What’s This All About

In late 2009, I was watching the movie Julia and Julie, when my elder son Matthew asked me if we could do something similar, but with America’s Test Kitchen. So on January 1st, 2010 I pledged to my sons to make 100 new recipes from Cook’s Illustrated,  America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country over the course of 2010. Old recipes didn’t count towards the 100, but I include them in this blog. After succeeding in attaining my goal in 2010, I failed to reach my easier goal of 100 recipes (including new and old) for 2011. For 2012, I changed my goal dramatically and now I am promising to make every new recipe published by Cook’s Illustrated magazine in 2012.

Visiting Paris in April 2011

Why: It started because I felt 2009 was a terrible year, and my belief that great food was enough to make me feel better! It worked (more or less) and each year since things have been better than the prior year.

Who is Chris Kimball? For those who don’t know him…no..it’s not me. He is the founder of Cook’s Illustrated magazine and the “personality” of PBS’s America’s Test Kitchen. I know he is s not the real guy behind the recipes (we love Julia and Bridget too). But whenever things get low, I sit down with my two boys in front of the TV and we would watch America’s Test Kitchen. There are always 5 or 6 episodes on our DVR. Later in the week, I make something fantastic for dinner. So for a few dollars everybody is happy again like it’s 1999.

99 Responses to What’s This All About

  1. seashells4u says:

    Hello – just a note to let you know some folks are reading, even if we aren’t posting comments. ( I can’t imagine posting unless I’ve made the dish myself, there will be a lag-time….) Glad to have found this blog = fun! I”m reading and those recipes you give good ratings to that also sound good (ingredients-wise) to me – I’m getting the recipe from the CI site to make some time in the future. More power to ya! & Happy 2010.

  2. Deanna says:

    What a great idea. My husband and I love the Cooks Illustrated recipes. We refer to the “Best Recipes” collection as The Bible. Good luck!

  3. fitzie says:

    Hi – just curious. Have you bought the book? If so, what do you think of it? I’m still hemming and hawing.
    Fitzie

    • Mark says:

      Hi, no, not yet. Right now, I am working from their website. I will probably buy the cookbook, though, because there are so many good recipes. There are worse ways to spend $30.

  4. Franca says:

    Just found your blog — what a cool idea! Cooks Illustrated Magazine and the CI/ATK web site are my #1 cookbook. While I do have other cook books and family recipes I find that I turn to CI/ATK most often. Have fun! I’ll be reading. :)

  5. Rita says:

    Hola! Me encanta tu blog. Felicitaciones.En mis meses sin trabajo yo disfrute mucho preparando recetas nuevas para Bob. Y mi pasion culinaria continua a pesar de que ahora trabajo de 9 a 5! Cocinar es casi tan lindo como haer jardineria. Adeante y suerte.

  6. Kae says:

    Interesting, fun idea…..

  7. Jean says:

    Found you today via your link on the CI site….I will continue to follow you on this journey. We have similar aged boys who love everything CI.

  8. AlainV says:

    Moi aussi je suis arrivé ici grâce au lien du site CI. Bien que francophone (je suis belge), je suis un grand fan de CI, CC, ATK et je collectionne les magazines, livres et autres DVD. Bon courage pour la suite que je suivrai attentivement.

    Traduction : Me too I came here via your CI link. Although french speaking (I am a belgian), I am a big CI, CC, ATK fan and I buy all the magazines, books and DVD. Good luck for your future recipes.

  9. Foodiewife says:

    I really, REALLY hope that you will email me. I’d love to give you a few tricks and tips to get your blog out there. I just linked you to my Facebook page and had some of my food blogger friends pop over to visit. I don’t know Word Press very well, so I don’t think they have a “follower” feature like my Blogger version does. However, if you created a Facebook Fan Page, you’d drive a whole lot more traffic to your blog. I think you’re doing a great job, and would certainly love to keep up with your posts. I am a HUGE fan of CI, ATK and CC. My email is foodiewife@gmail.com My blog is “A Feast for the Eyes” and I am not trying to advertise on your blog. I’m simply a food blogger who likes your blog and honest evaluation of each recipe. Keep it up!

  10. Janeen says:

    Hey! Just found you over at CI! I’ve been cooking ATK and CI for years and it’s my go to source for all food! Good luck! I’m reading you now, can’t wait to catch up! Started fiddling with my own blog yesterday…time to get to work!
    Ciao, Janeen

  11. kristine goodwin says:

    I have just found your website and can’t wait to use some of your ideas, I have all the magazines from the very beginning.

