PHOENIX (3TV/CBS5) -- The Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book is the gold standard in the kitchen. It is that good friend you can turn to and lean on when you have a question, need some direction, or maybe encouragement to try something new.
It is affectionately known as “Red Plaid” for the red plaid cover. But Red Plaid is more than just a collection of recipes. For so many families it is a tradition, a common thread weaving through generations of dinners, celebrations and holiday meals.
“For me, it’s a staple of my adulthood and my childhood,” said Kyle Shields of Gilbert who often cooks from his cook book handed down from his mom.
“I literally used to lay on the floor, little feet kicking back and forth, flipping through the pages of the cookbook planning these elaborate dinner parties and it really sparked this passion for food, hosting and entertaining people.”
So you can imagine how excited Shields was when the woman his brother married, was also a big fan of the Red Plaid cook book!
Cristina Stowerswas was just as excited to find the common passion she shared with her brother-in-law. “He said oh! You have the cookbook too!” Stowers recalled.
“As a mom, I can follow these recipes and there's a lot of things that I can make quickly with things that I already have in my pantry my refrigerator. I appreciate that having three kids and being busy.”
The 17th edition of the BHG New Cook Book is a mix of classic favorites and new trends. Establishing new trends in the kitchen has been a part of the cook book from the very start. In the 1930s the book was black and gray, no red plaid. It may not have looked fancy, but it was unlike any cook book that had come before.
The 1st edition was actually a three ring binder, so it could open and lay flat on the counter top and some considered that revolutionary. It had blank pages in the back and places to add your own recipes. You could turn the book on its spine and it became a mini-filing cabinet.
The famous red plaid cover arrived in the 1940s when editor Myrna Johnston spotted a swatch of plaid cloth at a store during her lunch break. The cover was changed and the colorful new design sent sales of the book through the roof! The rest is history.
Over the years, the New Cook Book has been a reflection of the needs and desires of the American family. In the 1940s there were tips on how to get the most out of war rations.
You’ve heard of a tossed salad? The cook book coined that phrase in the 1950s. In the 60s, foreign foods and gourmet were groovy; while inflation in the 70s meant more meals on a budget. Today, the focus is on global flavors, healthy alternatives, fresh ingredients.
“In this new plaid we are including grain bowls which you know we did not include in the last edition,” said Jan Miller, the executive editor of the 17th edition of the New Cook Book.
“The meatless chapter is such so much greater and more enriched because a lot of these younger folks are maybe are not vegetarian but they are very keen into wanting to eat less meats. So it’s those kinds of changes that we make to try to make sure that we are relevant for the cook today.”
This 17th edition includes more than 1,200 recipes, with more than 1,600 photographs and an updated cover design, so it looks at home either on your kitchen counter or coffee table. The recipes, photos, instructions - all written with the new, young cook in mind – just as it has been for the past 90 years.
Shields said, “The best thing about the book is that there are traditional recipes that you can make your own.”
In all, more than 34 million New Cook Books have been sold. The 17th edition of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book is now available in stores and online.