November 05, 2012: Cook’s Country on DVD

November 5, 2012

Sorry for such few posts lately, folks. Please be patient while I iron a few pesky inconveniences like how to pay for the mortgage, clothes, food…I have a number of posts already composed in my noggin. I just need to get some time away from job searching to flesh them out.

I continue to prospect through the river of knowledge with my pan of curiosity for the gold of experience at my favorite little library, the Hudson Public Library. This week’s gold is the entire “Cook’s Country” PBS cooking show on DVD.

For the best of American cooking, the magazine “Cook’s Illustrated” and its’ sister magazine, “Cook’s Country” (and now the TV show) hits the spot. These are classic American recipes tested and retested by “America’s Test Kitchen” (the name of the group that oversees the cooking and the media) to make them “bulletproof.” Both the magazines and the TV show work out all the ways a chef  can go wrong with these classic recipes and guide the viewer to ways of perfecting them. They also test out modern tools and gadgets and recommend their top choices. They do the same with store-bought, popular foods. Best of all, they frequently show you how to take care of your kitchen tools to make them last and functioning top-notch.

Christopher Kimball founded “Cook’s” magazine in 1980 and was publisher and editor until 1989 when the magazine was relaunched as “Cook’s Country.” I was surprised (and pleased) to discover that Christopher is a Boston native and that America’s Test kitchen is located in Brookline!

For years I subscribed to various cooking magazines and finally settled on “Cook’s Illustrated” as the perfect one for me. There is nothing flashy about “Cook’s Illustrated.” A well-composed color illustration for the front, color photographs of the recipes inside the back cover and just clean, black and white illustrations for the inside to accompany the articles.

The PBS-TV show has a little bit more by way of presentation, while holding back on the flash. It comes close to the Julia Child show, minus Julia’s charming goofyness. “Cook’s Country” does radiate a warmth as Christopher graciously takes a back seat as tester, taster, and sometimes target for his charming, affable, and clearly knowledgeable staff. Viewers are taken through the recipes step-by-step, with the staff pointing out where they went wrong in their tests and most importantly why these trials went wrong. I believe I learned more watching just the first season of “Cook’s Country” than I did working an entire year and half at a bona-fide French restaurant!

I won’t deny that I sometimes like to go a bit fancy on some dishes. I do like to spoil my guests, when ever possible, with the visual and the complicated. Fancy I can dream up on my own, but for practical, solid solutions to good recipes of America’s favorite dishes, nothing beats “Cook’s Country” and “Cook’s Illustrated!”





  1. Great recommendation — sounds perfect for me!

    Did you see their jobs page? Could be cool!

  2. Hi Steve, have you thought about giving cooking lessons in your home. it could be for very specific dishes..home style, or more gourmet..depending on the student. I went to a one night cooking class with my beloved daughter..12 people made one dinner ..each couple making one dish for the meal. maybe have just a small number of people or a one on one session. i Would love to take a one night lesson in preparing a meal……and do it once a week with someone great like you. Ask my beloved daughter how much she paid for the class we took……..it was a great night!!! regan cleaning shrimp documented in a photo. FUN,

    take care, Kathy..mother of beloved daughter.

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