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Women in Ag: How Recipes Make it To Print

I like to cook. 

I wish I was like MacGyver in the kitchen. If I was, I could pull together a fabulous recipe from an onion, leftover lunch meat, and some random spice.

The truth is, I’m not MacGyver, and I’m certainly not like anyone with a show on Food Network. My gift, my talent, is not creating fabulous meals.

I need a recipe, which I will follow step by step. Two shelves in my kitchen are full of cookbooks I’ve collected and recipes I’ve printed over the years.

The first cookbook I ever had was the red-and-white plaid, Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. The Better Homes and Gardens magazine in my mailbox every month is full of great recipes, too.  So is Successful Farming magazine.

In March, I had the opportunity to visit Meredith Publishing in Des Moines, Iowa, which owns both magazines. My meeting was held in the company’s test kitchens.

When I walked in the room, the first thing I saw was the library. Top to bottom, wall to wall were cookbooks. Biscuit cookbooks. Pie recipes. Slow cooker recipes. French cooking. Southern cooking.  Recipes for kids. Recipes for dummies. Every red-and-white plaid cookbook ever printed.

I could spend days there, sitting at the table reading all the recipes. Of course I’d be inspired to step over to one of the test kitchens and try my hand at making them.

Every recipe that appears in a Meredith publication has been put through its paces in the Des Moines or the New York test kitchens. Recipes are developed by staffers, suggested by readers, or found at (which is also owned by Meredith). They are cooked, adjustments to the recipe are made, and then comes the best part: the taste-testing.  

I thought recipes were prepared in a fancy kitchen with all the best equipment, something you would see on the showroom floor. The truth is, the Meredith test kitchens are set up with equipment I have at home.  

A shopper (wouldn’t that be a fun job!) goes to the local grocery stores to buy ingredients you and I would buy, including generic brands.  

The tasting room looks like a dining room because, as our tour guide put it, “Part of the food experience is who you share it with.”

When you see a recipe featured in the magazine, it comes with a promise that it has been tested and that it meets a set of standards.

For someone like me, that promise means my familiy and I can eat the meal I prepare and not call for takeout.

What’s your favorite recipe?

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