Food & Drink

Betty’s cookbook couldn’t be more trendy -- in a good way

At 90, Betty Crocker is a hip gal, with a bacon martini in one hand, a caramelized pot roast in the slow cooker, tofu on the menu, Sriracha pickles in the refrigerator, vegan chocolate cupcakes for dessert and a penchant for locally grown foods.

And she’s a friendly sort, with plenty to say. Her Twitter account serves 48,000 followers, 1.4 million fans pay attention on Facebook, 7 million members search her website, which offers the thoughts and recipes of a dedicated bunch of bloggers. And then there are her mobile app, e-book and videos. Let’s just say that Betty is keeping up with the times.

In case you don’t know, she’s not flesh-and-blood, though to her followers she’s as real as any cooking authority can be.

Betty (we can hardly call her “Crocker”) was created in 1921 by the flour milling Washburn Crosby Co. (the initials of which became the call letters for radio station WCCO) to answer the many baking questions sent to the company. At one point Betty received 5,000 letters per day from listeners to her radio show, which became one of the longest running programs in radio history.

Betty’s also the backbone of a multitude of cookbooks, including what’s affectionately called Big Red, or the “Betty Crocker Cookbook,” first published in 1950. It’s now in its 11th edition, in anticipation of her big birthday, which was celebrated in typical General Mills fashion with a contest for fans to create a party for her big day. Catherine Sonderman, 24, of Phoenix won with a party theme of “Be Betty” and a color scheme of -- what else? -- Betty’s longtime red and white.

This edition is a stunner, with up-to-date trends, multiple variations for recipes and pictures to illustrate almost everything. There are recipes for bruschetta and peppermint marshmallows, cocktails, berry-pomegranate freezer jam, steamed clams and 20-minute meals, as well as favorite classics. Those who buy the cookbook also have access to additional Web videos and recipes.

We should all be so spry in our 90th year -- and so well fed.

BACON MARTINI

4 slices bacon

2 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 cup vodka

1/3 cup apple-flavored brandy

1/3 cup apple cider

2 tablespoon real maple syrup

1/4 cup small ice cubes or shaved ice

4 apple slices, for garnish

Chill stemmed glasses in freezer.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line pan with foil. Coat both sides of bacon with brown sugar, pressing into bacon. Place on pan.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until bacon is crisp and sugar is bubbly. Cool on cooling rack.

Add vodka, brandy, apple cider and maple syrup to ice in martini shaker; shake or stir and pour into glasses, straining out ice.

Garnish each with a skewer holding 1 piece of bacon and an apple slice.

Serves 4.

-- “Betty Crocker Cookbook,” 11th edition.

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