  12. Lorri says:

    Heya I have a question: do you keep recipes electronically? (I assume yes.) if yes – HOW? What software do you use, if any? I am looking at MacGourmet but it doesn’t seem to offer me exactly what I want in a software program to organize my personal recipe collection.

    • Hi Lorri,

      Yes I do keep them electronically, but principally in MS Word format. In other words, an old-fashioned print out of my favorite recipes. I write changes directly in the binder and then periodically incorporate those changes into the Word document.

      I think it’s not particularly efficient, and specific software is probably better. Fortunately I also have this blog to also remember recipes that I make (until their incorporation into my regular cookbook).

      Mark

  13. Lorri says:

    You are currently using the same method as I ! If I find something I like, I’ll let you know. Cheers, L

  14. Contessa says:

    Really glad you’re doing this. Just found you after doing a search for Cook’s Country’s “Magic Chocolate Ice Cream” (a quart of which is chilling down in my freezer at this very moment – I sure hope it turns out well). I look forward to following your adventures!

    • Hi, thanks, I’m glad you find it useful and/or interesting!!

      With the heat-wave I have been wanting to make an Ice Cream cake to try out CI’s new vanilla ice cream recipe. How is the Magic Chocolate Ice Cream? I need a chocolate recipe for cake’s layer #2.

      Mark

  15. Joni Bodart says:

    Just found your blog, and loved your updated Beef Stroganoff recipe–but where to you find tenderloin on sale for $5/lb??? I feel lucky if i can get it for $10 on sale!

    • Where I live it goes on sale at ShopRite for as little as $4/lb for whole, untrimmed tenderloin. But only once or twice a year. The normal sale price is closer to $10/lb. For the rest of the year, Chris Kimball recommends steak tips, flap meat, or blade steak. He also claims trimmed tenderloin can be found at club stores for $8/lb, but I am not a member.

      Mark

  16. I’m so excited that I just found your blog and can’t wait to dig thru it, much like i’m sure your family dug thru the delicious meals you made. In the process of watching the shredded beef and did a search for the recipe and landed here.
    M

  17. Stacey says:

    Wow my son just sent me this link. I am bummed I am finding it so late. I love Julia and Julia, wish I had the know how and time to pull this off. And America Test Kitchen is my all time favorite program. I will follow from now on. Good for you. Have fun.

  18. beth watler says:

    YAY! I am thrilled to find you. How fun & so exciting to read your blog. Thanks for being available…

  19. Jenn R says:

    I’m so excited to have found your blog! Keep cooking!

  20. gn says:

    This is fantastic…I love to try out America’s test kitchen recipes, so it’s great to know that someone else is doing the testing for me!

  21. Dee says:

    What a great blog! Glad I found you and look forward to cheering on your progress.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Love your blog! I also love to cook and enjoy CK’s shows.

  23. Roger R says:

    Just found your blog. I love their shows and think it is a nice idea for you and your family to experiment like that. It takes time and commitment !! Hope to keep up on your blog – thanks for everything and enjoy.

  24. I enjoy your blog, but would like it much better without typos. Sorry, it’s just something that stands out to me. Also, I think sometimes your recipes are missing steps. Still, I like it, like ATK, and like to hear how things pan out in real life. Have fun!

    • I would like it better too, if only I had an editor. If you notice something please let me know. My descriptions of the steps are definitely different than ATK’s, Usually I re-organize the steps to minimize the mess, but I do provide a link to Chris Kimball’s original recipe in case you prefer the original.

      Thanks, Mark

  25. I will ;) Would you like me to leave edits as a comment or email you?

  26. Lee L says:

    Just wanted to say that I love your blog. Found it about six months ago. Keep up the great work!

  27. Cindy says:

    Hi Mark, I love your blog and your journey through America’s Test Kitchen recipes!! I too am a fan of the program and have many of their Cook’s Ilustrated monthly magazines, in addition, the 2000 annual Cook’s Ilustrated Cookbook.

    Don’t know if you’ve tried it yet, but the Coconut Layer Cake from the March 2001 magazine is over-the-top !! I’ve made it several times, and although time consuming and a little expensive with the addition of Cream of Coconut – but, you will be a star. I made it even more spectacular by making it a 5 layer cake (increased the recipe and used 3 cake pans and spitting them into 6 layers –> 5 layers for my masterpiece and the 6th layer is always for me : )

    I used the (authentic) Buttercream for the icing called for in Cook’s Illustrated recipe, but decided to kick it up with a different filling between the layers. It’s Coconut Cream Filling from Martha Stewart’s Desserts cookbook–> an egg yolk and cornstarch cooked custard with toasted coconut…. it was unbelievable.
    here’s a link to the filling. http://www.marthastewart.com/355862/coconut-cream-filling

    I did see an episode a while back when Chris Kimball made the Coconut Cake and he even remarked that it was one of, or maybe the best recipes they had made on the show – I totally agree!

