March with Bettina


Meal Planning with Bettina

Weary are we of our winter-time fare;
Hasten, O Springtime, elusive and arch!
Bring us your dainties; our cupboards are bare!
Pity us, starved by tyrannical March!


[Note: Spelling is original to the book; pictures come from a truncated book, so the chapter numbers differ]


“SPRING is in the air,” thought Bettina, as she opened the casement windows of her sun room. “I believe we’ll have dinner out here tonight. If Bob would only come home early, before the sun goes down! Now I wonder who that can be!” (For she heard a knock at the kitchen door.)

“Why, Charlotte. Come in!” she cried a moment later, for it was Mrs. Dixon with a napkin-covered pan in hand, whom she found at the door.

“I’ve brought you some light rolls for your dinner, Bettina,” said Charlotte. “I don’t make them often, and when I do, I make more than we can eat. Will they fit into your dinner menu?”

“Indeed they will!” said Bettina. “I’m delighted to get them. Now I wish I had something to send back with you for your dinner, but I seem to have cooked too little of everything!”

“Don’t you worry,” said Charlotte, heartily. “When I think of all the things you’ve done for me, I’m only too glad to offer you anything I have! Well, I must hurry home to get our dinner. That reminds me, Bettina, to ask you this: When you escallop anything, do you dot the crumbs on top with butter?”

“No, Charlotte, I melt the butter, add the crumbs, stir them well, and then spread them on the top of the escalloped oysters, or fish, or whatever I am escalloping.”

“I’m glad to know the right way of doing, Bettina. Good-bye, dear.”

For dinner Bob and Bettina had: Ham Timbales, Macaroni and Cheese, Baked Apples,
Light Rolls, Butter, Grapefruit Salad, Chocolate Custard, Coffee

Susan Wheeler, Illustrator



“WELL, Uncle John! Hello!” said Bob, as he came into the kitchen. “Is Aunt Lucy here, too?”

“No, she isn’t,” said Uncle John, shaking his head solemnly, “and the fact is, I shouldn’t be here myself if it weren’t for a sort of conspiracy; eh, Bettina?”

“That’s so, Bob,” said Bettina, coming in from the dining-room, her hands full of dishes, “and now I suppose we’ll have to let you in on the secret. Uncle John has just bought a beautiful new fireless cooker for Aunt Lucy. Haven’t you, Uncle John?”

“Well!” said Bob, heartily. “That’s fine! How did you happen to think of it?”

“Well Bob, she’s been dreading the summer on the farm—not feeling so very strong lately, you know—and this morning she was just about discouraged. It’s next to impossible to get any help out there—she says she’s given up that idea—and at breakfast she told me that if the spring turned out to be a hot, uncomfortable one, she believed she’d go out and spend the summer with Lem’s girl in Colorado. I naturally hate to have her do that, so I concluded to do everything I could to keep her at home. I telephoned to Bettina, and she promised to help me. The very first thing she suggested was a fireless cooker, and we bought that today. I believe your Aunt Lucy’ll like it, too.”

For dinner Bettina served: Meat Balls with Egg Sauce, Baked Potatoes, Creamed Peas,
Marshmallow Pudding, Chocolate Sauce

Susan Wheeler, Illustrator



“COME in! Come in!” cried Bob to the Dixons. “You’re just in time to have dessert with us! Bettina, here are the Dixons!”

“Do sit down,” said Bettina, “and have some Boston cream pie with us!”

“Frank won’t need urging,” said Charlotte. “Our dessert tonight was apple sauce, and Boston cream pie (whatever it is) sounds too enticing to be resisted.”

“It looks a little like the Washington pie my mother used to make,” said Frank. “Only that wasn’t so fancy on the top.”

“Washington pie needs whipped cream to make it perfect,” said Bettina, “and as I had no whipped cream I made this with a meringue.”

“Dessert with the neighbors!” said Frank, laughing. “Charlotte read me a suggestion the other day that sounded sensible. A housewife had introduced a new custom into her neighborhood. Whenever she had planned a particularly good dessert she would phone a few of her friends not to plan any dessert for themselves that evening, but to stroll over after dinner and have dessert with her family. Wasn’t that an idea? It might lead to cooperative meals! We haven’t done our share; have we? We should have telephoned to you to have the main course with us tonight. Say, Bettina, I like this Boston cream pie! It’s what I call a real dessert!”

