HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >

Cooks Illustrated

BoardSMITH Jul 21, 2009 03:22 AM

I just received a free copy with a "special" price for a years subscription. I am leaning towards sending in a check but wondered what the opinion was about this magazine.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Davwud RE: BoardSMITH Jul 21, 2009 04:21 AM

    It's excellent. Be careful though, there are many horror stories on people trying to cancel their subscriptions and having to jump through many hoops.

    We got a subscription as a wedding gift. We kept it up for a few years but money got tight a few years back and it was up for renewal. We opted out without any trouble. We just pick it up at the store now.
    I've also bought books off them without all the troubles people have posted about on these boards.

    DT

    1. g
      glutton RE: BoardSMITH Jul 21, 2009 04:35 AM

      I got this for a few years and was not a fan. While I can appreciate the diligence that it takes to find the perfect way to make a recipe, I found reading the articles to be tedious. They have a big section of tips from readers, which would sound promising, but it felt almost juvenile at times. And, worst of all, the editor's column every month was the most disingenuous, annoying, and lame piece of writing I've seen in a long time. He tries to pass himself off as an "aw shucks" Vermont farmer, but at the same time he manages at least two monthly magazines, a TV show, and a book publishing operation. At best, he's a gentleman farmer and there's no shame in that, but he tries so desperately to pass himself off as a genuine Vermont farmer. It made me despise him.

      4 Replies
      1. re: glutton
        Davwud RE: glutton Jul 21, 2009 04:42 AM

        See, Mrs. Sippi sees it as, he's in charge of his little empire but in the end, he's still just this simple Vermont farmer.
        I on the other hand don't care enough about him to form an opinion. I like the books, magazines and the shows. That's about all I really care about.

        DT

        1. re: glutton
          j
          jchamberlain RE: glutton Jul 23, 2009 08:12 AM

          He's a great writer, but he's critical of those TV food people who he really looks down upon like Rachael Ray and company. I personally like to look at all levels of cooking to learn.

          1. re: jchamberlain
            Mr Taster RE: jchamberlain Dec 28, 2010 10:24 AM

            In our culture, true expertise is rapidly being diluted by non professionals (or enthusiastic amateurs) whose only exceptional talent is their ability to speak confidently. True expertise is a rapidly dwindling commodity. While everyone is certainly entitled to an opinion, it is important to recognize that not everyone's opinion is worth the same amount. I am most definitely an enthusiastic amateur cook, but I would never presuppose that my skills are equal to a properly trained chef. (Yes it's *possible*, but I would never presuppose this).

            So from my perspective, I really don't have a problem with Kimball calling out people who lack genuine talent or training, but present themselves to an audience as possessing those attributes (whether explicitly or implicitly). Kimball repeatedly admits that he has no formal cooking training. He *is* the enthusiastic amateur, but he surrounds himself by properly trained chefs. That's part of the magic of CI, and it's what makes it more genuine than a Rachel Ray or Sandra Lee who buys recipes and really just do what they're told. You're not getting the genuine article with them. But they both have their schtick, speak confidently, and present you with ideas that an audience assumes are their own.

            Having said that, I also can't stand Kimball's editor's commentary in each issue. It's the only part of the magazine I skip over. It's as if he and Garrison Keillor are duking it out for the Downhome Folksy Award.

            Mr Taster

            1. re: Mr Taster
              coney with everything RE: Mr Taster Dec 29, 2010 04:36 AM

              For all the issues with Chris Kimball and CI, I will forever adore him for being so forthright when a reporter asked him about cooking times in recipes...his response was "utter bullshit...it's all marketing."

              I do like CI; it's introduced me to some excellent tools and techniques, but just like every cooking magazine I've ever subscribed to, it gets repetitive and I dropped it after a couple of years.

        2. l
          lscanlon RE: BoardSMITH Jul 21, 2009 05:29 AM

          I've subscribed to Cook's Illustrated for several years, and I think it's the best cooking magazine on the market. (I also subscribe to Cook's Country, which I consider almost as good as CI.)

