Treasures to be found on every page of new edition of classic cookbook
If you could check your grandmother's kitchen bookshelf today, I'll bet you'd find an old, stained, dog-eared copy of the first edition of the "Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook," published in 1930. You'd find: "... the cream of thousands of recipes officially endorsed by the Tasting-Test Kitchen," inside that first edition.
Nearly 90 years later, Better Homes & Gardens recently published its 17th edition of what is an iconic cookbook. BH&G's newest "new" cookbook contains 1,200 recipes in its 700 pages.
There have been many changes since the previous editions, such as a picture for every recipe; added step-by-step photos; more current recipes like sheet pan dinners, grain bowls, and main-course vegetarian recipes. There's no more 3-ring binder; this book is designed to lay flat (resolving a personal dislike about the difficulty of keeping larger cookbooks open on my kitchen counter). Some folks are not pleased with that change, though; they liked being able to add pages.
What else is different? BH&G abandoned the alphabetical table of contents index and is now organized into four sections: Everyday; Gatherings; Baking; and Preserving. A big plus: every recipe includes complete nutritional information.
That this new cookbook is information-packed cannot be overstated. It's not just a recipe book. The first 80 pages hold the reader's hand by covering such areas as different measuring methods, including equipment (like dry and wet measures). There's a nifty page titled Kitchen Math that, for example, explains how much juice you can expect from either a small or medium lime (1½ ounces versus 2½) or what size onion ends up as chopped (a small onion makes ½-cup chopped; a large onion makes 2 cups). There are two pages covering cookware, and the next two pages is a short-course about grilling from grills to fuel.
If you're a beginning-to-learn cook there's a page that covers creating a spice pantry showing and listing the 22 most common spices; like star anise, ground ginger and fennel seeds.
In the first section: Everyday Cooking, you'll find recipes for: breakfast; casseroles; meat and meatless; pasta, salads, and slow cookers; quick dinners and easy snacks. In Gatherings, you'll see recipes for: appetizers and drinks; brunch; main dishes and sides. In Baking and Sweets, you'll start with baking lessons and then find recipes for bread; cakes; cookies and bars; desserts; and pies and tarts. The last section, Preserving, contains everything you ever wanted to know about canning; drying; fermenting and freezing.
Every one of the book's recipes has been tested, and BH&G guarantees if you follow that recipe exactly your results should be equal to what its book shows.
The variety of BH&G recipes is nearly incomprehensible and way too much to explore in this limited space. Here's just a few to get you started: Tandoori-Spiced Chicken and Rice Bake; Spaghetti Pie; Winter Kale Slaw; Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup; Hot Ham and Cheese Sliders; Oven-Fried Veggies; Texas-Style Brisket; Brussels Sprout's Gratin; Homemade Green Bean Casserole; Classic Sour Dough Bread; Babka; Italian Cream Cake; and Caramel Corn. Exploring the BH&G cookbook is fun, after cooking for more than 50 years, I still came across things where I found myself saying, out loud: "I didn't know that."
For $29.99, you'd be hard-pressed to think that you didn't get more value than the money you spent. Try this recipe out before you buy.
• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at don@ theleanwizard.com.