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Fine Cooking has a new look


BekkiM
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So Fine Cooking has changed its look and I'm wondering how everyone else feels about it. My personal opinion is that it's too busy and too slick--I liked the cleaner, more utilitarian look of the old layout. But maybe that's just me and I'm resistant to change. I guess I'm afraid that they'll go the way of Food and Wine, which seems to have really dumbed down their recipes lately (I think they're ones that have the "simplified" chef's recipes which drive me absolutely nuts--I don't want recipes with the shortcuts, I want to know how to make it taste like the pros do it).

I do like the "Cooking without recipes" section (that's been there for a little while), but I miss the old foldout section in the end with "everyday" recipes. I know the recipes themselves are still there, but they're no longer formatted to keep to one column, which was a lot easier to read, and, if I'm recalling correctly, actually run on between/across pages, which is one of my pet peeves about cooking magazines. I generally rip out the recipes I want to keep so they can be filed by theme and I hate having to staple pages together (who knows where the stapler is usually) to avoid pulling a recipe from the file with only half its instructions.

Thoughts?

Edited for clarity.

Edited by BekkiM (log)
Feast then thy heart, for what the heart has had, the hand of no heir shall ever hold.
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I am sure I would like it fine if it had launched as a new magazine. As Fine Cooking though, it kind of bugs me. I liked the old look as well. I am sure I will get used to it but I will miss the old style.

-Becca

www.porterhouse.typepad.com

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I just got the new edition yesterday, and haven't had time to thoroughly peruse it yet, but at first glance, I'm with you Bekki. At first I didn't realize it was even "Fine Cooking". The first thing I usually looked for with it was that fold-out section with the everyday recipes, I'd found so many gems there. When I didn't find it, my initial reaction was....."hmmmm, maybe that was in another magazine......"

And yes, my pet peeve of ALL cooking magazines is having to cut and paste recipes, or where there are 2 recipes I'm interested in that are on back-to-back pages. Sorry, I don't have a photocopy machine at home, and it irks me that no one on the editorial staffs think about this.

Regarding "Fine Cooking" the jury here is still out, but at first glance, I'm not happy either. Why mess with something that worked?

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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So Fine Cooking has changed its look and I'm wondering how everyone else feels about it.  My personal opinion is that it's too busy and too slick--I liked the cleaner, more utilitarian look of the old layout. 

I do like the "Cooking without recipes" section (that's been there for a little while), but I miss the old foldout section in the end with "everyday" recipes.  I know the recipes themselves are still there, but they're no longer formatted to keep to one column, which was a lot easier to read, and, if I'm recalling correctly, actually run on between/across pages, which is one of my pet peeves about cooking magazines.  I generally rip out the recipes I want to keep so they can be filed by theme and I hate having to staple pages together (who knows where the stapler is usually) to avoid pulling a recipe from the file with only half its instructions.

Thoughts?

Edited for clarity.

I agree with most of your and other posters' points. However, I think that despite the layout, fonts, and other technical shortcomings, recipes in #97 rock, there seems to be more interesting ideas in this one issue than there has been in several recent issues all together.

Perhaps the changes are being made because FC is having identity crisis: should the magazine be about fine cooking or should it become an overpriced compilation of quick and easy recipes that require no technique and call for canned stock, canned beans, packaged shredded salad, etc, never mentioning that made from scratch those foods taste so much better.

I can't help feeling sorry for the new Fine Cooking editor, she is being pelted unceremoniously on Cook's Talk for the changes she made, although majority of attacks are coming from people who openly state that they don't cook, can't cook, yet, can't contain their dissatisfaction with the photography in this issue. One woman was quite indignant because the recipe for modern take on coq au vin calls for such odious ingredients as "pancetta, shallots and fennel." Somebody else is even more indignant with Graffiti chef/owner Jehangir Mehta's take on carrot cakes. (He makes his with carrot juice, bakes them in 2.5 inch baba au rhum molds, and garnishes with candied carrots and pistachios. They look amazing.) I hope the FC editor has enough sense to ignore them.

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I, too, wish they had left well enough alone.

Every publication these days seems to think that more and larger graphics - "art" - is better/more compelling than type. Full page pictures of a plate of soup; please !

So now Fine Cooking looks more like Gourmet/Bon Appetit.

