Better Homes and Gardens circa 1962

Cover of Better Homes and Gardens 15th Edition Cookbook

Okay, so this doesn’t link to the book I own. It links to the great grandbook (or so) of the cookbook I have1. This idea amuses me, because the book I have was given to me by my grandmother. She, like so many people I’m related to, was concerned I might starve to death when I moved out of my parents home.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this here, but part of the collective terror was that I was stubborn and refused to ever live on campus (and thus have a meal plan). Oh, my mother tried to get me to live on campus, but it was not to be. Namely, I wasn’t having any of that crap, and while it briefly looked like she would manage to force me into it (what with them covering my expenses beyond my scholarships and all), my father intervened. At first he agreed with her, I would have to live on campus but he insisted they spring for a single room for me. However, the school gave me the upper hand when they told me that freshmen were not required to live on campus, but were not allowed single rooms if they did. My father then swung around to my view point, and I got my very first apartment. It wasn’t much, and I did have a roommate (housemate, if you prefer), but it was my first place.

It had, you see, one of those rooms. You know the one. That one with the stove and the fridge? Yeah, that one. The one that, so far as my relatives were aware of, I only used for making “Kraft Dinner”: (And let me tell you: If, at that time, Amazon had been selling this with that subscriber discount they’re currently offering I might really have turned as orange as the orange powdered cheese in there. That’s not the cheapest price I’ve ever seen it for, but it beats most of the consistent pricing in supermarkets.)

So, my grandmother offered me this cookbook. With the caveat that I was to return it if I didn’t use it. I don’t actually have any idea why she put that string on the gift. Especially with no time frame or number of uses requirement. But I took it to heart and made “Chinese Fried Rice” for my roommate, a couple of her friends and myself a couple of days before classes started2.

More importantly, for my love of this particular cookbook, it gave me a chance to bond with my new roommate, Maria-Sea. Oh, she and I had known each other in high school and were basically friends (otherwise we wouldn’t have agreed to move in together), but we weren’t yet close. Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book changed that for us. We laughed over the glossary and it’s pronunciation guide3, and wondered what in the world rennet pudding was, and why the recipe only called for sugar, vanilla, milk and a rennet tablet. We debated what a rennet tablet even was. And that first night I was there, we didn’t sleep. We stayed up until 8am the next day, pouring over this book and laughing ourselves silly.

I love this cookbook. In a lot of ways, it’s like the “GAFCCA cookbook”: I just posted about. It’s a glimpse into the food culture of another time, it packs a lot of information into a relatively small number of pages. There’s almost no pictures.

But as you can tell, more than the “glimpse into the way back machine”, I love this cookbook for everything it is to me. My grandmother’s gift, and her brusque way of giving to me. The number of times I’ve repaired the binder holes on the pages. The clear use it’s had over the years. And the laughter. Oh, the laughter.

I still wonder where I’d get a rennet tablet, though. And why I’d make a pudding rather than a cheese if I had one.

Number of recipes in this book: 1246 (Estimated)
Number we’ve cooked: 2

you can click the “better homes & gardens: 1962” tag below to see everything we’ve made out of this cookbook4.

fn1. For the record, Krysti L1 has and likes this book.

fn2. Please don’t tell her, but I don’t think I used it more than for that one recipe, and probably not more than five times.

fn3. “Tortilla” is pronounced “tor tee ya”, but we could imagine someone thinking it’s “tor till uh”; we could not, however, imagine someone thinking it was pronounced “tor till ya”.

fn4. You guys? I think Bill already posted a cookbook entry for this book, but didn’t put it in the “books” category and didn’t tag it. I have this vague memory of him writing about being terrified of some of the recipes in here, and naming a few specifically, but I can’t find such an entry. If you find it, will you let me know?

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