          Earlier this year, I took out a subscription to their website, Cooksillustrated.com, not knowing quite what to expect from it. (Cook's Country has a separate website.) As it turns out, I love it! The website contains all the recipes, taste tests, and equipment tests ever printed in the magazine, and their search engine is very efficient. When the time comes, I plan to let the CI subscription lapse and just go with the website.

          Leo

          3 Replies
          1. re: lscanlon
            bayoucook RE: lscanlon Jul 23, 2009 08:13 AM

            I did the same years ago; love the website, easy to save recipes.

            1. re: lscanlon
              f
              foodiefan6 RE: lscanlon Aug 6, 2011 07:05 PM

              I agree about the website being superior to the magazine: much of the same information in the magazine, plus a ton of additioanl resources.

              I had subsscribed for one year, then switched to online only.

              1. re: foodiefan6
                bayoucook RE: foodiefan6 Aug 6, 2011 07:11 PM

                Me, too. Love the website AND you get the new issue there every month

            2. jmckee RE: BoardSMITH Jul 21, 2009 08:05 AM

              I subscribed for a few years, and I found that eventually the methods CI used to produce the "perfect" or "best" dish grew increasingly bizarre.

              Couldn't agree more about Kimball's precious, arrogant editorials.

              Taste test articles also grew increasingly unreliable. They seemed rigged to produce a different result than other sources (e.g., Maille dijon mustard being rated lowly in favor of a common American dijon). Book reviews disappeared.

              It's Kimball's magazine about Kimball's taste and Kimball's opinions. I live just fine without it.

              3 Replies
              1. re: jmckee
                Will Owen RE: jmckee Aug 6, 2011 06:18 PM

                Dan Goldberg, who used to publish a great food'n'cookin' newsletter called The Curmudgeon's Home Companion, had a running gripe about what he called "Chris Kimball's ongoing battle with reality." If I'm going to tune into someone really opinionated I want a reliable one, like Goldberg or John Thorne. I'll trust any of Thorne's home-tested recipes before ones from Kimball and his flock of trained drudges.

                1. re: Will Owen
                  g
                  glutton RE: Will Owen Aug 7, 2011 07:33 AM

                  I miss The Curmudgeon so much. Does Goldberg write anywhere else?

                  1. re: glutton
                    Will Owen RE: glutton Aug 7, 2011 02:15 PM

                    He claimed he was gonna blog. I haven't looked for it lately; if I started in reading all the blogs that come recommended to me I'd REALLY never get anything done!

              2. LindaWhit RE: BoardSMITH Jul 21, 2009 10:49 AM

                This thread might be helpful:

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/531244

                1. d
                  dagwood RE: BoardSMITH Jul 21, 2009 01:58 PM

                  Love it. I read each copy cover-to-cover (with the exception of Kimball's "editorial" in the beginning) often several times over. I have yet to make something from it that failed, and it's one of the few sources I trust without question.

                  I agree with the posters who don't like Kimball though. He's pompous and irritating. But the recipes are outstanding.

                  I also watch the show on PBS, and have joined the website twice now (let it expire sometime in between.)

                  For the record, the other magazine I get that I love is Cuisine at Home.

                  1. Miss Needle RE: BoardSMITH Jul 21, 2009 03:37 PM

                    If you're intent on getting a subscription, I'd lean towards purchasing the bound edition of the magazines. I think it will be a lot more useful than having magazines lying around as you can keep it with your cookbooks for reference.

                    http://www.cooksillustrated.com/books...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Miss Needle
                      BoardSMITH RE: Miss Needle Jul 22, 2009 04:59 AM

                      Thanks to everyone who took the time to reply. I appreciate your time. I will try a 1 year subscription to see how it goes.

                    2. Shane Greenwood RE: BoardSMITH Jul 22, 2009 06:42 AM

                      In 2003 I had a subscription for 1 year and kept all the issues. I am still learning from them. Each issue is packed with well thought out information and recipes. Go for it.

                      Side note: when my subscription ran out, the magazines stopped coming. No problems with them at all. We have since switched to watching the show and using their website since it's more convenient for us (and cheaper, and more entertaining than the mag).

                      1. C. Hamster RE: BoardSMITH Jul 22, 2009 09:07 AM

                        Chris Kimball is a pompous ass who should wash his hair more than once a week. I find him insufferable.