Lamb Chops, Creamed Carrots, Baked Potatoes, Rolls, Butter, Baked Apples, Boston Cream Pie, Coffee

Susan Wheeler, Illustrator



“M—M!” said Ruth, walking into Bettina’s kitchen late one afternoon. “What is it that smells so perfectly delicious?”

“Lamb stew,” said Bettina. “Bob is particularly fond of it, and we haven’t had it for a long time. This is such a cold day that I thought lamb stew would taste very good tonight.”

“And what are you making now?”

“Soft gingerbread. It’s just ready to pop into the oven, and then I can go into the living-room with you and we’ll visit in state.”

“Don’t, Bettina. I’d much rather talk in your shining little kitchen with the kettle bubbling on the hearth (only it’s a gas stove and you won’t let it bubble long if you think of your gas bill). ‘Kitchen Konfidences!’ What a name for a nice little domestic science book!”

“Well, we’ll stay in the kitchen then, and exchange kitchen konfidences. Where have you been this afternoon in your big woolly coat?”

“Down town to the market. And I did get something besides food—a small purchase that you advised me to buy. A box of labels—plain label stickers, you know—to stick on the boxes that I put away—out of season things and all that. I’ve noticed how neatly all your stored-away things are labeled.”

“It saves so much time in finding things. And a label looks better than writing on the box, for the labels are white and very often the box is dark pasteboard, and pencil marks are difficult to see.”

“Well, good-bye, Betty dear, I must run along now.”

Bettina’s menu that night consisted of: Lamb Stew, Apple Sauce, Rolls, Gingerbread, Coffee

Susan Wheeler, Illustrator



“INDEED I will keep Kathleen for you,” said Bettina to Mrs. Fulton. “I’ll enjoy it. We’ll have to invent some new plays and have such a jolly time that she won’t miss her mother at all.”

“You’re sure you don’t mind?” asked Mrs. Fulton, anxiously. “If mother were only stronger, I would leave her there——”

“Go right on, Mrs. Fulton, and don’t worry one bit! Kathleen and I are going to have the time of our lives! Let’s see—it’s nearly three. Shall I feed her anything?”

“Well, she had an early lunch, and has just wakened from her nap. Perhaps she is a little hungry. Are you?”

“Bed’n delly,” replied Kathleen with emphasis.

“Oh, I know something that’s better for little girls than bread and jelly!” said Bettina, lifting the roly-poly little mite onto the kitchen table. “I’ll make her some good cream toast! May I, Mrs. Fulton?”

“Indeed, you may, if you will,” said Mrs. Fulton. “I’m afraid she won’t always eat it, though. Well, I’ll have to go, I suppose, if I get to sister Annie’s train on time. Then we’ll do a little shopping down town, and I’ll be back for Kathleen at six o’clock sharp.”

“Just whenever it’s convenient for you, Mrs. Fulton. Good-bye!”

“Doodby,” echoed Kathleen, apparently without the least regret.

When Kathleen was established with her cream toast at the kitchen table, Bettina said, “Now, when you’re all through eating, you and Aunt Bettina will make a beautiful graham cracker cake for Uncle Bob. But first we’ll clean some white gloves! Shall we?”

Kathleen nodded solemnly, her mouth full of “dood tream toast.”

“Well, watch me then, honey-lamb. See, I’ll put these dirty old gloves in this nice Mason jar of clean gasoline, and let ’em soak awhile. Then once in a while I’ll shake ’em up like this. Then by and by I’ll rinse ’em in nice new gasoline, and they’ll be just as white as new. Did you know that, Kathleen?”

“‘Es,” said Kathleen, staring wisely.

“Oh, you little owl! You knew more than Aunt Bettina then—at least than I knew till yesterday, for I always thought it necessary to rub white gloves to get them clean. See? This way I’ll drop them down in the gasoline, and won’t need to soil my hands at all! I’ll get them out with a clean little stick or a long fork. There! Now, are we all ready to make the cake?”



