The Fabulous Fannie Farmer

The Fabulous Fannie Farmer: Kitchen Scientist and America’s Cook (January 30, 2024)

In this STEAM picture book that includes two classic recipes, meet Fannie Farmer, the woman who whipped up a cooking revolution–with a dose of science. When Fannie was a child in the late 1800s, recipes might call for “a goodly amount of salty” or “butter the size of an egg,” or even “a suspicion of nutmeg.” How much was that?! Home cooks were supposed to use their “feminine instincts” or just guess.

But Fannie thought anyone should be able to bake a cake or serve a stew. After surviving polio and working hard to become a cooking teacher, Fannie discovered that precise measurements made cooking a piece of cake. Using her new approach, Fannie wrote a bestselling cookbook that is still used today because it allows anyone to make tasty meals–no guesswork or instincts required.

STARRED REVIEW ★ “The writing in this book beautifully spells out the problem home cooks faced with recipes back in Fannie Farmer’s day: ‘Both in books and out loud, the instructions were often cloudier than clam chowder.’ … Older children will love the fact that the publisher of her book, the meticulously rewritten Boston Cooking School’s cookbook, didn’t think it would sell much; Farmer paid for the printing so that she could keep most of the profits, too. Savvy! A fabulous book.” –School Library Journal

“The prose is peppered with rich cooking imagery and includes two workable, though not simple, recipes—for popovers and angel food cake. Reagan’s engaging watercolor and digital illustrations convey a sense of Fannie’s world; quotations from her writings are interspersed. Delectable!” –Kirkus Reviews

“Head into the kitchen with fabulous, but maybe not famous, Fannie Farmer, who gets the picture-
book biography treatment in this well-researched, lightly told, and evocatively illustrated

recounting of her story… This is an excellent introduction to a woman who’s probably unknown to most but whose work has impacted all, but the real star of this show is the extensive, detailed back matter: an end note with further information on topics covered in the book, suggested reads and watch lists, and a multipage time line. This is a strong addition to library and school shelves
with possible curricular tie-ins.” –Booklist

Junior Library Guild selection

“…delightful biography by San Francisco author Emma Bland Smith, who exudes enthusiasm for Farmer, cooking and nonfiction in general. The writing is as airy as popovers and angel food cake.” –San Francisco Chronicle