                        But I do very much like the magazine and the TV show and the website.

                        There aren't that many technique magazines out there. If that's what you're after, it's a good one.

                        1. Junie D RE: BoardSMITH Jul 22, 2009 10:20 AM

                          What infuriates and fascinates me about CI is the attitude that cooking should be like a scientific experiment, completely explainable and reproduceable as long as exact instructions are followed. Where's the fun in that? Where's the creativity in that? Where's the mystery in that? Where's the cook in that?

                          I find CI a good resource for food science basics, but I'd rather read On Food and Cooking any day. Maybe it's that Yankee, Puritan approach, but CI removes the sensuality from cooking. And sensuality is the best part!

                          These are the folks who devoted an article to making lamb taste less like lamb. Uh, if you don't like lamb, cook something else.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: Junie D
                            grampart RE: Junie D Jul 22, 2009 10:27 AM

                            "These are the folks who devoted an article to making lamb taste less like lamb. Uh, if you don't like lamb, cook something else."

                            I always thought that was what the mint jelly was there for......folks who don't really like lamb.

                            1. re: grampart
                              o
                              Old Spice RE: grampart Jul 22, 2009 10:13 PM

                              Reminds me of a friend's mom's "recipe" for salmon. She was disbelieving when she heard that another friend, who loved most fish, didn't care much for salmon. She suggested that he make it like she did...just use a lot of lemon pepper and it won't even TASTE like salmon. LOL.

                            2. re: Junie D
                              LindaWhit RE: Junie D Jul 22, 2009 10:27 AM

                              Well said, Junie. While CI might have some insight into WHY you cook something a certain way (like Alton Brown), it takes any imagination and throws it right out the window. No fun at all.

                              And as others have said - Kimball's a complete asshat. And their customer service stinks, as evidenced by many posts in the link above for many who've tried to cancel their subscriptions.

                              1. re: LindaWhit
                                Junie D RE: LindaWhit Jul 22, 2009 11:12 AM

                                Has anyone done a parody yet, "The CI Guide to Perfect Sex"? I'd love to see that.

                                1. re: Junie D
                                  sharonanne RE: Junie D Jul 22, 2009 08:52 PM

                                  Oh dear, oh dear. LOL

                                  "We went through 800 lbs of humans just to find the perfect way to make love"

                                  1. re: sharonanne
                                    breadchick RE: sharonanne Jan 9, 2012 05:53 PM

                                    I'd like to see the Equipment Corner in that issue...

                              2. re: Junie D
                                dave_c RE: Junie D Jul 23, 2009 01:18 PM

                                Maybe it's a guy and gal thing. Left brain vs right brain thinking.

                                The logical mind of a guy likes recipes that's been tried and laid out. CI explains what they're going for in terms of the recipes and through their method find the best way to achieve their goal.

                                Also, as a guy, I wouldn't know how to put sensuality into cooking or even how to quantify that ingredient.

                                Me no comprende. :-)

                                1. re: dave_c
                                  Junie D RE: dave_c Jul 23, 2009 09:05 PM

                                  Sensuality is exactly the ingredient you CAN'T quantify. Hence the lack of it in CI's recipes.

                                  1. re: dave_c
                                    Will Owen RE: dave_c Aug 6, 2011 06:22 PM

                                    Yeah, and I sure as hell know how to put sensuality into my cooking. Quantify? Forget it. It's been a long time since I actually measured any salt …

                                  2. re: Junie D
                                    njmarshall55 RE: Junie D Jan 9, 2012 02:53 PM

                                    Late reply, I know, but from a recent fan of the show(s)...I agree that cooking can be ethereal, relaxing, even a zen moment to some. I'm also of the mind that, with a Chemistry degree and a lifetime of technical/engineering work behind me, it IS as much a science as an art. Personally, I welcome suggestions/directions so I don't ruin an expensive roast. I do appreciate someone else's mistakes as a learning experience. I disagree that cooking should be a mystery. It should be an enjoyable experience with more than a good chance of a positive outcome. Having pictures/videos to guide me, a solid understanding of what DOESN'T work, and a reasonable approach to ingredients/tools/methods makes it that much more enjoyable for me. Cooking CAN be sensuous...and having the confidence to do it only adds to the experience.

