Manhattan women made dessert delights
By Denise Baran-Unland For The Herald-News June 24, 2012 8:54PM
Updated: July 26, 2012 6:07AM
Two years ago, when Pat Bettenhausen of Manhattan won the PrairieFarmer.com cook of the month award, she shared the story of another prize she had once earned, in 1960, at a 4-H pie competition.
To Pat’s surprise, her blueberry pie had received both the blue ribbon and grand champion ribbon. A police officer asked if he could purchase the pie, and Pat sold it to him for $3.
Years later, it wasn’t blueberry pie her husband Rodger Bettenhausen of Manhattan craved. His favorites were Pat’s coconut macaroon and rhubarb custard, the latter prepared with fresh rhubarb from her garden (Frozen rhubarb, Pat always said, created a watery pie).
Eventually, Pat substituted Crisco for lard in her piecrusts and skim milk for whole. Pat felt these ingredients created an inferior product, but her family and friends disagreed. No one in the family could cook or bake as Pat did, period.
“My mother was a good cook and I thought Pat would have a hard time keeping up with her,” Rodger said, “but Pat surpassed her.”
AnnKaryn Bettenhausen of Elwood, Pat’s daughter-in-law, now owns Pat’s secret meatloaf recipe and she’s on the hunt for a copy of Pat’s banana bread, which, AnnKaryn said, was so delicious her son would sometimes eat it for dinner.
She recalled Pat’s birthday sugar cookies — spelled in the grandchild’s name and age — the surprise meals Pat brought to her house when AnnKaryn was caring for her mother and the occasional batch of cupcakes accompanied by friendly conversation when AnnKaryn was weary from childcare duties.
“She made these wonderful cinnamon rolls,” AnnKaryn said, “and she’d bring a few to our pastor and her husband, along with forks and napkins, so they could eat them between church services.”
Pat was also an accomplished seamstress. For 20 years, she sewed custom-made drapery for Decor Interior in Joliet and then became the alteration’s expert for a Manhattan dress shop. Pat stitched one-of-a-kind Barbie doll clothes and all the bridesmaids’ dresses for AnnKaryn’s wedding.
In addition, Pat was a soft-spoken leader, one who might admonish Rodger if he raised his voice when upset. Rodger never minded; he knew 55 years ago, when he first met Pat at a former Plainfield roller-skating rink, that she was the only woman for him.
Pat was 74 when she died around midnight on April 12, the result of a major hemorrhagic stroke she had suffered earlier that morning.
“She was baking that morning when it happened,” AnnKaryn said. “She still had the spatula in her hand for the biscuits she was taking out of the oven.”
Contact Denise M. Baran-Unland at 815-467-5249 or email@example.com.