About Jo Bracken

Daughter of I Hate to Cook Book author Peg Bracken, Johanna Bracken was born in Portland, Oregon, spending her childhood in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California. 

Jo graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in communications, and later moved on to start two successful businesses.  Now retired, she devotes her time and resources to various charities, helping incarcerated men and women eligible for parole, supporting primate sanctuaries across the country, and chairing the board of her local American Red Cross. 

She and her husband are insufferable pet parents who live in Long Beach, California, along with their two dogs and four cats.

31 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Britta Jorstad Piotrowski  |  July 30, 2010 at 1:08 am

    Jo, I am going to buy the cookbook. It is so cool what you did with this project! Lovely to see you and Michael. You have such a great home. Looking forward to the Christmas party!
    FYI, I am from the Seattle area so love the NW too!
    Britta

    Reply
  • 2. Britta Jorstad Piotrowski  |  July 30, 2010 at 1:16 am

    Jo, it’s me again, I just read your Mom’s bio and i am blown away! What a wondrful woman! Would have loved to have known her.It’s so cool that you get to relive her with the re-release of the book.
    I may come to get mine signed!

    Reply
  • 3. Britta Jorstad Piotrowski  |  July 30, 2010 at 1:34 am

    Jo, I have been sitting here with my vodka tonic reading you bl ogs.. I love it! you are great writer, I love areading about your mom.

    Reply
  • 4. HeidiAnn  |  September 2, 2010 at 10:08 am

    I just read your foreword to the 50th Anniversary Edition of “The I Hate To Cook Book”, and it actually brought tears to my eyes. I believe we are the same age, and my mom had all of your mother’s books – in fact, I only recently found them packed away in a box, and was delighted to add them to my own collection. Just wanted to say hello, and to share that with you!

    Reply
    • 5. johannabracken  |  September 3, 2010 at 9:26 am

      Heidi. thank you so much for those wonderful thoughts. Mom would be so pleased!

      Reply
  • 6. Judith McLeod  |  October 29, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Making Chicken Curry for an amazingly simple recipe I’ve had for years I wondered if it came from The I Hate to Cook Book. It didn’t, but I was able to spice up my soso recipe after consulting the book. Once my version was bubbling away, I came to the net to see whatever happened to Peg Bracken who has come to my rescue as a single girl on her own and for thirty years of marriage. The search brought me here.
    I purchase I Hate to Cook & I Hate to Housekeep in 1966 when I was sixteen. Not a year goes by that I don’t refer to them.
    I think my daughter, a newly wed, will get the 50th anniversary edition as one of her Christmas gifts if I can remember about it for that long.

    Reply
    • 7. johannabracken  |  October 31, 2010 at 2:11 pm

      Judith, my mother would have been so thrilled to hear your story, and honored to have been part of your life. Thanks for writing!

      Reply
  • 8. Jane Silver  |  May 8, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Something is making me crazy. Both my children and I remember a phrase from one of your mother’s books: something about how most husbands expect their wives to “run down in the basement to make some soap while the bread is rising.” Do you know where we can find it? We can’t find it in the Complete I Hate to Cookbook, and I gave away my original IHTC when I bought the complete version.
    When my kids talk about Mom’s home cooking, they are talking about your mom’s home cooking. And we used to read passages out loud to each other for a humor fix.

    Reply
    • 9. johannabracken  |  May 16, 2011 at 1:33 pm

      Jane, I looked and can’t find this in any of my mom’s books. But I suspect it’s an old expression; and it sounds like something she would say. Thanks so much for sharing your memories. It means a lot.

