At one point, many years ago, I had five food magazine subscriptions at once. One was industry based and gave me the low down on who was doing what in the restaurant world, one offered equal emphasis on food and wine, one was travel centric, one was simple and geared toward the home cook and the last was a food based literary magazine. What I found, however, is that I didn't particularly love any of them and that other than amassing stacks and stacks of wasted paper, I wasn't really getting much out of them. So one day I decided to downsize, save paper and give up my subscriptions.

Then, a few months ago I was watching TV when an episode of America's Test Kitchen came on. I don't watch this show with any regularity (mostly because I find the host inexplicably creepy,) but find that when I do stumble upon it, I often learn something. This time was no exception. In fact, I found myself practically glued to the set as an episode about blueberry pie showed a technique for making pie crust that is perhaps the most ingenious and foolproof I've ever seen (it involved using vodka in the crust, but that's another story.)

It was after I saw this episode that I thought perhaps I should give Cook's Illustrated, the magazine affiliated with America's Test Kitchen, another chance. In the past I had found Cook's Illustrated to be a bit overly-simplistic, but upon looking at it anew, I've come to realize that this magazine takes lot of the trial and error out of cooking and could probably simplify some things for me. The recipes in Cook's Illustrated, as opposed to those in most food magazines, are based on scientific experimentation and are tweaked and re-tested until they are exactly right. The result is foolproof recipes, easy enough for the average cook, but packed with enough information to keep even us professionals intrigued.

Take an information packed magazine, omit the 80 or so extra pages of advertising that most magazines require to stay in print, and what you end up with is a no nonsense, easy to use resource that doesn't take up a lot of space and provides you with a great selection of recipes and techniques. For added effect, you can also become a member of their website which is chock full of videos, equipment reviews and additional recipes not found in the magazine.