    This is a special occassion cake and I need to make it again soon…

    Thanks for this great blog, Mark, and as Jacque Pepin would say. “Happy Cooking”!

    Cindy

    • Hi Cindy..no I haven’t tried the coconut layer cake. Wow, a 5-layer-cake must have been breathtaking!! I do remember the ATK episode of coconut layer cake; not sure if it’s the same one. I’ll keep it in mind for my next event.

      Thanks,
      Mark

      • anita says:

        I had this cake a few times. I made it once. Excellent, even with the imitation coconut extract. Frosting doesn’t freeze well, but I kept it in there a couple of months.

  28. Kathleen says:

    What a fun project. I too am a CI fanatic. I really appreciate the reviews you give and also the mess level.

    I’ve been scrolling, but see there aren’t many recipes that are 5 stars. I find that too with the CI recipes, they are good, but not a “knock your socks” off. Some are great, but not worth all the extra steps. Off the top of my head, I’m thinking of the empanadas.

  29. Lorraine says:

    Hello there, I don’t know your name and I looked all over this site and only found your sons name so sorry for that and Hello Matthew, just found your page about 3 days ago and love it. I live in the UK and have been writing down my favorite recipes from ATK while watching it cos u can’t get the printed version. I just put u on may facebook thing so hope people will take notice.

    Well best of luck to u and ur family and keep up the good work.

    PS Is this a blog page or a web site cos I don’t know the difference

    • Hi Lorraine,

      My name is Mark. My name isn’t really on the blog, because people say potential employers google everybody to look for dirt. I think a cooking blog is pretty harmless, but occasionally I sharply criticism a bad recipe. Anyhow, it’s just for fun.

      Thanks for commenting and hope you enjoy the blog
      Mark

  30. scott says:

    i hope the folks at atk/cc don’t shut you down. i am not happy that they charge for the recipes,all the other pbs/create cooking programs give the recipes for free and willingly. your insight is great,keep up the great sharing! the best to you and i hope your children will share your passion for good grubin’ as they grow older.was in china and was knocked out by the ‘vittles’ ,never had a bad meal while there,even the street vendors were first class

  31. Hi…I just found your blog this week and am really enjoying it! :) I hope you continue this blog for a very long time :)

  32. I just got married and am cooking my way through the ATK Family Cookbook! I fell in love with ATK a few years ago and am totally enjoying this new adventure, as is my husband! I also got my idea from the book/movie Julia and Julie. I am excited to find and now follow your blog!

  33. Arvin says:

    So funny. I saw Julie and Julia too and thought about starting my own blog about doing recipes from the America’s Test Kitchen TV show. But you beat me to it so I’ll be happy to just follow your blog. Just goes to show there’s never an original idea in the world.

    ATK is my favorite show and the source of some of my best recipes (I posted my response to your chili recipe this morning). My favorite so far is the Chicago-style Pizza. Literally the best thing I know how to make and I’ve made it about 2 dozen times now. The Almost No-Knead bread is pretty awesome too – better than anything I can buy in the store. I’ve had about a 50% success rate with ATK recipes. About half the time the failures are totally my fault (I love to cook but never claim to be especially good at it) and half the time it turns out like it’s supposed to but seems underwhelming.

    I checked out your list of things you have yet to try and the one that stood out to me was the Peanut Butter Cookie recipe. They’re my favorite kind of cookie but I’ve never found a recipe that turns out with the perfect amount of chewiness. That’s on my agenda for this weekend.

    Looking forward to your adventures.

  34. Elizabeth says:

    Great to see what you are doing on your blog. I am obsessed with Cooks Illustrated and try to make 3 recipes a week out of their Cooking for Two or Simple Recipe magazines you can find at the supermarket. I have never had a bad recipe and have learned so much about cooking through their recipes and texts.

  35. Rochelle Eissenstat says:

    I was about to start making the Velvet Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake from Cooks’ Ill. when it occurred to me to find out others’ opinions of the recipe. One beef I have with CI & their empire is the lack of readers’ ratings of the recipes. So, I googled and came to your blog. You have a great blog! Keep up the good work. You may also have inspired me to visit Puerto Rico sometime. Thanks.

    • Hi Rochelle,

      Yes, when I watch America’s Test Kitchen, Chris Kimball always says how great each and every recipe is. While most recipes are well-above average, I agree that it’s nice to have a second opinion about what is great and what is just so-so.

