Hi, I am Chef Zara. In this post, I will guide you through the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.
I love discovering new food and cooking with friends and family. One of the most common questions that I often get is for cookbook recommendations. I have created this guide for friends, family, and new friends alike. I hope that you enjoy our site.
From one of the Best Magazines ✨
This review from Better Homes and Gardens’ new cookbook is an evaluation of a timeless classic. With over 40 million copies sold through the 14th edition, it is likely you may already own this, and if you don’t, your probable mom does, and probably a neighbor or two. Is this classic still timeless? Yes, yes, it is. While the onslaught of cookbooks is dizzying, this classic still deserves space in your kitchen.
This new condition book is attributed to several editors and the Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen. The book on my shelf was Copyrighted in 1996 and purchased in 2012. This is the 11th edition. The 100th Anniversary edition will be released in October of 2022 as the 18th edition and touts itself as “Always in style, Forever a classic.”
You need to read about Better Homes and Gardens New CookBook! 👇
Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook
The red and plaid-covered book is nostalgic. Pure. Simple. Childhood. Family. Friends. Summertime nostalgia for me; looking for that cobbler recipe before all our berries get eaten. Wintertime Christmas cookies to warm the house. Nostalgia is powerful and calm. Nostalgia is reassuring. The red plaid design is Registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which helps differentiate it from others on my cluttered cookbook shelf.
A standard fixture in any home is the hard binder red, and a white plaid cookbook from Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchen is noted as the NEW Cook Book. The spiral book has many chapters under neatly organized tabs. The front and back covers are adorned with Weights & Measures, Microwave Hints, and Emergency Substitutions- all incredibly helpful. The first chapter is “Cooking Basics,” which covers safety, meal planning, Appliances and Equipment, and even a breakdown of herbs, fruit, and cuts of meat.
With over 1,200 recipes, this reference book is easier to handle than other books of this size because they utilize a “base” recipe and then provides all the variations next to it. Dinner Rolls, for example, are a fairly basic recipe, and if you want to add some Herb-onion, you prepare the recipe for dinner rolls and then follow the additional directions. Scattered throughout the book in relevant places is a discussion on whether you should sift flour or instructions to let your eggs come to room temperature before using. This is one of the easiest books to follow while in the kitchen, doing the work, letting the kid help with baking, and staying focused on the recipe.
The zucchini bread recipe appears in my house almost every summer, and its variation is Apple Bread. Just swap out the shredded zucchini for shredded apples. Banana bread is also a recipe I’ll search out when we randomly have unwanted, ripe bananas. The recipes in this reference book contain only common ingredients so you can make almost anything with a well-stocked pantry.
This is a reference book and the photos are for reference only. Many of the photos show a process or directive that is integral to the process. The finished product pictures are small and always reference the page of the referenced recipe. This is not a big glossy photo book of professionally staged dishes; the dishes are all approachable and comforting.
The what and where are beautifully organized
The index of this book is more than some words crammed into the back of the book in tiny font, never to be utilized. Rather, it shows tiny labels that indicate “FAST” or “Low Fat,” and the font is a very reasonable size; small font indexes are a pet peeve of mine as I reference them often. There is a reference sheet in the index to convert to Metric- in measurements, baking pan sizes, and oven temp to Celsius.
The Canning and Freezing Chapter is not a comprehensive guide to canning, but it does provide ample instruction and advice on making a small batch of strawberry jam. The Ball Series of books is considered the gold standard in canning and should be referenced if extensive canning is desired. I may never have moved on to Fig Jam or Peach Jalapeno Jam if I had not first made the Strawberry Jam in this book. Canning is a wonderful way to preserve the season’s bounty, and this is an excellent guide for a beginner.
The Meat Chapter covers Lamb, Pork, Beef, Elk, and Rabbit. I have tried the Citrus-Mustard Pork Roast, and it was very tasty. This was a recipe I searched out when hubby brought home a Pork Roast instead of my desired Pork Tenderloin. I was still an inexperienced newlywed cook at the time and needed some insight on what to do with this large chunk of meat. This book has made me the above-average home cook that I am today. I learned that citrus and pork mix well. This book is a lovely mix of reference and learning.
Without this amazing reference on my bookshelf, I may never have ventured out further. Had I not learned the basics of using a meat thermometer, I still might not know that pork needs to reach an internal temperature of 160 F (with limited exceptions). Learning to cook beyond Rice a Roni and Chicken Tenders is integral to health, wealth, and happiness. There is, of course, a time and place for Rice Roni and Chicken tenders, but there is also a time to cook a whole chicken with as much garlic as you want. This book will teach you how to cook that chicken. You should measure garlic with your heart; the recipe is just a good starting point.
I fondly remember the meatloaf recipe in this book. My dear hubby would love meatloaf for dinner, I’m not as much of a fan, but this recipe was a hit. He would yearn for the nostalgia of a meatloaf covered in ketchup; as far as dinner requests go, this is one I could easily provide. I learned to add a few bacon bits in for an extra salty taste and would eventually cut down on the celery in exchange for more onion, but a top-notch meatloaf recipe is at the recipe’s core. It is not an over-the-top gourmet meatloaf, just a simple and tasty version that allows the home chef to tweak it as they learn and explore.
