December with Bettina


Meal Planning with Bettina

Roasting turkeys! Rich mince pies!
Cakes of every shape and size!
Santa, though they’re fond of you,
Christmas needs us housewives, too!

At the end of the video, click on my face to subscribe. Thank you, and Merry CHRISTmas!



“WHO can that be?” said Bettina, laying down her napkin. “Someone is at the door, Bob, I think. I wonder why he doesn’t ring?”

“Hello!” said Bob, throwing open the door. “Why, Bettina! It’s Alice and Harry! When did you get home?”

“We’re on our way home now,” said Harry, as he set down the suitcases he was holding. “Say, these are heavy! We thought we’d stop in for a minute to rest.”

“Welcome home!” said Bettina. “Just think, we don’t even know yet where you went for your wedding trip, though we suspected California.”

“California it was,” said Alice, “along with all the other recent brides and grooms. We escaped any particular notice; there were so many of us. It was rather a relief, though.”

“Have you had your dinner?” asked Bettina, a little embarrassed at the thought of the “dinner for two” that she and Bob were just finishing. There was certainly not enough left for another person, not to suggest two. But then, of course there was her ample emergency shelf.

“We had our dinner on the diner,” said Harry, “or we shouldn’t have dared to stop at this hour.”

“Do come on out to the kitchen,” said Bettina. “Bob is about to make some delicious sour cream candy, aren’t you, Bob? Surely that is a splendid way to entertain a newly returned bride and groom.”

“Fine!” said Harry, “though we can’t stay long. We must hie to our own apartment and get rid of the dust of travel. We’re looking forward to the time when we can return some of your hospitality. I shall learn to make even better candy than Bob’s!”

For dinner that night Bettina had: Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes, Apple Sauce, Bread, Butter, Perfection Salad, Salad Dressing



“AND what have you been doing all day?” asked Bob after he had related his own experiences at the office.

“Just my usual work this morning, and this afternoon I went to a meeting of the social committee of our Young People’s League; you know I’ve promised to help this winter. They plan a social to be given in about two weeks to raise money for the orphanage fund, and I do think their idea is a clever one. You see, it’s a ‘firelight social’; admission ten cents. Mrs. Lewis has offered her house for it. Invitations are to be sent to all members of the church, Sunday school and league, inviting people to ‘come and read pictures in the fire.’ The cards are to be decorated with little pen and ink sketches of hearthstones with burning logs on them. Of course there will be a huge log in her big fireplace. Then as soon as the guests are gathered around, someone is to read aloud that passage from ‘Our Mutual Friend,’ where Lizzie Hexam* reads the pictures in the firelight for her brother. Then pencils and paper will be passed among the guests and each one writes a short description of the pictures he sees in the fire. In ten minutes these are collected and read aloud, with a prize for the best one. Then corn will be popped and marshmallows toasted, and weird ghost stories told. (Of course certain clever people have been asked beforehand to be prepared.) Then supper will be served by candlelight; it will consist of things like sandwiches, cider, coffee, nuts and cookies. Don’t you think a firelight social will be fun?”

“Sure it will! But I’m glad to-night we can be alone by our own firelight, Bettina!”

That evening for dinner Bettina served: Fried Oysters, Baked Potatoes, Bettina’s Relish, Asparagus on Toast, Apple Tapioca, Cream, Coffee



“WHY, Alice, come in! Are you going out to dinner, or just on your way home from some afternoon party?”

“I’m going down town to dinner with Harry; I’ll meet him there. And afterward we are going to the theatre.”

“What fun!”

“Yes, fun for me,” said Alice slowly. “I persuaded him to go. Just think, Bettina, we haven’t been to the theatre one single time since we’ve been married!”

“And that is—let’s see—about six weeks?” said Bettina, laughing. “Come into the kitchen, Alice. I’m making a cranberry pie for dinner.”

