Madame Chocolates’s Blog:
My Beloved Chocophiles,
For those that have known me for awhile, it is no secret that I have had a ten-year full-blown-school-girl crush on Chef Christopher Kimball, founder and editor of Cook’s Illustrated magazine.
I know you may be thinking… (thought bubble appears above your heads…. “mmmmm…? Is she ever going to talk about chocolate!?!”)
C’mon! What’s not to adore about this man? His boy-ish and geeky charm coupled with his high forehead (is that a comb-over, Chef?), glasses, bow tie… and, he can cook and write, too! Those dimples that only show when his lips are pursed… ooooo! The man is ADORBS! I am still lamenting missing his book signing at the downtown Denver Tattered Cover Book Store in the fall of ’09! …mmmmm… he seems rather tall…?
Okay, so, I’ll admit it! I’m a little (maybe a lot) old fashioned! I am well aware of all the newer, slicker, “more professional” (ugh! over-used term!) publications available on-line or DVD – but there is just something about quality produced printed medium that will forever embrace my heart!
I am quite sure that I was one of the first subscribers to his magazine west of the Mississippi in late 1993. Up until two years ago, I purchased, not only the monthly magazine, but also, the end-of-year bound edition – just couldn’t get enough. Now, I just get the year-end books. I have seen America’s Test Kitchen (his television show on PBS) several times, but I prefer his printed magazine. He has since published Cook’s Country, but I just don’t like that one as much… its maybe a little too country for me.
CI’s clean and simple layout design and lined graphics appeal to the the artist in me. I love the illustrations! Except for the very back page and the front cover, the whole magazine is black and white. The cover is always a Reubens-esque rich and classic oil painting of voluptuous food that makes me want to lick the paper its printed on! The back is a collectable poster with varietals of different single ingredients. There has never been an advertisement in any edition – so, you will have to pay a little more, but it is so worth it!
In my opinion, Chef Kimball is this generation’s Julia Childs. He has helped to de-mystify techniques that intimidated even the most savvy of home cooks. His approach is much like that of a scientist, although he is not nearly as flashy as Chef Alton Brown. In fact, there is nothing at all flashy about Chef Kimball. He charges his staff to experiment and creatively explore recipes while documenting what they discover along the way. When a recipe does finally make it to print, you get to read about all the blunders in addition to the successes. Many times, the revelation of a good replicable recipe is in all the mistakes made during its evolution. Perhaps, a metaphor for life…?
But Chef Kimball, his merry band of inquistive chefs and consumer reporters don’t stop there. In every issue is the Equipment Corner where they test and report on the latest and greatest kitchen products. Its kind of like the Consumer Reports of home cook’s gear, and woe is the manufacturer of a piece of equipment that goes under CI’s testing barrage – only the best get kudos and the rest, well… yikes! The Quick Tips section give you shortcuts to everyday tasks – some of these are amazing and I can’t help being reminded by those that write in how fun it is to think outside the box. The Taste Test section provides great comparative information. There is a What is it? blurb in every issue where a reader sends in a description and/or photograph of a mystery gadget that becomes revealed. What fun!!!
CI has even added to my culinary vocabulary. For instance, there was a recipe that included a whole chicken. It digressed into a comparison of purchasing whole chicken vs a “pick of the chix” grocery pack. When you buy whole, you not only get a much better cost, but you reduce you chances of experiencing “Franken-chicken” – a wierd mix of body parts. You know, where the bird-beast has two livers and you’d swear that one of the thighs came from a turkey! Ha! Still makes me laugh!
I know that there will be some of my dearest chef friends that will scoff at my love of this humble read (Chef Winter?). But, even years after becoming a professional chef, I still enjoy this delightful publication very, very much!
Here comes the chocolate… wait for it… wait for it…
Some of my favorite recipes throughout this publication’s history have been: Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake (Nov & Dec 2009), The Best Chocolate Butter Cookies (Nov & Dec 2005), Hot Fudge Pudding Cake (May & June 2002), Banana-Chocolate Bread (March & April 1998), and Sour Cream-Fudge Layer Cake with Chocolate Butter Icing (July & August 1994) – on Madame Chocolat’s Piping Star Tip scale of 1 to 5, this one gets all five! *****!!!
However, even with all of this, I haven’t yet mentioned my most favorite thing of Chef Kimball’s publication: his Editorial –This one page entry is written soley by him and rarely, if ever, has anything, at all, to do with food. In it, Chef Kimball regales stories of his life with his family, friends and neighbors in his home town deep in the heart of Vermont that are insightful, frequently endearing and, sometimes, laugh out-loud funny! Many of the tales are so Prairie Home Companion-esque, dripping in quaint, small-town America. He is an accomplished author and has written several books including The Cook’s Bible and The Dessert Bible – both are delightful, indeed!
My crush on Christopher Kimball aside, his bi-monthly Editorial in Cook’s Illustrated magazine is one of my favorite things, indeed!
Thanks for letting me share, my friends!