Cooking Magazines

     Does anyone know the name of the idiot who came up with the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? If so, please tell Betty, because she is desperate to ask him how to choose from the plethora of books at the local bookstore, if she cannot base her decision on the creative, attractive and eye-seducing cover. Obviously, she is not going to sit down to read half of the book before purchasing it. She does not have the time, especially when Grey’s Anatomy starts in forty-five minutes. Maybe she could make her purchase based on the minuscule synopsis of flowery buzzwords at that back of the book, but that still doesn’t give her any guarantees. So what is a Misfit to do?

    Betty feels the same way about magazines. She, like many Misfits, stands in the supermarket checkout line rifling through numerous magazines, trying to decide which cover should make it to the conveyer belt for that last minute impulse buy. Who’s featured on the cover? Does she like that person? What are the headlines? Can she really get fabulous abs in 10 days? Can she really make beef stew in 30 minutes? Did that celebrity really get arrested? Is that singer really possessed by the devil? So many questions, so many magazines and so little time to make her decision. Again, what is a Misfit to do?

     For the time being, and until she can come up with a better answer, she suggests ignoring that Idiotic Schlub. Go ahead and base your decision on which magazine cover best suits your mood and quickly throw onto the belt and pray you made the right choice. After you get home, if for some reason the magazine doesn’t pan out the way you had hoped and you find out that your 10 day abs really take 2 years to get, ignite a fire with the useless $4.95 kindling, make yourself a big cup of Hot Chocolate and Bailey’s and hope that the next impulse buy will be more gratifying. It is a risky and potentially costly process judging a book or magazine by its cover. But unless you know exactly what you are looking for or have a trusted peer with your same taste, what else is there to do? How do you find a little gem amidst a barge of crap? It is not easy!

    Betty is a magazine junkie and has spent the better part of the last 15 years trying to figure out which off-the-rack impulse buys are the best, despite the eye-catching cover. Food Magazines, to quote Edward Cullen in the movie “Twilight”, are her own personal brand of Heroine. She has read them all: Better Homes & Gardens, Bon Appétit, Cooking Light, Cooking With Paula Deen, Eating Well, Everyday Living with Rachel Ray, Fine Cooking, Food & Wine, Gourmet, La Cucina Italiana,  Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade, Saveur, Simple & Delicious, Southern Living, Tastes of Italia and so on. But there is one that sticks out from the pack. It is not your typical magazine. It has no flashy cover. The pages are not filled with advertisements or product placements, nor with vivid colors or glossy food inspired photos, but instead it is filled with precise cooking techniques, equipment ratings, taste tests, quick tips for easier cooking, product testing and more. It is called Cook’s Illustrated. It is the perfect no-frills, black & white, food magazine that ensures the perfect cooking outcome for any non-professional in the kitchen. It is the brainchild of Christopher Kimball, the Founder, Editor and Publisher of the magazine and the head of America’s Test Kitchen. The Test Kitchen is home to more than 30 full-time cooks and product testers, all with the simple task of developing the absolute best recipes for all of America’s favorite foods. Each recipe is tested and re-tested anywhere from 30 – 70 times, until all aspects of the process, including ingredients, technique, temperature, time and equipment, are perfect; yielding the best recipe imaginable.

     This is the magazine Betty swears by and will continue to swear by for as long as Christopher Kimball is the Editor and America’s Test Kitchen is doing all the work. Do not be turned off by the $5.95 US sale price. Yes, the magazine is a bit pricey, but it is not a throw away. Get out your heavy-duty 3-hole punch and file it in a hard-covered binder. This is a great culinary reference that will keep on giving for years to come. If you want to save money, invest in the year subscription and receive 6 issues. The subscription cost can vary from 19.95 ($3.33 per issue) based on the magazine's insert flyer or $24.95 ($4.16 per issue) if ordered from www.cooksillustrated.com. You can also invest in the durable hardcovered annual edition that is bound for your convenience. It is available through the magazine's insert flyer at a reasonable price of $26.95. You may also become an online member at $34.95 a year, giving you access to 16 years of recipes, equipment ratings and ingredient taste tests, web exclusive content and more.  Thank you Mr. Kimball for taking all of the hard work out of cooking!!!

     Judging books and magazines by its covers has a 50% satisfaction rate. If you are not willing to take the risk anymore, then Betty will, so you don’t have to. Stay away from the checkout lines, keep your wallet under lock and key and wait for her next recommendation. She, like Cook’s Illustrated, is the gift that keeps on giving!!!!

Cooking Magazines Recommendations Guide

Cook's Illustrated   ★★★★★
Great cooking techniques. Recipes are perfect every time. Product recommendations and valuable information for all skill levels.

  • Approx. Recipes Included: 11 plus 9 How-To's
  • Approx. % of Advertisements: 0%  
  • Cost: $5.95

Tastes of Italia   ★★★★✩
Great traditional Italian recipes. Simple direction to understand. Regional stories and history of Italian cuisine and wines.

  • Approx. Recipes Included: 47
  • Approx. % of Advertisements: 23%  
  • Cost: $5.95

Sandra Lee Semi Homemade   ★★★★✩
Great visual photos an are easy to understand recipes and tips.

  • Approx. Recipes Included: 57
  • Approx. % of Advertisements: 17.9%
  • Cost: $4.99

Cooking with Paula  Deen   ★★★★✩
Easy to understand Directions. Great visual photos and interesting tips.

  • Approx. Recipes Included: 60
  • Approx. % of Advertisements: 18%
  • Cost: $4.99

Bon Appétit   ★★★✩✩
Includes prep and total cooking time for recipes. Most photos are not on the same page as the recipe. Recipes seem easy to follow. Regional stories about food.

  • Approx. Recipes Included: 60
  • Approx. % of Advertisements: 26.7%
  • Cost: $4.99

La Cucina Italiana   ★★★✩✩
Recipes are easy to follow but listed in paragraph form which makes keeping your place difficult.

  • Approx. Recipes Included: 56
  • Approx. % of Advertisements: 18.7%
  • Cost: $5.99

Eating Well   ★★★✩✩
Calories and nutrition listed for most recipes. Other health related stories and nutritional information included.

  • Approx. Recipes Included: 44
  • Approx. % of Advertisements: 29.3%
  • Cost: $4.99

Everyday Living with Rachel Ray   ★★✩✩✩
Recipes are written in a short cut, not giving appropriate explanation. Also, they could have two steps listed with 12 steps listed under each step. It can be misleading. Includes prep and cooking time.

  • Approx. Recipes Included: 61
  • Approx. % of Advertisements: 28.9%
  • Cost: $3.99

Food & Wine   ★★✩✩✩
Interesting food and artisan inspired stories.

  • Approx. Recipes Included: 59
  • Approx. % of Advertisements: 45.9%
  • Cost: $4.50

Cooking Light   ★✩✩✩✩
A lot of pictures and fluff. Not well organized.

  • Approx. Recipes Included: 97
  • Approx. % of Advertisements: 44%
  • Cost: $4.99


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