“A cranberry pie? One of those darling criss-crossy ones?” said Alice joyfully, throwing off her evening cloak. “Do let me help. I used to make little cranberry pies in a saucer when I was little! I had forgotten that they existed! Harry shall have one to-morrow!” And she rolled out the crust with deft fingers.

“How easily and quickly you do everything, Alice.”

“Yes, too easily. Getting breakfast is fun, and getting dinner is fun, but it’s over too soon. What do you do in the evening, Bettina?”

“Oh, stay at home and read and mend mostly. What do you do?”

“That’s the trouble. Don’t you get dreadfully bored just sitting around? Harry likes it—but I don’t see how he can.”

“But aren’t you tired in the evening? I suppose he is.”

“Tired? Mercy no! Not with the care of that little apartment! I like fun and excitement and something to do in the evening! I’ve been studying household economy, as you suggested, and I’ve learned a lot, but I can’t be doing that all the time! Well, I must run on, Bettina! Let me know how the pie turns out!”

That night Bettina served: Bettina’s Pork Chops and Dressing, Baked Potatoes, Apple Sauce,
Bread, Butter, Cranberry Pie, Coffee


Apple Sauce (Two portions)

6 Jonathan apples, ½ C-sugar, 1/8 t-cinnamon, Enough water to cover

Wash, pare, core and quarter the apples. Cover with water and cook until tender when pierced with a knitting needle. Add the sugar and cook five minutes more. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top when serving.



“TO-NIGHT,” said Bettina at the dinner table, “I expect to finish three Christmas gifts—one for Alice, one for Mary and one for Eleanor. Now aren’t you curious to know what I’ve been making?”

“Curiosity is no name for it,” said Bob, “but I’m even more curious to know what particular thing it is that makes this ham so tender. Is it baked? Anyhow, it’s the best I have ever eaten.”

“Thank you,” said Bettina, “but you always say that about sliced ham, no matter how it is cooked. But this is a little different. It is baked in milk.”

“Great, anyhow,” said Bob. “Now tell me about your conspiracy with Santa Claus.”

“Well, I am making for Alice an indexed set of recipes—a card index. All the recipes are just for two, and they are all tried and true.”

“Just for two,
Tried and true—
Sent, with Betty’s love, to you.”

echoed Bob. “You can write that on the card that goes with it.”

“I shall have you think what to say on all the gifts, Bob. I must show you the box of cards. It is only a correspondence-card box, with the white cards to fit, but I’m sure that Alice will like her new cook book. Then for Mary and Eleanor I have made card-table covers. Mary’s is of white Indian head [Indian Head Mills was located in Alabama and was known for the high quality cotton and textiles it produced.] —just a square of it, bound with white tape and with white tape at the corners for tying it to the table. It is to have a white monogram. Eleanor’s is linen-colored and is bound in green with a green monogram. Hers is finished and I shall finish Mary’s this evening—that is, if you will read to me while I work!”

“Hurray!” said Bob. “What shall I read? Mark Twain?”

For dinner that night they had: Baked Ham, Baked Potatoes, Corn Bread, Butter, Cranberry Sauce



“BOB,” said Bettina, as she served the plum pudding, “Christmas is in the very air these days!”

“Did the Christmas spirit inspire this plum pudding?” said he. “Blessings on the head of Santa Claus! But why your outburst?”

“Because today I went shopping in earnest! I bought the very things that seem most Christmassy: tissue paper, white and green, gold cord, a ball of red twine, Santa Claus and holly stickers, and the cards to tie to the packages. I love to wrap up Christmas things!”

“And are most of your gifts ready to be wrapped?”

“No, not all, for some of them can’t be made till the last minute. For instance, I thought and thought about Uncle Eric’s gift! I want so much to please him, but he has everything that money can buy except perhaps a cook that suits him. Finally I decided to send him a box containing a jar of spiced peaches, a jar of Russian dressing, a little round fruit cake, and a box of fudge. The things will all be wrapped with tissue paper, and gold cord and holly——”

“Lucky Uncle Eric!” sighed Bob. “I wish Santa Claus would bring me a Christmas box like that—fruit cake and spiced peaches and Russian dressing——”

“Maybe he will if you’re very good!” laughed Bettina. “If you eat everything your cook sets before you.”

