February with Bettina


Meal Planning with Bettina

Hear all about the Valentine’s luncheon and George Washington’s birthday celebration menu and what the decorations were like in these 1917 vignettes.

In this video I am taking you on a tour of the California Headquarters of the Daughters of the American Revolution house in Glendora, so there is a picture every 30 seconds, instead of every minute.

Cold and snowy February
Does seem slow and trying, very.
Still, a month made gay by Cupid
Never could be wholly stupid.

[Note: Spelling is original to the book. Also, I’m reading aloud and printing below the long-version of the book, while the picture below is from a version of the same year with fewer chapters.]


“THIS was a splendid dinner, Bettina,” said Ruth, as the two of them were carrying the dishes into the kitchen and Fred and Bob were deep in conversation in the living-room. “Such a delicious dessert! Suet pudding, wasn’t it? I couldn’t guess all that was in it.”

“Just a steamed fig pudding, Ruth. The simplest thing in the world!”

“Simple? But don’t you have to use a steamer to make it in, and isn’t that awfully complicated? I’ve always imagined so.”

“You don’t need to use a steamer at all. I steamed this in my fireless cooker, in a large baking powder can. I filled the buttered can about two-thirds full, and set it in boiling water that came less than half way up the side of the can. Of course, the cover of the can or the mould must be screwed on tight. And the utensil in which it is steamed must be covered. I used one of the utensils that fit in the fireless, of course, and I brought the water to a boil on the stove so that I was sure it was boiling vigorously when I set it in the cooker on the sizzling hot stone. You see it is very simple. In fact, I think steaming anything is very easy, for you don’t have to keep watching it as you would if it were baking in the oven, and basting it, or changing the heat.”

“We haven’t a cooker, you know. Could I make a steamed pudding that same way on the stove?”

“Yes, indeed the very same way. Just set the buttered can filled two-thirds full in a larger covered utensil holding boiling water. Keep the water boiling all the time.”

“I shall certainly try it tomorrow, Bettina!”

For dinner that night Bettina served: Breaded Veal, Creamed Potatoes, Browned Sauce, Spinach with Hard Cooked Eggs, Bread, Butter, Spiced Peaches, Fig Pudding, Foamy Sauce, Coffee

Susan Wheeler, Illustrator



“BOB, the flowers are lovely!” said Bettina, looking again at the brilliant tulips on the dinner table. “They make this a real valentine dinner, although there is nothing festive about it. I had intended to plan something special, but I went to a valentine luncheon at Mary’s, and stayed so late——”

“A valentine luncheon? With red hearts everywhere, I suppose?”

“Yes, everything heart-shaped, and in red, too, as far as possible. Mary had twelve guests at one large round table. Of course, there were strings and strings of red hearts of various sizes decorating the table—not a very new idea, of course, but so effective. And everything tasted so good; cream of tomato soup, the best stuffed tenderloin with mushroom sauce (I must find out how that is made), and the best sweet potato croquettes!”

“Sweet potato croquettes? That’s a new one on me!”

“I’ll have to try them some time soon. And Mary had peas in heart-shaped baking powder biscuits—the cunningest you ever saw!—heart-shaped date bread sandwiches with her salad, and heart-shaped ice cream with individual heart cakes.”

“That was Valentine’s day with a vengeance; wasn’t it?”

“Yes, but it was lovely, Bob!”

That night Bettina served: Broiled Steak, Baked Potatoes, Macaroni with Tomatoes and Green Peppers, Bread, Butter, Cornstarch Fruit Pudding, Cherry Sauce, Coffee



BETTINA and Bob arrived at half-past six, as Ruth had requested.

“She wouldn’t let me come earlier, Bob,” explained Bettina as they rang the bell. “I wanted to help her, you know, but she said her father and mother were out of town and Fred was to be the only guest besides ourselves, so she was sure that she could manage alone. There she is now!”

But it was not Ruth after all.

“Why, Fred; hello!” said Bob. “Did you come early to assist the cook?”

“I did,” said Fred, “but she informed me at once that she wanted no inexperienced ‘help’ around. So I’ve been sitting in the living-room alone for the last half hour. She did say that I might answer the bell, but as for doing anything else—well, she was positively rude!”

