"As far as we can tell, James was sitting at the dining room table, he was reading a cookbook, and he had a pot of soup simmering on the stove. So he definitely left this world in a way that he would have wanted to, but I think he would have been pretty upset about the timing," [his wife] told CBC News.
As TV cooks go, he was unique, stressing adaptability, improvisation, substitution, and the ability to make good food from scratch with limited time, money, and energy. (I in particular remember with fondness an episode of his show wherein he demonstrated what you do when your dinner guests are arriving in half an hour and your range is dead, dead, dead. His solution? Salmon in the dishwasher, asparagus in the coffee pot. Magic!)
His website has a magical function where you enter the ingredients you have on hand, and it finds you recipes. (Registration required, but free.)
Between them, he, Julia Child, and Fannie Farmer taught me how to cook. I have several of his books, and for any of you who have had my legendary mustard-lemon pork chops with apple, that's a modification of one of his recipes. So are two of my three chili recipes--the chili con carne, and the New England style chili with kidney beans.
When I was in college, I once baked brownies in an electric wok. That was all James Barber's fault.
I am sad now.