Cook’s Illustrated Magazine – Those bastards sent me another damned free copy

Author’s note: There is actually a point to this post other than a poorly written rambling rant.
After giving this another thought, nope. This is a poorly written rambling rant without a point.
Quite a few years ago now, maybe 7, I received my first copy of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. I signed myself up for a few years, was feeling full of myself because we’d bought our first home a year before. Life was going to be grand. Aww, I remember it fondly, one of my first issues and it was spring time, a grilling issue and it was all mine.

I sat down quietly in my chair, usually reserved for watching tv and vice versa. I knew the author was going to pull for the propane grill, I was ready. But what I wasn’t ready for was the statement that we should stop using our charcoal fired pits because the lid imparts a bitter fllavor. I would have fired my writer for that one, and kicked them.
The months rolled on and my sheer hate for the rag continued on its merry way. I still smile when reminiscing about the time the kitchen staff was clearly befudled when their cook’s knife wasn’t slicing large roasts very well and had to find an answer! Um, a slicer? A long, skinny, sharp thingy? Or when the editor thought we needed a review of kitchen scrubbies, sigh. And don’t forget their attempts at finding a way to cook chops, roasts and birds so they’re juicy and tender. How did James Beard ever do without these fine folks reinventing butter, frying and green beans.
I let my subscription go and didn’t think much about it. Every year or so they send out a free copy attempting to get me back and I usually toss it without even opening the wrappy. Until today, just now. This is a standard free copy issue, an issue that’s put together their best of the best! Here! Look at us now baby! Pathetic at its best, I want to cry.
As I open it up I get to peruse letters from readers. Egads people are you really this stupid? Personally I think they’re making it up. How to brown meat? Are shallots worth the effort? Boiling water times and one about elimnating gas from beans? I see something missing, what’s the difference between a pot and a pan?
The heading Quick Tips caused me to not look and turn the pages until it was gone, quickly. Solving the Problem of Baked Chicken Breasts was the title of the first article. Is it 1972 or something? Let me guess, jack the heat up high, rub with some kind of fat and don’t over-cook. Yup, pretty much what they figured out. How to Pan-Sear Shrimp or should read, How to Repeatedly Bang my Head on the Wall or some such. Oh here’s one, American Potato Salad. Yeah, it’s 1972 alright, I can tell for sure now. Quiddit !!!
It was when I got to A Guide to Buying Fresh Pork that I had to stop, “Oh this ought to be rich.” The page was filled with little pictures of pork cuts and words about each one. One of the helpful little lines said, BEST WAY TO COOK: ROAST. Great, thanks for that, very informative. At this point I decided that I should see what they say about my favorite cut, the Sirloin Roast! FLAVOR: NO STARS, BEST WAY TO COOK:Not Recommended.
The only rational thing I could think for about 10 minutes was, “You fucking idiots! No wait, you fuuucking idiots. There, that’s better.” Actually, am still thinking that. Listen up people, it’s 2008 and it looks as though the world still has some morons mucking about in our society. Please, take the words that you hear written or othewise with a little grain of salt. These people repeatedly put out mundane, wrong, stupid information and opinions. This person said the sirloin was difficult to carve? That’s probably because they didn’t know to use a godamned knife.

18 thoughts on “Cook’s Illustrated Magazine – Those bastards sent me another damned free copy

  1. Hatey hate McHate hate.
    Me too. Never spent a nickle on a single issue. (Wouldn’t want to get all cocky about my improved water boiling technique.)

  2. Hey Jeffrey,
    OoOooo, don’t get me all riled up agin. Let’s just say I ran in to the conversation on a food related web forum. A young person starting out attempting to buy their first set of cookware and was flumuxed as to what words were used by one company, then another would use different words. All too confusing …
    Maybe not, but I’m going to try.
    I remember when I first ran across your site, I’m mad and I eat. I thought, ME TOO !!! Yay for hate.

