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Cook's Country magazine

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  • Tom Meg Dec 22, 2004 09:26 AM
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Wondering if anyone else out there just received the charter issue of this new magazine from the creators of Cook's Illustrated.

What do you think?

The new mag contains extensively tested homey recipes, the process explained in nerdy detail, which I like reading about, even if I don't always agree with them.

The sensibility of the magazine can be a little over-the-top goofy and folksy. Almost campy. Are they going to have a "Cute Baby of the Month" photo in every issue? A "Find the Hidden Rooster" contest? More reader photos of food sculpted to look like a pig (there are two in this issue)? I can't decide whether to laugh at it or with it.

Some minor gripes--

Suggesting the use of Crisco, and dissing lard, as a frying medium for their fried chicken recipe. Shouldn't they have tried using fresh lard (instead of "not the best" supermarket lard)?

Recycling the "Mystery Tool" feature from Cooks Illustrated. I like "Mystery Tool", but they already discussed egg toppers in an old CI issue, so it wasn't mysterious to me. Is the world running out of mystery tools?

Using--nay, STEALING-- almost verbatim, a never-published "Quick Tip" that I sent in several years ago (regarding the use of ice cubes to cool off a countertop for rolling dough in a warm kitchen). Did they think that I would forget? Hmph! Next time I have a revolutionary idea in dough-rolling, I'll keep it to myself! So there.

But overall, I'm happy to have another nerdy-obsessive food magazine out there.

Link: http://meglioranza.com

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  1. c
    Caitlin McGrath

    "The new mag contains extensively tested homey recipes, the process explained in nerdy detail, which I like reading about, even if I don't always agree with them."

    Sounds just like CI. It's hard to imagine getting homier than CI, which generally features unfussy (the end product, not the prep, once CI's involved) American recipes.

    1. c
      culinary nerd

      I disliked it intensely.

      2 Replies
      1. re: culinary nerd

        So did I. Really hated the tabloid format. Way too large to fit on a shelf conveniently. But would have figured something out if the rest of it held up. I copied the fried chicken recipe and one of the potato casseroles (just to feel I got at least something out it), threw the magazine away, and cancelled my subscription. Although the recipes were phrased in the usual, compulsive, CI way, the rest of the mag had a very happy-hands-at-home approach--not what I'm looking for in a food magazine.

        1. re: JoanN
          c
          ChowFun (derek)

          Funny, I made the fried chicken and the potato casserole winner.....I added more spice, but if you have been looking for that thick crusted-crunchy coating (like KFC extra crispy) this is it!! But spice it to your taste!

      2. I've been sick of those self-important jackoffs for years. The idea of a Country flavor of CI is like a rock-and-roll cover of a Chuck Berry song -- the original CI is already as country as a turnip green, they won't consider ingredients unavailable at WalMart and can't be bothered with anything difficult or demanding of finesse. When I say they're "country" I mean that in an unfavorable way, not in any complimentary, Southern Folkways etc kind of way.

        And as for the tips, I almost wrote them an angry letter when they published the secret of pouring grease out of a skillet without dripping -- YOU FLIP THE SKILLET OVER!!! CI EXCLUSIVE, MUST CREDIT CI!!! DEVELOPING!!! MEXT MONTH OUR SECRET METHOD OF STIRRING COFFEE WITH THE ROUND, DISHED END OF AN ORDINARY SPOON

        1 Reply
        1. re: john clark

          I agree, this is an idea that should have died once they had done their 5th 'perfect' grilled chicken and named 'Doritos' best tortilla chip. They have become annoying and so is their no-ads-allowed magazine with about 10 ads stapled and/or blown in to the pages. Its became too hard to get the ads out without ruining the magazine, so I quit getting it. I do give them points for the tasteful cover-art.

        2. "The sensibility of the magazine can be a little over-the-top goofy and folksy. Almost campy. Are they going to have a "Cute Baby of the Month" photo in every issue? A "Find the Hidden Rooster" contest? More reader photos of food sculpted to look like a pig (there are two in this issue)? I can't decide whether to laugh at it or with it."

          This sounds disturbingly like the country-cutesy no-ads cooking magazine called "Taste of Home". It's filled with recipes created by home cooks, mostly blandly flavored fill-'em-up casseroles with beef and mashed potatoes or the like. They hide a toothpick in every issue, and give away some appliance to the first person who finds it. They have pictures of people's magnet-covered refrigerators. They have "home-grown" handy-dandy tips on how to do practically everything. They highlight a home cook in every issue with pictures and info about her/him.

          I looked at the freebie one they sent me and tossed it. I think I'd toss this one as well. :-/

          1 Reply
          1. re: Linda W.

            From my understanding, this magazine is meant to appeal directly to the "Taste of Home" audience. I went to a presentation by Christopher Kimball once and he mentioned that Taste of Home has the largest and most successful subscription list in the biz, so I guess Cook's wanted to see if they could share. Thus the folksy accent that is not the typical CI flavor.

          2. Like others, read it and discarded it. There's much better quality in other food magazines than this one holds.

            1. I'm surprised by some of the intensely negative reactions on this thread so far. I mean, some of it's definitely annoying to me, but I think I can still manage to get some use out of it...moreso than, say, Bon Appetit, or that miniature 'simple' food magazine put out by Martha Stewart (I forget its title).