      Mark

  36. Katie C. says:

    Do you ever make recipes from any of the atk or cc cookbooks? Last night I made Cider Braised Pork Chops and they were great! It took a bit of time for the braise but the prep was easy. We had them with eggless noodles and asparagus. Since I only made four chops, we had extra sauce and my guy was spooning it over the noodles.

    • Hi Katie,

      Yes, coincidentally I have 3 of their books checked out from my local library. The Coq au Vin recipe I have up now is from ATK’s cookbook, and today I cooked chicken from the ATK Health Family Cookbook.

      But admittedly, this year has principally been about their magazine.

      Mark

  37. Maho says:

    Hi Mark,
    I just wanted to comment on how much i enjoy your blog. Not only because it’s about my favorite cooking magazine/show, but because it offers honest and personal opinion about what went right and wrong.
    Your approach is refreshing and also very practical, since so many food blogs tend to focus on taking food beauty shots and gloss over the end results.
    Anyway, thanks once again for taking time to write this blog!

    p.s.
    I just realized “Notify me of new posts via email” shows up when you try to post a comment. I was looking for it all over, so glad I found it. It’ll be great if you had this displayed on the top page. I’m sure lots of other people would be eager to receive updates. ;-)

  38. JOANNE JOHNSON says:

    thanks for your website. chris k does not give recipes so thank you

  39. I am an America’s Test Kitchen junkie!! I am elated to have found your blog! I will use this as my CI/CC/ATK second source of information! I just love this!

  40. Hi Mark, this has nothing to do with cooking but more about me being technically challenged — I’m much better in the kitchen. Still trying to figure out this WordPress stuff and my avatar/gravatar still doesn’t show up — arghh!
    — my question now is: how do I get email notifications when you post new stuff?

    Thanks, Cindy

  41. LS says:

    Please keep up the great effort! I enjoy this immensely. Just out of curiosity, is it OK to post their recipes like this? I hope it is because I surely can benefit from it! :-)

  42. Leslie says:

    You are now my new favorite blog. I am a huge Chris Kimball fan and have converted my brother and son to becoming Chris cooks. Looking forward to reading your thoughts and comments.

  43. Jeni says:

    Really enjoy reading your blog and a second opinion on America’s test kitchen recipe it’s really a plus!

  44. Jess says:

    Fantastic!!! My mom just got me into following your blog; she knows I love Cook’s Illustrated and ATK. Also love your blog now – inspiring to say the least. Amazing how creating good food/meals is such enjoyable and meaningful work…a gift to ourselves and our families.

  45. Just found you! What a happy accident. I’ll be lurking for a long time!

  46. LaGringa says:

    I had thought about doing this exact thing-but then thought it would cost way too much to make each recipe in each issue of either CI or CC. I appreciate your reviews. How many times/per week are you cooking the Chris Kimball way? Addicted to their show AND their recipes! Keep up the great work!

  47. Angie says:

    I just found your website today. I love this. I do watch ATK and CI when I can, and have purchased some magazines and books. I have made lots of recipes, some good, some not. Nice to read another opinion.

  48. SG says:

    Can’t believe I just found you fantastic site! What a treasure of information and advice. I really like your taste rating, mess rating, and a realistic preparation time. I finally figured to add 30 minutes to any CI, ATK and CC recipe. Many thanks for sharing!

  49. Angie says:

    Wow, I absolutely love this blog…so glad I found it! Beautiful pictures and so professional looking. I love ATK recipes and have had great success with most of them. Can’t wait to see more of your results.

  50. I am so glad I just found this! I am a recent subscriber to (online) ATK, Cooks Country, and Cooks Illustrated. I just got my fibrox knives last week and started making some of their recipes a few weeks ago. I am excited to read through your reviews and experiences!

  51. doug says:

    you are an inspiration. i always love atk. sometimes intimidated to try but seein your blog makes me go for it. my winter project thank you

  52. Anonymous says:

    Great idea. Every recipe I have tried from Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country has been great except one! (Those Argentine Corn Pattie Chicken things) – ick – anyway – great project & blog. I especially like the ratings you gave and the cost.

  53. fashuninja says:

    This blog is giving me life. So inspiring! And I love that you are sharing your love of cooking and food with your boys. Just brilliant all around!

  54. Jen Lefler says:

    I just found your extraordinary site! It really is a treasure, and I find your concept and experiments really inspiring. Wish I had found it earlier than last night, when i was searching for an ATK recipe. I also really like your taste rating, mess rating, and realistic preparation time. Thanks for sharing! I look forward to your future postings, and I am enjoying the past ones. Good for you for making it a family bonding time. Your new devoted fan.

