The Good: Short, Good pictures, Easy-to-read, Not truly addy.
The Bad: Not terribly substantial, No narrative, Nothing that is not easily obtainable elsewhere.
The Basics: A good, glossy magazine that is brief and direct, Pillsbury Classic Cookbooks is underwhelming and does not provide anything not available online.
I have been straining to come up with enough to write about Pillsbury Magazine (professionally known as Pillsbury Classic Cookbooks Magazine, though it does not say that on the cover, at least, not anymore). The reason for this is simple, the name pretty much says it all. This smaller magazine is a monthly collection of recipes tested in the kitchens of the Pillsbury Corporation. That's it.
Published monthly, Pillsbury Magazine is commonly found in supermarket checkout aisles and it has the same approximate dimensions as a paperback novel. Pillsbury is a glossy, full-color magazine (or, as I call it, pamphlet) with an average of 94 pages per issue. Each issue includes coupons for Pillsbury products in the back of the magazine that may be easily torn out given they are perforated. So, for example, in the current (November 2009) issue, which features Thanksgiving dishes, like Balsamic Potatoes, there are coupons for Betty Crocker Potatoes and Potato Buds. The magazine knows how to synergize the dishes inside with the products they are trying to sell. This ALMOST makes up for the fact that Pillsbury Magazine has no advertisements, outside the coupons and the inside covers . . . and the fact that it's Pillsbury Magazine.
Inside are recipes and the average issue contains about sixty-four recipes and each and every recipe features a full-color picture of how the food is supposed to look when it is done (your results may vary). What is nice about the magazine is most of the recipes are actually presented in a larger typeface and the smaller nature of the magazine makes it easy to prop up or fold over while one is actually in the kitchen cooking. As a result, most of the magazine's recipes are physically easy-to-read.
However, the recipes are clearly intended for people who know what they are doing in the kitchen. Each recipe is laid out with the traditional ingredient list, a notation of what types of mixing and cooking dishes are needed, and then the steps needed to make the ingredients into a sumptuous dish. As a result, terms like parboiling and blanching are not described in detail for some of the recipes and readers are supposed to know what they are (fortunately, growing up with a chef for a father, I do).
As well as cooks who know their way around the kitchen, Pillsbury Magazine is clearly intended for people who have a lower-middle class or above income. While the recipes are not traditionally expensive (no truffles in the Thanksgiving Stuffing), they do sometimes include ingredients that are more expensive and that experimenting with on a budget is not always easy.
Ultimately, Pillsbury Magazine is like a monthly cookbook and the reason I don't recommend it is simple. Outside the coupons, there is nothing one cannot get on-line or in well-established cookbooks. Pillsbury is trading on the impulse buyers who want the lush photographs of their potential meals checking out and buying this magazine. But anyone with an internet connection can save the paper and get exactly what they need. Given how most manufacturers even do coupons on-line, Pillsbury is a bit behind the times.
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© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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