Ellis Parker Butler

(5 December 1869 - 13 September 1937 / Muscatine / Iowa / United States)

A Culinary Puzzle


In our dainty little kitchen,
Where my aproned wife is queen
Over all the tin-pan people,
In a realm exceeding clean,
Oft I like to loiter, watching
While she mixes things for tea;
And she tasks me, slyly smiling,
“Now just guess what this will be!”

Hidden in a big blue apron,
Her dimpled arms laid bare,
And the love-smiles coyly mingling
With a housewife’s frown of care—
See her beat a golden batter,
Pausing but to ask of me,
As she adds a bit of butter,
“Now just guess what this will be!”

Then I bravely do my duty,
Guess it, “pudding,” “cake” or “pie,”
“Dumplings,” “waffles,” “bread” or “muffins;”
But no matter what I try,
This provoking witch just answers:
“Never mind, just wait and see!
But I think you should be able,
Dear, to guess what this will be.”

Little fraud! she never tells me
Until ’tis baked and browned—
And I think I know the reason
For her secrecy profound—
She herself with all her fine airs
And her books on cookery,
Could not answer, should I ask her,
“Dearest, what will that mess be?”

Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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