Sunday, February 8, 2009

Threw Cook's In the Trash

Somehow I got a free issue of "Cook's Illustrated". (Perhaps my eight year-old finagled it from the folks in America's Test Kitchen. He has a serious interest in seeing me become a better cook.)

If a magazine has an article entitled "Rethinking Braised Short Ribs", I'm out. Sorry. But how can I REthink something that's never crossed my mind in the first place? And how can I take a publication seriously that presumes I know what "braised" means? Puh-lease. I will buy a cooking magazine, oh publishers of the world, when you have articles that sound something like this: "How Any Nuthead Can Make Ribs to Impress Company." Braise schmaise.

My sweet friend Magan, who compiled a cookbook just for me in my second set of postpartum days back in '03, is a big fan of America's Test Kitchen. In honor of her, I skimmed the 32 pages of the January & February 2009 issue. I tried my hardest not to wince or to laugh out loud.

On page one, I noticed a black & white illustration that resembled those on the front page of Wall Street Journal. Well, if this is a cooking magazine for investors, STRIKE TWO. I'm no investor. I'm a Hamburger Helper girl with Chateaubriand tastes who also happens to own a LIFESUCKING PROPERTY IN CALIFORNIA THAT I CAN'T UNLOAD. And even if I could, I still wouldn't have enough moola left over each month to dump into the stock market. At least not personally. (Well, we do have some set of dealybob things somehow earning us money set up by Kevin's company that I know nothing about.) Do you see a pattern here? No cooking knowledge, no investment sense. But by golly, I can read a mean periodical! I think I've gone off on a tangent of sorts. Back to my magazine review.

Dang, the whole magazine is covered with those Journal-esque illustrations! Do all cooks know how to draw this well? Is there a whole set of talents that go together that I missed out on? Cooking-drawing-investing-singing-sayingnotothefifthPopTart? My set of talents is more like cleaning-organizing-spending-decorating-writing-eating. But I gotta feed six people ridiculously often, so on I browsed. "No More Soggy Cheesecake." (Trader Joe's sells a damn good cheesecake that will change your life without every dirtying a measuring cup or worrying about "soggy".) On page 6, "Tandoori Chicken, Reworked" actually fascinated me. I never knew a "tandoor" was a 900-degree Indian clay oven. And I've BEEN to India. But I'm more satisfied coming away with this trivia than I am knowing I can make the same chicken in my broiler.

"A Better French Omelet", again, sounds like it is presuming I can make "A French Omelet" of any degree. I can't. I screw omelets up worse than anything else. I blame my Costco cookware.

"Basic Vegetable Prep" begins on page 16 with the subtitle, "You peel, slice, and chop common vegetables like garlic, onions, and carrots every day. But are you doing it right?" At this point, I am sure this magazine is for "those other girls". How do I know? Because I hyperventilated reading that subtitle and imagining that I might be chopping my carrots incorrectly. COME ON. I have children to raise! If I get time to analyze my chopping - I'd rather use it to trim someone's toenails, of which there ARE sixty of 'em in my family.

I will concede that I can't ridicule the whole magazine. I was pleased to discover in the "Equipment Corner" that someone invented cut-resistant gloves. I need some. Along with a burn-proof omelet pan, broiler knowledge, the dictionary definition of "braise", and a subscription to a different cooking magazine.
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