“Tell me something hard to do!” said Bob, with enthusiasm. For dinner that night they had: Escalloped Eggs and Cheese, Baked Potatoes, Currant Jelly, Rolls, Plum Pudding with Yellow Sauce, Coffee

Susan Wheeler, Illustrator



“SPEAKING of Christmas gifts,” said Charlotte, “wouldn’t anyone be delighted to receive a little jar of your Russian dressing, Bettina?”

“I’m sure I’d like it!” said Frank Dixon. “Much better than a pink necktie or a white gift book called ‘Thoughts at Christmas-Tide!'”

“Mary Owen makes candied orange peel for all of her friends,” said Bettina, “and I think that is so nice, for hers is delicious! She saves candy boxes through the year, and all of her close friends receive the same gift with Mary’s card. We all know what to expect from her, and we are all delighted, too. And you see she doesn’t have to worry over different gifts for each one. I do think Christmas is growing more sensible, don’t you?”

“My sister in South Carolina sends out her Christmas gifts a few weeks early,” said Frank. “She sends boxes of mistletoe to everyone. They seem to be welcome, too. By the way, Bob, did you and Bettina decide on your Christmas cards?”

“Yes,” said Bob, “and they are partly ready. But we are waiting to get a little picture of the bungalow with snow on the roof—a winter picture seems most appropriate—and the snow isn’t forthcoming! The weather man seems to be all upset this year.”

“Charlotte has been making some small calendars to send out,” said Frank. “She has used her kodak pictures, and I’m afraid they’re mostly of me! I don’t know what some of my friends will say when they see me with an apron around my neck, seeding cherries!”

“They’ll be surprised, anyhow,” said Charlotte. “I rather like that picture myself!”

For dinner that night Bettina served: Escalloped Oysters, Baked Potatoes, Head Lettuce, Russian Dressing, Baking Powder Biscuits, Apple Jelly, Prune Whip, Cream, Coffee



“DEAR Bettina,” wrote Polly, “somehow I never do like to write letters—certainly not at this busiest time of the year!—but I simply must tell you about a luncheon that Elizabeth Carter and I gave the other day for one of our holiday brides. (Angeline Carey; do you remember her? A dear girl—rather quiet, but with plenty of good common sense.)

“We had a large Christmas table (aren’t they simple and effective?), with a Christmas tree in the center, strung with tiny electric lights, and hung with tinsel and ornaments. Strings of red Christmas bells stretched from the chandelier above the table to the four corners. The favors at each place were several kinds,—Santas, little Christmas trees, snow men and sleds, all of them concealing at their bases the boxes holding the salted nuts. The place-cards were simply Christmas cards.

“Before the guest of honor stood a small Santa, larger, however, than any of the other Santas, and in his hands were the ends of twenty or more narrow green ribbons, each leading to a separate shower-package at the base of the tree. These packages (it was a miscellaneous shower) made an interesting-looking heap, but we didn’t ask Angeline to open them until we had reached the salad course. Then she drew each one toward her by the end of a ribbon, opened it, and read the verse on the gift. You have no idea how clever some of the gifts and verses were! Margaret McLaughlin—do you remember her?—had dressed a dishmop in two tea towels, making the funniest old woman! This she introduced as Bridget, Angeline’s cook-to-be! One of the girls who sketches cleverly had illustrated her card with pictures of Angeline in her kitchen.

