From the desk of Christopher Kimball
Pre-order the 2010 Cook’s Illustrated Annual and Save 23%! Order Soups, Stews, & Chilis Cookbook and Save 30%! View Photos from my Annual Pig Roast Listen to and Download Pig Roast Orchestra Songs Look at Game-Camera Photo from Kimball Farm (Fox!) Watch Game-Camera Video from Kimball Farm (Bucks!) Watch a Funny Behind-the-Scenes Video from the Cook’s Country TV Show
Dear Home Cook,
I visited Axel yesterday (he appeared in the first season of Cook’s Country, stopping by the test kitchen for cooking advice), and he told me a fishing story—a whopper. In summers, trout often come up the Green River looking for colder water once the Battenkill warms up. If you know where to look, there are a few deep pools in the upper part of the river, and a few very large trout hang in there. Well, Axel had lost a huge trout last year in one of these pools, and he was determined to go back and get it. He caught a couple of fine trout but then hooked into the big one. He almost got it up on shore, but then the fish jumped and flopped off the hook. Well, that was it for Axel—he just wasn’t going to lose that fish a second time, so he did what any determined angler would do: He went crazy and jumped in after it, hands outstretched. He missed the fish but didn’t miss banging up his leg and ankle. And that’s a real Vermonter’s fish story for you!
The pig roast was a big success this year: The rain held off, the pigs were nicely cooked, the crowd was large, and the band had its best year ever, adding a sax player and a lead vocalist. You can listen to and download our set list on my blog and also see photos of the event. We have renamed our band in honor of the roast and are now called the Pig Roast Orchestra.
I have had game cameras out for the past few weeks (they automatically take photos when a large animal passes by) and got a couple of big surprises. The first was a night shot of a large fox—he’s the one who has been after our chickens. But when I loaded photos from the camera taken at the top of our summer pasture, I almost fell over. There was a video of a large buck—at least six points! Click here to see what else has been around the Kimball farm when nobody is looking.
We just published two new books. First, Soups, Stews & Chilis (order for just $24.50—a 30% discount) is now available, just in time for fall cooking. Among our discoveries when developing these recipes was that the best beef stock is made quickly from ground beef, not bones, and that cream of tomato soup is terrific without even one drop of cream. And we created dozens of recipes in which the oven does most of the work—not you, the cook. There’s also Sirloin Steak and Potato Stew, Asian Chicken Noodle Soup, and Baby Carrot Bisque. Enjoy! We also published the 2010 Cook’s Illustrated Annual (pre-order for $26.95—a 23% discount), which will be available in early November. It contains all six issues of Cook’s Illustrated from 2010, nicely hardbound with a stiff cloth cover. I still hang on to all of my back issues in these hardbound editions, arranged by year. It’s a handy, quick way to travel back to a recipe or technique that I want.
We just finished up two weeks of filming the 2011 season of Cook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen. It was a glorious year. The crew went to the marble quarry almost every night to swim, we had movie nights with films projected on the side of the barn, and we made a funny behind-the-scenes video that we showed at the wrap party. The line of the year came from Bridget, who said, as I was making yummy noises while trying some of her Slow Cooker BBQ Beef Brisket, “You and that brisket ought to get a hotel room!” Well, it was funny at the time.
I was just given a book on Maine humor by Ken, one of the cameramen on the Cook’s Country shoot. This story is a variation on the classic Vermont story about getting directions.
A Boston couple bought a summer home in Maine and were told that a man named Ben Higby might be willing to undertake repairs at their cottage. About a mile down the road, they found a man working in a field.
“Excuse me, do you know where Ben Higby lives?” asked the husband.
“Ayuh,” said the man, looking the two over and volunteering no further information.
“Well, could you tell us where he lives?” asked the wife. The man pointed to a small house about a mile up the mountain.
“That’s quite a walk,” said the wife. “Do you suppose Mr. Higby is in?”
“Nope, he ain’t home,” said the man.
As the couple looked at each other, pondering their next move, the man in the field asked, “What do you want with him?”
Replied the husband, “We just bought the Varney cottage and we were told that Mr. Higby might be willing to do some repairs for us.”
The man regarded him for a moment, then said, “I’m Higby.”
Christopher Kimball Founder and Editor America’s Test Kitchen