Better Homes and Gardens Favors Practical Approach to Cooking

betterhomes.jpgIn 1922, the publication that would become Better Homes and Gardens magazine published its first issue. Today, nearly 90 years later, the title remains as relevant as ever. Packed with tips for the cost-conscious shopper and for cooks looking to
stretch a dollar, Better Homes and Gardens is a trusted
resource reviewers say they turn to–whether it’s a current issue or a
treasured copy from years ago.

Sure, like many other magazines, it’s treading lightly and cautiously through the changing publishing landscape. It’s revamping and reorganizing to mobilize its message using technology scarcely dreamed of in the Roaring ’20s.

While its practical approach doesn’t always appeal to younger readers–even in today’s economic climate–others who found the traditional, conservative approach to cooking and gardening less relevant in their youth have discovered a familiar friend once family came along.

Part of the magazine’s charm is its focus on recipes, like the coconut cake on the cover of the April 2010 issue. It’s recognizable enough to jar a sweet childhood memory.

But the content and approach of Better Homes and Gardens magazine
isn’t stuck in a long-ago decade. Instead, it’s comparable to its
contemporary food publication peers.

For example, the April issue approaches one ingredient, the egg
(timely both for Easter and National Egg Month in May), and prepares it
seven ways for seven different dishes. Think poached, hard-cooked,
frizzled, baked, scrambled, sauced and whipped, for an array of courses
from appetizers and breakfast items to entrees and desserts. Quick and
healthy meals, lightening up classic recipes and cooking on a budget are
consistent topics. 

But beyond the act of cooking, Better Homes and Gardens, as its title
would suggest, provides a holistic view of cooking and dining. An
article in the April 2010 issue on kitchen health, which covers food
safety; understanding food expiration, cleaning and defrosting; and
determining the “done”-ness of ingredients, offers both current and
timeless value.

The strong undertones of practicality make Better Homes and Gardens
magazine hard to beat as a how-to guide. The April 2010 issue alone
covered how to crack coconuts (for that cake on the cover), how to pick
artichokes, how to spice up leftovers, and how to pick, store and
understand the differences between organic, free-range and cage-free

That’s not to say that the editorial content isn’t creative or fun.
Perhaps trying to step out of its perceived conservative mold, the
magazine has recently delivered clever presentations one might expect
only from its contemporary competitors. For example, with a nod to
Valentine’s Day, the February 2010 issue paired variations of famous
food couples: chocolate and vanilla, salt and pepper, and steak and
potatoes. Features like this one–practical with a little twist–are
indicative of Better Home and Gardens magazine as a whole.

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Michelle Ryan

About Michelle Ryan

Michelle Ryan is obsessed with good food, great shoes and Alabama football way down South in Savannah, Georgia. She hasn’t met a kitchen gadget she hasn’t at least thought about buying (trying them is another story) and devotes her time to Bikram Yoga, baking and trying to overcome long-held finicky eating habits.