This cookbook has a copyright of 2008. I got this cookbook at Costco. I have never cooked from this book before.
Normally when I get a new cookbook, I sit down and read it cover to cover like a book. But when a cookbook has over 500 recipes spread out over almost 600 pages, that doesn't happen. Especially when there are few photos to go with the recipes. What usually happens is that I do a cursory run though the cookbook and set it aside to be used more as a reference book sometime in the future.
This cookbook is typical of the America's Test Kitchens cookbooks. This one is a comprehensive collection of "some of America's best loved recipes" which have been updated for todays modern lifestyles. Though it doesn't state it on the cookbook anywhere, I believe most if not all of the recipes here come from The Cooks Country Magazine. They take many of Americas standard dishes ("Blue Ribbon" type from home cooks) and update them to the "America's Test Kitchen" standards.
The Cook's Country Cookbook is divided into 17 chapters which pretty much cover everything: Starters and Snacks; Salads and Dressings; Soups, Stews, and Chili's; On the Side (Veggies); Lunch Counter Specials (Sandwiches/Pizzas); Hearty Breakfasts; Morning and Teatime Treats (Muffins/Donuts/Coffeecakes); Casseroles and Other Potluck Favorites; Chicken (and Turkey) Every Way; Beef and Pork; Seafood; Slow-Cooker Favorites; Cookies and Bars Galore; Blue Ribbon Cakes; Homespun Pies and Fruit Desserts; Spoon Desserts. Each chapter has a page listing all the recipes and variation of the recipes in that chapter. There is a pretty decent index along with two pages on conversions which is a great reference tool. There are 50 photos, split into 3 sections (some of the photos are four on a page). I'm not sure why they bothered to include these few photos, It’s almost like they shouldn’t have added any photos at all.
For each recipe you’ll find several paragraphs with the standard information that the Cooks Illustrated or Cooks Country Magazines gives, where they talk about how they came about to find the "perfect" recipe. This information works for me in the magazines, but in a book with over 500 recipes, it seems to get lost. It works if you are using the cookbook as a reference but a bit tough if you have the book sitting on your lap on the couch in front of the fire trying to decide what to make. There are few hard to find ingredients. The type is very small. A lot of the recipes give "variations" which is great if you want to expand on a recipe or try different ingredients.
Interspersed throughout are small black and white, step by step photos of a technique that might be used in the recipe like a four step secret to breading pork chops or a two step block on how to shape Angel Biscuits. You will find blocks of information called "The American Table" which gives a bit of folklore or information about a recipe. Under "Cowboy Beans" there is a bit about "Chuck Wagon Cuisine" which talks about chuck wagon cooks, what was cooked in a chuck wagon and a bit of the lore surrounding them. Under Jucy Lucy Burgers (something I want to try!) there is a bit about The Great Lucy Debate, talking about where the Jucy Lucy Burger may have originated (it's these little bits of information that I like and wish they had more of in the book). There are also bits called "Shopping With the Test Kitchen" where they give out information on ingredients or equipment.
As an example, under the recipe for Beer Batter Cheese Bread, there are five big paragraphs on how they figured out how to make the best recipe of said dish, the recipe itself, two variations on the basic recipe (Beer Batter Cheese Bread with Smoked Gouda and Bacon and Beer Batter Cheese Bread with Cheddar and Jalapeno) and a Shopping with the Test Kitchen article on Box Graters (why you should use it over a food processor to grate the cheese, what is their favorite brand and the basic cost).
There is a redemption form on the back cover flap for a one year (six issue) subscription to Cooks Country Magazine. I don’t see any expiration date.
I have a fondness for the American Test Kitchen cookbooks and I subscribe to Cooks so I know that this will be a cookbook I use often when I'm looking for a basic recipe or searching for a recipe I might have a recollection of from my past. There are a ton of great sounding recipes (too many to list) but I do wish there were more photos. And since Cooks Country is pretty much one of the few cooking magazines I don't subscribe too, this cookbook fits well in my collection. I will admit though, that it won't be one of those cookbooks I curl up with before bedtime to dream of all the great things I'll be cooking!