Sarah Carey, our editorial director of food, looks back on growing up with this beloved cookbook, her favorite recipes, and what it has taught her.

By Kelly Vaughan
December 03, 2019
Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

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Some things never go out of style, and Joy of Cooking ($24.60, amazon.com) is one of them. The beloved cookbook and entertaining guide was first self-published by Irma Rombauer in 1931; over 80 years and 20 million print copies later, it has gotten an exciting revamp. The ninth edition is extraordinarily comprehensive; it features 600 brand-new recipes, a section on fermentation, and over 4,000 revised and updated recipes throughout its 1,200 pages. All of the editions of Joy of Cooking have been overseen by Rombauer's family; in fact, the newest version was edited by Rombauer's great-grandson, John Becker, and his wife, Megan Scott.

Copies of Joy of Cooking have been passed across generations and shared between family and friends; everyone who reads Joy gains more confidence, knowledge, and enthusiasm for home cooking. Sarah Carey, our editorial director of food, grew up with Joy: "My mother's copy was always on the shelf. She used it so much that the front and back covers were in tatters." With hundreds of recipes to choose from, the one that stands out to Sarah the most is Brownies Cockaigne—"[My mother] used to make them all the time and then top them with raspberry jam and whipped cream for a really delicious dessert."

Related: Catch Up on What Happened in the World of 42 Burners Last Week

Sarah, however, didn't use the cookbook as a resource for herself until she became interested in canning and preserving. The tips were removed from several editions in the mid-20th century, but have been re-added in the latest edition.

As someone who develops and writes recipes professionally, Sarah appreciates the style of recipes in Joy of Cooking, specifically "how they embed the ingredients within the recipe so you are prepping as you go along." And in a time when many home cooks watch instructional videos to guide them through a dish, rather than only following a written recipe, there's something particularly remarkable about the recipes in Joy of Cooking. "I love how they always feel so 'of their time' in that they describe cooking in such a personable way, as if you were standing at the stove with them," says Sarah.

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