Learning to Cook: A Very Special Visit With Betty

Gather ’round, boys and girls. We’re going to have some fun today, because we have a very special guest with us! She’s going to watch as we continue to learn how to cook just like Mother! Because that’s what we all want to do, right?

WP_20151006_05_53_35_Pro[1]Oh, and look … here is our special guest! Say hello to Betty Crocker, circa 1973. Hello Betty!

Johnny, one mustn’t scream like that when someone enters the room.  Say you’re sorry to Ms. Crocker.

You can sit to the left there, Ms. Crocker. You’ll be able to keep a careful eye on everyone, and I’m sure all the boys and girls will find that very comforting.

Now, children, please get out your cookbooks. I hope you all remembered … oh dear. You didn’t bring your cookbook with you?

Well, never mind. Here, you can use mine. Just please don’t spill WP_20151005_16_30_23_Pro[1]anything on it, okay? The current spills will one day be carbon dated and we don’t want to throw off their findings.

Now Ms. Crocker very kindly updated her Boy’s and Girl’s Cookbook from 1957 so it would be exactly what our modern children of 1973 would want. Isn’t that grand?

So let’s get started with learning how to cook!

Click to Jump to Recipe

Okay everyone, open up your cookbooks to page …

Ricky, what are you looking at? What do you have? … Ricky! farrahWe’ve talked about this before. Put that picture away.

Yes, I can see it’s not her swimsuit photo, but that doesn’t make any difference. Ms. Crocker doesn’t want to see one of her junior cooks with a photo like that!WP_20151006_05_57_19_Pro[1]

I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that Ricky.

Everyone open up your book to the first chapter: What Every Junior Cook WP_20151005_16_33_28_Pro[1]Should Know.
Joan, how about you read the first section?

“Before You Start to Cook:

  • Choose a time to suit your mother, so you won’t be in her way.
  • Be sure to wash your hands.
  • Wear an apron to keep your clothes clean
  • Read your recipe and all the directions in it very carefully”

What’s that Mary-Sarah? Well, I’m sure your Mother has an apron somewhere you can use, doesn’t she?

Oh. Well, maybe your Grandmother then.

NIXONMichael, please turn off the television set and pay attention. There isn’t anything important happening right now that we need to hear. Especially as we’re about to learn our table manners!

Okay, who wants to read this time? Alpha … is that really your name? You don’t happen to have a younger brother named Omega? Oh, you do? Well, isn’t that … special.WP_20151006_05_54_55_Pro[1] Alpha dear, please read the section titled, Good Manners at Mealtime.

“Being polite and considerate is always important. Use your company manners every day. Mealtime is happier for everybody when you remember these rules.

  • Wait to begin eating until Mother is seated and all the family has been served.
  • With your knife, cut food into bite-sized pieces, one at a time, to eat it.
  • Break bread or roll into pieces and butter each one as you eat it.

kissExcuse me, Alpha … Joseph, what is that racket?! What do you mean it’s the radio? It just sounds like screaming! … Turn it off, for goodness sake! I can’t think with that noise blaring …

Oh, Ms. Crocker, please don’t leave! We haven’t gotten to the recipe yet! Oh, and look, Sandra wants to tell you her absolute favorite thing she learned from this class. Go ahead, Sandra. Tell Ms. Crocker what you learned.


Ms. Crocker? … where did she go?

Oh, dear. Well boys and girls, it looks like we’re on our own again.

Ricky, stop bothering Sandra.

Sandra, put the knife down.

Mad Hatter Meatballs

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: So easy a child could make them
  • Print

This recipe is adapted from Betty Crocker’s New Boy’s and Girl’s Cookbook, published in 1973. The dish was my Mom’s favorite, so much so that she had me prepare it nearly every week. Truthfully, I’m not sure if she really loved the recipe or just loved someone else doing the cooking, but there you go. My modernized version doesn’t include canned soup. The 70s were all about canned soup.


  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, choppedWP_20151005_18_18_24_Pro[1]
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 slices dry bread, torn into pieces or 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Saute the chopped peppers & onion in one tablespoon of olive oil, until tender. Add garlic last. Stir in tomatoes, broth or water, and seasonings. Heat to boiling, then turn down heat and simmer sauce, stirring occasionally.

While sauce cooks, make meatballs: Beat egg in a bowl, add remaining ingredients and stir well. Shape meat into balls about the size of ping-pong balls. Drop balls into simmering sauce and cook slowly about 40 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through and the sauce is slightly thickened.

Serve with mashed potatoes, noodles or rice.


9 thoughts on “Learning to Cook: A Very Special Visit With Betty

  1. Fun memories! Made me check my book shelf for my copy of “Fun to Cook Book”, a Carnation Company beginners cook book published in 1955. A 2 pound batch of ‘5 Minute Fudge’ really is the highlight of the book…

  2. Okay, you had me giggling with this one. (Fave line:”The current spills will one day be carbon dated and we don’t want to throw off their findings.”) I love old cookbooks as well, and when we go antiquing, and everyone else is pawing the Deco furniture and the 1927 Fiesta butter dish (I also like those things, don’t get me wrong), I’m sitting cross-legged on the questionably-smelling carpet and going through the dusty tomes on the bottom shelf of a decaying bookcase that no one has touched in 30 years…

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