“But I am forgetting our table decorations! We had furnished four rooms for Angeline, doll size, and the furniture of each was grouped along the table. Besides the living room, bedroom, dining room and kitchen, we presented Angeline and Dean with an auto (in miniature, of course), a cow, a horse, several ducks and chickens, a ferocious dog and a sleepy cat. Weren’t we good to them? And lo and behold! beside the auto stood Dean himself, disguised as a little china kewpie man; while Angeline, always a lady, stood gracefully in the living room and refused to help him with his menial tasks, or to assist Nora, who was hanging out the clothes in the back yard. Angeline was a kewpie, dressed in style.

“We had the greatest fun finding and arranging these decorations! And now I must tell you about the luncheon itself. I’m even enclosing our recipes, for I know you’ll be interested….”

“Hello, there, Bettina!” called Bob at this moment, coming in with a rush, “is dinner ready? What do you suppose I’ve done? I’ve absolutely forgotten to send a Christmas gift to Aunt Elizabeth, and I know she’ll feel hurt. Will you go with me after dinner to get it?”

Polly’s luncheon menu was as follows: A CHRISTMAS SHOWER Grapefruit with Maraschino Cherries, Chicken Croquettes, Candied Sweet Potatoes, Creamed Peas, Light Rolls, Butter,
Cranberry Jelly, Vegetable Salad, Salad Dressing, Santa Claus Sandwiches, Chocolate Ice Cream a la Tannenbaum, Christmas White Cake, Salted Nuts, Coffee, Candy Canes

“I wish, Bettina,” Polly’s letter continued, “that you might have seen the cunning sandwiches that we served with the salad. They were cut with a star-shaped cooky cutter, and on each one was perched a tiny Santa Claus. The sandwiches were arranged on a tray decorated with Christmas tree branches.

“And now comes the dessert. The chocolate ice cream was served in small flower pots lined with waxed paper, and in each flower pot grew a miniature Christmas tree. Around the base of the tree, whipped cream was heaped to represent snow. They were really very cunning.

“Served with the ice cream was a large round white cake decorated very elaborately with icing bells and holly. On the top was placed a real candy bell, large and red. This cake was carried in to Angeline to cut. Around the base, inside the cake, were twenty tiny favors wrapped in waxed paper. They were of all sorts: pipes, canoes, flat irons, animals, birds, many things, but all very tiny. Narrow white bows tied on each favor indicated its position in the cake so that the pieces could be cut to give each guest a favor. Angeline cut her piece first and drew her favor by pulling the little white ribbon. It was really great fun drawing and unwrapping the favors, and the girls tried to interpret the meaning of each. Mary Katherine, Angeline’s younger sister, drew the ring, and delightedly proclaimed that she would be the next bride. At this the girls looked a little doubtful, for at the table were no less than six engaged girls besides Angeline. Mary Katherine may fool them—who knows?—but I hope not, for she is far too young and silly to ‘settle down’ for many years.

“With the coffee we served striped candy canes.

“Well, Betty, I believe I’ve told you everything about our Christmas luncheon. Do write me soon again, for I love to get your letters. Stir Bob up to write occasionally; he has forgotten his sister—now that he has a wife.

“Yours always,



“THE Christmas feeling is everywhere now!” said Bettina, as she arranged a small artificial fir tree in the center of the table. “It may be a little early, but I can’t keep from using Christmas decorations to-night. Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, you look wonderfully festive with snow at your foot and your branches strung with tinsel and ornaments! All that you lack is candles, but I shall use my red shaded candles on the table instead. Let me see, everything is ready, even to the biscuits which are in the ice box waiting to be popped in the oven when the guests arrive. The salad is mixed and waiting, and that Washington pie does look delicious! I’m glad I made it, for Bob is so fond of it. Wonder why Bob doesn’t come! I want him to see the table and the tree before the others get here! And build up the fire in the fireplace. It’s snowing hard outside, and I want it to be warm and cozy inside. There’s someone! Well, off goes my apron!”

The “someone” proved to be Bob, who came in, very pink as to his face, and very white as to his snow-covered shoulders.

“It’s growing colder every minute!” said Bob. “Well, a Christmas table! I like that! Makes a fellow feel festive!”

