The Coy of Cooking: Adventures with Bettina (Part 1)

May 19, 2017

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  • Putting together a panel of husbands to test Bettina’s recipe? That is devotion to the cause. I applaud you, sir.

    • It was terribly difficult to spend an evening surrounded by handsome men, but one must make sacrifices.

  • I can’t wait for the next installment of this series!

    • Me, too!

    • Thank you both so much!

    • I want to binge-read all installments!!!!

  • I have a recipe from my grandmother for a simple warm sauce (water, cornstarch, sugar, butter and vanilla) that calls for a “piece of butter the size of a small egg.” It nicely complements pound cake or a cake too warm to frost. Bettina might approve.

    • Oh, I think she would. If she approved enough, she would likely tell everyone it was her recipe.

    • I use my grandmother’s recipe for homemade egg noodles. The recipe calls for “two half egg shells of milk”.

      She was born in 1907. Her father fought in the Spanish American War and her mother was a Gibson Girl.

  • So fun to read. And I want to make these, they sound yummy. Is the sauce necessary? Is it used as a dip, or drizzled on top?

    • Thank you! The sauce is a binder for the croquettes – it holds them together, and then when you cut into them it oozes out in the most alluring fashion and you have to fight the urge to lick it right off the plate.

  • I have a copy of this cookbook! I’ve never read anything about it anywhere. I believe my grandmother gave it to my mother.

    I will share this post with my Mom, she is almost 90 and would have been given it around 1950, she’ll get a kick out of it!


    • Please do – and thank you for reading!

  • How about testing the recipe on well-seasoned husbands: those of 20, 30, 40 years of matrimony? Those of whom the rosy glow of marriage merges with practicality. They are truly the experienced taste-testers.

    • For this, I had to make do with the readily husbands available, and they happened to be fairly newly-minted. Perhaps my urban neighborhood is too rife with perdition and one thousand ways to please somebody else’s husband.

      • As someone dealing with cracked ribs, this comment just made me hurt myself.

      • Hiding my giggles and blushing cheeks behind an upheld hand! I would lend you my vintage 35 yr edition spouse!

  • What a fun article! Thank you so much. I never thought about reading cookbooks for entertainment as well as recipes before. That being said, I also never think of turning to them for recipes either (being the somewhat lazy cook that I am)

  • Love that you actually cooked Bettina’s chicken, but I’ll have to re-read the story for details. i just keep thinking: Holy cow, Franklin has a first edition Mrs. Beeton’s!!!

    • PS: The vintage china is beautiful.

  • Bravo. Et encore! May well have to make these. With Panko, obviously… Bettina is very special.

  • Read this first thing this morning. The day is off to a great start. I’m looking around my kitchen for that cherub, hoping he or she knows how to make coffee.

    Please have Franklin back as often as possible. His witty writing, about any topic, is always a treat.

  • Please DO continue these articles. I enjoyed it immensely and wait with bated breath for the next.

  • I love reading cookbooks! This recipe looks like something my grandmother would have made. And she may have.

  • What a wonderful story, and the croquettes sound divine! I have had ham croquettes, but never chicken. Please continue this series. I can see chicken croquettes on our menu in the near future!

  • Thanks Bettina. I Have enough pressure trying to take care of my poor husband. I can’t compete with her standards.

  • Wonderfully entertaining as always! I have a large collection of old cookbooks myself, but I think the earliest is from around 1900. “Chicken soup: first catch your chicken…” O.O

  • I’m dying! What’s on the list of “Don’ts for Girls”??

    • Yep, I’m waiting to hear that too!

    • Ditto! Can’t wait for Part II.

  • Oh, noooo! I excitedly read “next recipe” and scrolled to discover that was the end! I want more! 🙂 Seriously, what a fun article. I collect old sewing books and love learning handwork techniques that are rarely used today. They also often include charming housewife-y tips that are just a hoot.

  • This is absolutely delightful. I love vintage recipes and finding the husbands to test is very nice. Although I don’t think Bettina anticipated needing to please 4 husbands at once!

  • Franklin, you’re the Best!

  • Great article! And brings back memories of my childhood looking through old cookbooks!

  • So so fun……cannot wait for the next installment. On a separate note I have the covered vegetable dish from that china pattern….received it as a wedding present from a dear friend. Would be an awesome holder for the croquettes….

  • Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin. I wouldn’t give that book up for the world. It’s a story that has recipies. Or a cookbook that has stories. Either way it ‘s a winner.

    • I, too, love Laurie Colwin. I’ve read her books of cooking essays and recipes and her fiction. My favorite of all is “Home Cooking!” It’s very sad that she died so young.

  • “Please, Sir, I want some more.”

  • Oh Franklin, everything you write is wonderful. Thanks for sharing this and I look forward to the next part of the series!

  • I love Bettina. I got her cakes and cookies cookbook when I was 17 and I love the little stories in there!

  • Hmm…I just bought an air fryer on the recommendation of a friend…I think I’m going to try this…thanks Franklin. Again.

  • I loved reading this. Thank you! In my head, I heard the whole thing in your voice, which made it even better. Now, may we please have a picture of the crocheted yellow cloth?

  • So what about the clean up of the dutch oven full of Crisco? I bet Bettina had someone else to deal with that. Or maybe Bob pitched in.

    • Bob mentions helping with the dishes but never quite seems to get around to it.

  • I’m delighted to see you taking this for a spin, and love the idea of a panel!

  • I bought a well worn copy of this cookbook at a thrift store. I don’t actually use it. It’s inscribed, “To my valentine, Feb. 14, 1921, Mother”. I should store it with my copy of Peg Bracken’s I Hate to Cook Cookbook!

    • Peg Bracken’s book was a favorite read of mine when I was a kid! I was charmed by her comments on doctoring up tomato soup: in essence, don’t. The manufacturer worked hard to make it taste appealing, so don’t mess with success. 🙂

  • My husband has learned the age old wisdom that goes like this. If you want your spouse to cook, do not critique. Or something along those lines. I look forward to the next recipe.

  • Love your writing Franklin, looking forward to the next instalment! I have my grandmas cookbook (circa 1940s onwards) which has made for entertainment aplenty, but I do want to try her baking recipes though as I remember her home baking was always amazing.

  • Franklin, I love you. And I love reading whatever you write

  • Oh Franklin I thought I was the only one who got kicks and giggles from old cookbooks. And now I will have to add the German phrase for “punch in the face” to my vocabulary. Thanks, and please add more horror stories from the past .

  • Superb! Looking forward to the next installment!

  • FWIW The book is available for free download from I’m having a blast reading it! Thanks. By the way, is “C” sugar light brown sugar?

  • I am also a vintage cookbook fan and have some doozies at home!

    I made the croquettes last night and as Bettina would say if she were living in Yonkers in 2017, “Damn, Franklin! Those were some good eatin’!” We actually made two batches so we could play with the seasonings. For the second one, instead of the recipe spices I added some Chinese Five Spice Powder.

    Just got off the phone with my boyfriend. Guess what we’re having tonight?

    • Oooh. I love the idea of messing around with alternate seasonings. Thank you for giving these a whirl!

  • Love it. My fondness of vintage cookbooks is well satisfied. Thank you for your wit and charm. Well appreciated. Genevieve

  • Oh my goodness! How did I just find this series?! Love it! Thanks for the great entertainment! You should have on your panel, however, a husband such as mine … 48 years old and married 20 … in it for the LONG haul like Bob!

  • make her lemon pie, Franklin!

  • I located “A Thousand Ways…” on the Gutenburg Project website.