Better Homes and Gardens Cooking Experience – Day One!

Family. Tradition. Hospitality. Genuine joy. These are just a few of the things I took away from the first (annual?) Better Homes and Gardens Cooking Experience.

Better Homes and Gardens Cooking Experience

The other things I brought home with me, were sage advice from BHG Senior Deputy Food and Entertaining Editor, Nancy Hopkins, that “tonight’s party dress, can be tomorrows table runner!” and adding a bit of “bling” to every table is a good thing!

Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Cooking Experience

As a long time fan of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, I was beyond excited to read BHG was opening the doors of its famous Test Kitchens and hosting a two-day cooking event at their headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa! My grandparents grew up in Rock Rapids, Iowa. I’ve never been to that part of the country, so for me, the trip had multiple meanings. Not only was I going to get a sneak peek behind the scenes at one of my favorite magazines, but I was also going to get a glimpse of where my family came from! That made traveling to the event even more special.

Side Note: Did you know Iowa has seasons? Just look at these gorgeous red trees! The nice people I met were very patient with my California Girl excitement over colored leaves.
Fall Colors and Red Leaves

While it’s true, I was very excited about the beautiful fall colors, I was equally excited about learning new things and meeting new people! Upon arrival Friday afternoon at the Meredith Corporation Headquarters, we were warmly welcomed by BHG editors, and given gift bags! (which were INCREDIBLE!)

Better Homes and Gardens Gift Bag

Then, we were taken on a tour of the BHG Test Gardens. Can I just tell you, if I worked at Meredith, I’d have lunch in their Test Garden every single day. Well, maybe not when it snowed. Actually, probably when it was snowing too! Where I live, we don’t get snow either, so I’d be out taking pictures while the people who know better would be shaking their heads at me from inside the warm building! But I’ve gotten off topic again! (Real seasons do that to me!) Let me show you the Gardens!


Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden

Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden

Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden

Stunning, right? That’s just a small portion of the Gardens. There is a beautiful fountain in the center surrounded by tables and chairs (where I would eat my lunch in the snow – HA!) and several quiet little spots all carefully tended by BHG Test Gardeners!
For more info on the Gardens themselves, check out this link: Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden

After our tour of the Gardens, we went “Behind the Scenes” and toured the photo studios, prop closets, video rooms, set areas, wood shops and more! Here’s just a tiny glimpse:

Meredith Publications Timeline

In the hallways of the original building you’ll find a gorgeous timeline of Meredith Corporation. They show the history of when each magazine and cookbook was first published. It was neat to see!  Did you know Meredith Corporation publishes over 100 different magazines? Amazing!

Better Homes and Gardens Timeline

The food styling area, with BHG food stylists hard at work!

Better Homes and Gardens Food Sylists

As a food blogger, I had a serious case of prop envy…

Better Homes and Gardens Prop Room

Better Homes and Gardens Prop Rooms

I sent my husband the above picture of all the plates. He feels better now about the small stack of prop plates I have in our kitchen!

Many of the things we saw we couldn’t photograph because they were working on future editions of different magazines and other future projects. While I can’t let the cat out of the bag, but there are some awesome articles on the horizon at BHG! (Like this is news, right? They always do amazing things!)

After the tours, we went back to our hotel before returning for a Holiday Inspired Welcome Reception! This time we were in the new building at Meredith and they had decorated everything for Christmas!  Lots of beautiful bling, gorgeous white trees donated by Walmart, and plenty of delicious munchies! If only I’d gotten that recipe for their Holiday Sangria. It was fabulous!

Welcome Reception at BHG



And that was just the FIRST day! Whew! Come back tomorrow to read more about my second day in Iowa at the Better Homes and Gardens Cooking Experience!  You’re going to love it!!

Or better yet, just click this link to check out the first part of Day Two (Breakfast to Lunch)

And click here: Day Two – a Delicious Conclusion for the rest!

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