“STIR this chicken a la king a moment for me, will you, Ruth?” said Bettina. “I’ll warm the plates in the oven.”

“What is that brown paper for?”

“To put under the dishes I’m warming. It breaks the heat and prevents cracking. There, that cream sauce has cooked enough now. I’ll take it and beat it for a minute. See? There, now it’s ready for the egg and the chicken mixture.”

“Shall I stir it now? Don’t you put it back over the fire?”

“Just for a minute. You see, if any custard or egg sauce is allowed to cook more than a minute after the egg has been added, it will curdle.”

“Oh, is it done now? Let me toast the bread for it, will you, Bettina? I like to make cunning little light brown triangles.”

“I hope I have made enough of this chicken a la king.”

“For eight people? I’m sure that you have, Bettina. Even for people with as good appetites as Fred and I have! Are you ready to serve it now?”

That Sunday evening Bettina served: Chicken a la King, Toast, Cakes with Bettina Icing, Coffee

Susan Wheeler, Illustrator



BETTINA was entertaining “the crowd” at a shamrock luncheon, and each guest, to show her enthusiasm for the charms of “ould Ireland,” was wearing somewhere upon her gown, a bit of green.

A green basket filled with white carnations and green foliage stood in the center of the table. White glass candlesticks with green shades also carried out the color scheme, while white crocheted favor baskets, filled with dainty green candies, were at each plate. The table was set for six.

The name cards were white shamrocks outlined with green ink and edged with gilt, and the name on each was written in green.

Bettina used green ferns for decoration in every possible place where they might add to the attractiveness of the table, under the glass dishes and around the baskets containing rolls, cakes and croutons.

“You might be Irish yourself, Bettina,” said Mary, “you have such a feeling for green! And isn’t the table lovely, girls!”

For luncheon Bettina served: Grapefruit Cocktail, Cream of Celery, Soup, Shamrock Croutons,
Bettina Meat Timbales, Brown Sauce, Asparagus on Toast, Mashed Sweet Potato Croquettes,
Shamrock Rolls, Mint Jelly, Pepper Salad, Sandwiches, Bombe Glace, Shamrock Cakes, Coffee,
Shamrock Candies



“MARY gave a waffle party today,” announced Bettina at the dinner table.

“A waffle party in the afternoon?” said Bob. “That was queer! Usually at afternoon parties you women serve tiny little cups of tea and dainty olive sandwiches, almost too small to be visible; don’t you? Waffles are more sensible, I think, but it seems a shame that we men had to miss such a party.”

“Well, I’m afraid I’ll have to acknowledge that we had a very good time without you,” laughed Bettina, wickedly. “It has been cold today, you know, and Mary’s kitchen was so warm and bright and cozy! We all went out there and took turns baking the waffles. We consumed a large number of them, and had a very jolly informal kind of time. We housekeepers compared notes and gave each other advice and really learned a great many things.”

“Such as——”

“Well, Alice tells me that when she makes a devil’s food cake she removes all of the melted chocolate from the pan by adding a little flour which mixes in thoroughly and saves any waste of chocolate. Surely that is worth knowing.”

“It certainly is, though I’ll admit that I don’t quite understand your language.”

“Well, cheer up, Bob! There are times when I confess that I don’t quite understand the automobile explanations you so often give me of late!”

Their dinner that evening consisted of: Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes, Creamed Carrots, Bettina Salad, Orange Dessert (Sponge Cake), Coffee


Bettina Salad (Two portions)

1 tomato, 1 green pepper, 2 T-pimento cut in small pieces, 2 T-grated cheese, 1 t-salt, ¼ t-onion salt,
¼ t-celery salt, 1/8 t-paprika, ½ C-salad dressing, 2 pieces of lettuce

Arrange the lettuce leaves on a plate. Place a slice of tomato, two slices of green pepper, one tablespoon of pimento and one tablespoon of cheese on each serving. Mix the salad dressing with salt, paprika, celery and onion salts. Pour half of the mixture over a portion of the salad.

Susan Wheeler, Illustrator



“THIS is some dinner, Bettina!” said Bob, over his dessert. “It’s like a celebration, somehow, with the pink candles on the table, and the flowers, and the company menu. Why, Bettina, I do believe it is an anniversary! Isn’t it? Let me see! The second anniversary of our engagement!”

