His Cookbook Is Still on the Back Burner


I have a letter from my friend Duke Russell reminding me that our projected cookbook has not yet been published and is long overdue.

Duke says that in putting it off we have lost a “gold mine” and disappointed millions of potential readers.

I’m afraid he’s right. I don’t know what happened. Getting and spending, I suppose, I lost my original enthusiasm. But it isn’t too late. The idea is not dead. I’m sure our public is still hungry for it.


“There we were,” Duke recalls, “two thin, laughing writers, telling the world we had the recipe for a new way to eat and look great. We whetted millions of appetites by promising to write a book on how to stay thin. A big breakthrough in the battle against obese behavior was about to be.” He reminds me that I touted the book four times in this column.

“We had it all, Jack. Power, prestige, popularity, even political clout. What did we do? We let go of the idea. We let down a big portion of the world’s population who are going about eating in the wrong way.”

If I say so myself, our title was brilliant: “The Jack and Duke Way to Ecstasy (Including Ray Bradbury’s Recipe for Canned Tomato Soup); or What Jane Fonda Didn’t Tell You.”

Doesn’t that stir your interest?

As a teaser, I believe I have already given my own recipe for Abandoned Husband’s Chili: (open can of chili and heat; open 1 bottle Mexican beer; eat chili, drink beer).

Also, Bradbury’s recipe: 1 can Campbell’s tomato soup, 1 quart of milk, 1 pound of crackers. Heat soup, keep adding milk. Crunch crackers constantly into mix until you get what looks like a liquid pizza.

Observing that those two recipes take care of dinner and lunch, Russell now offers his own recipe for breakfast: one of the 50 volumes of the Harvard classics and a quartered orange.

For those who demand a heartier breakfast, he offers this: boil a cup of water, throw in 1/2 cup of 1-minute oatmeal; sprinkle in some California raisins, flip in a sliced half banana; stir for one minute, then put it in a dish, add some low-fat milk, and enjoy it.

That is more difficult than I hope most of the recipes will be, but it is plain and nutritious and certainly will serve to promote the ecstasy we are striving to achieve.

“Selfishly I wish it were written,” Russell adds. “It would save me a lot of embarrassment at dinner parties, picnics, barbecues, and power breakfasts. Instead of me telling friends and total strangers how I stay in shape, they could buy the book and do it themselves. I think there is a need for a thin, little volume containing a few simple recipes and a lot of mirth.”

The recipes are easy enough. Any man who has been getting his own breakfast and lunch for years has, of necessity, developed a number of successful recipes. For example, my recipe for weekday breakfasts: 1 cup dry cereal, 1 piece rye bread toast, 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, nonfat milk for cereal.

My recipe for Sunday brunch is rather more elaborate: two eggs over easy, three slices Hebrew National beef salami, 1 raisin muffin, 1 sliced banana, 1 cup champagne laced with orange juice. (The champagne may be eliminated if you are going to engage in some intellectually demanding exercise such as watching football on TV.)

That is the sort of recipe we hope to put into our book. You can see that they are simple, healthful and satisfying. Anyone who follows the “Jack and Duke Cookbook” will certainly stay thin and be ecstatically happy. We will not ask anyone to follow it religiously. Our book will be nondenominational, but religion will not be proscribed.

It was after I mentioned that we hoped to have Bradbury’s recipe for tomato soup in the book that Bradbury graciously sent it to us with his permission to include it. If any other celebrities would like to be included we would be glad to have their entries.

We would especially like to hear from Cher, Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna, Eddie Murphy, Orel Hershiser and George Bush. Maybe Jane Fonda herself would be generous enough to contribute.

We can’t pay them, but each will get a free copy of the book.