A couple of months ago, my brother who lives in California called me to get him a recipe. Said recipe was on the internet on a cooking website which I had to register for in order to get. Jared tends to call me whenever he needs something from the internet because he doesn't have a computer at home.
I didn't really think about the incident much until about three weeks later when I got a solicitation call from the website. It is associated with a magazine and a PBS cooking show, which of course means they have a "companion book" that goes with the series, because all the PBS cooking shows have one. This phone call offered to send it to me "risk free!" and a "free" trial issue of the magazine as well, just to see if I might like them. Isn't that nice? They caught me on a bad day. I was distracted by my kids and I was weak. I said yes, they could send it to me. I figured I'd get it here copy out the two recipes worth having and send it back.
The trick is when you have a plan like that you should never read the book. I read the book. They aren't getting it back. There's only one recipe in the book I don't plan on making and that's because it's fish and we don't eat fish around here. (Well the kids and I don't. Steve would like to but he has to suffer with a wife who can't even stand the smell of it cooking anymore.) We've tried several recipes now and each one has been fabulous. Steve's comment last night when I let him try the Orange Flavored Chicken was "wow . . . that's really bad. You should just let me eat it all." Silly boy. I wasn't falling for it because I had tried a piece myself before I let him try it. Oh and the recipes in the stupid magazine are just as good. And dang it, I want to subscribe to it too.
Now all the raving aside, the book and magazine make me giggle. This is the most Type A cooking I've encountered. I've never seen a recipe book that took so much pride in recording the process of perfecting a recipe. Each one comes with it's own little write up telling us that they tested fifteen different methods and this one is the perfect one. You musn't cook a pot roast with too much water or too little (and here's exactly what they mean by that.) Orange flavored chicken must have exactly two oranges. Pancakes are too eggy with two eggs. The scientific process of cooking is there in all it's obesessive glory. Most recipe books just give you the recipe, not Cook's Illustrated! They want you to know every single excruciating detail of creating the recipe.
Even though that's what makes me giggle, it's why I like the darn book so much. They do go to extremes to perfect a recipe. It is the best way to make teriyaki or pot roast or pork and the write ups help because it details exactly how they got those results and it makes getting the same results easier. (And also I tend to lean toward type A and I sercretly admire their thouroughness.) I also like them because the food is aproaching gormet good, but it's not even close to gormet expensive or gormet fussy. This stuff is within my budget to make and I'm pretty cheap with my food.
Which all means that when I see my brother today I can thank him for introducing me to this company. He's pretty lucky though, most people who get me to sign myself up for solicitations don't get off so easily.