August with Bettina


This month is another long read, for Bettina is going to a wedding, the circus, and having lots of people over! So make yourself some iced tea or lemonade, sit back with a pen and paper and plan some menus with the perfect homemaker, Bettina. 

(June and July can be found over at my main blog ThriveOnOneIncome.com.  I will be publishing each successive month with Bettina the first week of each month over at ThriveOnOneIncome.com)

Twenty little jelly-glasses, twenty pots of jam,
Twenty jars of pickles and preserves,
Making other wealth than this appear a stupid sham,——
Ah, you dears! What color, gleam and curves!

CHAPTER XXIX

BETTINA PUTS UP FRUIT

“Bettina, O, Bettina! We’ve come to get you to play tennis with us this morning. You must! You’ve been neglecting us for Bob and we’re jealous.”

“Oh, girls, I simply can’t! I have just bought quarts and quarts of cherries and currants of a boy who came to the door, and I must take today to put them up!”

“That’s easy! Leave ’em till tomorrow!” said Alice cheerfully.

“I can’t do that, because they’re just at the canning point and it isn’t a good thing to have them a bit over-ripe. Then these are freshly picked, and that is the best way to have them.”

“I’ll stay and help; may I?” said Ruth, who had suddenly developed a deep interest in things domestic.

“Why, of course I’d love to have you, Ruth, but seeding cherries is slow work, and I believe that playing tennis would be more exciting.”

“But not half so interesting as to hear you tell me how you do things. I love to listen.”

“We’ll all stay,” suggested Mary. “It’ll do us good. But you’ll have to lend us big aprons; can you?” And she looked down at her white middy, skirt, and shoes.

“Come on!” shouted Elsie. “You can lecture as we seed cherries, Bettina. How are you going to put them up?”

“Well, Bob likes plain currant jelly, and plain canned cherries awfully well. I may preserve some cherries with currant juice, too, but I think I’ll not do anything very elaborate today.”

“Goodness, that sounds elaborate enough to suit me! Will you be looking over the currants while we are stoning cherries?”

“Leave the stones in half of them, girls; many people like them that way better.”

“What were you doing to all those jars?”

“Just getting ready to sterilize them. You see I’ll put them on a folded cloth, in this big kettle of cold water. Then I’ll slowly heat the water to the boiling point, and fill the jars immediately with the fruit and syrup. I must scald the rubber rings, too, before I use them.”

Bettina was rapidly looking over currants as she talked. “Girls, do you notice my jelly strainer? See, it’s a piece of cheese-cloth fastened into a wire strainer. It can be attached to any kettle. I haven’t used it yet, but I know that it will be very convenient. You know it’s best to strain the juice through the cheese-cloth without pressure. If I have the cloth double, the juice will be quite clear. If I wanted an especially clear jelly, I could even have the juice pass through a flannel or felt bag.”

“How on earth can you tell when the jelly jells?” asked Ruth.

“Well, I test it this way. I take up, in a cold silver spoon, a little of the mixture that is cooking. If it jells and breaks from the spoon, it has been cooking long enough. Of course I remove the rest from the fire while testing it, because it might be done.”

“Bettina, cooking and jelly-making and things like that seem to be so natural for you!” cried Ruth. “I get so frightened sometimes when I think what if I should be a poor housekeeper and make Fred unhappy!”

“Alice,” said Mary, “Heaven forbid that either of us should ever be talking like that about a man!”

“Goodness, I should say so!” declared Alice emphatically, a little too emphatically, thought Bettina.

CHAPTER XXX

A COOL SUMMER DAY

“WHY, hello, Ruth!” cried Bettina at the door one afternoon. “I haven’t seen you for weeks, it seems to me! What have you been doing? Come in and give an account of yourself!”

“First let me deliver these nasturtiums that mother sent,” said Ruth. “She always remembers how fond you are of flowers.”

“Thank you, they’re lovely! I need them tonight for my table, too. Will you come into the kitchen with me while I put these in water?”

“M-m,” said Ruth. “Something smells good! In the oven?”

“Yes, pork chops, baked apples and escalloped potatoes. Peek in and see ’em.”

“Outch!” cried Ruth, holding her hand in sudden pain. “I forgot that that pan was hot, and started to pull it out to see better! I’m a perfect idiot! I do that every time I have anything in the oven!”

“That’s a shame, Ruth, dear! Here, apply a little of this olive oil! It’s the nearest remedy I have. Vaseline is good, too, or baking soda. Hold it with the damp cloth to keep out the air.”

“It feels better already,” said Ruth. “I made some gingerbread last evening for dinner—Fred was there—and burned my hand in the same way exactly. And even at such a cost the gingerbread wasn’t very good. I think I didn’t bake it quite long enough. How long ought it to be in the oven?”

“Well, gingerbread takes longer than most quick-breads. Here, let me give you my time-guide for baking, and you can keep it in your card-index. Then it’s always at hand when you want to refer to it.”

“Thank you, that’s a good idea, Bettina. May I sit down here at the kitchen table and copy it?”

“Do, I’ll get you a pencil and a piece of paper. Ruth, won’t you stay to dinner tonight?”