  3. Hate to be the one dissenting voice, Biggles, but amongst all the “who are they writing this crap for?” simpleminded stuff and the attempts of whatzhisass — the fearless leader — to be Garrison Keillor in his editorial (can’t believe you didn’t mention that!), there are some decent recipes and some useful information for those less experienced with cooking than you probably are. I can see that you could grow out of the magazine after a few years, but reading their articles is a good way to learn how to start experimenting with recipes on your own.
    Now, as for grilling and barbecuing… no, I wouldn’t take any of their recommendations very seriously. They’re definitely kitchen types, not outdoor cooks.

  4. I’m glad to know that I am not the only one to hate these guys. It took forever to get them to stop calling the house. I would like to grab that fool by the bowtie and shake him.

  5. Hey Steve G.,
    Which is why I started off letting you know it was a poorly written bit, it is an off-handled rant.
    I started Meathenge directly FOR the less experienced, this is why I rarely tackle things much more than smoked pork shoulder or brisket. I wanted to bring everyone to the simple, easy basics of getting great results with simple meats & recipes. I’m here, everyone is welcome and I want tonight’s roast chicken to be the best ever. My vision was to bring a good roasted beef roast to your table without tears. I didn’t state this, but it was and is how I see things.
    But it’s the media like this that spew such drivel and lousy food prep that make it even that much more difficult for newbies to get going. Such as, don’t buy a pork sirloin roast. Are you out of yer fricken mind? The answer is yes, they are.
    Cook’s Illustrated isn’t for anyone. Whether you’re growing or otherwise, it’s bad and wrong at the very beginning.
    xo, Biggles

  6. Wow. I’m (partly) in a minority, I see. I have to read far too many food mags — some of them I actually throw across the room — as part of my biz. Cook’s appeals to me on a couple of levels: there are no ads, there are no ridiculously porno color shots, and the magazine doesn’t have articles on travel or restaurant critiques or decor. I accept that they’re totally anal in their approach — all that testing and trying stuff — but I do learn things from them now and then and I’m sure they’re good for absolute beginners. I realize they aren’t wild enough for me/us — no adventurous cuts of meat, or heavy spices, and a lot of Murrican chicken breasts and pork tenderloins. But I give them credit for sticking to their concept, unlike Saveur (which can now be mistaken for almost any other $$$ “gourmet” rag).

  7. Hey K,
    You know, if this had been a well written rant, I would have pointed these things out, and more. It’s a nice, fun and interesting read. It’s when I run across (in nearly every article, if not the article itself) these blatant, and yet quite evil blastoids that I begin to foam. Grrrrrrr.
    And yes, I actually did write them years ago about exactly this (I used pen & ink).

  8. Hey Jim,
    OoOoo, there’s another bee in my bonnet. While the photographs in food magazines are fricken spectacular, most make me want to scream. What’s the damned deal with only making 4% of the image in focus ???
    I’m all for using less depth of field, it gives the photograph some … depth and reality. But comon man, making it look as though everything is viewed through a haze? Reminds me of a simpsons episode where Homer has some erotic photographs taken of him for Marge. The first thing the photographer does is take a handful of vasaline and smear it all over the front of the camera’s lens. Soft focus, as it were. And yes, I know this trick was used years ago as a cheap way of getting soft focus, but not a handful worf?
    xo, Biggles

  9. Hi,
    I don’t buy Cook’s Illustrated either. I borrow the copies from the library. I found some good recipes that I still cook from once in a while.
    I would like to know what food magazine that you love???

  10. Hi H,
    Um, the comment from me, above yours, kinda gives you an idea as to my love for the food magazines. But I believe it’s really more about spending the money and finding the time to enjoy.

  11. I, for one, look forward to my CI when it comes in the mail. It feels a bit like getting Penthouse, I only get it for the pictures. But really, I love the lack of advertising, it’s just all about food whether you agree with the advice or not. All about food. That’s good.

  12. I rarely buy food magazines but i enjoy a complimentary read with morning coffee at Whole Foods Markup.
    I have a bit of culinary know how and some hospitality expertise and I find the CI generally worth a read. However Food and Wine’s haughty approach to cuisine gets my goat. Full page ads with Eric Ripert for the Cayman Cookout! Vulgar.

  13. All I know is when I follow their recipes I get great results and people think I’m a genius.