It’s an embarrassment of riches when it comes to locating new or different recipes. There are infinite online resources: websites, blogs, Facebook interest groups, Tumblr posts. Can you tweet a recipe?? If you can do it in 280 characters you can! Still, many of us still enjoy the printed format, as there’s certainly no lack of books, magazines, or newspaper articles that focus on food and cooking. If we want to look up how to use a specific ingredient, or we need a certain cookie recipe stat, for the sake of speed most of us will turn to the internet. But there’s something to be said for browsing through a book or magazine and finding something scrumptious in an unexpected and serendipitous fashion. Accordingly, this month our group took on the world of periodicals both familiar and not, just to see what we would see.
Group members were free to use any periodical they preferred: old, new, food-focused or general interest. Many of us have favorites that we typically turn to, but this month gave us the opportunity to (if we chose) to find something new. An easy way to browse “print” magazines is through the library’s RBdigital (the app formerly known as Zinio). This is a quick and easy way to explore periodicals that may not be widely available in printed form– or to read an issue of a magazine when the print copy is checked out.
One surprise for me in the general-interest category was the venerable Family Circle. Though this magazine has an old-school reputation, it’s obvious that they’ve kept up with the many changes in our cooking and eating habits. They were on-trend with a sheet pan recipe for kielbasa with cheese tortellini, and one for fish chowder! Other members tried FC’s miso sesame green beans, za’atar roasted carrots with yogurt, and curried cranberry chutney— all of which were very good. Also excellent were a Persian cauliflower rice and a sweet potato bread pudding, which turned out to be a great breakfast dish. But, sweet potato biscuits were just OK, as they didn’t have enough of their namesake flavor. They had a pretty color, though!
Good Housekeeping is another magazine that’s been around for generations; and their December issue typically features a slew of Christmas cookie recipes. One person tried their stained glass cookies, but the recipe didn’t work quite right; though the cookies looked enticing, they didn’t taste good and were tooth-breakers! My favorite GH cookie recipe is their tri-color almond slices, better known as Italian rainbow cookies. While you have to fuss a bit to make them, when finished they look appropriately fancy and taste yummy.
As for food-focused magazines, a few people perused Bon Appetit. Many of us remember how exciting and influential this magazine was in the 1990s, but there was general consensus that it’s just not what it used to be, and no one was enthusiastic about anything they saw in a current issue. There was a lot of talk about favorite tried-and-true BA recipes from “back then” — well-loved dishes that we continue to make today. One perennial favorite is the pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust; another keeper is the penne with tomatoes, olives and two cheeses. Fine Cooking is also a magazine that’s been around for a while and those who use it think it’s as good as ever. And, the Food Network magazine is a popular newer choice; someone made a tasty cornbread, chorizo, and kale dressing from it. They also found a useful tip to use citrus juice to help brown poultry skin in the oven.
Two “healthy eating” magazines that we enjoyed were Cooking Light and Eating Well. Slow-cooker pork with peach preserves from CL was a good, hearty variation on pulled pork. From EW, both the pork tenderloin with white bean mash and twice-baked sweet potatoes were delicious, though the seared scallops with radicchio apple slaw was “just OK.” The reader wished the magazine had included companion side dishes or more recipes for complete meals. Weight Watchers magazine had some good Thanksgiving-leftover recipes, including burgers, chili, soup, and turkey stock. And, Nutrition Action Newsletter (published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest) was praised for its simple recipes and no-advertising policy. Some content is available online for free.
Speaking of free content, Hannaford supermarket has a free magazine (OK, it’s free if you spend $25 in the store), Fresh, that several of use have used and enjoyed. Though there’s plenty of advertising for the store, there are also lots of recipes as well. If you shop there it’s definitely worth checking out.
As is always the case, our group’s discussion wandered in many directions, and led to conversation about the Instant Pot. A few in the group own one, but several people (including me) had somehow never heard of this item. It’s a multicooker that can be used as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker– and possibly more! Those who own one had high praise for it– particularly the pressure-cooking function, which significantly speeds up cooking time for dishes such as stews or dried beans which typically take hours to become tender. Food Network had a recipe for a Tex-Mex beef stew that was easy and tasty, and ready quickly -thanks to the Instant Pot. Though pressure-cooking certainly isn’t new, the Instant Pot has assisted in its comeback, and the pot’s safety mechanisms have assuaged people’s fears of exploding pot lids! So if Santa didn’t bring you any fun toys for Christmas, you might consider this appliance for your collection.
We’ll meet again on Friday, January 26 at 11 AM in the Fireplace Room. We have two titles this month, both focusing on plant-based diets: The VB6 Cookbook by Mark Bittman; and/or The Oh She Glows Cookbook by blogger Angela Liddon. Copies are available at the main desk.
A happy, healthy New Year to all!