                                  3. b
                                    Buckethead RE: BoardSMITH Jul 22, 2009 12:13 PM

                                    Their recipes always work, and some of them are really fantastic, but if I were you I'd just subscribe to the website rather than the print magazine. It's cheaper and much better, with videos of the recipe steps and other enhancements. And it's searchable.

                                    1. l
                                      linus RE: BoardSMITH Jul 22, 2009 04:13 PM

                                      when i read words from respondents like "pompous," "arrogant" and "asshat," regarding christopher kimball, i think of two things. either a) they are watching a different t.v. show and reading a different magazine than i am or b) as inigo montoya says in the film 'the princess bride,'
                                      "i do not think that word means what you think it means."

                                      el linus

                                      23 Replies
                                      1. re: linus
                                        LindaWhit RE: linus Jul 22, 2009 06:53 PM

                                        It means exactly what I said - he's an asshat. He thinks his way is the only way. For basic techniques? Fine. But his recipes are the ONLY way to make something because that's the way they taste best? No. That's not what cooking is about. Taste is on the tongue of the person trying the dish. What is good to one person might not be for another. So for Kimball to say his way is the only way is arrogant.

                                        1. re: LindaWhit
                                          l
                                          linus RE: LindaWhit Jul 22, 2009 09:50 PM

                                          i have neither heard nor read him say "his way is the only way." as for assuming christopher kimball thinks his is the best way any more than any author who publishes a recipe, well...

                                          el linus

                                          1. re: linus
                                            LindaWhit RE: linus Jul 23, 2009 04:20 AM

                                            The whole premise of the magazine is "we've made this 20 times, 20 different ways - and here's the best way", implying that any other way isn't good. Simple as that.

                                            1. re: LindaWhit
                                              Davwud RE: LindaWhit Jul 23, 2009 04:27 AM

                                              So when Alton Brown (or any other TV chef) shows you his way of making something don't you think he's presenting it as the best way of making it??

                                              DT

                                              1. re: Davwud
                                                LindaWhit RE: Davwud Jul 23, 2009 09:37 AM

                                                No, not really. He's showing a way that works best for him. May not for everyone.

                                              2. re: LindaWhit
                                                Shane Greenwood RE: LindaWhit Jul 23, 2009 06:23 AM

                                                Wow, I don't think they are being that judgmental about it Linda. Make your food however you want, and if you don't like their tone, don't watch. Every cooking show, recipe author, chef, or home cook makes things the way they think are best. I've never found America's Test Kitchen to be any more or less rigid about their approach than any other recipe. They often suggest variations and substitute ingredients, and they go out of their way to make things approachable for the home cook. The only time they are a little critical is at the very beginning of the show when CK sets up the demo by showing how a certain dish typically comes out, like some watery stew or over cooked roast. Otherwise, they seem very helpful and insightful. I don't really get what you think is wrong with them.

                                                1. re: Shane Greenwood
                                                  Davwud RE: Shane Greenwood Jul 23, 2009 08:11 AM

                                                  In Linda's defense, there are plenty of people who feel this way. I'm on your side but it seems few of us are.

                                                  There are times when I'll look at one of their recipes and decide for myself that it is not the best way. For instance, most of the time I think they over engineer southern foods. Too much stuff in those recipes. I disagree that it's the best way so I don't use them. I don't however take offense to it.

                                                  DT

                                                  1. re: Shane Greenwood
                                                    LindaWhit RE: Shane Greenwood Jul 23, 2009 09:43 AM

                                                    I don't watch, nor do I subscribe. I find his manner sanctimonious. But I also intensely dislike the fact that he, as "head of the company" allows his C/S and staff to not respond to customer complaints; not remove people from mailing lists; continue to charge CCs for books when people DO think they were successful years ago from removing themselves from auto charges for books they no longer want, and then have difficulty removing themselves yet again from that list.

                                                    I find their tactics shady. Comes from the guy at the top.

