think the wine book might prove, 20+ years on? From memory, it was fairly Euro-centric – and I think we have some pretty good wines here in Oz these days!
    Thanks again
    Ursula

    Great question on Patisserie, no idea which one it corresponds to. And game? In the US it’s still game. ~Elise

  42. Michael McShane

    My wife and I purchased the Time Life Good Cooks series when it was offerred in the late 70′s. One of our favorite recipes was for a three-tiered vegetable terrine, with the base of the three layers being spinach, carrots and cauliflower. It makes a very festive and tasty holiday vegetable dish.

    To make a long story short, we downsized last year and one of things we downsized was the Time Life series. Now, we are lookng for one of our favorite recipes, and it is nowhere to be found!

    Can anyone help me find this recipe? I believe it is in the TL Good Cook seies, but my wife believes (as strongly if not a little more so!) that it is from the Vegetable Volume of the TL Fresh Ways series. We still have the Fresh Ways series, but are missing the Vegetable volume.

    Any thoughts or suggestions as to where I can find this recipe would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you and Regards,

    Michael McShane

  43. Joy Gerow

    A question was posed to me tonight by my daughter while on the phone with her friend who had run into a problem with a recipe for cookies out of the TL Good Cook Series, Cookies.
    She had started one of the recipes but ran into a problem when all the ingredients were added. It didn’t look the way it was suggested in the book and wouldn’t hold together.
    I’m trying to help too as her friend doesn’t have a computer.
    The name of the cookie in the book is ‘Gevulde Speculaas’ which apparently is Dutch for Spiced Stuffed.
    Does anyone have this series with the Cookie book who could look up that recipe and see what the amounts are as stated in that recipe? It says to add 9 cups of flour but after all the other ingredients were added, it is too dry and will not hold together. This is all being done long distance … so I’m wondering if the recipe has a typo and should be 3 cups of flour.
    Can anyone help me solve this little problem?
    Thank you for your time.
    Joy

  44. Zoe

    Ursula, I think Patisserie is most like Pies & Pastries. Have tried to match things up here; and while the Game volume may be available in the US, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t issued as part of the US series.

    Michael, your wife wins the argument. It’s at page 104 of the Fresh Ways with Vegetables book. It’s very long, and my camera is busted, otherwise I’d post it for you.

    Joy, the Speculaas recipe calls for 1 kg = 2 1/4 pound flour, so the 9 cups is right. The dough needs to rest for a few hours before it can be rolled.

  45. JENNIFER E. KNIGHT

    Having moved to France in 1995 and having many dinner parties, I have even impressed the French using recipes from some of my Time Life Good Cook tecniques and recipe series. I collected them in England in the early 80′s. BUT… last winter the water tank burst and all the water came through into a cupboard in my kitchen ruining most of my recipe books including all my precious Good Cook books.
    I need to replace them…. Mine were well used and well loved. is there anyone out there that could sell me the series or the odd volume.

    Hi Jennifer, you can find books and whole sets of this series on eBay. ~Elise

  46. K

    I found a complete set of this series in excellent condition in a local thrift store two weeks ago, being sold at $1 per volume. Unfortunately, I was too blinded by the still-in-print celebrity cookbooks sitting beside it (Pepin, Malgieri, Madison, etc) to give the series my full attention.

    — But for some reason, the series kept nagging my conscience (at the time I thought it might be because the colored spines looked so attractive lined up on the bookshelf), but finally the pull was too strong, and so I grabbed one volume (the “Bread” book) and tossed it in my cart with the other books, barely looking inside it.

    That evening, I opened the Bread book — thinking that I’d photocopy a recipe or two and then give it away — but I soon had so many post-it notes sticking out of it that I couldn’t turn the pages! That was when I realized this was no ordinary bread-making book, and that it was truly a “keeper” — better than any other bread-making book in my collection (and I have several of them, being an avid baker).

    If the other books were like this, then I wanted them all too! Next morning, I raced back to the thrift shop and found, to my dismay, that approximately half of the original set was sold — but I grabbed the remaining volumes, and have been happily reading and cooking from them ever since.