I'll likely get used to it too. What I won't accept, however is elimination of that tear-out section at the back... now called "Fast and Fresh", "Make It Tonight", "30 Minute Meals"; which is it ? It used to be edited or compiled by a single person each issue I think; now everybody gets to submit one recipe it appears. No matter that every other magazine is doing the same thing.

Fwiw, white space can draw attention in advertising, occasionally. When it becomes the "rule" in a publication and what type there is gets larger, I begin to wonder if they just don't have much to say.

Sorry... I'm starting to rant. In the last year, how many different articles in assorted publications have we seen comparing saute pans or non-stick skillets?!? For that information, I look to Cook's Illustrated. How many publications in the past year have devoted space to how to butcher/bone a chicken ?

Bob Sherwood

____________

“When the wolf is at the door, one should invite him in and have him for dinner.”

- M.F.K. Fisher

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I agree with most of your and other posters' points. However, I think that despite the layout, fonts, and other technical shortcomings, recipes in #97 rock, there seems to be more interesting ideas in this one issue than there has been in several recent issues all together.

Agreed on the recipes... I made the Poblanos Stuffed with Chicken and Cheese last night (well, sort of... I forgot to add the rice) and they were fantastic. Interesting flavors (next time I'll add a jalapeno to the tomato-onion puree for a little more kick) and quck and easy enough to do on a weeknight.

Perhaps the changes are being made because FC is having identity crisis: should the magazine be about fine cooking or should it become an overpriced compilation of quick and easy recipes that require no technique and call for canned stock, canned beans, packaged shredded salad, etc, never mentioning that made from scratch those foods taste so much better.

I can't help feeling sorry for the  new Fine Cooking editor, she is being pelted unceremoniously on Cook's Talk for the changes she made, although majority of attacks are coming from people who openly state that they don't cook, can't cook, yet, can't contain their dissatisfaction  with the photography in this issue. One woman was quite indignant because the recipe for modern take on coq au vin calls for such odious ingredients as "pancetta, shallots and fennel." Somebody else is even more indignant with Graffiti chef/owner Jehangir Mehta's take on carrot cakes.  (He makes his with carrot juice, bakes them in 2.5 inch baba au rhum molds, and garnishes with candied carrots and pistachios.  They look amazing.)  I hope the FC editor has enough sense to ignore them.

It saddens me that FC is being subjected to this kind of pressure. For goodness sake, if you don't/can't/won't cook, why buy a magazine called Fine Cooking?? I personally love the mix of "accessible" recipes in the magazine (several are my personal, everyday mainstays--like the baked Parmesan chicken, the Tuscan white bean and kale soup, the oven-baked polenta, and, now, the poblanos) and the details on real cooking techniques (like boning chickens or making casoulet).

I won't give up my subscription over the reformatting and I'm sure I'll get used to it, but I'll also revisit my back issues and moon over the "good old days"... :cool:

Feast then thy heart, for what the heart has had, the hand of no heir shall ever hold.
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majority of attacks are coming from people who openly state that they don't cook, can't cook, yet, can't contain their dissatisfaction  with the photography in this issue.

Can you point me to where anyone on CT said they don't cook, can't cook???

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OK, I've thoroughly digested the latest issue, and I have to say.......I'm OK with it. Yes, it looks different, and yes, I miss the pull-out with the quick, weeknight meals.

But I don't think they lost anything in the remodel. The feature on the croissants was dead-on. Not a baker, I, but I still think I could probably pull off making croissants from those instructions. Of course, the lack of 4 feet of counter space might restrict me, but still....

I really don't think they dumbed down anything, and that they kept what the soul of the magazine was. So it looks slicker, yeah, well, it *IS* all about the glitz, isn't it? Sad but true. If the content is there, and IMHO it is, who gives a flip about glitzy graphics. Whatever it takes in this economy (and culture) to sell print media, I say.

Edit because "that they" makes a whole lot more sense than "that the"......

Edited by Pierogi (log)

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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Pierogi, your comment on the counter space for the croissants made me laugh! I made these croissants last week. I blogged about them here: Croissants

I have an island that I love. For this recipe, I had to turn the dough diagonally. It worked though, and they were fantastic!

-Becca

www.porterhouse.typepad.com

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Now the NEW Fine Cooking website is live. Looks great, I love the page design, but I can't use it even though I am a paid subscriber to the web, as well as to the magazine. First I had to log on, and I understand that from now on I have to log on each and every time. All these years, before the "improvements," I used to be "remembered." Did any of you visit and do well?

