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Help Is Cooks Illustrated Worth It?!

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Is this a staple I should have as someone learning. I have Joy of cooking and some of Martha's new books and I'm getting better. I have workout mags cause I workout so I figured I should have a cooking mag.....Right?!
ALSO
Should I do the Mag AND the online subscription or is one better than the other!?
post #2 of 19
I don't subscribe to their magazine (or any other magazine) but I have looked at their web site. Their web site suggests that they make every effort to demystify cooking; that really helps when you're trying to gain experience without increasing your potential for failed recipes. We've all had, all will again have, failed recipes. Whether you decide on the web site, magazine, or both, I'd suggest giving it a shot for a year and see if it fills your needs.
post #3 of 19
Yup they're worth it. Joy of C. is great, very thorough and well written but Cook's gives you a lot of answers to the whys and hows, a lot of food science. One caveat though, as with all American magazines, the measurements given in recipies are a hodge-podge of cups, pecks quarts, tablespoons(!!!) of butter and some weight measurements. It seems that weighing out ingredients, as done by professionals the world over,(Including US) for thousands of years, is a taboo subject for the mags. Don't know if I should laugh or cry. Other than that it is a very well written, intelligent magazine. Definitely worth the money.

And Marfa's books? Well, she smiles nice and poses well, and that's about it.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #4 of 19
Cook's Illustrated is very good at explaining why things happen (or don't). MyPlace gave you good advice: try both for a year (assuming you can afford it) and then decide.

There's another magazine that's very good for beginning cooks: Cuisine at Home (http://www.cuisinemag.com/ is their Web site). I don't subscribe, but from what I've seen of it, it might be very good for you.

Friends who have books by that Martha lady like her recipes a lot, I have to say. :o

Finally: Sigh. Foodpump, I feel your pain. :cry: I edit cookbooks and food articles, and have constant agita from reading recipes that would be so much easier to cook if the ingredients were weighed instead of measured by volume.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #5 of 19
agita :lol: :lol: :lol: :D :D :D
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #6 of 19
Yes, CI is definitely worth it.

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #7 of 19
I had a very bad experience with Cook's Illustrated customer service when I tried to buy their annual bound edition from them. It finally got straightened out, but it took them more than two months to get the book to me. Customer Service told me that was normal and that I had nothing to complain about even though they had charged my credit card so long before shipping the item.

That said, a subscription may be very different. I also like their show, America's Test Kitchen, and what's in the issues is similar. I've enjoyed the articles.
post #8 of 19
CarlA-
You should definitely get Cook's Illustrated. We've taken it for six or seven years, save each issue, and regularly refer to it when a particular dish, sauce, or ingredient comes up. (We buy their indexes when they come out - the latest covers 1993 to 2005, and cost about $10.) Many of their recipes have become family standards- best blue cheese dressing I know of; best cornbread, etc.

Mike
travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
And Marfa's books? Well, she smiles nice and poses well, and that's about it.[/quote]
I'm honored a professional took the time for little ol me but WHATS WRONG WITH MARTHA?! I learned al lot from her including to buy my 10 piece All Clad set
IS SHE BAD?!!?
post #10 of 19
I learned a LOT from the CI gang, but I recently let my mag subscription lapse. I think you're better off buying their books. The Best Recipe, Soups & Stews, & Grilling & Barbecuing should keep you busy for a while. I think it's more important to learn principles than recipes & the CI stuff is excellent for that.
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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post #11 of 19
Yes, Cook's Illustrated and/or America's test kitchen are great resources for these reasons:

1) you will learn techniques instead of just recipes...so you will feel confident in experimenting. for instance, I learned an easy way of SMOKING prime rib on a outdoor bbq grill. I have now used this techique for brisket, steaks, chicken, tri-tip, etc. Delicious.

