Hubs saw me coming out of the pantry a couple weeks ago. “Honestly Denise, if you’re going to give Ari your old cookbook, you’ve really got to stop using it. It’s falling apart. Literally. Use one of your other Betty Crocker’s. They all have the same recipes.” He’d learn soon enough those famous last words would come back to bite him in the butt.
|Unfortunately, Betty cannot be duplicated or replaced…|
Many of my favorite recipes have been in my head so long, I don’t need to look them up when I start cooking or baking. Still, most times I check the recipe for the little things, amounts of soda, baking powder, spices etc. Because I’m usually doubling the recipe.
|Crusts and apple pie filling recipes from my best helper, Betty Crocker, 1972…|
Sure enough, John was making a double batch of waffle batter, two for us, the rest, waffles for Jovi. Once we’re done eating, I start making Jovi’s. When each waffle is done cooking, I dab on a bit of butter, let it melt and sprinkle a tiny amount of sugar on top, then cut them in Jovi size bites with a scissors. Just like I did for my toddlers decades ago. Our waffle recipe only has a tablespoon of sugar in the batter which makes 3 waffles of 4 squares each. I’ve always found syrup to be messy with little ones, so I just sprinkle a little sugar on top. (Mommy doesn’t know, so Jovi and I just keep this our little secret). A teaspoon of sugar on 4 big squares is not going to hurt anyone. Besides, the waffle tastes so much better. I do the same thing for pancakes and French toast when I make them for Jovi.
|On today’s menu, Jovi’s style French toast, cut up and froze in snack bags…|
But it was before I made Jovi’s waffles when John frowned, “hmmm, they taste different.” “What? I don’t taste anything different. Did you leave out an ingredient,” I asked? “Don’t think so,” he answered, “I checked the recipe twice since I was doubling it for Jovi. I think the recipe might be a little different. I wish I hadn’t told you to put old Betty out to pasture. Did you give it to Ari already?” No, I hadn’t given the cookbook to Ari, simply put it in a drawer so I’d be forced to start using one of my ‘other’ Betty Crocker’s.
|All Betty Crocker’s are NOT the same. Lame evil step-sisters…|
The ‘other’ Betty Crocker’s aren’t really mine like mine is. In the last 20 years, every time I found an old, cheap Betty Crocker cookbook at an estate sale or in an (cringe) antique store I bought it. (How can I be old enough to use shit I now find in antique stores? Really, how is that even possible? Seriously?)
|There should be pride because I used it so much. But yuck, I’m a slob…|
Equally hard to believe is what kind of dire straights Hubs and I were in when I finally got my first Betty. One would think it might have been a shower gift or wedding present. We eloped, so had no shower. Gifts for the newlyweds were few and far between. Our folks (grudgingly, had to keep up appearances) had a small reception for us (cold as freaking ice, though it was only October-not weather related, just coolness in the room) so we did get some gifts. I think everyone knew I couldn’t boil water, why bother with cookbooks? No, Betty Crocker did not join our small family until 1972.
|I know I should be ashamed using this decrepit cookbook. But we have history…|
We were living in Sioux City. I was slowly learning how to cook, well, because we had to eat. Our stretched so very thin budget allowed eating out at McDonald’s every other Friday (payday for Hubs). Shannon and I would meet John at McDonald’s near Sunset Plaza after he directed the 6 o’clock newscast. It really was quite a treat. I think the 3 of us ate for about 5 bucks. At the time there was only one cookbook in our house. Appropriately named Family Favorites, (it’s got several pages of Dutch recipes, including Saucijzebroodjes, ‘pigs-in-the-blanket’ from Western Christian’s High School, circa 1964 edition. Which is my second favorite cookbook. I still use it religiously! A little delicious Godly humor). I had long coveted Betty Crocker’s cookbook when I saw it in stores. Better Homes and Gardens had a fancy Cookbook too, but it didn’t trip my trigger like Betty. But Betty was pricey and we were so broke. One could easily say we were nearly destitute.