“I can’t possibly, Bettina. I am going out with mother, and should be at home now dressing. Oh, by the way, I had a chance to refer last night to something you made me copy and put with my recipe cards. ‘How to Remove Grass Stains’! I got it on my white dress—a dreadful looking stain—and immediately referred to my card-index. It said, ‘Moisten with alcohol or camphor, allow to stand five minutes, and wash out with clear water.’ The stain came out like magic! I used camphor; we didn’t happen to have any alcohol in the house.”

“I’m so glad it came out; that is such a pretty white dress. And weren’t you glad you knew just where to find a remedy? It seems a little trouble to index things, but it is really worth doing.”

“I think so, too. Well, there’s Bob, and I must rush off. Bob, you’re going to have a good dinner tonight! I’ve just been investigating!”

Bob had: Pork Chops, Escalloped Potatoes, Baked Apples, Bread, Butter, Fresh Pears, Tea

CHAPTER XXXI

BOB AND BETTINA ALONE

“WHY, Bob, look at the front of your Palm Beach suit!” exclaimed Bettina, after she had greeted Bob at the door. “What in the world have you been doing?”

“Pretty bad; isn’t it!” said he, ruefully. “Frank Dixon brought me home in his car, and he had some sort of engine trouble. We worked on it for awhile, but couldn’t fix it, so he phoned the garage and I came home on the street car. I must have rubbed up against some grease. Do you suppose my clothes are spoiled?”

“No-o,” said Bettina, slowly, “not if I get at them. Let me see; what is it that takes out auto grease? Oh, I know! Bob, you go and change your clothes right away while I’m cooking the meat for dinner. Then I’ll doctor these.”

“What will you do to them?”

“I’ll rub them with lard, and let it stay on them for about an hour. Then after dinner I’ll wash them out in warm water and soap, and then—well, Bob, I believe they’ll be all as good as new.”

“I thank you, Mrs. Bettina.”

When Bob returned and Bettina was putting the dinner on the table, she smiled to herself over a new idea that had popped into her head.

“Bob, what would you think if I should enter some of my nut-bread at the state fair?”

“Well, is that what you’ve been smiling at all this time? I think it would be fine. If I were judge you’d get first prize in a minute! Say, strikes me this is a pretty good dinner!”

It consisted of: Ham, Mashed Potatoes, Escalloped Onions, Rolls, Butter, Dutch Apple Cake, Coffee

Susan Wheeler, Illustrator

CHAPTER XXXII

BETTINA ATTENDS A MORNING WEDDING

“HOW lovely!” Bettina whispered to Bob after the beautiful ceremony had taken place in the rustic grape arbor. “How like Cousin Kate this is! But I had no idea that Frances planned to be married out of doors, had you?”

“She told me that they were hoping for fair weather, but weren’t counting on it.”

“And this is a regular golden day; isn’t it! What a time to remember! Bob, look at Cousin Kate’s flowers! A natural altar, without decoration! Poppies, sweet-peas, nasturtiums, cosmos, more kinds than I can count! It’s a little earlier than they usually have weddings, too; isn’t nine-thirty early?”

“Yes, but Frances thought that this would be the prettiest time for it, and you know they aren’t at all conventional.”

“What are you two gossiping about?” shouted big Cousin Charles in Bettina’s ear: “don’t you see enough of each other at home without avoiding the rest of us at a time like this? Go and kiss the bride and congratulate the groom as soon as you can get to them. Fanny wants to see you particularly, Bettina. Breakfast is to be served on the porch; don’t forget that you two are to be at the bride’s table!”

The wide porch looked very charming. Each table seated four, except the one for the bridal party and near relatives, which was in the center, surrounded by the others. On each table was a basket of pink sweet-peas and trailing greenery. Each simple white place-card held a flower or two, slipped through two parallel cuts across the corner. Frances was seated at the groom’s left, and at her left sat her new brother-in-law, who was the best man. Next to him was the minister’s wife, then jolly Cousin Charles, the bride’s father, then the groom’s mother. At the right of the groom sat Anne, Fanny’s sister, who was maid-of-honor; and next to her sat the clergyman. Then came the bride’s mother and the groom’s father. Beyond him sat Bettina, then Bettina’s cousin Harry, then Aunt Nell and Bob. That was all, for there were few near relatives and Bettina’s father and mother were in California.

“Frances looks well; doesn’t she?” said Aunt Nell to Bettina. “No showers, no parties or excitement, and you can see how simple the wedding has been. Cousin Kate is so sensible, and so is Frances. I can tell you already that the breakfast menu will be dainty and delicious, but simple.”

She was right, for it consisted of: Watermelon Cubes (Served in Sherbet Glasses), Fried Spring Chicken, New Potatoes, Creamed Peas, Hot Rolls, Butter, Currant Jelly, Peach Ice Cream, Bride’s Cake, Coffee, Nuts, Candy

Suggestions for Serving the Bride’s Cake  The Bride’s Cake may be baked in this form and placed in the center of the table for the central decoration. A tall, slender vase, filled with the flowers used in decorating, may be placed in the hole in the cake. Place the cake upon a pasteboard box four inches high and one inch wider than the cake. This gives space to decorate around the cake. The cake and box may be placed on a reflector, which gives a very pretty effect. If cake boxes containing wedding cakes are distributed among the guests as favors, use the one in the round pan for central decoration and bake others in square pan. Square pieces may then be cut, wrapped in waxed paper, and placed in the boxes.

