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August 7, 2008 at 11:13 AM

Food mags — what’s in your pile?

In my dreams I spend the lazy days of August at the beach — with a big stack of books and magazines beside me. Believe me: those days at the beach are few and far between for this busy scribe (ditto for the “lazy” days). But when it comes to those stacks, I’ve got ’em in spades. There’s the sky-high bedside stack. The either side of the couch and armchair stack. The piles and piles in the office stack. The magazines-to-recycle-at-the-doctors’-office stack. And then there’s this spread of current culinary ink:

Chances are, if you like to cook and dine out, or if you work in the restaurant business, you’ve got some of the above decorating the rooms in your house, too. As for those two newbies posing at the bottom of my photo montage, allow me to share an introduction:

Edible Seattle — tag-line: “Celebrating the seasonal bounty of Puget Sound” — launched this spring as part of a national effort to urge us to eat local. This not-so-glossy quarterly puts an exceedingly local spin on everything from its regular features (wanna know what’s in Ethan Stowell’s fridge? check out the summer issue now on newsstands, $4.99), to its recipes (among them, Volunteer Park Cafe’s warm hazelnut chevre salad) to features like “Think Like a Plant.” That hands-on look at Seattle Tilth’s organic-gardening classes was written by the multi-talented Amy Pennington (who, speaking of spades, will literally help you plant, grow and harvest your own home-grown garden, and produces Tom Douglas’s radio show in her “spare time”).

The premiere issue of Pike Place Palate — a semiannual — made its debut this summer offering, as the cover copy explains, “Your Guide to Farm-Fresh Food, Fun and More at Pike Place Market.” It’s another fine effort offering local color and the kind of insight into the Market’s many producers that the famous sign “Meet the Producers” only hints at.

Between its covers you’ll “meet” Gretchen Hoyt and Ben Craft of Alm Hill Gardens, who celebrated the 25th anniversary of Canter-Berry Farms’ Market presence, get the recipe for Matt’s in the Market’s smoked catfish salad (yes!) and “tour” the farm with Snohomish farmers Kher Thao and Xai Cha — among the many Hmong who call the Market their home-away-from-home. Features like “Ten Under $10” (where to lunch for under $10) and a $5 coupon good for five-bucks off on farm-table produce (on Summer Sundays, Organic Wednesdays and Farm Fridays), makes the $5.95 cover price a bargain. A limited supply is available at the Market, or you can buy one online via the Market’s website.

If I had to pick a favorite among all the food magazines I subscribe to (in additon to the many that come unsolicited), it would have to be Cook’s Illustrated. I owe them for that Almost No-Knead Bread recipe that so many of us have baked and loved, and the “What is it?” feature — a veritable Antiques Roadshow of weird kitchen-gear. And despite what you may think, I even like those hokey editorials by Cook’s Illustrated’s illustrious leader, that balding, bow-tied, quasi-Vermonter Christopher Kimball (when does he sleep?).

So, tell me: Which food rags rate high your pile?


Posted by Karen

11:40 AM, Aug 07, 2008

Right now I only have Cooking Light and Taste of Home and only because they were given to me as gifts. I had several just as you have, but finally decided I can just about find anything food-wise online and have cancelled my subscriptions one by one. I do subscribe to Cook’s Illustrated online. Am I missing anything by not having a paper copy?

Posted by Barb

11:52 AM, Aug 07, 2008

Try as I might to reduce the number of my food magazine subscriptions, I still subscribe to (and read cover to cover) Cooks Illustrated (you are right on that bread recipe and Christopher Kimball), Cuisine at Home, Fine Cooking and Cooking Light.

Posted by CindyW

12:16 PM, Aug 07, 2008

All of my “food mags” are online, like this blog. 🙂

Well, that’s not quite true. We have stacks of wine and food magazines — Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator, Wine Press NW, and a few others scattered here and there.

Posted by Cris

12:41 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Cook’s Illustrated and sister mag, Cook’s Country are my go-to magazines. Cooking Light gets delivered every month, but I haven’t been enamored by any of the recipes.

Posted by InterplanetaryJanet

1:29 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Ever see a 40-ish woman skip back home from the mailbox? Love my Gourmet subscription!

