Better Homes & Gardens (BHG) has been around for a long time. It was founded in 1922 by Edwin Meredith, who had previously been the United States Secretary of Agriculture and originally named his magazine “Fruit, Home & Garden” before changing to BHG in 1925. So, they are closing in on 100 years of sharing recipes as well as information on gardening, crafts and entertaining. Okay, so maybe that’s not “forever” but a century isn’t something to sneeze at.
The original magazine (July 1922) cost $0.10 per issue and contained curious articles like “The Almighty Sprayer”, “A Trunk Rest” and “Cannibals in the Orchard.” However, it also had articles that could be referenced by today’s homeowner: what to do with grass clippings, how to start a backyard flock of chickens (well, in City of Kitchener at least), and tips for successful transplanting.
Fast forward to a 2019 issue and the cost is $3.99US. And while there are still articles for gardeners and homeowners, like “The Art of the Garden”, others are now a sign of the times with titles like “The House That YouTube Built” and “What’s Trending at BHG”.
Better Homes & Gardens, which is also one of the top selling magazines in the States, is so famous that it has been referenced many times in hit songs, television shows and movies. And of course, besides the magazine there is the cookbooks, especially the iconic “My Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook” which came out in 1930. The book is regularly updated (it’s now on the 16th) and, with over 34 million copies sold, is as popular as ever with home cooks.
The BHG cookbook I borrowed recently was “100 Recipes You’ll Make Forever”. First off can I say that I love the binding of the book (as happy cooks commented back in the 1930s, too) as it allows the pages to stay open to the selected recipe without a special placeholder or tin of corn weighing it down! It’s a wide-ranging cookbook and I had difficulty narrowing down what to try. When I first borrowed it from the library, we were still being inundated with mulberries from our towering tree in the garden so I went with a few fruit-based bakes.
The fruit coffeecake with mulberries instead of raspberries was wonderful. Easy to make and so moist. The only part I didn’t like was the streusel topping. I prefer mine with brown sugar and oatmeal rather than white, which I felt formed too hard a crust. As the mulberries continued to fall, I tried the double-blueberry (yes, substituted mulberries) muffins which, again, were a success as was the double-crust fruit pie with, fooled you, apples. I’m still re-discovering making pastry and a meat pie I made recently was divine and the fruit pie from this cookbook was excellent. The BHG pastry came together quickly, was easy to handle and tasted wonderful. Two thumbs up from my husband, an apple pie addict.
My favourite recipe though was Oven Barbecued Chicken. Super easy and the sauce is fantastic. It made quite a bit of sauce and, as there was just two of us dining, we had leftover sauce. Besides the initial dish with boneless chicken (cut up, doused in sauce and served with rice and salad), we tried it on burgers, pork and hot dogs too. The right mix of sweet and heat. It is fingerlicking! Yes we will be making this sauce FOREVER.
If you’d like to browse the original BHG magazine, or any, really, Better Homes & Gardens has made their entire archive available online.
Oven Barbecued Chicken
4 pounds meaty chicken pieces (breast halves, thighs, and/or drumsticks)*
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup butter
1 cup finely chopped onion (1 large)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon minced garlic (6 cloves)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup tomato paste
¼ cup molasses
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with parchment paper or foil; set aside. Skin chicken. In an extra-large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken; cook until browned on all sides, turning to brown evenly. If necessary, brown chicken in batches, adding more oil if needed. Drain chicken well.
Arrange chicken pieces, bone sides up, in the prepared baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, for sauce, in a large saucepan melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onion, salt, and garlic; cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Add paprika, chili powder, crushed red pepper, and black pepper; cook and stir for 1 minute more. Add the water, cider vinegar, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce; bring to boiling. Whisk in tomato paste and molasses until smooth. Boil gently, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until sauce is thickened and reduced to about 4 cups, stirring occasionally.
Turn chicken pieces bone sides down. Transfer 1 cup of the sauce to a small bowl; brush this sauce over the chicken. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes more or until chicken is no longer pink (170°F for breasts; 180°F for thighs and drumsticks). Reheat some of the remaining sauce; pass with the chicken. Store any remaining sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
*I had thawed boneless chicken breasts that day and was tight on time. I cut the chicken into cubes, cooked them in the pan and coated liberally with sauce…wonderful!