The Poultry chapter is heavy on reference. Chicken or Turkey; the options are here. Proper handling. Temperature. How to properly defrost, broil, cook or microwave various poultry pieces. If you’re tired of plain chicken breast, I implore you to seek out this chapter. Many recipes are workable with any kind of chicken, breast, thigh, leg, or whole.
A small and relatively unused chapter in my book is the Candy section. I do, however, love the Sugar-Spiced Nuts in the winter. It’s a quick recipe that only requires one egg white, water, nuts, sugar, and spice. They note Pumpkin Pie spice, but most any spices will do. After you try it with Pumpkin Pie Spice, you’ll be excited to mix it up with other flavors.
The Eggs & Cheese portion of the book inspired me to get a cookbook dedicated entirely to eggs. Who ever knew such a thing existed? It does, and it’s awesome. There is a half-page dedicated to Egg Safety, and as someone who enjoys a soft egg, these are important details. More than once, I glanced at the directions for Hard-Cooked eggs; I can never remember if you are supposed to put them in cold water and then heat or heat the water first. Answer: Cover them in a pot with 1 inch of cold water and then heat. One day I’ll remember that, maybe.
I’ll be honest regarding the fish and shellfish chapter. I primarily use that as a reference for cooking. I’m a purist when it comes to fish and shellfish. Salt, butter, and lemon; cook it properly. I don’t want an excess of other ingredients to mar my Salmon or Cod. Maybe one day, I’ll want to try something else, and this is where I would look for ideas and inspiration. Many people cook fish wrong; that’s why they get that white stuff that comes out and makes their fish look less pretty. Follow the directions in this book, and you’ll have flawless fish every time.
Moving through the book, I love the reference at the very end of the Vegetable section. It details how long to microwave squash (butternut, acorn) to make them a bit easier to handle. This is invaluable information as someone who hates to dull my knives on a rock-hard squash while just wanting some squash soup. Directions for roasting squash are also provided, and if you’ve never had roasted spaghetti squash with Parmesan cheese and butter, do yourself a favor and try it this Autumn. Sadly I find their squash recipes a bit lacking in this book, but the references to utilizing different squash make up for it. There is no recipe for Butternut Squash puree soup, and it’s one of the easiest to make once you’ve microwaved the squash for the appropriate amount of time.
The Soup & Stew section does a lovely job of providing insight into how Slow-Cookers cook and when to use it. The tips also provided with the many recipes ensure a delicious outcome. For example, when to add dry beans or when to be aware of oversalting if you use store-bought broth. A lovely slow-cooked soup on a Sunday with football is a wonderful way to pass the day.
The Pasta chapter is not widely used in my house, but the pictures of different kinds of pasta are inspiring when we want to try something beyond the plain spaghetti noodle, the photos are just gorgeous. The Beans, Rice, and Grains chapter is heavily referenced. Cooking times. Soaking times. Over the pandemic, I became a bit of a legume connoisseur. Searching out and enjoying heritage legumes full of color, flavor, and texture. Ordering legumes and lentils of ancient heritage is a strange hobby but at least healthy and productive. Soaking the legumes and cooking as appropriate became a hobby for a short time. This chapter was still a good reference even after I was relatively familiar with the process of soaking and cooking. If you haven’t tried a Christmas Lima, you should.
A Sturdy Companion
The way it lies flat on the counter and the pages are flat and easy to read makes me smile. The recipes are short and understandable. The font is clear, and the text is concise, making this a great choice when my kiddo wants to help me make cookies or banana bread. Compared to the many cookbooks in my life, this one has been around the longest. I will never tire or bore of it. It’s a lovely reference book inside an amazing magazine.
The binder construction is durable and built to last. The price on the back of the book is noted as $26.95, and I’d have to think that the durability of this book is included in that price. The front cover is never going to get wet and dissolve. The back cover is never going to rip off accidentally. When something sticky attaches to the cover, you can easily wipe it off without worry. This is the mark of quality, which will last a long time. Something that will harken back to a time in the past when you first made banana bread with your three-year-old.
Some Amazon reviews indicate that the book is available in a paperback version. I highly recommend that the binder version be vastly superior, and I wish to make more books in binder style. I have even taken books to an office supply store to have them “binder-file,” which means that they cut off the spine and put a spiral spine down it. This is a great trick to utilize on all kinds of books.
Nostalgia will have you bringing this same cookbook out again when you try again and again to make banana bread with your kiddo. The results will be similar, with various stages of mess around the kitchen, an edible bread of some sort will appear in the oven, and the kiddo will think it’s the most amazing thing. Nostalgia will have me reaching for the same book years from now.
This is a must-buy Gardens brand reference book for home improvement and all young home chefs.