Posted by Debbie

1:42 PM, Aug 07, 2008

I actually subscribe to just one – Bon Appetit – I have gotten it for as long as I can remember – 20 years+. I was about to cancel, but their reformat this year has piqued my interest again. So it’ll stay for a while. I have gift subscriptions for Cuisine at Home, which I really enjoy (and cook from!) AND for Cook’s Illustrated, which hasn’t started arriving yet – so I’m glad to see that’s your fav. I confess I am tempted every time I go to the store by those glossy covers! Though with my abundant cookbook collection & numerous online sites I frequent, I am trying to resist purchasing too many. I will definitely check out the two ‘newbies’ though!

Posted by Lisa

3:05 PM, Aug 07, 2008

I’m addicted! Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Cusine at Home, Everyday with Rachel Ray and my all time favorite Eating Well.

Posted by CMG

3:21 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Cuisine at Home was my first cooking magazine when I started cooking instead of subsisting peanut butter out of the jar and twist top white zin. My partner and I love it because it contains a good variety of great recipes that are adaptable and are feasible in a busy evening. It also tends to have thematic recipes so that you can use the leftovers of whatever new or strange ingredient the issue may utilize. These days I have snootier magazines, but my best stuff is still typically adapted from CAH.

Posted by Marypat

3:24 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Saveur, Eating Well, and Cooks Illustrated are the ones at our house. I’ve found great recipes from all of them and am always learning something new. Sunset isn’t specifically about cooking yet I like their food coverage and they also have recipes that have made it into our regular repertoire.

Posted by gb500

4:19 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Saveur, Gourmet. Used to love the dishy Food Arts, but had to cull a few things from my coffee table. Anyone have a favorite food blog? Check out Michael Ruhlman — love his books, love his blog.

Posted by Seattle Susan

5:02 PM, Aug 07, 2008

My favorite is Cooking Light, followed by Cooks Illustrated and then Bon Appetit. I also subscribe to Gourmet. From time to time I subscribe to Saveur and to Food and Wine.

Posted by Ben

5:08 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Got a subscription to La Cucina Italiana earlier this year from my dad. Absolutely beautiful photography, great recipes and not overly wordy. Also enjoy Eating Well.

Posted by Mr Cheese

5:21 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Saveur (Anyone else keep usli ghee in the ‘fridge?) and Cooks Illustrated are my favorites. My wife enjoys Cooks Country.

Posted by Tim

5:23 PM, Aug 07, 2008

I get them all but I love Saveur because it takes more of an anthropolical approach to food.

Also love NW palate for what’s happening in the PNW.

But nothing beats Wednesday’s Food section in the Times, PI and NYTimes (love Bittman)

Posted by Laurie

5:25 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Fine Cooking is the one I cook from the most; check out the great blueberry dessert recipes in the June/July issue.

Posted by Bunnee

6:26 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, Martha Stewart Living, Chocolatier (soon to be called something else), Saveur, Cooks’ Illustrated, Sunset, Fine Cooking, Everyday Food, and probably others I’ve forgotten. I did get the Rachael Ray magazine for a while but I’ve no interest in pet food recipes or her favorite shopping finds or her one page tour guides, plus the recipes were rarely something I would use. I do lots of food blogs (Serious Eats, Michael Ruhlman, Orangette, Roots and Grubs, etc.) and look forward to food sections in the Seattle Times, the News Tribune, the New York Times and an email I get from Tribune newspapers. It’s fun being retired!

Posted by Tiger Jo

6:41 PM, Aug 07, 2008

1° Cooks Illustrated, 2° Bon Apetit, and I’d like to get Fine Cooking but I can’t justify the cost right now. CI has given me a few of my favorite recipes: oven roasted green beans, and like many others, that great bread recipe! I read CI and BA on my commute, and even if I don’t see something that makes me want to jump off the bus at the nearest grocery store, they’re an enjoyable read.

I had a free subscription to Gourmet last year, and I HATED it (food I didn’t want to cook, products I’d never buy, writers I didn’t care to read). I got a free copy of Cooks Country, which was good, but a bit more middle of the road than CI. The name turns me off, but I’ll probably subscribe to it in the future.

Posted by DrKoob

7:33 PM, Aug 07, 2008

I love Fine Cooking. I subscribe to Bon Appetit and Gourmet as well but will probably let them lapse when they expire. Especially Gourmet. When I can’t find even one interesting recipe in an issue, I am through with that magazine.

I always find stuff I want to make in Bon Appetit but seldom getting around to making it. That might be the test. If I actually get around to making something from one of them.

I used to subscribe to Cooks Illustrated but now I just belong to their website.