And Fred raised his voice so that its penetrating tones would reach the kitchen. “The worst of it all is that I’ve been hungry as well as lonesome. I might endure sitting alone in the living-room if I hadn’t gone without lunch today in anticipation of this banquet. And now——”

“Shame on you, Fred!” interrupted Ruth, coming in with flushed cheeks above her dainty white apron. “Did he receive you properly?”

“I leave it to you, Bettina, to say that I’ve received harsh treatment! Here I went and purchased four good seats for the Duchess theatre tonight.”

“You did, Fred,” cried Ruth. “Why, you dear boy! For that, I’ll see that you are certainly fed well! Dinner is ready, people! Will you walk into the dining-room?”

Ruth’s dinner consisted of: Pigs in Blankets, Candied Sweet Potatoes, Escalloped Egg Plant,
Bread, Butter, Date Pudding, Cream

Susan Wheeler, Illustrator



“OH, Bettina,” said Alice, delightedly, as she opened the door. “I’m so glad to see you! I’ve just been thinking about you! What do you suppose I’m doing?”

“Getting dinner? That is what I must be doing very soon. I stopped in for only a minute on my way home.”

“I am getting dinner, and I want to tell you that it is a very economical dinner. And it’s going to be good, too. I thought and thought about your advice, and decided to practise it. So I searched through all my cook books for the recipes I wanted, and finally decided on this particular menu. But, Bettina, now I can tell you the flaw in your system of economy!”

“What is that? Harry doesn’t like it?”

“Goodness no! Harry was delighted with the idea! My argument is this: It’s going to take me an endless amount of time to plan economical meals that are also good, time that I ought to spend in polishing silver and making calls, and sewing on buttons, and——”

“I don’t believe it’ll be as bad as you think, Alice, dear,” laughed Bettina. “For instance, if this meal tonight is good and economical, and Harry is pleased, don’t forget the combination, but write it down in a note-book. You can repeat the menu in two or three weeks, and you have no idea how soon you will collect the best combinations, and ideas of economy! Tell me what you are having tonight.”

That night Alice served: Baked Eggs, Potatoes Escalloped with Bacon, Baking Powder Biscuits, Butter, Peach Cup with Peach Sauce, Tea



“SOME dinner tonight,” remarked Bob, as he sat down at the table. “Were you expecting company that didn’t show up?”

“No, indeed,” laughed Bettina. “I expected just you and nobody else. But maybe I did cook a little more than usual. You see I was over at Alice’s this afternoon inspecting her list of next week’s menus. You know she is trying to economize, and she is really doing it, but in spite of economy, Harry is having elaborate meals. I do hope he appreciates it. Nearly all of her dinners are three-course affairs, most carefully planned to look like ‘the real thing’ as she calls an expensive dinner. I tell her that hers are the real thing, only almost too elaborate. You see, she is trying to disguise her economy so that Harry won’t miss the first meals she gave him. She makes me almost afraid that I’m not feeding you enough.”

“No danger of that,” said Bob, emphatically. “But what are all these economical things she is serving?”

“Wait, I wrote some of them down. Listen. Here is one: Peanut Croquettes, Olive Sauce,
Duchess Potatoes, Creamed Beets, Parker House Rolls, Orange Marmalade, Pea and Cheese,  Salad, Wafers, Apricot Ice, and Sponge Cake. How’s that? And here’s another: Creamed Tuna, Stuffed Potatoes, Mock Egg Plant,
Whole Wheat Muffins, Grape Jelly, Russian Salad, Fairy Gingerbread, Hard Sauce.”

“Well,” said Bob, “they sound good, but not so good as the dinners you give me.”

That evening Bettina served: Escalloped Salmon, Baked Potatoes, Creamed Cabbage, Egg Rolls,  Currant Jelly, Chocolate Kisses, Coffee

Chocolate Kisses (Fourteen kisses)

1 C-powdered sugar, 2 egg-whites, 1 C-fine bread crumbs, 2 ounces melted chocolate, 1 t-cinnamon, 1 t-vanilla, 1 t-baking powder

Beat the egg-whites very stiffly. Add very carefully the powdered sugar. Cut and fold in the bread crumbs and the baking powder. Add the chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla. Drop the mixture from the tip of a spoon, two inches apart upon a well-greased pan. Bake in a moderate oven twelve to fifteen minutes.

