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Sunday blogging about things that make me happy

February 26, 2006

For Christmas, I got a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated for Christmas and I finally received my first issue yesterday. I love Cook’s Illustrated. So Much. This issue had a new recipe for pancakes, which I tried out this morning. Yum. (OK, it was a recipe for blueberry pancakes, but the author stated quite clearly that a good blueberry pancake starts with a cook pancake recipe. So I made them without blueberries. A bit fluffy, but tremendous.)

The other thing I love is America’s Test Kitchen, the companion TV show to Cook’s Illustrated. ATK airs on PBS and is like a 30 minute Cook’s Illustrated fix. Right now, I’m watching a (rerun) episode all about turkey. While it’s not Thanksgiving season right now, I can always use pointers on turkey. (Though I do make a wicked turkey. From a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, no less. This episode is about cooking a BIG turkey, though, and I’ve never done that.)

The thing that I love most about Cook’s and ATK is the common-sense approach. Every article in the magazine takes you through the numerous tests required to produce the “perfect” recipe, whether that recipe is for pancakes, pork tenderloin, or even pan-roasted asparagus. The ingredients are generally simple–the sort of thing you’d tend to have in your pantry, or could get at your local megamart. And they make sense. Instead of throwing out terms like “cream,” assuming the home cook knows what that is (FYI, beating softened butter and sugar together to introduce an aerated, whipped mix, often required in baking cookies or cakes), the recipes are clear, even for the novice cook.

And the magazine has no ads. (Nor, actually, does the TV show, since it airs on PBS.)

A final bonus: the magazine has beautiful illustrations on the back cover, of vegetables, herbs, fruits, and a variety of other food products. You can frame them! (I have a friend who has.) If you like to cook, then, check out the magazine, the TV show, the website. And fall in love.

[Update: Um, I wondered why the issue didn’t have a month listed on it; I also wondered why there was an envelope tucked into the plastic sleeve with it. Turns out, my gift subscription hasn’t arrived yet; this was just a “Please Renew!” compilation issue, since I let my old subscription lapse last summer. Sigh. I guess I have to call Amazon.com (through whom the gift subscription was ordered) after all.]

  1. February 26, 2006 at 6:11 pm

    Cook’s Illustrated is *awesome* and so is ATK. It might be tied with “Good Eats” as the best food show on TV.

  2. CM
    February 26, 2006 at 6:54 pm

    Tip: At the end of every year, they put out a bound version of all the issues for that year, with an index of all the recipes. Better yet, every December they have a deal where you can buy that year’s bound edition and get the previous year’s for free. I have the 2002-2005 editions and I use them all the time.

  3. February 27, 2006 at 9:21 pm

    Why had I not heard of this wonderful creation?? Looks like I am actually gonna watch some programming on PBS…don’t think I’ve done that since Sesame Street.

  4. February 27, 2006 at 9:37 pm

    Are the recipes on Cook’s Illustrated easy-to-make? I think I need some help thinking of food to buy in less-than-20-min-to-cook style.

  5. February 27, 2006 at 9:56 pm

    Shell, they’re not hard, but some of them are more advanced. The good thing is, though, that they’re very clearly written and easy to follow. So even the more involved recipes are accessible to the novice cook. And they do have some recipes that are simple.

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