    Jen

  55. Donna says:

    So thrilled when I found the CI Stir Fry Noodles with Chicken. Made it last night and it was very good. The only thing is reheating. Doesn’t seem to be as tasty, however, that won’t stop us. I’m always looking to see if anyone posts the recipes from CK< CI, ATK and I found you! Thanks for sharing… I'll be back.

  56. Sonya says:

    I love your blog and am also obsessed with America’s Test Kitchen. I am similarly working on a project…to cook all of the recipes in my 6 cookbooks and 12 odd CI and CC magazines plus any online recipes I printed. But only about 60 to 70% of my recipes are from them. It has been about 5 years and I am half way through :). I have about 1500 recipes to try still. I may have already commented, but want to subscribe to your posts so am writing again.

  57. Tom says:

    Mark: Not sure how I ran into your blog but find it a great collection of recipes – and comments on how to do. I am a new cook, but love to cook. We have a daughter and grandson who are vegetarians and I am constantly looking for good recipes. I prowl the net, find some I think I’ll like then work to scotch the meat. This is my quest. Sometimes, unfortunately not all the time, it works pretty well. I do wish you well and thank you for your work – and I smile at your enjoying your work. Be well, Tom

  58. Lauri says:

    Just found your blog! I love what you are doing here and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

  59. Cynthia says:

    What an undertaking! Congrats to you on your success and ambition. I have and use all of their cookbooks, your site is definitely a perk! A real person, cooking in real time… My particular favorite is the “mess” evaluation as sometimes I can be heard verbally accosting Kimball when I’m staring at the mounds of dishes.

  60. Anonymous says:

    Is it possible you haven’t yet made the sticky buns with pecans? Amazing, from the 2005 cookbook. I use maple syrup in the caramel and double the caramel (since this cook likes to sample)….

  61. Sonya says:

    Mark, do you have any recommendations for the best kind of oven to buy? It sounded like something that you may have already researched yourself. I would like a double oven and any suggestions about brand or resources would be much appreciated! I cook from scratch daily (mostly ATK and Cooks Illustrated :) so I would be happy to spend more to have a really good oven. Thank you!

  62. Liz says:

    I almost exclusively use Cooks and Cooks Country. I wholly agree with your opinion on turkey burgers. Too labour intensive for a turkey burger. I am not a big fan of turkey. Once a year for Thanksgiving. Do try the slow cooker turkey breast recipe, it is delicious. My husband likes turkey, so it is my go to recipe. It makes plenty of gravy which is the only reason to fix turkey. The corn cakes are arepas. I enjoyed them. They are kind of like a gordita which in El Paso is made with masa and stuffed with red chile pork. Add Mexican coke to your carnitas, limes, and oranges.

  63. Leslie Pahl says:

    I, too, just found your blog, while searching for access to the potatoes with bacon and carmelized onion recipe that I received in my Cook’s Test Kitchen notes. As you probably know, some recipes are “free” while other require subscription. And I especially appreciate your commentary on the process of making a particular recipe. Often I’ve wanted to share my results after making something, the wisdom of the crowd, or an individual in the crowd and that kind of thing! I shall try the potato recipe on Sunday.

  64. Max says:

    Just stumbled across your site myself. Interesting find. I used to subscribe to Cooks Illustrated but the detailed analyses grew to be tedious. They apply way too much IQ to what they’re doing. Some of the recipes felt positively gymnastic, and that also drained some of the pleasure out of it for me. Still, I admit that I often liked the results. Now, however, rather than trying the recipes myself, I’ll be able to read your blog to get your opinion first. Perfect!

  65. Mai Allison says:

    Love your blog!!

  66. Anonymous says:

    Love your site. I too love ATK and trying the recipes. Thanks for all your efforts.

  67. Anonymous says:

    I’m a big fan of ATK. Thanks for taking the time to make the recipes and share the results. Most gratefully, Kim

  68. Janet says:

    Love this site

  69. Tabby Lei says:

    I’m a big fan of ATK and I just found this site. Your post is very helpful since the ATK folks make everything look effortless. I like to hear other people’s experience with the recipes. Thanks for your effort and have fun.

  70. Jennifer Sica says:

    Hi Mark, I wanted to try the Cuban Picadillo but saw your rating and will save my money. I trust your ratings and usually follow the recipe as you tweak it. Keep up the great job,

  71. travel6188 says:

    I used to be subscribed to your blog and now, for some reason, I no longer am. How do I get re subscribed. Thank you.

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