CHAPTER XXXIII

AFTER THE “TEA”

“DOESN’T it bore you to think of cooking when you’ve been out all afternoon?” asked Mrs. Dixon, wearily. “And today the refreshments were so elaborate and everything was so stiff and tiresome!”

“I usually anticipate feeling this way,” said Bettina, “and plan to have something at home that is already prepared, and that I can get together without much trouble. Then I put on a house dress as quickly as I can, for I can’t bear to cook in party clothes. But I’m sure I don’t know what I am going to have for dinner tonight. Bob and I had planned to go downtown to dinner with some friends, but just before I went out this afternoon he phoned that the invitation had been withdrawn because of somebody’s illness.”

“Goodness!” cried Mrs. Dixon, “what will you do? Go downtown yourselves?”

“No; Bob doesn’t enjoy that, and neither do I. I can manage somehow, for of course there are always things in the house to get. I’ll tell you. I’ll phone Bob to bring Mr. Dixon here, and you can see what an emergency supper is like.”

“Oh, I couldn’t think of it! You’re tired, and it’s nearly six now!”

“Well, what of that? You can help. And I know you’re dreading to get dinner at home. We’ll just combine forces.”

Bettina went to the telephone and called Bob. “Hello, dear! Please bring Mr. Dixon home to dinner with you; Charlotte is going to stay. And if you come in his car, will you stop on the way and get a watermelon that has been on ice? Be sure it’s cold!”

“And now,” she said to Mrs. Dixon, “let me get into a house-dress, and then for a sight of the refrigerator.”

“Oh, what beautiful glazed apples!” exclaimed Mrs. Dixon ten minutes later.

“They were to have been for breakfast, but I’ll have them for dinner instead. Then there are enough cold boiled potatoes for creamed potatoes; and, besides that, we’ll have an omelet. And then I’ll stir up some emergency biscuit——”

“And you can explain everything that you do!”

“Well, for the omelet—we’ll take four good-sized eggs—one for each of us——”

“What else goes in? Milk?”

“No, I think that hot water makes a more tender omelet. Then I’ll use a few grains of baking powder to assist in holding it up, though that isn’t necessary. We’ll beat the yolks and whites separately till they’re very light. Goodness! There come the men!”

“Here’s your watermelon, Bettina!” called Bob. “A big fellow! Don’t forget to save the rind for pickles, will you? Why, hello, Mrs. Dixon! Frank’s here!”

The menu that night consisted of: Omelet, Creamed Potatoes, Glazed Apples, Emergency Biscuit, Butter, Watermelon

CHAPTER XXXIV

BETTINA GIVES A PORCH BREAKFAST

BETTINA had risen early that beautiful July morning, for she had much to do. Bob had insisted upon helping her, and at eight, Ruth was coming.

“Such a simple breakfast after all, Bob! Do you think she’ll like it?”

“Sure she will! If she doesn’t I’ll disown her! Say, Bettina, I haven’t had my breakfast yet, and ten o’clock sounds far away. May I have just one doughnut with my coffee?”

“Why, Bobby, Bobby! Did I forget you? Your Aunt Elizabeth and the whole suffrage cause is on my mind this morning, but I didn’t think even that could make me forget you. Help yourself to anything you see that looks good!”

The Aunt Elizabeth on Bettina’s mind was an aunt of Bob’s who was to be in town between nine and twelve, in conference with some of the leading suffragists of the city. She wished to see the bungalow, and at ten o’clock Bettina was giving a breakfast for her and the women with whom she was to confer. It was with fear and trepidation that Bettina had invited them, although she declared to herself that she was sure, sure, sure, of every dish on the menu!

As she arranged the great graceful yellow poppies in the center of the porch table, set for six, she was feeling somewhat nervous.

“Bob, you must go now, or you’ll be too late for the train. Take a taxi home, not a street car.”

“Taxi! You don’t know my Aunt Elizabeth. She’d say, ‘Say, young man, if you aren’t saving your money any better than this, you ought to be.’ And we’d probably end by walking.”

“Hurry, dear.”

The train proved to be late, and Ruth and Bettina were ready to the last detail. While beautiful, distinguished-looking Aunt Elizabeth was dressing, Bettina was meeting guests at the door. Before she realized it, she had introduced everybody to the guest of honor, and was ushering them out to her charming porch table.

“Oh, Ruth,” she said in the kitchen, “isn’t my Aunt Elizabeth lovely? I’ll say ‘mine’ now, not Bob’s. I was in such a hurry that I forgot to be frightened.”

The breakfast consisted of: Moulded Cereal on Bananas, Whipped Cream, Codfish Balls, Egg SoufflĂ©, Green Peas, Twin Mountain Muffins, Jelly, Doughnuts, Coffee

CHAPTER XXXV

A PIECE OF NEWS

AS Bettina was putting the finishing touches on her porch table, set for dinner, and humming a little song as she tried the effect of some ragged robins in a mist of candy-tuft, all in a brass bowl, she heard a murmur of voices at her front door.

“I’ll tell just Betty; no one else must know—yet. But what if I haven’t the courage to tell even her?”

“Perhaps she’ll suspect anyhow!”