“I couldn’t resist the spirit of Christmas,” said Bettina.

“I couldn’t, either,” said Bob, taking a half-dozen gorgeous yellow chrysanthemums from their wrappings. “So I bought you an early Christmas gift. Like ’em?”

For dinner, Bettina served: Pork Tenderloins, Candied Sweet Potatoes, Creamed Cauliflower,
Baking Powder Biscuits, Butter, Currant Jelly, Orange and Cherry Salad, Wafers, Washington Pie, Coffee

Susan Wheeler, Illustrator



BOB had walked home from the office through the falling snow—and it was no short distance—with thought for neither snow nor distance. He was distinctly worried,—Christmas only two weeks off, the first Christmas since he and Bettina had been married, and as yet he had no idea what sort of a Christmas gift he ought to purchase for his wife. What did she need? Unfortunately he had heard her say only a few days ago that she didn’t need a thing. What did she secretly long for? A glass baking dish! Shucks, what an unromantic present! Surely Bettina had been teasing him when she mentioned such a prosy gift as that! Well, if he didn’t have some inspiration by the day before Christmas there would be nothing to do but get her violets, or candy, or perhaps some silly book that she didn’t want.

“Hello, Bob!” said a voice almost at his feet.

“Say Mister Bob, Billy,” another voice corrected severely.

“Hello, Jacky! Good evening, Marjorie! Coasting good?”

“Oh, pretty good. You don’t know what we’ve got at our house!”

“Four Angora kittens!” interrupted Marjorie eagerly, before Bob had a chance to guess. “Four whole kittens. Can’t see a thing, though, but they’ll learn after a while! We’re going to sell three of ’em, and keep one, and——”

“See here, Marjorie!” exclaimed Bob. “I’d like to buy one myself, for a Christmas present to some one! How about it? You ask your mother to save one for me—I’ll stop in tomorrow morning and talk to her about it. Could you take care of it for me till Christmas morning?”

And Bob strode on with a happy grin on his face. Wouldn’t Bettina laugh at the idea of an Angora kitten!

For dinner that night Bettina served: Beef Steak, Baked Potatoes, Cauliflower in Cream, Cranberry Jelly Moulds, Bread, Butter, Burnt Sugar Cake, Confectioner’s Icing, Coffee



OF course a tiny Christmas tree was the centerpiece on Bettina’s breakfast table, set for a nine o’clock family breakfast. All of the Christmas gifts except those that were too large were grouped around the base of the tree. Bettina refused to allow even Bob to have a peep at the gifts until the guests, Father, Mother, Uncle John and Aunt Lucy, had arrived.

“Now, don’t you give us too much to eat, Bettina,” laughed Father. “I know your mother has been making some mighty elaborate preparations for dinner at home, and you must leave us with an appetite.”

“Well, you won’t have any appetite left if you eat all you want of these waffles of mine!” exclaimed Bob, coming in from the kitchen with a spoon in his hand and an apron tied around his neck.

“Go back to the kitchen, Cook!” said Uncle John. “We don’t want to see you, but we’re willing to taste your waffles. Bring ’em on!”

“First,” said Bettina, “we’ll eat our grapefruit. Then we’ll open our packages, and then, Bob, you can help me serve the rest of our Christmas breakfast.”

“Come on!” said Uncle John. “Then I’ll be Santa Claus and deliver the presents!”

For breakfast Bettina served: Grapefruit with Maraschino Cherries, Oatmeal and Dates, Whipped Cream, Ham Cooked with Milk, Creamed Potatoes, Muffins, Orange Marmalade, Waffles, Maple Syrup, Coffee

Susan Wheeler, Illustrator

[This darling book, and others by Susan Wheeler, can be found here.]



“WELL, this is something like it!” said Bob, as he sat down to dinner one evening several days after Christmas. “A good plain meal again. I’m so tired of Christmas trees and Christmas flowers and Christmas food that I don’t believe I’ll care to see any more of them till—well, next year.”

