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Thread: Cook's Illustrated?

  1. #1
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    Question Cook's Illustrated?

    I was wondering if anyone here gets Cook's Illustrated? If you do, what do you think of it? What do you like/not like about it? I am considering giving my sister a gift subscription and I was wondering if it would be worthwhile.
    Thanks!
    Last edited by pharmarepgirl; 07-14-2008 at 12:57 PM.

  2. #2
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    I subscribed for years and then realized that although I checked out the process and technique, I never actually used the recipes! (With the exception of course of Bob's posting of the Brown Rice method...)

    Also, I was annoyed at the requirement for subscribers having to also pay the $20 per year for the website, which had the same information. (Which Consumer Reports also does.)

    So I stopped the mag sub and, finally, also the website sub. Buy the "Best Recipes" and "Best Light Recipes" books and you'll have the basics.

    JMHO.
    Sonja in Southern Maryland

    All kids are gifted; some just open their packages earlier than others. -Michael Carr

  3. #3
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    I subscribed for years and then realized that although I checked out the process and technique, I never actually used the recipes! (With the exception of course of Bob's posting of the Brown Rice method...)

    Also, I was annoyed at the requirement for subscribers having to also pay the $20 per year for the website, which had the same information. (Which Consumer Reports also does.)

    So I stopped the mag sub and, finally, also the website sub. Buy the "Best Recipes" and "Best Light Recipes" books and you'll have the basics. Oh, and watch the PBS Series, "America's Test Kitchen"...the recipes are free on the PBS website.

    JMHO.
    Sonja in Southern Maryland

    All kids are gifted; some just open their packages earlier than others. -Michael Carr

  4. #4
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    It really depends on what kind of a cook/person your sister is. Is she methodical, always looking for "the best'' way to make something? Does she like Alton Brown? These are good indicators she might enjoy CI. Or if she is looking to become more precise, she might like it. Personally, I pick up a copy once in a while, and like the recipes generally, but the mag is too one-sided and presumptuous about what is "best" for me. It's too fussy in tone. It is perfect for lots of people though.

  5. #5
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    I use the Web site, but mostly for equipment reviews. I do use it for basic recipes, such as pesto or roasted chicken. But I find that not only do they preach about what is 'best', they also underseason most of their recipes for my Louisiana tastes. I think anyone who cooks would enjoy the magazine, especially if it was a gift. Then they can decide if they like it enough to pay for it. I was always going to frame the back covers, but never did get around to it.
    Margaret

  6. #6
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    cooks illustrated

    I have had the magazine, however it is $$ and now have come to perfer "cooks country" have you had a chance to ck that one?

    val

  7. #7
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    C.i.

    I subscribe to both Cooks Ill. and Cooks Country and really like both. C.I. is more fussy but I don't mind because I enjoy cooking and feel that their recipes almost always turn out well. Cooks country is more simplified cooking, sort of every night fare. I've learned so muchfrom CI, I don't think i'd ever cancel my subscription to either. With CI it's not just making a recipe but an explanation of why you're doing each step. I dont just learn how to make the rec. but how to bea better cook in general....Steph

  8. #8
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    CI probably has the strongest "personality" of the cooking mags that are on the stands these days. While I admire the editors (or, should I say, *editor*, since everything in CI seems pretty much to be an extension of Christopher Kimball) for not pandering to "market research" or advertiser demands, it also means that the magazine is relentlessly overbearing in its approach, IMHO. I don't know that it's the kind of magazine I would choose for someone else unless I knew beforehand that she had already seen it and liked it -- because if your sister takes a dislike to the magazine, she will *really* dislike it.


    I buy it occasionally -- usually when I see it iat Costco -- because there's always at least one article on the cover that grabs my interest. (And because I'm just a huge sucker for cooking magazines!) But once I've bought it, I almost always regret it, because I just can't take too much of its preachy, holier-than-thou tone -- how *do* the rest of us manage to get by, eating our inferior food from our inadequate recipes until the good people at CI come along to enlighten us?

