Our Well-Loved Cookbooks: Cooking with Friends

Bear with me.

Just as I may be accused of jumping on the pop culture bandwagon (following my twitter and news feeds being filled yesterday with the sensationalized announcements that some middle-aged actors from a television show that ended fifteen years ago are having a reunion episode) apparently authors of cookbooks do the same.

Back in 1995, when the sitcom Friends was barely a season old, some bandwagons were jumped upon by a couple of folks who (with motivations unknown to me) published a collection of recipes co-branded with a soon-to-be generation-defining television show.

I don’t remember exactly who or why… but someone gave me this cookbook as I shipped off and moved out of home setting out towards University.

I’d be lying if I told you this book had been cracked open as more than a curiosity in the decade prior to this morning.

But, for a very long time, it was one of approximately three cookbooks I owned.

Was I a fan of the show? Well. I watched it, but mostly because in the nineties as a student without cable television, we watched whatever was broadcast over one of the four channels that reached our apartments via the little rabbit ears antenna.

Yesterday I couldn’t help but open my twitter feed and see countless people promoting the reunion episode trailer that had been posted online. Serious news agencies devoted writers, resources, and space on their properties to dissecting the cultural impacts of a ten-year-long, millennium-spanning sitcom.

I was reminded that I had this book on my shelf.


On my shelf mixed in among the other mostly-serious cookbooks.

Latching onto popular culture to inspire recipes is not an obscure thing, tho.

Beside the Cooking with Friends cookbook on my shelf there was also (I kid you not) a copy of The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook (which technically belongs to my daughter) and a more recent acquisition Binging with Babish: 100 Recipes Recreated from Your Favorite Movies and TV Shows, which I bought to support Youtuber Andrew Rea who runs a remarkably well-produced and genuinely brilliant cooking channel where he instructs and entertains around a very similar premise. (After I’ve cooked a few more recipes from his book I’ll post a breakdown in a future post.) I’d also be obscuring my fascination with pop-culture-inspired recipes if I didn’t mention that I own a healthy digital collection of PDF cookbooks containing such titles as The Geeky Chef Cookbook, Minecrafter’s Cookbook, The Nightmare Before Dinner and of course The Wizard’s Cookbook: Magical Recipes Inspired by Harry Potter, Merlin, The Wizard of Oz, and More.

All that said, one season in to the show Friends there was insufficient inspirational fodder for the Cooking with Friends cookbook to be anything but a co-branded cash-grab. The recipes are broad and basic. Italian food (because one of the characters is Italian) or coffee-house treats (because they all spend a lot of time drinking coffee in a café.) Later seasons would turn one of the main characters into a working chef (which certainly would have provided some interesting recipes) and revolve entire episode plots around eating, cooking, dining, drinking, and other food-related activities. But little of these stories is to be found between the covers of this book.

The little blue page flag visible in my photo above opens to a page with a recipe for pesto pizza a recipe that, yes, we did cook a few times, using both the pesto and the pizza dough recipe from this cookbook. I don’t recall the characters ever having much to do with pesto pizza… but the pizza was pretty delicious if I recall.

My twitter feed has already forgotten about the Friends reunion episode trailer that was the star of the news cycle yesterday. Maybe the bandwagon has rolled on. I spent half an hour as I started my day with a cup of coffee flipping through the recipes in this old, once-treasured book. It was well-loved, and perhaps now long-forgotten, but it served us well for a time.

Like an old friend. Friends? Friend.

Gear: CRKT Tactical Folding Blade

I’ve had a couple trusty knives in my possession for nearly as long as I can remember. And this week in my Thursday Tuck & Tech post (where I’m making an inventory of the gear I use or would like to add to my collection) I’m digging into a blade I was given by my brother as a best-man gift for his wedding nearly twenty years ago.

The CRKT (Columbia River Knife & Tool) model SRT-HRE is a matte black, single blade, folding knife with a simple spring-arm lock in the hilt.

The reverse side features a simple pocket clip which adds about 50% to the depth profile, making this about 1 cm thick by 16 cm long open (9 cm long closed.)

What I Googled told me that the SRT-HRE code translates to: Special Response Team – High Risk Environment, and I couldn’t find this model for sale on the manufacturer website, so I’m going to assume it’s out of production. And, in light of the crazy insurrection-type action going on with our southernly neighbours this month, I’m going to add that I’ve only ever used this knife for peaceful, outdoorsy cutting which makes it more of a Average Guy Club – Low Risk Wandering knife, or AGC-LRW for short.

The top two-thirds of the blade is a curved, smooth edge while the bottom third is a serrated edge.

It’s light and strong, and feels good in the hand and I’ve used it for nearly two decades of general outdoor utility like cutting rope, feathering kindling, and cutting vegetation. I’ve also kept it handy while camping for food preparation and as a general purpose steak-knife. It’s not nearly long enough to fillet a fish, but it might serve in a pinch.

This is the kind of knife I toss into my pocket whenever I go camping, out for a long, woodsy walk or a photo expedition. You never know when you need to cut a bit of branch or pry something loose.

Note: this is a piece of gear I’ve owned for a while, and this post is not an endorsement (at least, it’s not a paid one.)