    It’s true that not all of the recipes here are appetizing to modern taste, but it’s also true that when you learn the technique and reasoning behind the unappetizing old recipe — it suddenly becomes clear why it was done that way, and also how you can improvise a lighter and healthier version. So in a way, these books are not giving you recipes so much as giving you the foundation of technique with which you can invent your own recipes.

    Kind of like the old saying about how it’s much better to teach a man how to fish than to give him just one fish dinner.

  47. Helen du Toit

    Hi

    Never lend your cook books out!!! I am so sad I had 28 of the The Good Cook Time Life recipe books and over the years they have whittled down to 20. Between moving many times and lending books to “friends” they have gone astray.

    I am looking to replace a specific book but I can not remember the title. I know it was part of the Good Cook series with recipes if little cakes or Petitte gataeu it had a pink cover with little square cakes on the front. However I have search the internet for this book but cannot find it. The closest book is The Good Cook Candy.

    Please would you help me find this book.

    Thanking you in advance for you kind help

    Regards
    Helen

  48. Helen du Toit

    Hi

    Please would you let me know if the Time Life “The Good Cook” series had a book titled “Patisserie”

    Thanks
    Helen

  49. Valarie Truitt

    Hi,
    I had many of the Time Life cooking books years ago and unfortunatley most were lost when we moved cross country years ago and the moving company “lost” a few boxes. Long story short I was able to replace many of our favorite recipes through friends or finding used books for sale at the library. But there was one fave recipe my husband loved that I’ve never been able to find. I remember some of the ingrediants but just can’t seem to recreate the recipe. With our 30th anniversary around the corner I would love to surprise him with this salad he loved so much. Perhaps you or one of your readers can help me. I thought it was out of the salads cook book. It was a Cold Rice Salad recipe and I remember it had rice (of course)and tomatoes and onions and mushrooms. And there was dressing involved but I don’t remember that. So thank you for any help you may be able to provide. Thanks, Valarie

  50. Barry Michael Balch, Ph. D.

    The July issue of Food & Wine was their “Best New Chefs” issue. One of the ten was James Syhabout, chef at Commis in Oakland, California. When asked about his favorite cookbook, he replied, “The Time-Life Good Cook series from the late 1970s. Some of the recipes were so avant-garde. You think, ‘They were cooking this back then?’ I have a complete set now. I found some of the books on eBay.”

    Valarie: The salads volume has a recipe for ‘Tomato, Rice and Mushroom Salad. It is all of 5 sentences long. The epitome of Olney’s “Simple French Cooking.” The source was a cookbook by J. Berjane called “French Dishes For The English Table,” published back in 1931!

    This recipe doesn’t mess around: Cook 1 cup of rice in salted water, strain and dry on a cloth (?!). Cook 1.5 cups of mushrooms “in a little simmering salted water,” strain and dry (no instructions about drying on a cloth this time).

    Let the rice and mushrooms cool.

    Prepare half a cup of vinaigrette. Berjane is a little vague on the specifics of the vinaigrette.

    Add 1 chopped onion and 2 “small, firm, ripe tomatoes, halved seeded and sliced” (again a little vague on the slicing: diced, quarters? Cook’s choice, no doubt) to the rice.

    Douse with the vinaigrette.

    Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of chopped tarragon.

    OK, took me 9 sentences to Berjane’s five.

    Does that sound like the salad you remember?

    Wikipedia has a “Good Cook page:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Good_Cook

    They list 28 volumes but don’t list the “Game ” volume.

    Madame du Toit: I just checked my set and none of them have a pink cover. There is a volume called (in the American edition) “Pies and Pastries.” The French version may have been called “Patisserie.” Or it may not have been. The American version has a cherry pie on the cover but foreign editions (at least in my experience from the English edition) had different covers, so a pink cover with little cakes may exist.

    “K.”: There is a hilarious account of the shooting of the “Bread” volume in Richard Olney’s “Reminisces.” Maybe a fifth of that book covers the soap opera behind the production of the Good Cook.