                                                  2. re: LindaWhit
                                                    b
                                                    Buckethead RE: LindaWhit Jul 23, 2009 08:19 AM

                                                    Sometimes that is actually true of their recipes though. Their idea of using vodka in pie crust is something that is totally new (as far as I know) and a huge improvement over traditional pie crust.

                                                    1. re: LindaWhit
                                                      d
                                                      dagwood RE: LindaWhit Jul 23, 2009 09:22 AM

                                                      Keep in mind that their claim that their recipes are "the best." is based on the fact that they utilize a tasting panel. It's a consensus, not just Chris Kimball's opinion.

                                                      1. re: dagwood
                                                        LindaWhit RE: dagwood Jul 23, 2009 09:46 AM

                                                        I'm fully aware of the tasting panel. However, who's to say that their panel has the "best" taste? Just because they say it's the best?

                                                        It's the same when someone says "Where's the best BBQ in Boston?" People have DIFFERENT tastes. So for them to say this is the BEST recipe (or collection of recipes) is incorrect, since taste is subjective.

                                                        1. re: LindaWhit
                                                          d
                                                          dagwood RE: LindaWhit Jul 23, 2009 10:34 AM

                                                          Of course people have different tastes. And of course taste is subjective. I don't think anyone's arguing otherwise.

                                                          But there is some truth to the fact that some foods are more popular than others because we also have a very strong SHARED taste, which is culturally, among other things, driven. It's the reason why some websites allow you to rate recipes, and why those ratings matter. The more people like something, the more it is raved about, the more confidence I have in it to be good.

                                                          It's the same reason why I trust CI recipes to work, moreso than I would another source. I know it's already passed muster with a group of people, not just a single individual. Does it guarantee that every single person would like it? No, of course not. But it does make it more likely to be good.

                                                          1. re: LindaWhit
                                                            h
                                                            Henny Penny RE: LindaWhit Dec 20, 2010 09:51 AM

                                                            No, it's more like asking people from Boston where the best Mexican food is. They have no idea, because chances are, they've never had real Mexican food, nor are their palettes educated enough in Latin American cuisine to appreciate it if they did.

                                                            If you asked them where the best steakhouse is, you have a good chance of getting a good answer. It's when the panel ventures outside of the basic American foods when weird things start happening. (And BOY can it get WEIRD!)

                                                            1. re: Henny Penny
                                                              Ruth Lafler RE: Henny Penny Dec 28, 2010 01:12 PM

                                                              I agree: the problem with any kind of consensus panel is that it basically picks not the best, but the least offensive. Thus, tasting panel results skew toward conventional preferences and away from anything that's "different."

                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                Mr Taster RE: Ruth Lafler Dec 28, 2010 01:44 PM

                                                                I guess it depends entirely on the tastes of the panel. I certainly am inclined to trust a tasting panel of professional chefs from a publication I trust more than I would trust a panel of my Maggiano's-loving work colleagues.

                                                                Every single departmental lunch. Rigatoni "D". 2000 calories of gloppy pasta. If I sound bitter, it's because I am :)

                                                                http://s863.photobucket.com/albums/ab...

                                                                Mr Taster

                                                                1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                  Ruth Lafler RE: Mr Taster Dec 28, 2010 09:42 PM

                                                                  No matter who it is, though, to have a consensus you have to find something everyone agrees on, which is often not anyone's favorite, but the one that all of them can agree on.

                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                    Mr Taster RE: Ruth Lafler Dec 29, 2010 09:24 AM

                                                                    True, but "least offensive" is not an absolute. It slips and slides around depending on the cultural, personal and culinary prejudices of the taster.

                                                                    I think it is unfair to dismiss all consensus panels out of hand for these reasons.

                                                                    Consider a panel of Taiwanese people tasting a lineup of stinky French cheese (or the reverse of a panel of French people tasting various stinky tofus). Now, the Taiwanese are no strangers to stinky, as you likely know that "stinky tofu" is a national obsession. They're mad for it. But to the unintiated western nose, it smells like rotting garbage, even to some very adventurous eaters. Likewise, the Taiwanese often find the flavor and aroma of a roquefort or gorgonzola completely repulsive.