But the real love of my magazine life is Fine Cooking. I end of making four or five recipes from every issue. Their articles are outstanding but they really hooked me with a series they do all the time called “Cooking without Recipes.” It is my favorite. It gets my imagination going like no other.

Posted by Kairu

9:15 PM, Aug 07, 2008

I have three: Gourmet, Cook’s Illustrated, and Bon Appetit. After some fifteen years without Bon Appetit, it was a surprise to me to find how it has changed over the years (in a good way), and I immediately made some shortcakes for dessert the same night it arrived in my mailbox.

Cook’s Illustrated is by far my favorite; I discovered it when Amanda Hesser mentioned it in “Cooking for Mr. Latte,” and have turned to it time and again for recipes that never fail, as well as sound advice on all sorts of gadgets and ingredients.

The food writing in Vogue (Jeffrey Steingarten) and GQ (Alan Richman) is always vastly entertaining, even if Steingarten’s recipes always take at least three days and several ingredients that are either prohibitively expensive or not commonly found on this continent, or both.

Posted by foodie

10:39 PM, Aug 07, 2008

Food & Wine is by far my favorite of many. In descending order, Bon Appetite, Saveur, Cooks Illustrated, Gourmet. Sounds like many don’t love Gourmet- but I read it more for their writings on restaurants, less for the recipes.

Posted by Tiger Jo

11:07 PM, Aug 07, 2008

OOPS, I forgot to say that one of the reasons that I like Bon Appetit, is to read Ballard’s very own Molly Wizenberg!! When I read her pieces, I feel like I’ve known her all my life.

And, I adore her blog, “Orangette”.

Posted by jd

7:33 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Favorite has to be Cook’s Illustrated. Tons of useful information and the back cover illustrations are gorgeous. Enjoy catching “America’s Test Kitchen” on PBS when I can as well.

Posted by pivo

10:21 AM, Aug 08, 2008

Saveur. Have subscribed for years, as I love its excellent writing, layout, photography and historical-sentimental approach. Though its editor, or one of its key edtiors, left for another magazine, Gourmet if I recall correctly, so I’m watching to see if Saveur’s quality drops and Gourmet’s appeal to me heightens.

And I love the superb writing in the restaurant reviews of Kathyrn Robinson (spelling?) in Seattle Metropolitan magazine.

I don’t cook much, just enjoy eating well and reading about food and drink.

Posted by Hélène

12:06 PM, Aug 08, 2008

I love Ricardo. Beautiful photographs & delicious recipes. They always turn out perfect. I also read: Saveur, Food & Wine, Cooking Light, Bon Appétit, Fine Cooking, Gourmet, Vegetarian Times.

Posted by sailcocktail

4:15 PM, Aug 08, 2008

Cook’s Illustrated is also my favorite, but I also get Bon Appetit, Saveur, Gourmet, Cooking Light, and Food Arts. I used ot get Cook’s Country, but gave it up before they went away from the tabloid format, which I hated (wouldn’t fit in my magazine boxes).

Posted by Nikki

12:54 AM, Aug 09, 2008

Out of all the magazines I receive (gifts or otherwise), Saveur makes me weak. I can read and re-read that one and always find something different. A friend of mine gave me the Rachael Ray magazine – and it’s okay, but there just seems to be something lacking. Other than that, though – it’s Vegetarian Times, Everyday Food, and Gourmet (the only reason I even have THAT is because I adore the heck out of Ruth Reichl).

Posted by magfoodguy

9:03 AM, Aug 11, 2008

In order. 1. Saveur. 2. Gourmat. 3. Food & Wine. I can’t believe no one on here likes Gourmet. I find at least one good recipe a month espcially in the weekday section. I used to subscribe to Bon Apetit but found it a little too low brow and boring. The recipes were just not challenging enough.

Posted by maggie

1:18 PM, Aug 11, 2008

Not sure how you feel about Gourmet, but Sur La Table is offering a free one year subscription with purchase of $50 or more…pretty easy to do at that store and no risk trial! I signed up today…

Posted by Robin

6:50 PM, Aug 11, 2008

I like Bon Appetit and have found some great recipes in Sunset magazines. Currently, the only subscription I have is Cooking Club of America’s “Cooking Pleasures”. They have good recipes. I stopped getting any other subscriptions because I save everything and I had stacks and stacks of magazines.

Comments | More in Gardening, Pike Place Market | Topics: Pike Place Market, Reading about eating


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