Cooks Country

We must have subscribed to a dozen cooking magazines over the years.
We've had our Gourmet days and our Everyday Food years.
Once, a long time ago, we got Food And Wine and we took turns cooking from it for K's sister.
We alternated months, I think, and she would cook from it for us on the alternate month.

Presently we receive Saveur, which really isn't a cooking magazine but a magazine about food and great places to eat it, and Cook's Country.
Cook's Country is a spin-off from Cook's Illustrated, another magazine we subscribed to for a while. I'm not really sure why we receive Cook's Country, but I'm guessing it was a gift.

One of the things we liked about Cook's Illustrated was that they test out half a dozen recipes for one specific dish and report on how it works. Then they share the recipe that worked best - We've cooked dozens of great dishes from their recipes.
They also test cookware and products and rate everything from frying pans to peanut butter. Fun to read, but after a couple of years we got bored with it and have enough issues to cook from for a long time.

Cook's Country is the same kind of publication, but in a larger format with a different focus.
It's the biscuits and gravy of recipe magazines.
Unfortunately we aren't biscuit and gravy people.
This month includes a recipe for Ambrosia Gelatin Mold.
Those are three words that don't work together in my kitchen.
I've never had Ambrosia, gelatin is not an ingredient I like to work with, and I work hard to spray and scrub mold away. I've never molded anything. I don't intend to make molds of stuff.

BUT, while the magazine just isn't doing it for me, there is one feature which never fails to put a smile on our faces...

Kitchen Shortcuts, wherein 'readers share clever tips for everyday cooking challenges' never fails to crack our asses up.
Here are some of the shortcuts for fall, with my commentary:

No Spill Tacos

I love tacos but can't stand when all the ground meat falls out of the shell and onto my plate - or even worse, my lap! Now I mix my seasonings into the meat and form the beef into patties. After the patties are cooked through, I cut them in half, making half moons. The cooked meat fits perfectly into the shell and doesn't crumble when I take a bite.

Okay, first, I'm a little nauseous. Second? If I want a burger, I want a burger, if I want a taco...
just be happy I didn't upload the photo of this new invention: The Mexi-Burger? The Turger?

Juice Catcher
When cutting tomatoes (or other juicy foods such as peaches), I place my cutting board on a slightly larger rimmed baking sheet. That way the excess juices fall onto the cookie sheet and my hands and counter do not become a sticky mess.

I'm finding hard to believe this is BIG NEWS. Also, I feel the need to mention that I'd rather take a sponge and wipe up my counter than take the time to wash a large rimmed baking sheet. But maybe that's just me.

Pleasant Smell
After I cook something strong smelling, like broccoli or fish, I put some water, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in a saucepan and simmer it until the house smells wonderful.

I like this tip a lot BECAUSE IT PROVES THAT I AM A GENIUS. Is there really anyone out there who DOESN'T DO SOMETHING if they've just made their house smell like fish and broccoli? One could open a window! Or light a candle, or use a room deodorizer. And, yes, I guess you could boil some cinnamon.

Here's my favorite BRILLIANT shortcut:

Soft In Seconds
I bake a lot of cakes and cookies during the holidays. Whenever I need to soften butter quickly, I place it in a bowl and plug in my hair dryer. I turn it on the lowest heat setting and within a few seconds I have perfectly softened butter.

I'm nauseous again. CAN YOU SAY: HAIR IN THE FOOD?


About that last "tip": Does she not have a microwave?
Paula said…
Ambrosia (no mold) is just a shmancy fruit salad. When I was young, my mother made me peel grapes at Thanksgiving to go into the ambrosia (she doesn't like skin on anything)(don't ask). I think it's mostly a southern thing but quite tasty.
Unknown said…
I've read some useless tips before, but those take the cake. ugh.

Isn't ambrosia that orange stuff with the mini marshmallows and maraschino cherries in it? That alone would make me want to vomit. Love being Kosher...we don't eat geletin unless it's KoJell and it doesn't gel, so I never use it. I LOATHE geletin.

I love cooks illustated. In our local paper they have a recipe every week and I use them all the time. They're excellent. I like the TV show, too. Very nerdy, like me!
Anonymous said…
I don't have a microwave - S. and I decided eight years ago that it was unnecessary and cluttered the kitchen. We really have not missed it, and are forced to think about what we're making more than when we used a microwave.

So I suppose my tip (and seriously - you're right - if those are the big tips, the bar's not set very high) that I used to use, but cannot anymore is to microwave the kitchen sponge for 45 seconds or so. Keeps the smell out, and extends the life a few more days.
BabelBabe said…
I personally just tuck the stick of butter under my armpit for a few seconds - softens it right up.

(OK, lest any of you never want to eat at my house (and I don't dare take any chances after The Great Dog Debacle of 2007), I don't really do that. But those are the dumbest tips I have ever read.)
KPB said…
TIP: plastic shower caps make great dish covers. Clear ones are excellent so you can see what not to eat off the buffet.
KPB said…
No spill tacos: eat a fajita.
KPB said…
Tip: Put all your seafood scraps in a plastic bag, wrap in an old newspaper and then freeze until bin night. That way it won't stink out your bin.

(if you're Joke then you'd turn it into stock and by the time you had anything to throw away it'd be bereft of anything to smell of. I'm just saying.)
KPB said…
off the buffet? maybe from the buffet. Oh whatever, I'm still recovering from eating the coleslaw in the fake wood bowl that had arrived covered in a shower cap. So much better for the environment than one tiny piece of clingfilm.
Anonymous said…
Why do I picture that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer is washing his food in the shower?

I'm out of the magazine biz now because they are all too spensive (cept I got a gift of Oprah's). My favorite site is because you can adjust the servings and search on the ingredients you have - say sauerkraut and prunes - for real!

Miss y'all!

Debs & Zoe
Anonymous said…
what decade were these tips written in?????????
Alice said…
what are your thoughts on Bon Appetit?

As I'm thinking about ordering it...
Mary said…
Yep the hairdrying of the butter has done my head in.

but I have to say that magazine - Cooks Illustrated - sounds great - I'm off to check out what I can find out about it on line...
Stephanie said…
I browse this magazine at B&N and always read those tips. I have never even questioned their validity...I am like a lamb to the editors' bad tip slaughter.

These all cracked me up.
Anonymous said…
Oh, I'm nauseous right with you.

Do you think she is serious? That she seriously does this?

Hair In Greasy Butter In My Food.

Do people get paid for these "tips"?

Say no.