“Goodness, Harry! You make me afraid to go in! Is my expression different?”

The answer was not audible to Bettina, though she was sure that she heard whispers and a little suppressed laughter. Certainly it had sounded like Alice’s voice! What? Could Mr. Harrison be with her? For a moment Bettina stood stock still, feeling like an eavesdropper. Then she let out a gasp of amazement. “Well!” was all she said, and sat down to think. When the door-bell rang, she could not at first gain the composure necessary to answer it.

“Why, how are you, Alice? I haven’t seen you for ages! And Mr. Harrison! Do come in; you must stay to dinner, for you’re just in time. Bob will be home any minute.”

“Oh, we couldn’t stay!” answered Alice. “Har—Mr. Harrison and I were walking home from town, and when we came to this house, we couldn’t help stopping to say ‘hello.'”

Bettina was conscious of a strained feeling in the air, which made her want to giggle—or shake Alice. After all, she couldn’t help overhearing! And yet she might be mistaken!  She found herself saying—she scarcely knew what—to keep up the conversation.

“Do stay! We have a funny little dinner tonight, but I believe you’ll like it. Bob had been rather over-worked at the office lately—and I tried today to think of some of his favorite dishes for dinner. I wanted to have a jolly little meal to take his mind off his worries. And it would help a lot if he could see you two people. Do stay! Do you care for blueberry tarts, Mr. Harrison? Well, that’s to be our dessert!”

“My, that sounds fine!” said Mr. Harrison. “Couldn’t we stay, after all?” he asked, turning to Alice.

“Well, if you really, truly want us,” said Alice to Bettina.

“Why, of course I do! I’m delighted to see you! I think we’re fortunate. Mr. Harrison, you are usually so busy that we scarcely dare invite you!”

“I suppose I ought to be at work today, but I’m taking a little holiday. I couldn’t put my mind on business.”

He was actually blushing, Bettina thought. Suddenly she found Alice’s arms around her and Alice’s laughing face hidden on her shoulder. “Don’t, Harry! Let me be the one to tell her!”

And so Bob found them, all laughing and talking at once.

“Hurrah!” said he when he heard the news. “The best possible idea! Is dinner ready, Bettina? Get out some grape juice and we’ll drink to the health and future happiness of Alice and Harry! I’m the man that made this match!”

Dinner that night consisted of: Fish a la Bettina, Rice Cakes, Stuffed Tomato Salad, Rolls, Butter, Iced Grape Juice, Blueberry Tarts

CHAPTER XXXVI

BETTINA ENTERTAINS HER FATHER AND MOTHER

“WE had no such steak as this in California!” declared Bettina’s father with satisfaction, as Bob served him a second helping.

“But then,” said Bettina’s mother, “did you find anything in California that you thought equalled anything in your own state? Father never does,” said she, laughing. “He seems to enjoy traveling because it makes him feel that his own home is superior to every other place on earth. And it is,” she agreed, looking about her happily. “I can say that after a summer spent in California, I’m more than thankful to be back again.”

“I was afraid that you and father would be so anxious to open up the house that you wouldn’t agree to come here for your first meal.”

“Of course we’re anxious to get home,” said Mother, “but after you wrote Father that if he would come here to dinner tonight you would have a steak cooked just to suit him, he was as eager as a boy to get here.”

“Well, who wouldn’t look forward to it, after a summer spent in hotels?” said Father. “And I must say that Bettina’s dinner justifies my eagerness. It’s exactly right—steak and all.”

“Now for dessert!” said Bob. “This coffee that I’ve been making in the percolator is all ready, Bettina!”

For dinner that night they had: Pan-broiled Sirloin Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Carrots, Head Lettuce, Thousand Island Dressing, Sliced Bananas, Quick Cake, Coffee

Thousand Island Salad Dressing (Six portions)

½ C-olive oil, juice of half a lemon, juice of half an orange, 1 t-onion juice, ¼ t-salt, ¼ t-paprika, 1 t-Worcestershire sauce, ¼ t-mustard, 1 T-chili sauce, 1 T-green pepper cut fine, 1 t-chopped parsley

Place all the above ingredients in a pint fruit jar, fit a rubber and top tightly on the jar, shake vigorously until well mixed and creamy, and pour over head lettuce, tomatoes, asparagus, peas, beans or spinach. Serve as a salad.

Susan Wheeler, Illustrator

CHAPTER XXXVII

THE BIG SECRET

“COME in, Alice! Now do say that you’ll stay to dinner, for we can talk afterward.”

“Well, if you’ll take me out into the kitchen where you are working. You see, I have all this to learn, and I’m depending on you to help me.”

“Of course I’ll help, Alice, but you are so clever about anything that you care to do that I know you’ll soon outstrip your teacher. Tell me first, does anyone know the Big Secret yet?”

“Not a soul but Bettina, Bob, and my family. That is what I came to talk about.”

“Oh, Alice, I’d love to be the one to give the announcement luncheon, or the breakfast, or whatever you prefer to have it!”

“Would you do it, really? Bettina, I’ve been longing to have you offer, but it is work and trouble, and I didn’t want to suggest it.”

