NEW YORK (AP) -- The numbers suggest confidence in a potential for action in the nation's kitchens: There are about 900 new recipes among the total of 1,200 featured in the latest edition of a classic cookbook.
A variety of factors nudged other changes in the 12th edition of "Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book" (Meredith Books, 2002, hardcover $29.95, softcover $16.95), said Jennifer Darling, Meredith's executive food editor.
"The new edition has changes that were mostly driven by changes that have happened in the consumer market since the last edition," Darling said in a phone interview from the publishers' headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. That previous edition, the 11th, came out in 1996, in the continuing series that began in 1930.
Getting down to specifics, Darling zeroed in on a major difference in current food tastes reflected in the new edition's recipes: "There's more flavor -- that really drove a lot of the changes, now that people are eating more spicy food."
One thing that hasn't changed is the red-and-white plaid of the sturdy ring-bound book's cover, with its blue title banner. The plaid first showed up in 1941, on the cover of the fourth edition.
So how was consumer change identified? Research is one answer, with many soundings taken from readers. "The association with the Better Homes and Gardens magazine gives us a lot of contact with readers," Darling said, through recipe contests, feedback on the Web site and regular mail.
"The 12th edition was researched more than any predecessor," she said. "We started with focus groups of consumers, and followed up with phone studies, just asking people what they wanted changed from the 11th edition."
The responses were heeded. For one thing, "They wanted a lot more photos, so we have 60 percent more in the 12th edition." The editors were reminded what a big difference photos make, Darling said -- "It builds confidence when cooks know what they're aiming for."
Another factor in building less experienced cooks' confidence got attention, she said, with the expansion of the chapter on cooking basics. "We increased the section's page count, and the glossary; we added photos and IDs of types of foods."
There's a lot of make-ahead information in this edition, too, responding to people's desire to save time in food preparation, Darling said.
"Crockery cooking is new to this edition. For the first time it has a whole chapter," Darling said. "Interest in slow cooking has really taken off, growth has been phenomenal -- people find it an easier way to cook, it just simplifies life."
She pointed out another difference in the makeup of recipes, besides the general increase in flavor: "We've put back some of the fat and salt in some recipes."
Experiments in reducing these ingredients for health reasons have often led to disappointing results. "We felt that when people have shopped and spent time and trouble for a special dish, it better be fabulous," Darling said. "But in general we know people want to eat more healthily, so these changes weren't done willy-nilly."
Nutrition information is included with every recipe.
Blueberry Buckle is among the selections in the book's chapter on breads.
Preparation: 20 minutes
Baking time: 50 minutes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter or margarine
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease bottom and 1/2-inch up sides of a 9-by-9-by-2-inch, or 8-by-8-by-2-inch baking pan; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat shortening with an electric mixer on medium speed 30 seconds. Add the 3/4 cup sugar. Beat on medium to high speed until light and fluffy. Add egg; beat well. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to beaten egg mixture, beating until smooth after each addition.
Spoon batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with blueberries. In another bowl combine the 1/2 cup flour, the 1/2 cup sugar, and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; sprinkle over blueberries. Bake in a 350 F oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.
Makes 9 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 408 cal., 17 g total fat (6 g saturated fat), 38 mg chol., 247 mg sodium, 58 g carbo., 2 g fiber, 5 g pro.
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