              Now that they have created a fluffier version of themselves in Cooks Country, I wish they'd go in the opposite direction and create something like "C.I.: Hardcore", applying the same obsessive testing regime to more adventurous or labor intensive foods. Like offal. Or fresh pasta (not really labor intensive once you get the hang of it). Or aspics and terrines. Or cooking a whole pig in the backyard. Etc. etc. Some of us relish recipes with challenging techniques to master, or with good ingredients that might not be sitting in your local Stop and Shop.

              Link: http://meglioranza.com

              5 Replies
              1. re: Tom Meg

                I agree with you on this. I like reading about the approaches to perfecting a recipe, and I have used some of the facts I've gleaned, if not the recipes themselves. That said, I'm getting bored with it after three years and will probably drop it when the subscription is up. Now, if they would take your suggestion, I would re-up or switch to the new one.

                I honestly don't recall whether I received the new homey mag, but by the sound of it, I would have tossed it after a quick flip-through.

                1. re: Tom Meg

                  I'm intensely negative about CI because of their authoritative tone and their rubeish perspective. They advocate mediocrity in order to appeal to a broad market, and dress up their advocacy in the rainment of obviously skewed research. They sell magazines by making half-assed cooks and uncritical readers think they're serious about food and believe in excellence. It's a success but it's dishonest.

                  1. re: john clark
                    r
                    Reared on Home Cookin

                    I was a good cook and serious about food before ever seeing Cook's Illustrated, so what you said wouldn't really apply to me. I must confess that I was not aware of what was going on in the world of half-assed cooks and uncritical readers, so I must defer to your greater familiarity with it :)

                    Thank you for bringing it to my attention.
                    I hope the editors of CI see it and keep their authoritative tone out of such readers' hands!

                    So, speaking of being a critical reader, I did stumble over a couple of your words so I googled for them. The phrase "in the raiment of", now that one is used a lot on bible-thumping sites, but the other, "rubeish"... now let me see, R-U-B-E-I-S-H... I like the way that rolls off the tongue... :)

                  2. re: Tom Meg
                    c
                    Caitlin McGrath

                    The problem with the "CI: Hardcore" concept is that it's pretty clear it's not one the staff of CI could embrace, or would want to pursue by hiring new staff. It seems their mission is perfecting (to their own definition) homey, approachable food, and their criteria *does* seem to include all ingredients being available at the local Stop and Shop. I think what you're suggesting is left to the likes of John Thorne, who can be equally obsessive about exploring the whys and wherefores of cooking, usually in a more entertaining way.

                    1. re: Tom Meg

                      Forgive me if this has already been mentioned, but I recently subscribed to "Kitchen and Cook" which is a 16-page monthly newsletter. The masthead has the CIA logo and states "tips and techniques from the world's premier culinary college."

                      As an example, October 2004 issue had 3-1/2 pages including step-by-step photographs for Pate en Croute (sorry I'm not doing all the accents, don't know how). Included recipes for Cumberland Sauce, Aspic Gelee, Pate Dough, Wild Game Pate en Croute, Salmon Pate en Croute.

                      November 2004 issue had 2 pages on "basting, barding and larding" including photographs and a recipe for Larded Roast Pheasant. Same issue had 2-1/4 pages on homemade ravioli with detailed dough instructions including pictures.

                      I think this publication would meet your desire for "C.I.: Hardcore." Not inexpensive: $39/year. Got one of those "try our first issue and if you don't like it you can unsubscribe" offers for this and decided to try it for a year. Haven't actually cooked from it yet.

                    2. The mag seems designed to compete with Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. I like it. I've tried two of the brownie variations and people loved them. The Smores Brownies are something I'll definitely try again.

                      1. I received my charter copy a day or so ago and immediately started reading it cover to cover as I do when my Cook’s Illustrated reaches me. It’s been my experience that when stuff SOUNDS good in CI, I can attempt it in confidence to my and my family’s delight! I love the “Taste of Home” feel of this new publication, but unlike Taste of Home, I’ve never missed with CI. The blue cheese dressing on the lettuce wedge from the charter Cook’s Country I could eat for days and, if not for the calories – never tire of (I used Maytag blue – yummmm). The Lemon chicken and rice was a keeper as well (I used Lundberg organic brown rice, so it took a little longer cooking time, but equally yummm). Also made the low fat chocolate pudding – mind you, this was all put together like Rachael Ray in a “30 minute meal” between American Idol and West Wing – my family thought I was a star. I have enough time consuming French Laundry cookbooks that are too complicated for nightly fare. Simple, quality food that has my family smiling – THAT’S the perfect publication for me. Bravo! Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country!!

                        1. Wow. The culinary snobbery sprinkled throughout this thread is just amazing...

                          C.I. is a very decent how-to cook mag aimed at the mainstream. Don't kid yourself if you think a basically ad free supermarket food magazine is going to reach out to a smaller audience of pros.

                          Cook's Country is funky, fun, and just the opposite of Everyday Food in format: bigger, more cluttered, less subdued but aimed at the same huge audience. I think it's really fun to look at. I'm going to make the lowfat chocolate pudding again. Right now :-P