When I logged on today the first thing I saw was an enticing picture of Jehangir Mehta's baby carrot cake - exactly what I was looking for. According to the web someone already made them and rated *****.

"Read reviews" it says, but no matter what I did I could not get the review to come up, moreover, I could only partially see the recipe, at least a quarter of which was cut off on the left side, despite my wide screen.

I had a question: The FC magazine recipe for these carrot cakes is different from the book version:(Mantra The Rules of Indulgence, p.77). His book calls for milk, 4 c grated carrots, 5 medium eggs,... FC recipe calls for 2 cups carrot juice, 2 large eggs, (no shredded carrots,) I can't help wondering about the reasons for change, and whether there has been a discussion about it....etc. I want to know which version tastes better. But the only place I could post anything was under "review the recipe." well, I am not ready to review the recipe...

Next I attempted to search for another recipe, but could not find the "recipe search bar." Went to their Cooks Talk Forum and saw that discussion of the new website had over 100 entries, read the first one that said it was AWFULLLLLLL. Did not read any further.

FC website has always been their achilles heel, it never ever worked well or at least as well as other similar websites. Either FC has poor equipment or incompetent computer staff, but it is very annoying. If they don't fix up soon I won't subscribe any more.

No cook could keep his or her job long if they consistently served half-cooked food. It looks like consumers demand more from chefs and cooks than from computer geeks. Can a chef ever say:"I am serving your chicken raw because I have a stove glitch, please be patient?" :rolleyes:

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I have actually bought the baba au rhum mold for that carrot cake recipe. I plan on making them in the next few days. I read the article, like Fine Cooking asked him to come up with the most contemporary carrot cake for this article. I bet they are totally different carrot cake recipes.

I will let you know how I like them...

Edited by Becca Porter (log)

-Becca

www.porterhouse.typepad.com

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I have actually bought the baba au rhum mold for that carrot cake recipe. I plan on making them in the next few days. I read the article, like Fine Cooking asked him to come up with the most contemporary carrot cake for this article. I bet they are totally different carrot cake recipes.

I will let you know how I like them...

Please do let me know how they come out. I am obsessed with those carrot cakes. Did you really go and buy those molds? I've been looking for them on internet without much success. The ones in Jehangir Mehta's book that look identical to FC were baked in the rings.

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So what does everyone think about the new "Fine Cooking"?

Contributions to the 97th ed. were from not experts in the fields of cooking but a robotics project manager, the magazines illustrator, a registered dietitian and a photographer and two designers. :shock: The contributions from experts in the field of cooking seem to be on the wane and the target market for the mag is not "for people who love to cook" but for the inexperienced as denoted in the title "we bring out the cook in you". :sad:

"Flay your Suffolk bought-this-morning sole with organic hand-cracked pepper and blasted salt. Thrill each side for four minutes at torchmark haut. Interrogate a lemon. Embarrass any tough roots from the samphire. Then bamboozle till it's al dente with that certain je ne sais quoi."

Arabella Weir as Minty Marchmont - Posh Nosh

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I haven't read the "new" Fine Cooking thoroughly, but my first impression was that it's been over-designed. Odd choices of type face and in many cases a couple of points (type size) too small. I've been through redesigns of newspapers where we editors had to stamp our tiny feet and insist that the great design was unreadable, even if the graphics person, usually hired at great expense, insisted that graphically it was a wonder.

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So what does everyone think about the new "Fine Cooking"?

Contributions to the 97th ed. were from not experts in the fields of cooking but a robotics project manager, the magazines illustrator, a registered dietitian and a photographer and two designers.  :shock:  The contributions from experts in the field of cooking seem to be on the wane and the target market for the mag is not "for people who love to cook" but for the inexperienced as denoted in the title "we bring out the cook in you". :sad:

I was surprised by this: the contributors page celebrated those responsible for the new design at the expense of some of the content contributors. But besides them, Joanne Weir contributed an article on oranges, Tasha DeSerio (a caterer in Berkeley) on roast pork and its leftovers, Jeffrey Hamelman (bakery director, King Arthur Flour) on croissants, Susie Middleton (editor at large) on creamy soups, and Liz Pearson (recipe developer, Austin) on a menu for entertaining. And as others have noted, Abigail Johnson Dodge (contributing editor) and Jehangir Mehta offered dueling carrot cakes.