    And don't get me started on Chris Kimball's column in the front of the book -- one of the only ways I can even read CI is to start at the back, so I don't have to come across it. But, on those occasions when I do see it, it's like a bad traffic accident -- I just can't look away, but I really wish I had. And before I know it, I'm reading yet another pseudo-folksy anecdote about a-tappin' the maple trees or some such thing. Puh-leeze.

    But -- there's obviously something about the magazine that attracts me, or I'd just ignore it entirely. I do like to learn about food science, and I have gotten a handful of good recipes from CI over the years that are in heavy rotation in my house -- the Brown Rice is invaluable, as is their skillet mac-and-cheese. Even though I'm not super-vigilant about "cooking light," I do find a lot of their recipes to be too heavy/fatty for my tastes (yeah, I could make the "best" of everything, too, if I used butter and heavy cream with wild abandon.) And some of their recipes that I've tried have proven to be just too time-consuming to be worth the effort, even if they yielded nice results -- I'm thinking of the butternut squash soup that I was still laboring away on as my guests piled into the house.


    Helene
    "We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake."
    --President Barack Obama, 1/20/09

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by shscharles View Post

    So I stopped the mag sub and, finally, also the website sub. Buy the "Best Recipes" and "Best Light Recipes" books and you'll have the basics.

    JMHO.
    I've bought a few issues, but found that I really enjoyed the cookbooks mentioned above much more. I will warn you, the Best Recipes cookbook is huge!

  10. #10
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    I agree with the other posters on the tone and attitude, but it doesn't bother me that much - for me, CI is the most reliable recipe resource in terms of promise and outcome. My biggest problem is that their recipes are often kind of boring, conservative, etc., there are very few (maybe 10 plus their variations) recipes in each magazine, and it only comes out 6 times a year. The pics are black and white - not the most appealing choice for food - except for the last page where they have microscopic color pictures of each recipe on one page. No ads, though, and you get taste and equipment ratings. You might want to have a look at their website, they always have some content up there for free and see if you like it.
    If your sister is anal, likes to have involved yet foolproof recipes, she would probably like it. Cook's Country has easier/faster recipes and more of them, but neither comes up with much creative, exciting new stuff. That's what other magazines are for.
    Then again, few things in life give you more bang for the buck than magazine subcriptions...

  11. #11
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    To hate or to love

    Cooks Illustrated - the magazine to have opinions about.
    This has been interesting reading. A friend lent me a stack of CI mags a few years ago. I read them and said to myself, "Who are these people and what are they thinking???"
    Following recommendations on the BB I still purchased "The Best Light", was gravely disappointed and gave the book away. Should have known better but friend mentioned above was happy.
    Thanks HRJ and heavy hedonist. You make me feel that I'm not alone in my strong opinion - overbearing and presumtious - oh yes.
    We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the best deal man has ever made.
    -M. Acklam

  12. #12
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    When I had the opportunity to hear Christopher Kimball speak, I was amazed at how pompous and condescending he was. He spoke at a food writing seminar that I attended in March 2006. I've never liked him, but I was shocked by the contempt that he expressed for American cooks. You know, the ones who keep him employed. He basically called American cooks lazy, unadventurous, and stupid. The audience just sat there with their mouths open, shocked by his statements. Along with at least half of the room, I cheered when Nina Simonds called him on his miscategorization of American cooks.
    *******************
    my personal chef service: Anastasia's Table Personal Chef Service

  13. #13
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    I received a subscription as a gift a few months ago but probably won't renew when it expires. Once in awhile I go back to an issue for a recipe or question, but not as much as I refer to older issues of CL or EW.

  14. #14
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    Thanks for all the insight. I have only perused CI a handful of times. I think I will go w/ Fine Cooking instead or EW.

