emergency weblog; or: epersonae; or: elaine nelson

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Experiments in cookery

Giving up Cook's Illustrated, after one last recipe.

Categories: cooking, General

So I decided not to renew Cook’s Illustrated. Not that it’s not plenty of fun, but most of the recipes require a bit more of a kitchen than I’ve got, and mostly it just makes me covet more cooking stuff.

Of course, in the way of such things, the very last issue that I’m getting came in this week…and I’ve found a recipe that I really, really like: Crisp Roasted Potatoes. (Not linking…no point unless you have a subscription. :( But do go to your local library and take a peek at the paper edition.) What’s not to love about a recipe that’s just potatoes, oil and salt? Potatoes are one of my favorite foods; C teases me about being the Irish potato girl. And it’s got the usual CI dash of sciencey cookery: apparently roughing up the parboiled potato surface makes for a better outer crust while keeping the inner creamy. I’ll add to that a tip to err on the side of thicker potato slices. Too thin, and they get tough.

I’m still giving the magazine up, even with that. It’ll always be there for a future subscription, and in a pinch there’s the library.

Plus there’s plenty of fun to be had with cooking without it. I’m keeping my subscription to Sunset, which has a nice balance of decorating, garden, cooking and travel. (Plus we have their big plant book from C’s mom, and I love that.) This summer I got into a really tasty Mediterranean salad…one of my best memories of the summer is sitting out at the river on one of those hot afternoons, eating salad and drinking cider. Now that it’s heading into fall, I’m not likely to make it too much longer, maybe once more while there’s still cherry tomatoes to be had at the farmer’s market.

I made yogurt twice earlier this summer: the first time it turned out amazing, the second time, when I tried making a bigger batch, it turned out awful. Haven’t tried since. I’d like to try again, but it’ll be a while.

But the most fun I’ve had with cooking over the last month or so has been in baking bread. I checked Kneadlessly Simple out from the library to see if it was any good. The only recipe I got around to making was the first one, for a basic white bread, but OMG so good. It’s been a little tricky getting the timing right with my work schedule and everything, but in a pinch I can just throw it in the fridge a few more hours. Fresh bread is a delightful and almost miraculous thing. At some point I’ll need to get a copy of that book and try some more recipes!

I should probably rename my “cook’s illustrated” category, then, but I’ll leave it as is…a place to note my various cook experiments as I get around to them.

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2 Responses to “Experiments in cookery”

  1. Thad Curtz says:

    I stopped subscribing too – I decided I didn’t need the fourth version of the best pie crust ever, and the pile of old issues got so big that it was hard to find what I was looking for. But I did get their big cookbook instead (second hand online for $15 or so), and I use it a lot – The New Best Recipe (has 1,000 recipes, as opposed to the 700 or so in the first version, The Best Recipe, though it does leave out some I liked in the first book). And of course, for better or worse, it devotes a lot of space to the usual geeky discussion of how many little variations they tried before arriving at the ones that tasted just right. (Usually the one with the most butter.)
    The other new source of recipes I really like is Marsha Shulman’s daily column in the online NYTimes – Recipes for Health. As the blurb says, “Each week’s recipes will revolve around a particular type of produce or a pantry item. This is food that is vibrant and light, full of nutrients but by no means ascetic, fun to cook and a pleasure to eat.” (Pretty much true in my opinion, and generally really straightforward and easy.)

  2. Elaine says:

    That Shulman column looks handy! And pretty much anything is improved with more butter. :) My sisters and I used to watch America’s Test Kitchen when I lived at home, and we loved the geeky research stuff.


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