Ye Olde Cooks Illustrated
Chrisopher Kimball wakes up every morning in red plaid flannel PJs, drinks a cup of steaming coffee in a blue enamel coffee mug and walks outside in his lined moccasin slippers to tap his maple tree for syrup before wandering back in and warming his cast iron skillet over his wood burning stove where he makes a perfectly fluffy pile of pancakes for breakfast.
I was introduced to his world by way of a gift subscription in 2001 or 2002 and I have since given several subscriptions as gifts myself. You’ve never seen someone so happy with a $25 gift as when they realize the culinary knowledge you have put within their grasp with the gift of Cooks Illustrated. Here is what Cooks Illustrated does: They take every recipe for, say, sugar cookies and they test them out. Some with white sugar, some with brown. Some with butter, some with shortening. Some at 375°F, some at 300°F. They figure out every permutation and then they tell you what happens with each difference and why you should do one thing or another if you want your cookies to turn out one way or another. Like ’em chewy? They can tell you how to do it. Want ’em crunchy? They know that too. They know it all.
They have it All. Figured. Out.
Here are some examples:
Super Market Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I love that they specify “super market” as if to indicate that not EVERYBODY gets theirs from their neighbors olive grove. Pshaw!)
They have/He has a radio and television show called “America’s Test Kitchen” I challenge you to watch or listen and tell me you don’t conjure up the exact same image as above. I know you will.