  15. #15
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    Here is a big bruhaha going on in the blog world concerning a blogger and CI if you are interested.This is where I first found it ( the 2nd post down) and the start of it all ( the first 2 posts)

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzmatazz49 View Post
    I was always going to frame the back covers, but never did get around to it.
    I did, and that's what decorates the area over my cabinets. Hey, semi-free artwork--can't beat it! I wanted an uncluttered look instead of stashing a bunch of home-decor items up there; this worked for me. I used mats that fit my kitchen colors, and I like the clean appearance of framed prints w/ no trinkets on my cabinets.

    Quote Originally Posted by HRJ View Post
    And don't get me started on Chris Kimball's column in the front of the book -- one of the only ways I can even read CI is to start at the back, so I don't have to come across it. But, on those occasions when I do see it, it's like a bad traffic accident -- I just can't look away, but I really wish I had. And before I know it, I'm reading yet another pseudo-folksy anecdote about a-tappin' the maple trees or some such thing. Puh-leeze.
    Isn't it funny how a mag that can drive some readers batty is just what other readers want? I love those essays. The outdoorsy descriptions really appeal to the nature-starved "city kid" in me. Different strokes, of course. A strong reason to know your audience well when you're considering a gift subscription.

    Quote Originally Posted by PattiA View Post
    When I had the opportunity to hear Christopher Kimball speak, I was amazed at how pompous and condescending he was.
    What a shame. I'm really sorry to hear that; I'm disappointed in him for being offensive. The reason I have enjoyed CI is that I am a self-taught cook, and what some readers are perceiving as CI's pompous blowhardism comes across to me, as a still-sometimes-insecure cook, as valuable teaching. I have only become what DH calls "an excellent cook" in the past few years; in all the prior years, I stumbled around with the canned-soup-&-rice combos & other quick fixes that many inexperienced cooks use, and I struggled mightily with any involved recipes that focused on fresh ingredients & home-done prep. Again, regarding the OP, you need to know what type of cook your sis is. Maybe buy her one issue of a few mags, & let her pick which one gets the subscription?

    Quote Originally Posted by alicerh View Post
    Here is a big bruhaha going on in the blog world concerning a blogger and CI if you are interested.This is where I first found it ( the 2nd post down) and the start of it all ( the first 2 posts)
    Wow! I can't believe CI jumped on this blogger for essentially giving CI free advertising!
    If you're afraid of butter, use cream. ~~ Julia Child

    As you cook, you enjoy omniscience about food that no amount of label reading can match. Having retaken control of the meal from the food scientists, you know exactly what is in it. (Unless you start w/cream of mushroom soup, in which case all bets are off.) To reclaim control over one's food, to take it back from industry & science, is no small thing; indeed, in our time, cooking from scratch qualifies as subversive. ~~ Michael Pollan

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by pharmarepgirl View Post
    Thanks for all the insight. I have only perused CI a handful of times. I think I will go w/ Fine Cooking instead or EW.
    My father gave me a subscription of Fine Cooking and I really like it. It is informative with interesting recipes, recommendations on equipment, cooking lessons, etc. with beautiful, full-color photography. It's one of those magazines that I do keep and refer back to. I rarely see it mentioned on this BB and I've always wondered why - I guess not many people know about it? I'd never seen it myself until I got it for a gift. Do any others read/get it?

  18. #18
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    I think we all know about it, but this is the Cooking Light board, so I think the people here tend toward more healthy recipes. Everything in FC is ridiculously high in fat. I would never, ever make any of those recipes (I used to get it - someone gave me a subscription as a gift once).

    But I do know it's been mentioned many times here over the years.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by cocoa'smom View Post
    I rarely see it mentioned on this BB and I've always wondered why - I guess not many people know about it? I'd never seen it myself until I got it for a gift. Do any others read/get it?
    http://community.cookinglight.com/sh...d.php?t=120104

    Dolores
    "we can't go 'round measuring our goodness by what we don't do, by what we deny ourselves, what we resist and who we exclude...
    we've got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include."
    Pierre Henri in Chocolat
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    www.photographybydolores.com

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by dneilson View Post
    How funny! I was on vacation during that week and totally missed this thread! Glad to know others like it as much as I do!

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