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Crabby Cook Cookbook

Recipes and Rants from the World’s Crabbiest Cook! | The Crabby Cook Cookbook | Review


In keeping with tradition, we New England Yankee cooks, and myself in particular, tend to be known for being crabby  and curmudgeons.  I’m excited to introduce you to The Crabby Cook Cookbook by Jessica Harper, the hilarious and award-winning actress and author who recently appeared on The Today Show. Jessica is also the wife of Tom Rothman, CEO of Fox Studios.  You’ll learn and laugh while reading about recipes such as “Pain in the Ass Minestrone”.

Don’t think I just crawled out of the root cellar because I do know my way around the kitchen.  While familiar with the intricacies of beehive oven cooking,  I’m proud to say I learned to cook before the microwave was invented.  Reading Jessica’s book made me feel as if I was sharing recipes with my best friend from New Hampshire instead of Connecticut’s own Martha Stewart.

A little short on photos and visuals for a cookbook, perhaps the finished culinary celebrity recipes are best left to your own imagination.

Are YOU a Crabby Cook?

To determine just how crabby you are, do this simple self-check.

Read the following six statements. If any of them sound like something you might say or think, then, I’m sorry, but most likely you do not qualify for crabby cook status:
1. I can’t think of anything I’d rather do at five o’clock than cook dinner.

2. I’m always one to read a recipe thoroughly before I begin cooking. You never know when, say, a unique browning method might be called for, and you’ll need to run down to Home Depot to pick up a blowtorch.

3. I never curse while cooking, even when the recipe requires that I chop seven vegetables and flour and sear fifty cubes of beef. I also do not curse when, in mid-recipe, I am distracted by a phone call from the PTA lady and I burn my finger with the blowtorch.

4. When the PTA lady calls to ask me to contribute food to their annual luncheon, I love the fact that she entrusts me with making a chicken entree for forty, instead of one of the no-brainer donations like bottled water.

5. If a family member doesn’t care for what I’ve prepared for dinner, I thank them for their feedback and offer them an alternative entree.

6. After dinner, I love the solitude of kitchen cleanup, while my family scampers off to watch American Idol. It gives me precious time to consider what I’ll cook for dinner the next day, and the next . . .

“This book is too much fun. You stand in the kitchen laughing when you should be cooking. These recipes aren’t just easy, they’re really good. I’ll gladly eat at Jessica Harper’s house any night of the week.” –Ruth Reichl

“I love this book! Jessica’s humor and her expertise shine through on every page! And now that I have the manifesto, I can take pride in my own crabbiness!” –Valerie Bertinelli

For a long time, Jessica Harper thought she was the only crabby cook around. The years of feeding her family of picky eaters three meals a day, left her with a gnarly attitude. But, she kept it to herself, envying other moms who seemed so Martha Stewart-y. When those moms finally outed themselves, Jessica discovered—surprise!—she was not alone:  The world was full of crabby cooks, just like her.


(Workman, January 2011) is more fun than a week of takeout. It’s a compilation of recipes that have been home-tested for acceptability by very picky people (her family), funny —but true —cooking adventures, and survival tips from one fed-up cook to the legions of others.

Meet Tom, Jessica’s chocoholic husband who states he will “eat anything,” neglecting to note that his “anything” excludes onions, garlic, peppers, scallions, eggplant, squash, shellfish, most meat, spices, all non-chocolate desserts, and so on.

Sound familiar? Get to know Elizabeth and Nora, Jessica’s beloved daughters, who for years ate only white food; Oliver, the counter-surfing dog; and Bette, Jessica’s mother-in-law, who, although not related by blood, shares with Jessica the distracted cooking gene (Bette has been known to put soup on the stove and go out to buy a bathing suit).

Also appearing in the book are some well-knowns, like Richard Gere (to whom Jessica once fed an appalling pot pie), and Jack Nicholson (who only wanted Jack Daniel’s, which led to an unsuccessful whiskey hunt throughout the house, to no avail).

An accomplished storyteller (and 20-year veteran of the kitchen wars), Jessica regales you with true food tales —“The Hell of Lasagna,” “The Tuna Melt of ’96,” and “The Killer Cheeseball,”—and has included helpful hostess survival tips (a must for anyone with H.A.S. —Hostess Anxiety Syndrome).

The Crabby Cook Cookbook is for the home cook who has better things to do than stir and simmer all day. The dozens of really easy, tasty recipes are simple, and range from delicious choices for breakfast on-the-fly, like Day-O Banana Bread and Killer Pumpkin Muffins, to great dinner possibilities, like Slammin’ Yam Soup and Gobble-It-Up Turkey Chili. The book will surely reduce your hours in the kitchen, leaving you more time to catch up on your TiVo-ed shows or go to a Zumba class.


An award-winning actress—her movies include Pennies from Heaven, Stardust Memories, My Favorite Year, and Minority Report—and children’s book author, Jessica Harper is the mother of two college-age children and lives with her husband in Los Angeles. You can follow her on twitter (@thecrabbycook) or on her blog, The Crabby Cook, which features videos of Jessica displaying her cooking avoidance skills.

More Information: The Crabby Cookbook
© Frugal New England Kitchen
Benefited Reviewer. Opinions are my own.

About Moomettes

New England blogger, Grandmom from Connecticut and author of Frugal New England Kitchen where she writes about food, recipes, coupons, crafts, home decor, Grandparents and Grandchildren, Family Stories and helpful hints from the hearth of a Yankee New England Kitchen. Also find her at the multi-generational Moomettes Magnificents where she writes about family, travel, photography and reviews.