“Why, Alice, I just enjoy that kind of work! I’d be flattered to be allowed to have it here. Of course, you know that I can’t do anything very elaborate or expensive, but I’m sure that between us we can think up just the prettiest, cleverest way of telling it that any prospective bride ever had!”

“Bettina, my faith is in you!”

“When do you plan to be married?”

“Late in October or early in November, I think. And I’d prefer not to have it announced for a month. You see, I don’t want to allow time for too many festivities in between.”

“Oh, Alice, if you take my advice, you won’t have any showers or parties at all. I know you! If you do allow it, you’ll have more excitement than any bride in this town!”

“Well, Harry advises me not to, but oh, Betty, you know how it is! I know so many people, and I do like fun, and then Mother likes to think of me as the center of things. She’s afraid that when I am married to Harry I’ll become as quiet as he is, and then too, I honestly don’t think she’d feel that I was really married without it. You know sister Lillian had lots of excitement and more parties crowded into a day than——”

“Yes, and she was so tired that she nearly fainted when she stood up to be married!”

“That’s true, but she liked the fun, anyhow. She says that a girl can have that kind of fun only once, and she’s silly to deny herself. Well, I’ll have a whole month to think it over in. I’ve been sitting here all this time, Bettina, trying to decide what it is that you are making—those croquettes, I mean.”

“They are potato and green corn croquettes, and Bob is very fond of them. I made them because I happened to have some left-over corn. Until I learned this recipe, I didn’t know what to do with the ears of cooked green corn that were left.”

“And what is the meat dish?”

“Well, that is made of left-overs, too, but I think you’ll like it. Creole Lamb, it is called. It is made of a little cold cooked lamb that was left from last night’s dinner. The rhubarb sauce that I am serving with the dinner was our dessert last night. But I do have a very good new dessert!”

“New or not, the dinner does sound good. There is Bob, now, and I’m so glad, for I confess that my appetite is even larger than usual!”

The menu that night was as follows: Creole Lamb, Potato and Green Corn Croquettes, Rhubarb Sauce, Bread, Butter, Head Lettuce, French Dressing, Lemon Pie, Cheese

CHAPTER XXXVIII

AFTER THE CIRCUS

“THERE is nothing so exciting as a circus,” said Ruth, “but oh, how comfortable and peaceful it seems to get away at last from the crowds and the noise! How quiet and cool this porch is, Bettina. In two minutes I’ll get up and help you with dinner, but you made a mistake to put such a comfortable chair here in this particular spot.”

“Ruth, stay just where you are! This meal is supper, not dinner, and it will be ready in the shortest possible time. Where are the men?”

“Going over the plans of our house, I suppose. Fred has worn them almost in pieces by exhibiting them so often. There seem to be a great many details to settle at the last minute. As for me, I’m perfectly satisfied, for I’m going to have a kitchen exactly like yours. Bettina, what lovely nasturtiums, and how delicious that cold sliced ham looks with more nasturtiums to garnish it!”

“Yes, and I have nasturtium leaves lining the salad bowl—and see, I’ll put one large flower on each plate!”

“Don’t nasturtiums always seem cool and appetizing? The whole supper looks that way!”

“Well, circus day is almost invariably warm, and people are tired when they come home, so I planned to have a cold and simple meal.”

“Isn’t boiled ham hard to prepare?”

“No, indeed, nothing could be simpler. I bought a half of a ham—I like a piece cut from the large end—and I soaked it for an hour in cold water. Then I brought it to a boil in fresh cold water and a little vinegar, and transferred it to the fireless cooker for five hours. Then I baked it for an hour in the cooker, having first trimmed it, and covered it with brown sugar and almost as many cloves as I could stick into it. It is very tender and good, I think—one of the best of my fireless cooker recipes.”

“I am planning to have a fireless cooker when I keep house.”

“That is fine, Ruth! You have no idea how they save both gas and worry. Some day I’ll give you all of my best fireless recipes; I use my cooker a great deal. For instance, this brown bread was steamed in the cooker. A fireless is invaluable for steaming. I usually plan to have Boston Brown Bread, Tuna or Salmon Loaf and a pudding all steaming in the large compartment at once. Then I’ve learned to bake beautiful beans in the cooker! I wonder what our grandmothers think of Boston Baked Beans and Boston Brown Bread all made in the fireless! I’m sure I could prove to any of them that my way is just as good, besides being much cooler and more economical! Well, shall we call Fred and Bob?”

The circus day supper consisted of: Cold Sliced Ham, Boston Brown Bread, Butter,
Blackberries, Cream, Spiced Cake, Iced Tea, Sliced Lemon

CHAPTER XXXIX

MRS. DIXON ASKS QUESTIONS

“I   HAD resolved,” said Mrs. Dixon, at Bettina’s dinner-table, “not to accept another invitation to come here until you people had eaten again at our house. But your invitations are just too alluring for me to resist, and your cooking is so much better than mine, and I always learn so much that—well—here we are! For instance, I feel that I am about to learn something this very minute! (Now, Frank, please don’t scold me if I talk about the food!) Bettina, how did you ever dare to cook cabbage? It looks delicious and I know it is, but I tried cooking some the other day and the whole house has the cabbage odor in no time. Yours hasn’t. Now what magic spell did you lay on this particular cabbage?”