                                                                    While each group may indeed choose the "least offensive" of the stinky tofus, the French by consensus would likely pick the least stinky tofu whereas the Taiwanese could very well pick the most stinky (and the reverse might well be true with regard to the stinky cheeses).

                                                                    There is a world of difference between these panels and it really comes down to whether you more closely identify with the French or the Taiwanese palate. They are most definitely not the same.

                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                    1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                      Ruth Lafler RE: Mr Taster Aug 6, 2011 05:54 PM

                                                                      True. But my point is that the least stinky tofu or the least stinky cheese is unlikely to be offensive. Boring and bland, perhaps, but not offensive. Things that are too strong will cause a stronger negative reaction than things that are too weak. Thus, consensus panels are always going to skew slightly toward bland.

                                                    2. re: LindaWhit
                                                      njmarshall55 RE: LindaWhit Jan 9, 2012 02:55 PM

                                                      In watching his shows, I seem to recall what he says is, "...a great way to...". He doesn't say ,"The only way to..."

                                                      1. re: njmarshall55
                                                        g
                                                        glutton RE: njmarshall55 Jan 10, 2012 08:01 AM

                                                        I'm the last guy to defend Kimball, but you are correct -- he's not dogmatic about the way to prepare most recipes. He describes pro's and con's, then makes his own judgment call on which is the best way. Your judgment may differ from his judgment based on different tastes, different equipment at your disposal, different ingredients, etc. and I don't think he'd say you're an idiot for being different.

                                                        Kimball, however, remains one of the most pompous, artificial, and disinegenuous characters in the food business. His whole Vermont country bumpkin schtick is absurd. He cannot be both a country bumpkin and a published celebrity sophisticate -- life just doesn't work that way, rightly or wrongly.

                                                        I personally do not subscribe to his magazines for two reasons. The first and lesser reason is his schtick infuriates me so much. The second and greater reason is that I did not regularly find good recipes in his magazine. I respect that his magazine teaches technique, but I found that I knew much of it already (from experience -- I made the same mistakes they chronicle oftentimes). Standing alone, the recipes that accompany the long chronicles of failed attempts are not all that special. There is much greater originality in other food publications/websites.

                                                        1. re: glutton
                                                          Mr Taster RE: glutton Jan 10, 2012 11:54 AM

                                                          I suspect that at an earlier time in his life, Kimball probably was the pompous ass who thought he knew the only way to to things, and that he's been forced to soften his views as he got older. (I have no evidence to back this up other than my own gut feeling).

                                                          And yes, the country bumpkin thing is a schtick to some degree-- particularly when the TV show does a recipe that they've published already in Cooks Illustrated, and Kimball acts as if he's neither seen nor tasted the dish before.

                                                          But for the format of TV, I think some of this is necessary. He sets up his chef co-hosts as the true experts, and plays the part of the "normal guy." (I think it's interesting that he works primarily with women and goofy, awkward men, so he sort of remains the undisputed King Nerd of the bunch)

                                                          If the show's format had two experts (Kimball and chef co-host) talking about the same thing, it could very well come off as preachy. For the casual observer that does not follow Cooks closely, it is a more entertaining and palatable way to learn what, in the end, are some very solid (if basic) cooking techniques and tips that many of us have forgotten over the last generation or two.

                                                          Anyway, I agree- there is much to dislike, but in the end the show (and the magazines) are about much more than Kimball's personality and I have gained exponentially more than I have lost from reading and watching his shows.

                                                          Mr Taster

                                                    3. re: linus
                                                      sharonanne RE: linus Jul 22, 2009 08:54 PM

                                                      I like him on the show where he seems a bit more self effacing but I do know what you mean about his editorials.

                                                      1. re: linus
                                                        Davwud RE: linus Jul 23, 2009 04:16 AM

                                                        Pulling out the Inigo Montoya reference. Good stuff. Gettin' all mid evil on people.

                                                        Like I said above, I can take him or leave him. I find people's dislike for him a bit much though.

                                                        As for him thinking his way is the best. If you make something, don't you think your way is the best?? If it wasn't wouldn't you switch??

