Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cooking School, or, Just One Long Love Letter to the Test Kitchen

America's Test Kitchen has finally opened their online cooking school (links below). 

Back in college, I loved watching America's Test Kitchen on Saturday afternoons on PBS.

When I got married, I didn't know how to cook, outside of the basics and quasi-prepared foods that came from a box or were inspired by a recipe on the back of a can.  I endeavored to learn, capable of following a recipe, and did fine. 

In 2006 I got serious about cooking.  I still loved watching and learning from the Test Kitchen on TV, and invested in two of their books- the Family Cookbook and Cook's Illustrated's Best 30-Minute Recipe (Incredibly valuable to a mom with three, soon-to-be four very small children.)

And then I was hooked.

These are not recipes hastily developed to "sound good" and "look easy" in a magazine or on a package, while simultaneously selling you a product like so many are designed to do, coupled with a deceivingly gorgeous, mouthwatering photograph that looks nothing like the final result.

These also aren't created to sound exotic or snobbish, for people to complete in order to prove a point, or feel "advanced" in the kitchen, like the recipes you'll find sometimes from Martha Stewart or from cooking shows on TV that you will never in your lifetime emulate.

The Test Kitchen works to create iron-clad, fool-proof, reliable recipes that work scientifically in the tradition of Julia Child; and that taste incredible.  They do not cut corners, and create recipes that work. 

And what is wonderful is that these excellent, precise recipes are also accessible to the home cook.  The instructions leave nothing out, but are constructed in a concise, clear way that is simple to follow, using honest, real ingredients.  This is real cooking. 

After spending several years cooking almost exclusively with America's Test Kitchen, Cooks Illustrated, and Cook's Country, I have learned and absorbed so much by doing.

I'm quite capable of improvising in the kitchen now, with a handful of staple ingredients and the knowledge these recipes have given me. Many of them are now locked in my memory.

It's very empowering.

This is intelligent, informed cooking for real kitchens, for your real family, for those who want to know how it works, not simply to be told what to do.

Our family has benefited from these recipes so much, and I have personally enjoyed the experience of using them so much, that I feel happy to give them my money for my membership, or for a new book or subscription.

This cooking school is a great opportunity to work with solid instruction, at your own pace, in your own kitchen, with foods your own family will enjoy.  If you want to cook- to really cook- I obviously think you should give these guys a shot, and perhaps even consider joining in this online school.  It sounds wonderful.

Visit these links for more:

Bon Appetit.

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