Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Meet My Magazine Mentors

You may have heard the Blog Buzz that I'm blogging Every Day (except the weekends) in May about magazines. I'm on a quest to see if magazine reading is a worthwhile pursuit for an educated, savvy, middle-age (if I live to be 106) modern woman like myself. And of course, I want to share my findings with you. Because I'm just selfless like that.

After much thought, and two comments, I've decided not to limit myself to one particular magazine.

I'm going to be reporting on the wealth of knowledge I glean from the magazines pictured here:

The picture is a little blurry, but I think you can make out most of the titles, and of course you can see Dolly on the cover of the AARP magazine. Can't really miss her. In that issue she tells about getting her exercise by picking cotton, since she finds treadmills too boring. Looking at her waist size in that photo makes me actually consider getting a membership to a cotton field.

But you'll have to wait to hear more about Dolly since my magazine Pick for the Day was Cook's Illustrated (which I think is going to turn out to be one of my favorite journals....even though I don't really cook and when I do it's not really something one would want to illustrate) where today I learned the answer to a question I'm sure you've often asked yourself.

Is draining canned beans really necessary?

Turns out the answer differs according to what you're making. "Canned beans are made by pressure cooking beans directly in the can with water, salt, and preservatives. As the beans cook, starches and proteins leach into the liquid, thickening it." (I may not be a writer for a cooking magazine, but I know better than to use the word leach when talking about food....)

What I like the most about Cook's Illustrated is that they have a test kitchen that experiments around to find the best recipes, tools, ingredients, etc. - then they report their results.
With the canned bean dilemna, when they did not rinse the beans it made no difference in recipes with mixed flavors and different textures - like chili. Some recipes actually tasted better with the unrinsed beans. However, the hummus they made with unrinsed chick peas was too pasty and had less flavor.

So, there you have the definitive answer, dear readers. Sometimes you should rinse, and sometimes not.

Another really cool tip was to use a metal cheese slicer instead of a spatula when you're trying to remove warm cookies from a cookie sheet without breaking the cookies. The thin, sharp blade is better suited for this task than a thick spatula.

I definitely plan on trying that tip tomorrow!

Isn't this fun?!

In the issue I read today (March/April 2008) I also learned whether Super-Premium Orange Juice was worth the super-premium price. They compared five different juices ranging in price from $3.99 to $9.99 for 64 ounces. Tropicana Pure Premium, one of the lower costing juices, beat out Naked All Natural Juice. I'm sure it was neck and neck all the way!

And the most riveting article of all, "Can One Serrated Knife Do It All?"
And yes, wonder upon wonders, if you get yourself a Wusthof Classic Bread Knife ($79.95) or even a Victorinox Forschner 10 1/4 Inch Curved Blade Bread Knife ($24.95) you can have one knife that cuts bread, tomatoes, cake, sticky dough, and even club sandwiches.

And apparently, you can even go online and watch some behind the scenes test kitchen videos.

The recipes in this issue were also good, but I didn't feel right reporting on them until I had actually cooked something. Which may or may not happen in May. (Get it? MAY or MAY not.....)

For a free trial issue of Cook's Illustrated go to www.cooksillustrated.com
It's a cool site with tons of good recipes.

See you tomorrow, when I tell you a couple of things I am NOT going to do that were suggested in the May/June 2009 issue of AARP (which mistakenly gets delivered to my address every month. They must think some old person lives here!)


jax said...

I love Cook's Illustrated! That's one I would probably subscribe to if I didn't live in a 5-square foot apartment. I don't have room for magazine stacks anymore -- and it's too much trouble to take them to storage.
I'm confused from your post -- was the article about rinsing or draining the beans? Or both?

jax said...

P.S. That is good news about the orange juice, since Nathan is always trying to convince me to buy him the very best brands (while I am content with my Publix brand grapefruit juice! the nerve!). Hopefully this survey will give credence to my side of the debate.

Jonesey said...

Again, you are so funny :)

I have always wondered if I waste time and energy by rinsing those canned beans. And the Orange Juice News was good because I am always wanting to get that "Simply Orange" kind because it seems like it is so chock full of simple goodness.

I have also always been really tempted by "Real Simple" Magazine, so I look forward to that review.

Debbie @ Cheaper by the Bakers Dozen said...

Whoops! I guess I couldn't fool Jax into thinking I actually knew anything about cooking just because I read cooking magazines.
Cuz I didn't realize the author interchanged draining and rinsing the beans. I'm supposing they believe that if you drain - you will also rinse.

However, when I DO cook, it often involves canned beans - - - but I've never rinsed any. Draining is rigorous enough. Geesh.

brite said...

I've started getting Cook's Illustrated from the library- you should try that Jax. No commitment, and they don't stay in your house. It's win-win. And I have that Wusthof Bread knife and if I could only have one knife I would choose that one...it's great.

I think it's hilarious that Dolly is pictured from the side, as if she needs any emphasis on her shape. :)

Cotton-picking membership...too funny. :)

Jason and Gretchen said...

Real Simple is my favorite magazine, my sister-in-law gets me a subscription each year for my birthday because I would never spend the money on it myself, but I really enjoy getting it!!! My Granny gives me all her Southern Living when she is done with them also - that is a treat!

lea said...

i am off to drain and rinse or not drain and rinse my beans in the cotton field while drinking cheap orange juice...

Lauren said...

well, i have to say that i DO NOT drain my garbanzos when making hummus, and ask jax, i make a mean hummus. just made some the other day and it definitely pleased the huz and kids. and me! this post was hilarious, helpful and so fun. i love it, mrs. p.

jax, get nathan Simply Orange from wal-mart. it's usually about $3 and in a sexy bottle. he'll think it's awesome. plus, they have one variety that they add mango to it and it's pretty good. i, like you, like the publix brand, but these men have weird complexes about store brands apparently.

brite said...

Just to add, I also do not rinse my garbanzos when I make hummus, and no one has ever complained (or noticed). And Lauren, how can an OJ bottle be sexy?? :) (That's a rhetorical question...)

Debbie @ Cheaper by the Bakers Dozen said...

I read the article again and it does indeed interchange draining and rinsing - although when a recipe calls for draining canned beans I never thought to rinse them!

Since I always buy my hummus ready-made from Publix, I must ask Brite and Lauren...Do you drain the garbanzo beans and just not rinse them or do you put the entire can contents in? And if you do put the whole can in, is there "juice" or liquid involved?
Cause that would seem to water down the flavor a tad and possibly change the consistency.

Who knew what a hot topic this was?!

busymomof10 said...

When you are ready to try your new cotton field work outs, come see me. I live in the Land of Cotton! They are really very pretty in the early fall when ready for harvest. I can just imagine the two of us right in the middle of a snowy white field, whittling our waists!!! :o