Hippo Manchester
November 3, 2005

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Every Day with Rachael Ray

***

Publisher: Reader’s Digest Association

Web site: www.everydaywithrachaelray.com

Publishing frequency: Bimonthly, November/December issue on the stands now

Price: $3.99; $18 for year’s subscription

Rachael Ray currently dominates the world of Every-person cooking. With four shows on the Food Network (30-Minute Meals; $40 a Day with Rachael Ray; Tasty Travels; Inside Dish) and something like a bazillion dollars in sales of her many books, Ray has cornered the market of at-home chefs looking for interesting food without a lot of extra expense or added time. Taking both crap and praise for making the supermarket her sous chef (pre-shredded cheese, store-bought broth), Ray has become the Oprah of food. (And speaking of Her Media Majesty, Ray’s next show, an afternoon talk show, is being produced and distributed by Harpo, Winfrey’s production company.)

The basics: At 132 pages, Every Day is chock full of recipes, cooking tips, product and cooking utensil endorsements and even more recipes. Though other chefs make an appearance in stories, it’s usually as a way to introduce a specific type of recipes (homestyle foods, seasonal dishes). The smallest section of the magazine is devoted to foodie travel (restaurants in San Diego, great eats in New York). The bulk of the publication is concerned with at-home culinary delights.

What works: The guts of this magazine are fantastic. Not as forced-hip as Chow, not as unapproachable as Saveur (a lovely magazine which, on occasion, features ridiculous recipes), Every Day with Rachael Ray is exactly like her other products — borderline corny but extremely helpful. Because of her “eyeball it” approach to cooking, she offers both good instructions for the kitchen novice and plenty of spaces where the more seasoned cooks can improvise their own flavors. She makes the frou-frou (individual beef Wellingtons) sound approachable.

What doesn’t: The magazine’s biggest “problem” is similar to a criticism frequently leveled at Ray herself — it’s too damn chipper. Though the cover is not in-and-of-itself unappealing, it is the sort of thing that could easily be overlooked in a rack of cooking magazines. Headlines scream about “121 tips & tricks” and “stress-free holidays.” Inside, a “welcome” page is awash in foodie motivational phrases: “if we can do it, so can you” or “one-stop shopping is the way to go.” But beneath this sort of surface lameness, the magazine has plenty of truly interesting recipes that trade on Ray’s strength (good flavors constructed from easy instructions). 

— Amy Diaz