So I don't think FC is turning to hacks for its recipes. But it does feel over-designed to me. And what was the Martha Stewart-esque featurette on "Bronze is the new Stainless"? Who cares? And the double page spread of cool gadgets always seems like advertisements in another guise.

Finally, does anyone here look at the Taunton Press's other publications, like Fine Woodworking? Have they also suffered a design update?

Margo Thompson

Allentown, PA

You're my little potato, you're my little potato,

You're my little potato, they dug you up!

You come from underground!

-Malcolm Dalglish

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So what does everyone think about the new "Fine Cooking"?

So I don't think FC is turning to hacks for its recipes. But it does feel over-designed to me. And what was the Martha Stewart-esque featurette on "Bronze is the new Stainless"? Who cares? And the double page spread of cool gadgets always seems like advertisements in another guise.

I agree about the recipes and over-design of #97, but I chuckled :biggrin: when you asked who cares about Bronze becoming the "new Stainless." :rolleyes: The vast majority of the first 60 responses on FC's Cooks Talk were about the "new bronze," they did not even mention the changes in the magazine. All they talked about was how they hated or loved the new bronze, As you said, "who cares?"

Having read quite a few responses from CTers about the new issue I think the best thing for the new editor might be to either get rid of CT folk or completely ignore them. She should come up with a magazine for people who actually love to cook.

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Having read quite a few  responses from CTers  about the new issue I think the best thing for the new editor might be to either get rid of CT folk or completely ignore them.  She should come up with a magazine for people who actually  love to cook.

I'm going to ask again. Can you point me to where anyone on CT said they don't love to cook?

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I cook thanks to Fine Cooking. The magazine was the first to really get me motivated to try thanks to the wonderful photos and tasty recipes. The new FC doesn't inspire me to cook. I used to just about drool over recipes as each new issue arrived and that hasn't happened in a while. I guess I was falling out of love with FC for the past year and all the changes just clinched it for me. Hopefully they have a new audience to woo or they had a core demographic that just didn't include me. It will be interesting to see how FC does going forward.

KathyM

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I cook thanks to Fine Cooking.  The magazine was the first to really get me motivated to try thanks to the wonderful photos and tasty recipes.  The new FC doesn't inspire me to cook.  I used to just about drool over recipes as each new issue arrived and that hasn't happened in a while.  I guess I was falling out of love with FC for the past year and all the changes just clinched it for me.  Hopefully they have a new audience to woo or they had a core demographic that just didn't include me.  It will be interesting to see how FC does going forward.

I hear you.

I too learned a lot from Fine Cooking. Used to love it a lot. Couldn't wait for the issue to arrive.

Then FC abandoned me. :sad: FC started catering to those who look for recipes that require minimum time and no technique. Last two years I rarely used FC recipes. One notable exception, in my opinion, was the Thanksgiving 2007 issue.

(Over the years I saved Thanksgiving and Christmas magazines that I actually used for the holidays. FC 2007 Thanksgiving issue is the best among my best. It is amazing. I made a number of my friends buy it, they all cooked from it last year (2007) because they "had to," and this year (2008) because they loved to.) They will use it next year too. :smile:

:sad: Now my problem is with FC's online recipes, for which I pay despite the perennial problems caused by the incompetence of the FC webmaster. She does not seem to be able to get anything right. The latest "improvements" made the recipes inaccessible to me at a time when I need them the most. This may become the drop that broke the camel's back, although I still hope that they will be able to fix the problems pronto.

I am still optimistic about FC. The #97, as clumsy as it may be from the technical point of view, is giving me hope that, perhaps, the new FC editor may have visited cooking websites and boards other than CT, and got ideas for a magazine that cooks would again want to cook from.

Edited by skipper10 (log)
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i usually don't cook from this mag but picked the latest number up while doing a marathon shop - at costco of all places. read through it while luxuriating in a bubble bath(thank goodness gloomaway is back) and sipping some korbel natural - hey it's my day off and i needed this after the last week.

anywho - several people who wrote in had your same concerns and have asked the periodical to include more challenging recipes in the future for people who are "amateur gourmets" as they labeled themselves. actually one of the recipes that was mentioned from the last number looked quite satisfyingly adventurous -chocolate pomagranate torte that i may have to try.

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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