2) C.I. tests a lot of recipes to give you the best outcome. For example, I had tried probably 7 different alfredo sauce recipes to find the one that tastes great AND doesn't break. Meanwhile C.I. experimented DOZENS of times, and with thier resources were able to figure out the best ratios before I could. So although I have changed the recipe a bit to fit my tastes, I now use their basic ratios of cream to butter.

3) they taste test popular food items to let you know if its flavor is worth the premium prices. (who knew Starbucks beans really ARE worth the extra cost?!)

4) They do reviews on kitchen items (low cost and premium) and let you know if the expensive items are worth the extra cost. AND they have no problem recommending a generic brand items if they out perform the name brand. How many magazines would expose name brand items as inferior? (especially when those name brand companies can purchase thousands of dollars in advertising space).

Give it a try for a year and decide. But I highly recommend it. It is one of the few cooking mags out there that will not recommend name brand items UNLESS those items truly are best quality.
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
THANK YOU VERY MUCH! I will I'm waiting for my fress issue offer that came with the all clad set then will order both I have Americas Kitchen set on Tivo also!
post #13 of 19
I like CI and have a few of their books. I've queried some things (via e-mail) and always got a quick and complete response. I used to get the mag but let the subscription lapse when I registered on their web site.

The only negative thing I would say about them is their agressive marketing. Once you are in thier database they pester the life out of you to buy more and more of their products.

Jock
post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
OK! So maybey I'll just get online
I hate having back issues around I threw all my Mag back issues out
Would rather a book collection or web
post #15 of 19

Another Vote for CI

I can't add much to what's been already said, but I'll cast my vote anyway. I'm a big fan of CI, largely because they work a recipe to death and then--importantly--explain why they ended up doing it the way they did. I have learned much which I have applied to other recipes, and it is a refreshing change from some of the cooking "lore" that turns out to have little basis in fact.

That said, the magazine is pricey, and on a net recipes per dollar basis, other publications give you more. Further, access to most of their website requires a separate subscription fee.

I own several of their "best recipe" books and use them not just for the specific recipes therein, but also as reference when I'm creating my own recipes or editing the recipes of others. Only rarely have they failed me.
post #16 of 19
Hi Carl,

I would say that Cooks Illustrated Online is most definitely worth the money (I got a half off deal :) )

I'm not quite sure what JonK was alluding to referencing the recipe per dollar base and other access that costs an additional subscription. I get the feeling he may have been talking about the free America's test kitchen, which doesn't include everything Cook Illustrated.com does.

I got subscription to CI.com for half price (through a Christmas e-mail offer)...and it grants me access to the entire site (at which I'm surprised at the amount of information). I get all recipes, all tasting lab results, the equipment corner, menu's...every article and how to. But most surprisingly (to me) I also got all the back issued magazines (in web form) from July 2002 to the current March 2007.

I give it a big thumbs up :D

take care,
dan
post #17 of 19
Sorry if I was unclear, Gonefishin. All I meant by the "recipe per dollar" ratio was that you'll get a lot more recipes per dollar of subscription cost from, say, Bon Apettit or almost any other cooking magazine, than you will from Cook's Illustrated.

But of course you generally won't get the very interesting and educational discussion on recipe development that is one of Cook's Illustrated's big drawing cards.

I mentioned this only because when I gave a gift subscription to a friend (who I am guessing is less curious about these sorts of things than I am), she remarked that each issue of CI didn't have that many recipes. "Ah, but what recipes!" I replied.
post #18 of 19

Subscribe Online - customer service is unprofessional

Greetings -
I have all bound volumes through 2005, but have stopped purchasing them because they apparently have one woman who handles 'customer service'. She comes across as someone who has no intention to help you, that you are bothering her. She came across as arrogant, duplicitious, and untrustworthy - she has cost me money. Free Rider probably dealt with her. The publication is everything previously mentioned - 'good' and 'bad'. Hopefully an online subscription will mean you never have to deal with her.
post #19 of 19
Thanks for the clarification JonK. :)

dan
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