“Let me answer that,” said Bob. “I want to show off! Bettina cooked that as she always cooks onions and turnips, in a a large amount of water in an uncovered utensil. Isn’t that correct, Bettina? Send me to the head of the class!”

“Yes, you’re right. I did boil the cabbage this morning, and of course I have a well-ventilated kitchen, but I don’t believe the odor would be noticeable if I had cooked it just before dinner.”

“I never used to eat cabbage,” said Bob, “but I like Bettina’s way of preparing it. She never lets it cook until it gets a bit brown, and so it has a delicate flavor. Most people cook cabbage too long.”

“Another question, Teacher. How did you manage to bake these potatoes so that they are so good and mealy? Mine always burst from their skins.”

“Well,” said Bettina, “I ran the point of the knife around the outside of the potato. This cutting of the skin allows it to swell a little and prevents it from bursting. Then I baked it in a moderate oven. Another thing. I’ve discovered that it is better not to pierce a potato to find out if it is done. I press it with my fingers, and if it seems soft on the inside, I remove it from the oven and press the skin until it breaks, allowing the steam to escape. If I don’t do that, a mealy potato becomes soggy from the quickly condensing steam.”

“Oh, Bettina, I’m so glad to know that! I like baked potatoes because I know they are so digestible, but I never can make them like these. Now I won’t monopolize the conversation any longer. You men may discuss business, or the war, or anything you choose.”

The dinner that night was as follows:  Hamburger Steak, Lemon Butter, Baked Potatoes, Escalloped Cabbage, Bread, Butter, Prune SoufflĂ©

Baked Potatoes (Four portions)  Select potatoes of a uniform size. Wash thoroughly with a vegetable brush. Run the point of the knife around the outside of the potato. Bake in a moderate oven forty to sixty minutes.

CHAPTER XL

A TELEGRAM FROM UNCLE ERIC

“WHAT shall I do with this butter, Bettina?” inquired Bob, who was helping to clear off the table after dinner one evening. “Put it in the ice-box?”

“The butter from the table?” asked Bettina. “No, Bob, I keep that left-over butter in a covered dish in the cupboard. You see, there are so many times when I need butter for cake making or cooking, and prefer not to have it very hard. Then I use that cupboard butter. There’s the doorbell, Bob. Now who do you suppose that can be?”

“A telegram from Uncle Eric,” said Bob, when he returned from the door. “Well, isn’t that the limit! He’s coming tonight!”

“Tonight!” echoed Bettina.

“Yes, on business. You see, there are so many people in town for the state fair and there are several that he must see. He’s a queer old fellow—Uncle Eric is—and he has some queer notions. Doesn’t like hotels, or anything but home cooking. He doesn’t want anything elaborate, but he’s pretty fussy about what he does want. I’m sorry for you, Bettina, but I guess we’ll have to make him welcome. He’s been pretty good to me, in his funny way, and so I suppose he feels he can descend on us without warning.”

“But, Bob—tonight! Why, I’m not ready! I haven’t groceries in the house, or anything! And I was planning to give you a cooked cereal for breakfast tomorrow.”

“It’s too bad, Betty,” said Bob sympathetically, “but it seems as if we’ll just have to manage some way. Uncle Eric has been good to me, you see. He’s an old fogy of a bachelor, but he has a warm heart way down underneath his crusty exterior. And——”

“Don’t you worry, Bob,” said Bettina heartily. “We will manage. As a rule, I think it’s pretty poor taste for anyone to come without warning or an invitation, but maybe Uncle Eric is an exception to all the rules. Tell me about him; do you have time? When does the train get in? Do you have to meet it?”

“I guess I’d better hurry right off now.”

“But, Bob, tell me! What must I have for breakfast?”

“Anything but a cereal, Betty! Uncle Eric draws the line at cereals. He has an awful time with his cooks, too. They never suit him.”

“Goodness, Bob!” said Betty, in despair. “And I have almost nothing in my cupboard. It’s as bare as Mother Hubbard’s!”

“Good-bye, dear! I’m off! I know you’ll think of some thing.”

Bettina smiled hopelessly at the masculine viewpoint, and as soon as Bob had gone she sat down to think, a dish towel in one hand and a spoon in the other.

“Be a sport, Bettina,” she murmured to herself. “If Uncle Eric doesn’t like his breakfasts, it’s his own fault for coming. Get a pencil and paper and plan several cereal-less breakfasts, so that while he is here you will never be at a loss.”

Thus fortified by her common sense and what is less common, her sense of humor, Bettina soon evolved the following breakfast menus for Uncle Eric:

  1. Cantaloupe, French Toast, Maple Syrup, Broiled Bacon, Coffee
  2. Fresh Pears, Creamed Beef on Toast, Coffee
  3. Cantaloupe, Sweet Milk Griddle Cakes, Syrup, Coffee
  4. Baked Apples, Broiled Ham, Graham Muffins, Coffee
  5. Fresh Plums, Codfish Balls, Twin Mountain Muffins, Coffee
  6. Cantaloupe, Waffles, Syrup, Coffee
  7. Watermelon, Corn Oysters, Syrup, Toast, Coffee
Susan Wheeler, Illustrator

CHAPTER XLI

BETTINA ENTERTAINS STATE FAIR VISITORS

THE next morning when Bob and Uncle Eric had partaken of a cereal-less breakfast, and Uncle Eric had even complimented the cook, Bettina called her mother on the telephone.