                                                        DT

                                                      2. sharonanne RE: BoardSMITH Jul 22, 2009 08:55 PM

                                                        Another vote for the website. The whole magazine is posted and the cookbook online is easy to manage. I print off the recipes and keep them in a binder as well.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: sharonanne
                                                          acervoni RE: sharonanne Jul 22, 2009 09:18 PM

                                                          I love the magazine. I was just reading one from 2006 tonight. I like the fact that there are no advertisements and I always learn a trick or two. The show is fun too but I hardly ever get to watch it because of the Saturday afternoon time slot. I wonder if it is available online? I have subscribed to the website too but I let it lapse. I was only using it once in a while to look up a recipe. I found that I can still go there and find out what magazine issue the recipe that I'm looking for is in and go to my stack. I have every issue back to 1997.

                                                          1. re: acervoni
                                                            coney with everything RE: acervoni Jul 23, 2009 05:18 AM

                                                            Love the cover art of the magazine. And I don't mind their approach--even if you don't take them literally, you can usually get some insights into method.

                                                            1. re: coney with everything
                                                              Davwud RE: coney with everything Jul 23, 2009 08:08 AM

                                                              Never mind the cover. I like the back of the magazine. I've often thought of having some of them made into ceramic tiles and using them in tiling my kitchen wall.
                                                              Or maybe dry mounting them and just hanging.

                                                              DT

                                                              1. re: Davwud
                                                                b
                                                                Buckethead RE: Davwud Jul 23, 2009 08:10 AM

                                                                I was in a restaurant a while back that had some familiar-looking wall decorations, when I looked more closely they were in fact the back covers of Cooks Illustrated, cut and framed.

                                                        2. h
                                                          Henny Penny RE: BoardSMITH Dec 20, 2010 09:47 AM

                                                          My success with their recipes depends. For example, they've published TWO oatmeal cookie recipes. In one, the cookie stinks. In the other, the spices are all wrong. Put them together, and you have a good cookie. Apart--ugh!

                                                          Some of the recipes become ridiculously elaborate due to a flawed approach--trying to"fix" something broken rather than just doing it right the first time. And some of the attempts--and results--can only come from enthusiastic people who don't understand food all that well. I cannot envision Joel Robuchon going through the kinds of convulsions that CI recommends. It becomes comical at times.

                                                          The biggest flaw, though, are their attempts at non-American cuisine, more particularly cuisine that isn't European, either. It is a very curious situation, as they have plenty of "Chinese" recipes that call for soy and oyster sauces and yet manage to not taste even vaguely Asian. That's not to say that the recipes are bad, per se, but you can't possibly say that they have the "best recipe for dan dan noodles" when the results taste nothing at all like dan dan noodles. Their stir-frys are particularly unrecognizable.

                                                          Also, some of the equipment trials has to be taken with a grain of salt (things like "it starts to smoke" are fine, but noting tiny perceived differences that probably don't really exist with any statistical significance....not so much), and you have to realize that some of the taste testers for some products really have no idea what the product SHOULD taste like, so the results can be like asking a four-year-old to choose the best wine.

                                                          So the major flaws are that the foolproof recipes sometimes just flat don't work as written, sometimes they are ridiculously elaborate to try to cover up flawed basics, and sometimes they aren't the dish they purport to represent. Still, I enjoy the mag, though I'm liking Cook's Country, which thankfully stays out of many cuisines it has no business in, more.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Henny Penny
                                                            sharonanne RE: Henny Penny Dec 20, 2010 11:31 AM

                                                            They also have some strange biases like not liking silicone baking pads. They say they smoke (perhaps that was your reference?) and make the food taste funny. Are they saying French bakers have poor palates? It's still worth looking at their recipes first.

                                                            1. re: sharonanne
                                                              h
                                                              Henny Penny RE: sharonanne Dec 22, 2010 10:23 PM

                                                              Oh, I was just looking at their hand mixer reviews. If a hand mixer smokes when asked to do much, that's definite;y bad! But if there was a infinitesimal difference in cook times between using two pans...well, it's hard to say that it was the pans unless you repeat it 100 times.

