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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
into a Worthwhile
Human Being.

Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Sleep Is
For The Weak

Chicago Review Press

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Let's Panic

The site that inspired the book!

At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it. → 

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Time to boil dinner! 

I’ve written before about the other Alice Bradleys. Let’s talk about this one.

This Alice Bradley was, among other things, principal of the Fannie Farmer School of Cookery from 1915-1944. The cookbook pictured above (actually more of an advertorial pamphlet, Other Bradley) promised salads both alluring AND new, and it delivered, but today I’m going to a highlight an even more glorious example of Ms. Bradley’s expertise: The Alice Bradley Menu Cook-Book.


Now, I’m no expert on semi-aspirational Depression-era cuisine, but if I had to imagine what it was like, it would guess this. The meats are boiled; the sauces are white. Many of the foods are mock-foods. There’s always one extra step that tips a relatively inoffensive side dish into pure horror. Take, for instance, “Date Salad.”

1. Wash and remove pits, stones, whatever you want to call them, sure.
2. Fill with peanut butter: so far I’m on board.
3. Oh, wait, the peanut butter should be mixed with some WHAT THE NO NO NO—
4. Curl up into a tight ball and shriek with your mouth closed until you stop imagining peanut butter and mayonnaise together.
P.S.: Why isn’t she saying what the shredded lettuce is dressed with? I’ll tell you why: it’s French dressing. It’s always French dressing. Back when Alice Bradley was in charge, only the French did dressing.

Next up: this.


I’m sure Alice Bradley was a nice person, but only a monster would think to cream celery.

Let’s cleanse our mental palate with some Jellied Cabbage Salad, shall we? This one, at least, sounds…adventurous? I don’t know, I’m broken. Hey, what can we serve this with OH GOD NO.

Okay, Chili con Carne is, well. Huh. There’s no French dressing in it, and that’s something. But isn’t this a little more…boiled than the kind of chili we’re used to? Is that…enough seasoning? I mean, I’m not the Principal of any School of Cookery, so who am I to say?

Finally, an alarmingly simple breakfast suggestion. I looked really closely at this one, and I’m pretty sure there’s no boiling or surprise mayo anywhere in here. I’m not sure, though. I don’t know that I can trust my own eyes.

Next week: we look at some of those alluring (and new!) salads. They have a spicy secret. (Hint: it's not mayonnaise. Usually.)

Reader Comments (16)

Spicy Alice Secret Bradley is my new Nom de Plume.

March 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHelen Jane

Repurpose this abomination into a diet book. Who could eat after reading these recipes???

March 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBonnie B.

I got a cookbook years ago that included a recipe for "meat roll" made with 2 pounds of ground meat (no animal specified). Meat roll apparently "improves the longer it sits in your icebox." I never tried it, nor did I test the recipe on the facing page for cooking a whole seal. Missed opportunities, I'm sure...

March 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

Grapes! Is there a recipe for a glass of water? Because people were always poisoning wells back then.

March 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Kennedy

We own a catering business and its called Fitzgerald's Fine Catering since 1948. Now the menu has changed, along with life but we have had people who used our services 30 years ago for their wedding and now want us to duplicate what they had back then for their anniversary party now. My husband made me make "Ham Rolls". Slice of boiled ham, spread with cream cheese. Then that is wrapped around a piece of roasted pepper and then cut into pinwheels. After graduating culinary school, I nearly refused, but he gave me their original menu, they still had and said they are old and this is what they want. More important, they remember the day and how wonderful it was and wanted it repeated. I did it, for them, but wasn't happy. We truly will make anything anyone wants, and there has been some strange and/or simple items. Not as simple as grapes, although we do provide on our cheese board.

March 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkathleen daly shope

i read laura shapiro's "perfection salad" last fall, and learned about that other alice bradley then. you might love that book - it's not just about alice, but it's quite revelatory about the evolution of food & cooking in the early part of the 20th century.

March 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermagpie

This is remarkably similar to and The Gallery of Regrettable Food. Maybe you've seen it?

March 27, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterms

I keep rereading the recipes and waiting for something to change, like a child hoping that THIS TIME, THIS TIME, THIS TIME, NO THIIIIIS TIME opening the fridge door will make something new appear.

I don't think I'll ever come across another Arnebya Herndon (which probably means all my bad recipes will die with me).

March 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterArnebya

my great grandmother was an alice bradley. she was 1/4 cherokee, never smiled in photos and died, relatively young, from a stroke while hanging clothes on the line.

i read you for several years before i realized, duh, same name. you're cuter. :)

March 27, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterlori

You are so lucky the other Alice Bradley is so sparkly clean, published, and excels only in celery salad. The other Alexandra Rosas of the internet has quite the pole dancing and walking neekid in 10 inch platform shoes skillz. With a z.

March 27, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteralexandra rosas

My grandparents have been known to eat peanut butter and mayo on Ritz crackers. THE HORROR OMG BAARRRRRRF

March 27, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterwhoorl

It must have been a Depression-era thing. I always wondered why my father-in-law ate peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches. Sometimes with onions...

March 28, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersuburbancorrespondent

Oh, Alexandra, clearly you haven't read my post about Sexy Alice Bradley.

March 28, 2014 | Registered CommenterAlice

My mom has a Jello Cookbook (!) from the 60's, and an alarming number of the recipes call for mayonnaise. Jello + mayonnaise = culinary success!

March 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

And to think, I always thought the "Lime Jello Marshmellow Cottage Cheese Surprise" song was completely insane. Maybe they were just fond of Alice Bradley's recipes... Wowza.

March 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

We once found a cookbook that had the same style art; I think it was from the 1970s? Anyway, it was a book of recipes to make food into fun objects for parties.

One of the objects was a monster, made of a jello mold that you put over a lit flashlight. For the monster's horrible eye/glow, I guess.

April 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren P.

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