“I’ve been waiting to see if you would remember that, Bob, and I must say that I’m a little ashamed of you! After all, it took the pink candles and the company dinner to make you think of it! Well, I suppose men are all alike!” And she sighed the sigh of deep disillusionment.

Bob waited for a moment to see the dimple reappear in her cheek, and the twinkle in her eyes, and then he, too, sighed—a sigh of relief.

“Bless your heart, Bettina, don’t you sigh like that again! You almost had me thinking that you were in earnest. Now you took the very nicest way to remind me of that anniversary. Instead of feeling neglected like some women——”

“What do you know about ‘some women,’ Bob?”

“Only what I’ve read in books——”

“Well, the books don’t know. But I give you fair warning, Bob, that on the next anniversary you fail to remember, I’ll feed you bread and milk, and not chicken.”

“This is a fine dessert,” said Bob meekly and tactfully.

“Do you like it? I enjoy making it, it looks so light and fluffy. I pile it very lightly into the glass dish to make it that way. I prefer gelatin in glass dishes, don’t you, Bob?”

“You bet I do! Everything about this anniversary dinner is fine except for my own stupidity!”

That night Bettina served: Bettina’s Chicken En Casserole, Whole Wheat Bread, Butter,
Cranberry Jelly, Head Lettuce with Salad Dressing, Bettina’s Sponge (Jello), Coffee



“HOW do you like this kind of meat, Ruth?” asked Bob. “It is a little invention of Bettina’s own. I call it a symphony and no ‘mis-steak.'”

“It is an economy, not a symphony,” said Bettina, “but if it leads you to make such dreadful puns as that, I’ll wish I had fed you something else for dinner.”

“To me,” said Ruth, “this dish is a delicacy and a despair. How can you think of things like this? I know I never could do it in the wide world!”

“I can’t compose symphonies or poems,” said Bettina, “so I express myself in this way. And most of my music is played in a simple key. It is difficult to think of a variety of inexpensive meat dishes, and sometimes I have to invent them in order to keep within my allowance, and still vary my menus. Creamed onions are economical and healthful, too, so you see that my whole dinner is inexpensive.”

“And also delicious,” said Ruth. “I don’t see how you manage to keep cooked onions from having a strong smell, and to keep the house so free from the odor.”

“O that someone would patent
That someone would patent and sell
An onion with an onion taste
And with a violet smell,” quoted Bob.

“Well,” said Bettina, “I’m afraid that a house in which onions have recently been cooking, can’t be entirely free from the odor, but I largely overcome the difficulty by peeling them under cold water, and then cooking them in an uncovered vessel. Then, too, I wonder if you know that boiling them for five minutes and then draining them and covering them with boiling water again—even draining them twice and finishing the cooking in fresh boiling water—is a splendid thing for taking away the strong taste.”

“No, I didn’t know that. Bettina, dear, your kind of apple sauce is as fine a dessert as I ever ate.”

“You’re good to say so, Ruth. I was afraid when I urged you to stay tonight that you might think this meal very plain and simple for a guest, but I know it is healthful and economical and Bob seems to thrive, so I’ll not be remorseful.”

“Just let me ask you what gives this apple sauce such a delicate flavor. It isn’t a bit like common, ordinary apple sauce.”

“I don’t know; maybe it’s the butter. I always put that in, and a few grains of salt. This has also a thin slice of lemon cooked in it—rind and all—and of course there is a little cinnamon, though some people prefer nutmeg. Then I try to be careful in putting in the sugar, for I know that some apples require more than others. These were tart apples; I like them better for apple sauce.”

“The reason why I’m never cross Is ’cause I’m fed on apple sauce,” remarked Bob complacently.

“But I am sure you’d fret and cry If fed instead on apple pie,” added Ruth.

“Not Bettina’s apple pie!” said Bob decidedly. “You may just be sure that it would improve any disposition!”

Dinner that night consisted of: Bettina Steak, New Potatoes with Maitre d’Hotel Sauce,
Creamed Onions, Apple Sauce, Bread, Butter

Susan Wheeler, Illustrator


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