July 28th, 2010

“Cuisine at Home” Magazine

For nearly a decade, dinner at my house was a testament to the eating-to-live philosophy. I’d prepare the same handful of meals week after week. Boring . . . until my mom conducted an intervention with a gift subscription to Cuisine at Home that, as my kids will tell you, “changed our lives.”

Before the first issue showed up, I was worried. I thought the bimonthly magazines would sit in my cabinets unused, calling my name and sounding suspiciously like my mom saying, “At least try it!” The “gift,” I feared, would be little more than a source of guilt.

I was wrong.

My first installment was the February 2009 issue featuring Slow-Cooker Cassoulet on the cover. I sat down, flipped through and found eleven recipes I wanted to try. Of those eleven, only one (Thai Green Curry Chicken, p. 46) got a unanimous thumb’s down and the mistake was mine. (The recipe calls for fish sauce; I bought the cheapest available. Big mistake. Tastes like fish. Gross.) We all liked the remaining ten, four of which have become regulars in our house, including the Pan-Seared Five-Spice Tilapia with Hot Orange-Ginger Sauce and Mandarin Spinach Salad (pp. 35-36). After that first issue, we were hooked.

Here’s what I like about Cuisine at Home:

The recipes are yummy. I choose recipes based on the pictures, which include the finished product and key stages in the process. To date, we’ve tried and not liked only one recipe and have had mixed reviews on only one other.

The recipes are clearly explained. Trust me: if I can make this stuff, so can you. That said, recipes for french breads, dim sum and fancy cakes look complicated, so those are clean, drip-free pages in my issues.

The recipes fess up to time and nutrition facts. Typically, preparation takes ~30 minutes but with baking/cooking and resting, total time can be significantly longer. The recipes also indicate the calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbs, fiber and protein per serving.

The recipes make a decent amount. Most recipes make four servings, but the serving sizes are huge. I feed five and frequently have leftovers.

The recipes are clustered in meals. Recipes for main dishes are usually accompanied by recipes for side dishes. Handy.

A word of warning: if Jay were still a toddler, C&T still babies and I still working under the gun of deadlines, would I be as enamored with Cuisine at Home? Hell no but that’s not the magazine’s fault. Following any recipe is inherently more time-consuming than dumping by rote a handful of ingredients into a single pot.

If you’re looking for a way to mix things up at meal time and aren’t too busy to even consider recipes, you won’t be disappointed in Cuisine at Home. Ordinarily $28 for a two-year subscription, Cuisine at Home offers a free preview issue. Check it out at www.cuisineathome.com.

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While camping last weekend our editor inadvertently sealed her kids in a tent together with about 50 hungry mosquitoes. Needless to say she spent a lot of time looking for itch relief. One of the best? A plain bar of bath soap, rubbed directly on the bite. Natural remedy! (Though we still recommend keeping the mosquitoes OUT of the tent.)