|My other frequently used cookbook. Some recipes are in Dutch, yikes…|
Funny how we change over the years. I wouldn’t be very excited or grateful receiving an appliance these days. But back when we were in the first years of marriage, I felt like I had won the lottery. When Shannon was about a year old, we were living in a small house in Hinton, Iowa. No furnace in the house, just an oil burner heater (often times we couldn’t afford to fill the fuel tank, leaving us out in the cold). No basement either, so the slab house was unbelievably frigid. We bought a couple of super cheap area rugs which were about as thick as tracing paper. As new parents we were concerned because Shannon was on the floor all the time. And I had no vacuum cleaner. Everyday I’d get down on my hands and knees to pick up all the ploujes (plue-shees, Dutch word for a fuzzy or piece of lint from clothes or socks on the floor or your clothes). If I didn’t, Shannon would offer to meticulously do it for me-afterwards though she’d quickly pop all the ploujes in her mouth. Ugh. Our dear neighbors, Clarence & Ida loaned me their expensive, super deluxe Kirby vacuum cleaner once a week, but that monster weighed as much as I did. Lugging it back and forth from their house to ours was a trip alright. Plus it had so much suction, it sucked up half those cheap rugs. When John bought me a $39.00 Eureka vacuum for Christmas, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.
|From Family Favorites, authentic Dutch Saucijzebroodjes-pigs-in-the-blankets…|
I felt the same way after Hub’s made a trip to a Sioux City jewelry store downtown called Greenburg’s. Heavens no, not for a frivolous piece of jewelry we could ill afford. But a set of new pots and pans! They were having a huge sale. It was called Club Aluminum and came in several different colors. Harvest Gold, Avocado Green, Poppy Red, Chocolate Brown, even Turquoise. John chose Poppy Red and the set consisted of 1, 2, 3 quart sauce pans with lids, a 4 quart Dutch oven and a fry pan. Now if I only knew how to cook. Minor details. I was trying hard by then.
|I am a lost cause. Still using Club Aluminum, now Avocado Green…|
While the vacuum cleaner and set of pans were necessities, Betty Crocker was not. I was thrilled, absolutely thrilled when John and almost 2 year old Shannon went shopping at really neat department store called Bellas Hess in Morningside and spent a whopping 9 bucks to bring Betty home at last. I poured over that book, salivating over what recipes I thought I was capable of fixing. Not a lot of meals, mostly the baking sections. Cakes and frostings from scratch-always. Pies and crusts too. Almost every cookie Betty had in her repertoire. That cookbook has been a big part of my life for 45 years. I’m not so sure I’m ready to give her up just yet either. Her cousins aren’t made of the same mettle.
|Betty, you got a great cream puff recipe, though I use Mom’s homemade vanilla pudding recipe…|
There was a great bakery (name escapes me. Carolyn Baczwaski, do you remember this store?) close to a drug store called Scott’s. I think Scott’s was on 7th Street. At the time, Pampers were pretty new and cost about $1.30 per box of 30 diapers. Who could afford such things? Certainly not us. But when Scott’s ran a sale, Pampers were a dollar a box, we’d splurge. What a luxury. Disposable diapers you could just throw away, though we did not use them for everyday. Only camping trips or if we were going somewhere for the weekend. Oh, we still needed to use diapers pins, but no rubber pants, no rinsing out diapers in the toilet. Bliss, I tell you. Anyway, since we were shelling out big bucks on disposable diapers, we’d go to this bakery which was fairly close to Scott’s for a sweet treat. On top of the oak, glassed showcases housing donuts, longjohns and bismarcks galore, hanging on the wall behind the counter rested the cutest collection of ceramic cookie jars. Several different animals, some with salt & pepper shakers. Soon after becoming a mom, John and Shannon stopped at the bakery, chose the lion, who was wearing a crown and gave it to me for Mother’s Day. I used that cookie jar for years! One of the shakers broke during our many moves, but the cookie jar is still around, though packed away right now. I have about a foot of counter space in our little house.
|My dusty little lion salt shaker gift-45 years ago…|
After John questioned the waffle’s different taste, I dug out our dear family friend, my original Betty and checked out the waffle recipe. Sure enough, even though the edition patent date was just a few years different, some of the recipe’s ingredients had been changed. Silly changes too, if you ask me. They omitted baking soda from our original waffle recipe and boosted up the baking powder. Why? I have no idea. Kickbacks? Powerful lobbyists? I jotted down the waffle and pancake recipes from my old BC and added them to my groovy Longaberger recipe box this week. I guess as we discover minor changes in the dishes and desserts I’ve made for almost a half century, we’ll continue to write down the original way Betty intended her food to taste. Not to worry Betty, I’ve got your back. Those lame younger cousins of yours are off their Crocker if they think we wouldn’t notice…
|Most of my favorites are stored in my basket recipe box, usually in my own scrawl…|