      Reply
      • 10. Valerie Hahn  |  June 3, 2012 at 8:28 am

        I just happen to be reading The I Hate to Cook Book for the first time and ran across the following last night on p. 24: “He wants to see you knead that bread and tote that bale, before you go down cellar to make the soap. This is known as Woman’s Burden.” Although my sister and I turned eagerly to your mom’s column when the magazine came from around age 10 or 11 through high school, or maybe sometime in college, I hadn’t read any of her books till I picked up this shabby paperback copy at our neighborhood used book store. I’m enjoying it enormously. Of course, I now plan to hunt up the rest of her books and also try some recipes, but the online search that brought me here was actually for her magazine columns. From what I can tell about the books, it doesn’t appear that any of them are collections of the columns. Are those available anywhere? I can’t even remember what magazine it was. Her description of transforming paperbacks into clothbound volumes inspired me at age 13 or so to re-cover my well-worn copy of Winnie-the-Pooh with a scrap from a dress my mother had made me for first grade (the book was already a hardcover but had been damaged when my sister dropped it in the cistern). I still have the book and told my kids about the cover when I read it to them. There was a column where you asked her a word and she told you to look it up—I think it was catamite, but whatever it was, I was curious enough to look it up myself and found it was something rather shocking. I also remember her saying every six-year-old girl is pretty and needs to be told. And I think there was one about four different swimsuits and tan lines. I don’t remember the columns clearly but do remember enjoying them thoroughly and would love to read them again.

      • 11. johannabracken  |  June 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm

        Hi, Valerie.

        Those articles appeared in Family circle magazine in the 70s and early 80s. I assume that, somewhere, there are Family Circle archives!

        Good luck. And thank you so much for bringing back such great memories.

  • 12. Jane Silver  |  June 12, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Thank you Valerie! I knew I had seen the Womens’ Burden sentiment somewhere. Unfortunately, it didn’t make the cut for the Complete book.
    I’m wondering if Jo would like to edit the magazine articles for a new book. . . Peg’s humor doesn’t seem to go out of date.

    Reply
  • 13. Andrew Reinert  |  September 20, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Jo, I always felt as if I had at least two wonderful moms. One is my own, whom I love dearly. Another was Peg Bracken, whom I also love. Like my mom, Peg balanced gentleness and wry humor. Thanks for sharing her with me, and thanks for all the good works you continue to do.

    Reply
  • 14. Bob Horseman  |  January 5, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    At age 93 I have just met your mother via A Window Over the Sink. I am distraught, because I could have enjoyed her wit and writing skills for the last 40 years. I feel I know her–I’m Kansas bred, her anecdotes and opinions are mine–been there, done that. I’ve written a self-styled humor monthly column for the California Dental Association for the past 32 years. If I had learned of Peg Bracken sooner, I would have enjoyed writing a lot more and been a lot better at it. Now, at least I’ve got a bunch of reading to enjoy before my 100th birthday.

    Reply
    • 15. johannabracken  |  January 7, 2013 at 9:56 am

      You made my day, Bob. Please keep in touch and let me know how you enjoy Mom’s books.

      Reply
  • 16. Bob Horseman  |  January 7, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Jo, finished WINDOW and today Amazon reports having shipped 3 other books of Peg’s, one of which is ON GROWING OLD FOR THE FIRST TIME. I’m not sure what I’m letting myself in for because when I finished reading Window, I found myself tearing up over the demise of Liz Noah. That’s something I haven’t done for a long time. Laughing, crying, agreeing wholeheartedly, your mother’s words get to me. Lord, I wish she was still writing! Her ability to put on paper a reflection of exactly what another has experienced, but couldn’t share for love, chocolate or marbles looks so easy when she does it. I know differently!

    Reply
  • 17. mary jo gouinan  |  January 7, 2013 at 11:35 am

    I connected with Bob on two counts – appreciation of Peg’s books and being “A Sunflower from the Sunflower State.” I discovered Window I don’t know how many years ago and then went on to read as many of Peg’s narratives as I could get my hands on. She is my favorite humorist. I go back and re-read her on a regular basis. Many years ago I gave my mother “The I Hate To Cook Book” and I think she thought I was giving her a dig. I don’t know if she ever read it to see the humor in it. I got the book back when she died 20 years ago. Am happy Peg’s daughter is keeping her mom’s memory alive for all of us who loved her.

    Reply
  • 18. gilda russell  |  January 29, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    loved your mom’s books. now making the foundation dinner .my daughter makes it too. my family calls it chinese helper. there was a note about a gal from paducah,kentucky who liberated herself from the kitchen! got to love peg!

