Yesterday I shared my first day at the Better Homes and Gardens Cooking Experience in Des Moines, Iowa. Today, I can’t wait to share with you a full and action-packed second day!
Before we start, let’s recap: California girl (that’s me!) meets Iowa seasonal colors on the local trees. She goes behind the scenes at one of her favorite magazines and tours the BHG Test Gardens! You can read all the juicy details of my first day here: BHG-Day One!
Ready for the first part of Day Two? Here we go!
Saturday’s agenda was PACKED! It started with a delightful pancake breakfast. We could make our own pancakes using OXO brand’s spiffy new batter dispenser (which were generously included in our gift bags!) or enjoy ones already prepared. I choose to make my own, add fresh blueberries and other delicious fixings.
Breakfast started at 7:30 am, which is 5:30 am California Time. Roughly translated that meant: “I needed a LOT of coffee!” See the awesome Meredith mug? It was refilled countless times throughout the day. I loved that mug.
After breakfast, we went downstairs to the BHG Conference Core where all the Editors introduced themselves and we began the first of many food demonstrations. The first session was “How to Throw The Perfect Open House!” The recipes shared were about utilizing Puff Pastry to make great dishes. As many of you know, Puff Pastry and I just recently learned to play well together (See the Berry Cream Cheese Danish post) so it was really nice to get new recipes and tips on how to host a Holiday Party! There were great ideas on how to prepare dishes in advance in order to make delicious dishes for our guests. Here is Better Homes and Gardens Senior Deputy Food and Entertaining Editor Nancy Hopkins speaking on how to commit to your party idea and make your tables look fabulous without spending a lot of money!
It was fun!! Even the editors were having fun! This is Special Publications Editor Jan, photo-bombing my picture of her Spicy Chicken Pot Stickers with Ginger and Green Onion Dipping Sauce!
I wasn’t kidding yesterday when I told you this event radiated the feeling of family, tradition, hospitality and genuine joy. There weren’t any “volunteers” to help people find their way, or answer questions. Everyone who was helping, was a Better Homes and Gardens Editor. They were genuinely having a great time interacting with us. Everyone was approachable and so sincere! It was very special. They made us feel like family.
After that first “Open House” session, we headed upstairs for our first view of the BHG Test Kitchens! Squeee!!!
The Meredith Test Kitchens have never been opened to the public, so this was an extra special treat! The Test Kitchen Editors taught us how to zest lemons, skin garlic cloves by shaking them in bowls, we learned about (and tasted!) different types of olives from around the world, practiced filling hard-boiled eggs using decorating tips and piping bags, paired beer and chocolate, tasted some of the delicious dishes demonstrated in the Open House session and finally, had a delightful time learning knife skills from Chef Jeffery Elliot! (Whose book on Knife Skills was also in our gift bag!)
After the sessions in the Test Kitchen, we went back to the Conference Core for a demonstration from James Beard award-winning Chef, Scott Peacock. Chef Peacock is a cookbook author, an expert on Southern cuisine and a contributing editor to BHG! He shared his “Never-Fail Holiday Menu” which included a Rich Beef Stew with Bacon and Plums, Roasted Broccoli and Olives, Cornmeal Spoon Bread and a Buttermilk Pudding with Pomegranate Compote!
Chef Peacock shared his love of doing things by hand. He said it’s important to enjoy the process of creating great food. With a whisk in hand and a mixing bowl on his hip, he whipped egg whites and told us stories of his life, enchanted us with details of different types of buttermilk and the benefits of eating locally sourced, organic eggs. (He gets his from a neighbor!)
After Chef Peacock’s demonstration, it was time for lunch! Guess what was on the menu? Yep, everything we’d just learned to make! If you’d like to learn more about Scott Peacock, you can find a great article here: BHG – Chef Scott Peacock.
Oh my goodness! So many delicious things and it was only noon? Whew! You’ll have to stay tuned for the third installment of my Better Homes and Gardens Cooking Experience. I’ll tell you this, the rest of the afternoon and evening were “Magically Delicious” and I’m NOT talking about breakfast cereal!!
Here’s the link to take you to sweet ending of a delightful weekend: Better Homes and Gardens – The Conclusion of my trip!