“I was about to call you, Bettina. Won’t you go to the fair with us this afternoon? You know Cousin Mabel and the children are here from Ford Center, and Cousin Wilfred may arrive some time this morning.”

“You do have your hands full this week, don’t you, Mother? Uncle Eric is at home only for breakfast, and I called up to ask if you would all come here to dinner tonight.”

“Oh, Bettina! I’m afraid it will be too much work for you, dear!”

“I’ll plan a simple meal, Mother; one that I can get together in a hurry. In fact I’ve already planned it.”

“But, in that case, you couldn’t go to the fair with us this afternoon, could you? And it’s said to be especially good today.”

“Why, yes, I could go. I can get the most of my dinner ready this morning. What time would you start?”

“At two, I think. Well, Bettina, we’ll come, but you must make the meal simple, for we won’t be back till six.”

“Don’t worry, Mother.”

Bettina hastened to make her preparations, and at half after one her house was in order and she was ready to go. Besides, she was comfortably conscious of a well-filled larder—cold fried chicken ready and waiting, cold boiled potatoes to be creamed, green corn to be boiled, peaches to be sliced, and delicious chocolate cookies to delight the hearts of the children.

“It will take only a few moments,” she thought as she arranged the nasturtiums on her dining table, “to set the table, cream the potatoes, boil the corn, slice the peaches and make the tea. And I believe it’s the sort of a dinner that will suit them.”

The dinner for state fair guests consisted of: Cold Fried Chicken, Creamed Potatoes, Corn on the Cob, Sliced Peaches, Chocolate Cookies, Tea, Milk

Chocolate Cookies (Three dozen)

1 C-sugar, 1/3 C-butter, 1 egg, ¼ C-milk, 2 C-flour, ½ t-cinnamon, ½ t-salt, 3 t-baking powder, 1 square chocolate, 1 t-vanilla

Cream the butter, add the sugar and cream well. Add alternately the sifted flour, salt, baking powder and egg beaten in milk. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla. Turn out on a floured board and roll a small portion at a time to one-fourth of an inch in thickness. Cut with a floured cooky cutter. Place on a buttered, floured pan and bake in a moderate oven until slightly brown. (About ten minutes.)

UNCLE JOHN AND AUNT LUCY

AS Bettina was standing before a beautiful exhibit of honey in the agricultural building, she was startled by a hand upon her shoulder.

“Gracious, Uncle John!” she exclaimed. “How you frightened me! But I’m so glad to see you! Where is Aunt Lucy?”

“Here, somewhere. You know she took a few prizes herself and is probably hanging around to hear any stray compliments for her butter or preserves.”

“Aren’t you ashamed, John!” said Aunt Lucy, herself appearing like magic. “I was just looking for the queen bee among the others in this glass case.”

“And here she is!” said Uncle John, laying his hand on Bettina’s shoulder, and laughing delightedly at his own joke. “You’ve been looking in the wrong place.”

“For that, Uncle John, I’m going to beg you and Aunt Lucy to come home with me to dinner. Won’t you? When did you come in?”

“This morning, and we’re making a day of it. We’d like to see the fireworks this evening, but perhaps we could go to your house and get back again. For that matter, you and Bob could go with us to see the fireworks. How about it?”

“Oh, that would be splendid! Bob couldn’t come to the fair this afternoon, and I came with a friend.”

“Well, we’ll take you both home in the car. When shall we see you? Five o’clock? Fine! And you and Bob must come back with us this evening.”

Dinner that night consisted of: Broiled Ham, Hashed Brown Potatoes, Pickled Beets,
Bread, Butter, Coffee

CHAPTER XLIII

SUNDAY DINNER AT THE DIXON’S

“YOU seem to have gained in weight, Frank,” said Bob, as he and Bettina sat down to Sunday dinner with the Dixons.

“And what’s more, I’ve gained in spirits! Say, there’s nothing like living in a real home! Why, people, just think of having Charlotte say to me as she did yesterday, ‘Frank, Bob and Bettina are coming to dinner to-morrow, and I want you to plan the menu!’ And here it is! Excuse me for seeming too proud of my own good judgment and my wife’s skill in cookery, but——”

“Hush, Frank! Maybe Bob and Bettina won’t like your choice of dishes or your wife’s cooking!”

“What!” said Bob. “I have yet to meet the person who doesn’t like fried chicken! And roasting ears and new potatoes! Sa-ay!”

“It’s a man-size dinner all right, isn’t it?” said Mr. Dixon. “You know ever since I was a boy my idea of Sunday dinner (at least in the summer) has been fried chicken with gravy, new potatoes, boiled corn on the cob, and ice cream with sliced peaches! Because ice cream is coming, isn’t it, Charlotte? At least I ordered it, and this appears to be my lucky day!”

“Indeed, it is coming,” said Mrs. Dixon. “You see, Bettina, ever since I came to keep house (thanks to you) I’ve longed for the time to come when I could let Frank plan a company meal that I could carry out to the last detail. I have tried all these things before, although not all at the same time. I have always suspected that he would order fried chicken and its accessories (a ‘little boy dinner’ I called this), so when I told him that he might plan the meal, I knew that I could cook it. You see, I have wanted to invite you and Bob—oh, I’ve been thinking of it for a long time, but you can cook so well that I thought perhaps you’d rather eat at home!”