Susan Wheeler, Illustrator



“NOW, Bob, you start the fire in the fireplace while I go into the kitchen and get a little lunch.”

“Mrs. Bob,” said Donald, an old school-friend of Bob’s, “I don’t want you to do any such thing! We don’t need any lunch! Stay in here and we’ll all talk.”

“You’ll talk all the better for something to eat,” said Bettina, “and so will Bob. Won’t you, Bob?”

“Well,” said Bob, with a grin, “I will admit that coming home in the cold has given me something of an appetite. Then too, I’ll tell you, Donald, that Bettina’s after-theatre suppers aren’t to be lightly refused! Yes, on the whole, I think we’d better have the supper. We couldn’t get you for dinner tonight, and you’re leaving so early in the morning that you see you won’t have had any real meal at our house at all!”

Meanwhile, Bettina was busying herself with the little supper, for which she had made preparations that morning. When she had creamed the oysters and placed them in the ramekins, she popped them in the oven. Next she put on the coffee in her percolator, and placed in the oven with the oysters the small loaf of bran bread that she had steamed that morning. “Bob likes it better warm,” she said to herself.

Then she arranged her tea-cart with plates, cups, silver, napkins and peach preserves, not forgetting the rice parfait from the refrigerator.

When she wheeled the little supper into the living room, Bob and Donald welcomed her with delight. “I take it back; I am hungry after all!” said Donald.

Bettina served: Creamed Oysters in Ramekins, Steamed Bran Bread, Peach Preserves, Rice Parfait, Coffee

Susan Wheeler, Illustrator



“GOOD bran bread,” said Bob, reaching for another piece.

“I like that recipe,” said Bettina, “and it is so easy to make.”

“What have you been doing all day?” Bob asked, “Cooking?”

“No, indeed. Charlotte was here this afternoon and we made plans for the tea we are going to give at her house on Washington’s birthday. Oh, Bob, we have some of the best ideas for it! Our refreshments are to be served from the dining-room table, you know, and our central decoration is to be a three-cornered black hat filled with artificial red cherries. Of course we’ll have cherry ice, and serve cherries in the tea, Russian style. The salad will be served in little black three-cornered hats; these filled with fruit salad, will be set on the table and each guest will help herself. The thin bread and butter sandwiches will be cut in hatchet shape. And—oh, yes, I forgot the cunningest idea of all! We’ll serve tiny gilt hatchets stuck in tree-trunks of fondant rolled in cocoanut and toasted brown. Isn’t that a clever plan? Charlotte saw it done once, and says it is very effective.”

“It sounds like some party! And I’ll feel especially enthusiastic if you don’t forget to plan for one guest who won’t appear—or perhaps I should say two, for I know Frank won’t want to be forgotten.”

For dinner that night Bob and Bettina had: Corned Beef au Gratin, Baked Tomatoes, Apple Sauce, Gluten Bread, Butter, Cream Pie, Coffee



WHEN Bettina pushed her tea cart into the living-room, Alice and Ruth laid aside the mending at which they had been busy.

“What delicious toast, Bettina!” said Alice, taking one bite. “Why, it has cinnamon on it! And sugar! I wondered what on earth you were making that smelled so good, and this is something new to me!”

“It is cinnamon toast,” said Bettina, “and so easy to make. I was busy all morning, and didn’t have time to make anything but these date kisses for tea, but cinnamon toast can be made so quickly that I decided to serve it.”

“I like orange marmalade, too, Bettina,” said Alice. “I wish I had made some. I have spiced peaches, and a little jelly, but that is all. Next summer I intend to have a perfect orgy of canning. Then my cupboard will be even better stocked than Bettina’s—perhaps! I opened a jar of spiced peaches last evening for dinner, and what do you think! Harry ate every peach in the jar! I had expected them to last several days, too.”

“I hoped you saved the juice,” said Bettina.

“I did, but I don’t know why. It seemed too good to throw away, somehow.”