    Reply
  • 20. Margo  |  February 15, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Jo,
    I was 10 years old when my Dad’s cousin invited us for dinner. Not much of a cook we were all surprised when Berta dished out a tasty meal. Her secret…your Mom’s book that she had recently purchased. When my Mom bought her own copy, I would read it over and over laughing all the while. Your Mom’s sense of humor was exactly what I found funny even then at 12 or 13. Now, still chuckling at 62, I am regretting losing those old original dog eared copies, but am so thrilled to be able to purchase the newly published edition. Peg may have admired Mark Twain but, I do believe, given the chance he would have admired her just as much!

    Reply
    • 21. johannabracken  |  February 16, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      Yeah, I hear Mark Twain wasn’t much of a cook, either. But, like you, I think the two of them would have gotten on famously. Thanks so much, Margo, for the wonderful story.

      Reply
  • 22. Bob Sassone  |  May 7, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Jo,

    Just wanted to send a quick note to let you know how much I love your mom’s writing and how much the way she lived her life has influenced me. “I Didn’t Come Here To Argue” is a brilliant, funny, wise book, and I think well ahead of its time.

    I wrote about “The I Hate To Cook Book” for USA Today back in October. I’m not sure if you saw it so I wanted to include a link:

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/popcandy/2012/10/08/favorite-cookbook/1620821/

    Best,

    Bob Sassone
    http://www.bobsassone.com

    Reply
    • 23. johannabracken  |  May 10, 2013 at 11:41 am

      Bob, thanks so much for weighing in. I loved reading your blog, as will all Peg Bracken fans I believe. Best of luck to you.

      Reply
  • 24. Gayle Smith  |  May 13, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Kindle, please! Your Mom’s books can be hard to find. Like “Red Sky at Morning”, whenever I see a Peg Bracken book at Half Price, I buy it. That way when someone says “My mom had that book, but I never read it.” I can give them a copy.

    Reply
  • 25. Bob Sassone  |  July 13, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Jo,

    I’m curious: would your mom be into things like Facebook and Twitter and all that? I came across a Twitter page of her quotes and I’ve been thinking about doing a story on famous writers who aren’t or weren’t on social media sites. Would she have joined or would it have been something she wouldn’t have bothered with?

    Thank you.

    Reply
  • 26. naomikritzer  |  January 30, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Hey, I couldn’t find an e-mail address for you, but just wanted to drop you a note to point you toward an essay I wrote comparing your mother’s “I Hate to Housekeep” to the more recent housework guru, FLYlady. (Spoiler: I adore your mother, and find FLYlady irritating.) It’s here, if you’re interested: http://bitterempire.com/peg-bracken-versus-flylady/

    Reply
    • 27. johannabracken  |  January 31, 2015 at 6:37 am

      And how I wish I could enjoy daily emails from my mother as well. Thank you for bringing a smile to my day with your essay. I know that my mom would have enjoyed it as well. A FLYlady she was not!! Jo Bracken

      Reply
  • 28. Sue Witkin  |  August 13, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    Dear Jo, Are you still at this address? If so I would write you some memories of me, my mom, and your mother’s books!

    Reply
  • 29. Susan Cooper  |  August 31, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Dear Jo,
    I have some of your mother’s books and I reread them from time to time. I always admired her. I just found out today that she was no longer with us. I don’t spend much time on the computer. I am genuinely sad that she is gone. I got to hear your mother speak years ago in Shreveport, Louisiana. I believe she said that she lived in Hawaii at at the time. I know from my own late father that you don’t quit missing them when they are gone. Susan Cooper

    Reply
    • 30. johannabracken  |  August 31, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      You never quit missing them. I actually think that sometimes, you miss them more as time passes. I know that I do. I certainly still have conversations with her!
      I am glad you were able to hear Mom speak. She was a wonderful speaker (I snuck in the room once to hear her) and touched so many people.
      Take care. Jo

      Reply
  • 31. Nicky Bird  |  July 7, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    JO – I am a London-based publisher of themed playing cards (www.birdplayingcards.com) and want to reproduce the cover of your mother’s cookbook on a deck of cards celebrating the best of book cover design. HMH say that you are the person to talk to and would be happy to proceed if you are happy. Hope you will be pleased that the book cover has been chosen. NICKY BIRD (nick@nickybirddesign.com)

    Reply

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