                                                            2. re: Henny Penny
                                                              jmckee RE: Henny Penny Dec 21, 2010 08:36 AM

                                                              Yeah. My favorite stupid CI trick (as I came to think of them) is slicing lemons then mashing them with a potato masher to make lemonade. I think, sometimes, they come up with these contortionistic methods just to be different.

                                                            3. s
                                                              Shann RE: BoardSMITH Dec 21, 2010 05:02 AM

                                                              I love the magazine. I have read a lot of negative stuff about CI's dollar grab, and don't like it. But they don't take ads, so they have to make money. I wish that they didn't have different levels (i.e., you have to pay for the basic website even as a subscriber, but then pay more for access to other things) of subscription.

                                                              I prefer the magazine. I just like getting something in the mail and sitting down in my recliner to leaf through it, although it may not be as thorough as a web subscription. I tend to stay off the computer at home at night.

                                                              I do take some issue with those who say that the recipes take all the fun out of cooking. When I am trying something, I love the precise directions and have never had a recipe come out less than excellant. If I want to alter something later, I will (just don't blog about it!).

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Shann
                                                                John E. RE: Shann Dec 21, 2010 09:04 AM

                                                                I tend to agree with you. We've never subscribed to the website and though not a current subscriber I like their magazine and bought one of their big books. I have been watching their ATK show since it started and learned a lot over the years. Many of their recipes have made it into the 'rotation' at our house.

                                                                1. re: John E.
                                                                  m
                                                                  madeliner RE: John E. Dec 27, 2010 12:02 PM

                                                                  i've had some billing issues over the years but their recipes work for me 90% of the time-resubbed this month after years away...

                                                              2. bayoucook RE: BoardSMITH Dec 29, 2010 05:07 AM

                                                                I've been subscribing to cooksillustrated.com for years - get tons of recipes and info from the magazines, plus get the new issue to browse and enjoy each month. It's pricier than the magazine by itself, but you get so much more. You might want to try a trial offer on it.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: bayoucook
                                                                  Mr Taster RE: bayoucook Dec 29, 2010 09:10 AM

                                                                  This deal is 2 years old but it worked for me when I reupped my subscription a couple of months ago. $12.50 for 1 year of cooksillustrated.com access is a GREAT deal.

                                                                  http://slickdeals.net/forums/showthre...

                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                    h
                                                                    haveapeach RE: Mr Taster Aug 6, 2011 02:41 PM

                                                                    I'm not sure if this is bump-worthy but just wanted to update this thread: as of August 2011, Mr. Taster's slickdeals link for the discount cooksillustrated.com membership is still working-- but the deal is for $17.50 instead of $12.50. This is half off the going rate!

                                                                    1. re: haveapeach
                                                                      John E. RE: haveapeach Aug 6, 2011 05:50 PM

                                                                      Are you a cooksillustrated.com subscriber? If so, does that give you access to the americastestkitchen.com recipe index as well?

                                                                      1. re: John E.
                                                                        h
                                                                        haveapeach RE: John E. Aug 6, 2011 06:04 PM

                                                                        I am, and it does not. Cooksillustrated.com gives access to magazine archives (recipes, product reviews, etc.) and the ATK website is the same idea but for the television show. I have no idea how much overlap there is between the two websites, though.

                                                                2. Calipoutine RE: BoardSMITH Nov 10, 2011 08:16 AM

                                                                  HELP.I own the Cook's Slow Cooker revolution book, but cant find it in my house. I need the recipe for the spagetti and meatballs( with sauce). I'm throwing my partner a huge retirememnt party on Saturday and today was the day to make the meatballs. I should have looked for the book days ago.

                                                                  I'm desperate. I cant find the recipe online. I've made it before, it was fabulous, but I cant remember how I did it.
                                                                  I just joined the online website and its not there either.
                                                                  Thanks
                                                                  Randi

                                                                  Please email to Randi66@gmail.com

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Calipoutine
                                                                    John E. RE: Calipoutine Nov 10, 2011 08:47 AM

                                                                    You will have a better chance at getting the recipe on the Cook's Illustrated Bulletin Board site. Registration is free, all you need is your e-mail address.

                                                                    http://www.cooksillustrated.com/ibb/c...

                                                                  Show Hidden Posts