“Have you ever eaten ham cooked in the juice of pickled peaches? It’s delicious. Just cover the slice of ham with the juice and cook it in the oven until it is very tender. Then remove it from the juice and serve it.”

“It sounds fine. I’ll do it tomorrow.”

That afternoon Bettina served: Cinnamon Toast, Tea, Orange Marmalade, Date Kisses

Susan Wheeler, Illustrator



WHEN the tea guests were ushered into Charlotte’s dining-room that afternoon, they were delighted with the table and its red, white and blue decorations. In the center was a large three-cornered hat made of black paper, and heaped with artificial red cherries. The cherry ice was tinted red, and served in sherbet glasses. A large white cake, uncut, was one of the chief decorations, for halves of red cherries were placed together on it to represent a bunch of cherries, while tiny lines of chocolate icing represented the stems.

Bettina poured the tea and placed in each cup a red cherry. The guests helped themselves to trays, napkins, forks and spoons, and each took a portion of Washington salad, served in a small, black, three-cornered hat, lined with waxed paper. Each took also a rolled sandwich, tied with red, white and blue ribbon, and a nut bread sandwich in the shape of a hatchet.

The Washington fondant, rolled in cocoanut and toasted to represent tree trunks, with small gilt hatchets stuck in them, occasioned great delight. “How did you ever think of it?” Ruth asked, and Bettina gave Charlotte the credit, though she in turn disclaimed any originality in the matter.

“One thing is lacking,” said Bettina. “Charlotte and I should be wearing colonial costumes. We did think of it, but happened to be too busy to make them.”

That afternoon Charlotte and Bettina served: George Washington Salad, Rolled Sandwiches,  Nut Bread Sandwiches, Cherry Ice, Cherry Cake, Washington Fondant


Washington Salad (Twelve portions) 1 C-diced pineapple, 1 C-marshmallows cut fine, 1 C-grapefruit cut in cubes, 1 C-canned seeded white cherries, ¼ C-filberts, ¼ C-Brazil nuts cut fine, 1½ C-salad dressing, ½ C-whipped cream, 6 red cherries, 12 tiny silk flags

Mix the pineapple, marshmallows, grapefruit, white cherries and nuts. Add the salad dressing. Serve immediately. Place waxed paper in the paper cups of the small, black, three-cornered hats. Place one serving of salad in each cup. Put one teaspoon of whipped cream on top and half a cherry on that. Stick a tiny silk American flag into each portion.

Nut Bread for Sandwiches (Twenty-four sandwiches) 2 C-graham flour, 1 C-white flour, 3 t-baking powder, 1 egg, 2/3 C-sugar, 1½ t-salt, ½ C-nut meats, cut fine, 1½ C-milk

Mix the flours, baking powder, salt, nut meats and sugar. Break the egg in the milk and add to the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly, pour into a well-buttered bread pan and allow to rise for twenty minutes. Bake in a moderate oven for fifty minutes.

Nut Bread Sandwiches 24 pieces bread, 2/3 C-butter

When the nut bread is one day old, cut in very thin slices. Cream the butter and spread one piece of bread carefully with butter. Place another piece on the top. Press firmly. Make all the sandwiches in this way. Allow to stand in a cool, damp place for one hour. Make a paper hatchet pattern. Lay the pattern on top of each sandwich and with a sharp knife, trace around the pattern. Cut through carefully and the sandwiches will resemble hatchets. This is not difficult to do and is very effective.

Washington’s Birthday Sandwiches 1 loaf of white bread one day old, 8 T-butter, 2 yards each of red, white and blue ribbon

Cut the bread very thin with a sharp knife. Remove all crusts. Place a damp cloth around the prepared slices when very moist, and tender. Spread with butter which has been creamed with a fork until soft. Roll the sandwiches up carefully like a roll of paper. Cut the ribbon into six-inch strips, and tie around the sandwiches. Place in a bread box to keep moist. Pile on a plate in log cabin fashion.

Susan Wheeler, Illustrator



BETTINA heard a step on the porch, and quickly laying aside her kitchen apron, rushed to the door to meet Bob. Her rather hilarious greeting was checked just in time, at sight of a tall figure behind him.