“Everything is put away now,” said Bettina. “All the presents are in their permanent places. Except Fluff,” she added, glancing at the Persian kitten cuddled in an arm chair. “I couldn’t put Fluff away, and don’t care to. Isn’t he a darling? Just the very touch that the living room needed to make it absolutely homelike!”

“Well,” said Bob, “we did need a cat, but I think we need a dog, too. About next spring I’ll get one, if I can find one to suit me.”

“Oh, Bob, won’t a dog be a nuisance? And destructive? And do you suppose Fluff could endure one?”

“Fluff can learn to endure one,” Bob said. “Every home ought to have a dog in it. Oh, we’ll get a good dog some day, Bettina, if I keep my eyes open.”

“Have another muffin,” said Bettina. “They’ll do to change the subject. Some day I may long for a dog, too, but just now—well, Fluff seems to be a pet enough for one house.”

For supper that night they had: Bettina’s Scrambled Eggs, Creamed Potatoes, Corn Gems, Plum Butter, Hickory Nut Cake, Confectioner’s Icing, Coffee

[From Wikipedia: Our Mutual Friend, written in 1864–1865, is the last novel completed by Charles Dickens and is one of his most sophisticated works, combining savage satire with social analysis. It centres on, in the words of critic J. Hillis Miller, quoting the book’s character Bella Wilfer, “money, money, money, and what money can make of life”.[1]

Most reviewers in the 1860s continued to praise Dickens’s skill as a writer in general, but did not review this novel in detail. Some found the plot both too complex and not well laid out. The Times of London found the first few chapters did not draw the reader into the characters. In the 20th century, however, reviewers began to find much to approve in the later novels of Dickens, including Our Mutual FriendIn the late 20th and early 21st centuries, some reviewers suggested that Dickens was, in fact, experimenting with structure, and that the characters considered somewhat flat and not recognized by the contemporary reviewers were meant rather to be true representations of the Victorian working class and the key to understanding the structure of the society depicted by Dickens in the novel.

Lizzie Hexam – is a daughter of Gaffer Hexam and sister of Charley Hexam. She is an affectionate daughter, but knows that Charley must escape their living circumstances if he is to succeed in life, so she gives Charley her money and helps him leave while their father is away. Later she is rejected by Charley after she remains in poverty. Pursued romantically by both Bradley Headstone and Eugene Wrayburn, she fears Headstone’s violent passion and yearns for Wrayburn’s love, while acutely aware of the social gap between them. Lizzie saves Wrayburn from Headstone’s attack and the two are married. She in effect acts as the moral centre of the story and is by far the “most wholly good character […] almost bereft of ego”.Dickens carries over her moral superiority into her physical characterisation. Her “capacity for self-sacrifice […] is only slightly more credible than her gift for refined speech”, making her slightly unbelievable in comparison to her uneducated father and Jenny Wren. Lizzie’s concern about social class reveals her reasoning for ensuring her brother’s escape from poverty and ignorance, though she remains humble about her own situation. However, her moral character attracts Wrayburn and her inherent goodness is rewarded with marital happiness.

Jenny Wren – whose real name is Fanny Cleaver, is “the dolls’ dressmaker”, with whom Lizzie lives after her father dies. She is crippled with a bad back, although not ugly. She is very motherly towards her drunken father, whom she calls her “bad child”. Jenny later cares for Eugene while he recovers from Headstone’s attack on his life. She may have a romance with Sloppy at the end of the book, which the reader may surmise will end in marriage. Although her mannerisms give her a certain “strangeness”, Jenny is very perceptive, identifying Eugene Wrayburn’s intentions towards Lizzie in his small actions. Her role is a creator and a caretaker, and her “pleasant fancies” of “flowers, bird song, numbers of blessed, white-clad children”reflect the mind’s ability to rise above adverse circumstances.]

May God bless you as you do the very necessary work of ensuring a Joyful Christmas for the people in your sphere.



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