“Charlotte, this is a perfect dinner—far better than I could get, I know.”

“This salad is an acquired taste with me,” put in Mr. Dixon. “In my boyhood, my ideal dinner did not include salad, but Charlotte said there must be one, so this was my choice. I mixed the oil-dressing myself,” he added with pride.

“It was a simple dinner to get,” said Mrs. Dixon. “But now, Frank, we mustn’t boast any more about our own dinner, must we? Bob and Bettina will laugh at us. You see, we’re regular children since we took the house, but we do have lots of fun. I wouldn’t go back to hotel living for anything in the world!”

“And neither would I,” said Frank, “if for no other reason than the joy of entertaining our friends at dinner this way!”

Their Sunday dinner consisted of: Fried Chicken, New Boiled Potatoes, Corn on the Cob, Bread, Butter, Sliced Cucumber, Tomato and Onion Salad, Oil Dressing, Vanilla Ice Cream with Peaches, White Cake, Iced Tea

Vegetable Salad (Four portions) 2 medium-sized tomatoes, ½ cucumber, 1 onion

Dressing  4 T-vinegar, 2 T-oil, ½ t-salt, ¼ t-paprika    Cut the peeled tomatoes and cucumber in one-third inch cubes, mix with the onion chopped fine. Add the dressing, which has been well mixed, and allow to stand ten minutes in a cold place. Serve on head lettuce.

Peaches for Ice Cream (Six portions)  2 C-peaches, sliced; 2/3 C-sugar  

Add the sugar to the peaches and allow to stand in the ice box for ten minutes. Place peaches around the ice cream.

White Cake (Twenty pieces)

½ C-butter, 1½ C-sugar, 22/3 C-sifted flour, 5 t-baking powder, 1/8 t-salt, 1 C-milk, 4 egg whites, beaten stiffly; 1 t-vanilla, ½ t-lemon extract

Cream the butter, add the sugar, and continue creaming for two minutes. Alternately add all the dry ingredients and the milk. Beat well. Cut and fold in the egg-whites. Add the flavoring. Bake in two buttered layer-cake pans, twenty-five minutes in a moderate oven. Cover with “C” sugar icing.

“C” Sugar Icing (Twenty portions) 3 egg whites, 3 C-“C” sugar, 2/3 C-water, 1 t-vanilla

Cook the sugar and water together without stirring until the icing “clicks” in cold water. Remove from the fire and pour very slowly over the stiffly beaten egg-whites. Beat vigorously and continuously until the icing gets thick and creamy. Add the vanilla. Spread on the cake.

Vanilla Ice Cream (Six portions)  1 qt. cream, ¾ C-sugar, 1 T-vanilla, 1/8 t-salt

Mix cream, sugar, vanilla and salt. Place in a scalded and chilled freezer. Turn until the mixture stiffens. Pack for two hours to ripen.

CHAPTER XLIV

A RAINY EVENING AT HOME

“THIS is just the kind of a cold, rainy evening,” said Bob as he pushed back his chair, “that makes me feel like making candy.”

“Fine!” said Bettina. “What kind shall it be?”

“Penoche, if you have all the ingredients.”

“I think I have. Let’s see. It’s better when it’s made partly with ‘C’ sugar, and I have that. I wonder if there will be enough milk left for breakfast if we use a little! Well, penoche really tastes exactly as good when it is made with water instead, though, of course, it isn’t so rich. But then, I think, we do have enough milk.”

“First of all, though,” said Bob, “we’ll wash these dishes. It was a mighty good dinner tonight, Bettina. The nice kind of a hot meal that it seems good to come home to on a night like this.”

“It was an oven dinner, Bob. You see, the meat loaf, the escalloped potatoes, and the rice pudding were all in the oven at once. I always try to use the oven for more than one dish if I am using it at all.”

“We seem to have eaten all of this tomato sauce,” said Bob, as he carried out the dish, “but there is a good deal of meat left. Will you have to make more sauce?”

“No, I planned just enough for one meal. Then, tomorrow, I’ll serve the rest of the meat cold without a sauce. How did you like the rice pudding hot as it was tonight? You know I usually serve it cold.”

“It tasted very good for a cold evening. There, all these dishes are ready to wash, Bettina. Will you get out some tea towels for me?”

The dinner that night consisted of: Hot Beef Loaf, Tomato Sauce, Escalloped Potatoes, Bread, Butter, Rice Pudding

Escalloped Potatoes (Three portions)

4 potatoes (medium sized), 2 T-flour, 2 T-butter, 1 T-salt, ¼ t-pepper, milk (about one cup)

Wash and peel the potatoes. Slice very thin. Mix through the sliced potatoes, the flour, salt, pepper and the butter in small pieces. Place the mixture in a well-buttered pan or baking dish, and cover with milk. Usually one cup suffices. Bake in a moderate oven forty-five to fifty minutes. (Do not fill the pan more than three-fourths full, as the potatoes will boil over.)

This book can be found at: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/42868/42868-h/42868-h.htm#Page_46

May God bless you during your busy August days.

Janine

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