“Bettina, this is Mr. MacGregor, of MacGregor & Hopkins, you know. Mr. MacGregor, my wife, Bettina. I’ve been trying to get you all afternoon to tell you I was bringing a guest to dinner and to spend the night. The storm seems to have affected the lines.”

“Oh, it has! I’ve been alone all day! Haven’t talked to a soul! Welcome, Mr. MacGregor, I planned Bob’s particular kind of a dinner tonight, and it may not suit you at all, but I’m glad to see you, anyhow.”

Mr. MacGregor murmured something dignified but indistinct, as Bob cried out heartily, “Well, it smells good, anyhow, so I guess you can take a chance; eh, MacGregor?”

Bettina had a hazy idea that Mr. MacGregor, of MacGregor & Hopkins, was somebody very important with whom Bob’s firm did business, and although she knew also that Bob had known “Mac,” as he called him, years before in a way that was slightly more personal, her manner was rather restrained as she ushered them into the dining-room a few minutes later. However, the little meal was so appetizing, and the guest seemed so frankly appreciative, that conversation soon flowed freely. Bob’s frank comments were sometimes embarrassing, for instance when he said such things as this:

“Matrimony has taught me a lot, MacGregor! I’ve learned—well, now, you’d never think that all this dinner was cooked in the oven, would you? Well, it was: baked ham, baked potatoes, baked apples, and the cakes—Bettina’s cakes, I call ’em. You see, my wife thinks of things like that—a good dinner and saving gas, too!”

“Oh, Bob!” said Bettina, with a scarlet face.

“You needn’t be embarrassed, Bettina, it’s so! I was just telling ‘Mac’ as we came in, that two can live more cheaply than one provided the other one is like you—always coaxing me to add to our bank account. It’s growing, too, and I never could save before I was married!”

The dinner consisted of: Baked Ham, Baked Potatoes, Head Lettuce, Roquefort Cheese Dressing,
Bread, Butter, Baked Apples, Bettina’s Cakes

Susan Wheeler, Illustrator



BETTINA was busily setting the table in the dining-room when Bob appeared.

“Oh, Bettina,” said he in a disappointed tone, “why not eat in the breakfast alcove? I’d like to show MacGregor how much fun we have every morning.”

“Won’t he think we’re being too informal?”

“I want him to think us informal. The trouble with him is that he doesn’t know that any simple brand of happiness exists. His life is too complex. Of course we’re not exactly primitive—with our electric percolator and toaster——”

“Sorry, Bob, but you can’t use the toaster this morning; I’m about to stir up some pop-overs.”

“Well, I’ll forgive you for taking away my toy, inasmuch as I do like pop-overs. Let me help you with them, Bettina; this is one place where you can use my strong right arm.”

“Yes, indeed I can, Bob. I’ll never forget those splendid pop-overs that you made the first time you ever tried. They look simple, but not very many people can make good ones. The secret of it is all in the beating,” said she, as she stirred up the smooth paste, “and then in having the gem pans and the oven very hot.”

“Well, these’ll be good ones then,” said Bob, as he set about his task. “You light the oven, Betty, and put the gem pans in it, and then before you have changed things from the dining-room to the alcove, I’ll have these pop-overs popping away just as they ought to do!”

The percolator was bubbling and the pop-overs were nearly done when they heard Mr. MacGregor’s step. “He’s exactly on time,” chuckled Bob. “That’s the kind of a methodical fellow he is in everything.”

“Well, there’s no time when promptness is more appreciated than at meal-time,” said Betty, decidedly. “I like him.”

“Come on out here!” called Bob, cheerfully. “This is the place in which we begin the day! We’ll show you the kind of a breakfast that’ll put some romance into your staid old head. I made the pop-overs myself, and I know they’re the best you ever saw—likewise the biggest—and they’ll soon be the best you’ve ever eaten!”

When Bob had finished removing the pop-overs from their pans, the two men took their places at the table to the merry tune of the sizzling bacon Bettina was broiling.

“I never entertained a stranger so informally before,” said she.

“And I was never such a comfortable guest as I am at this minute,” said Mr. MacGregor, looking down at his breakfast, which consisted of: Grapefruit, Oatmeal, Bacon, Pop-Overs, Coffee


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