A Sparkling Vintage Life

bettina1Baked eggs are a wonderful and often overlooked treat. My own personal recipe for baked eggs, fine-tuned on hectic mornings during my office-worker-on-a-budget days, went something like this:

“Melt some butter in a little dish. Swish it around. Break in an egg or two. Stick it in a 350-degree oven. Go take a shower. When shower is finished, eggs will be, too. Don’t forget. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Eat. Then finish getting dressed.”

The fictional Bettina’s recipe for baked eggs (from A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband) is a little more complicated than that, but not much more. Each recipe in this sweet book is accompanied by a little story that is meant to teach the new bride of 1917 how to run a household. The stories generally feature know-it-all Bettina instructing one of her fluttery, airhead friends about some aspect of homemaking. The story that accompanies the recipe for baked eggs is called, “Alice Practices Economy.”

“‘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 only for 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 about your advice and decided to practice it. So I searched through all my cookbooks 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 notebook. 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, head lettuce salad, baking powder biscuits with butter, peach cup with peach sauce, and tea.”

Alice’s recipe for Baked Eggs:

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbs. soft bread crumbs
1 Tbs. butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. paprika

Butter two individual molds and break an egg into each. Mix the salt and paprika in the milk, and pour half of the mixture over each egg. Melt the butter and add the crumbs. Place the buttered crumbs on top of each egg. Bake in a moderate oven twenty minutes. Serve in the molds.