    Rick Lovell: You may want to research other cookbooks and ask for royalties. Several of the drawings from the Good Cook are the basis for the drawings of primal cuts of food animals in other cook books. Alton Brown’s “I’m Only Here For The Food” used several of the Good Cook drawings (Pig and Beef as I recall) for his own primal cut drawings. Your work was the basis for several other (re-)drawings.

  51. carol t

    In the 70′s I ordered receipts on laminated cards and you but them in a yellow box that was put into catogories. I have some how lost this great collection and would like to order one for me and one for my daughterd-inlaw. Anyone out there or at Time’s please help me. Thank you very much Carol

  52. Robert Ruiz

    Here’s the complete list of books FOR THE U.S.

    Note there was also a shiny/slick paper pamphlet style book that accompanied the series called The Well-Equipped Kitchen (I have a copy).

    To confuse the issue a bit, in the UK and (I believe Australia) and perhaps elsewhere, while the U.S. had one volume called “Salads” and another called “Hors-d’Ouevres,” OUTSIDE THE U.S. these were different and called “Salads & Cold Hors-d’Ouevres” and “Hot Hors-d’Ouevres”).

    If you want to be a super completist you may want to pick up these extra two volumes (30 total that way).

    There may be other slight differences in the outside-the-U.S. complete series, but this is all I know about.

    In the U.S. the full series (with the supplement) is as follows:
    _________________________________

    The Good Cook
    Time-Life Books Series (Complete 28 Book Series)
    Edited by Richard Olney

    1. Beef & Veal
    2. Beverages
    3. Breads
    4. Cakes
    5. Candy
    6. Classic Desserts
    7. Cookies & Crackers
    8. Dried Beans & Grains
    9. Eggs & Cheese
    10. Fish
    11. Fruits
    12. Hors D’oeuvre
    13. Lamb
    14. Outdoor Cooking
    15. Pasta
    16. Pies & Pastries
    17. Pork
    18. Poultry
    19. Preserving
    20. Salads
    21. Sauces
    22. Shellfish
    23. Snacks & Sandwiches
    24. Soups
    25. Terrines, Pates & Galantines
    26. Variety Meats
    27. Vegetables
    28. Wine

    Slick Paper Pamphlet-Style Supplement:

    The Well-Equipped Kitchen

  53. K

    Barry –
    Thanks for the tip about “Reminisces” — I’ll look for it. Yesterday, I acquired my first European edition: “Soups” (50 cents in a library book sale) and was surprised by the difference in tone of the writing. It’s very concise and sparse in comparison to the more flowery US writing, though the contents were more or less the same (the USA edition has a Gumbo chapter and recipe that the UK edition lacks, and the UK edition has a Game soup chapter that the USA edition lacks).

    Out of curiosity, I compared the imprints of both books, and noticed that Olney (or his publisher? or?) seems to have taken great pains to distance himself from credit for writing the USA edition — stating in his bio that he only edited the recipes and so on.

    It made me wonder if the “florification” of the USA edition was Carol Cutler’s work. I’ve only ever seen her 6-Minute Souffle cookbook, but I remember the tone being similar: high-spirited and confident, but maybe just a tiny bit too flowery.

    Interesting!

  54. Vorple

    I know that Richard Sax was involved with Beverages, Candy, Terrines, and Lamb in this series. Do you know if he worked on others?

  55. Dawn

    I have the following 27 uk editions of The good cook. I have no idea which issue I’m missing as the thread seems to suggest 28 book in the uk. Can anyone help?
    1. Beef & Veal
    2. Beverages
    3. Biscuits
    4. Breads
    5. Cakes & Pastries
    6. Confectionery
    7. Desserts
    8. Eggs & Cheese
    9. Fish & Shellfish
    10. Fruits
    11. Game
    12. Grains, Pasta & Pulses
    13. Hot Hors-d’Oeuvre
    14. Lamb
    15. Offal
    16. Outdoor Cooking
    17. Patisserie
    18. Pork
    19. Poultry
    20. Preserv ing
    21. Salads & Cold Hors-d’Oeurvre
    22. Sauces
    23. Snacks & Canapés
    24. Soups
    25. Terrines, Pates & Galantines
    26. Vegetables
    27. Wine

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