Someone’s in the Kitchen: Betty Modlin

Published 11:49 am Friday, September 20, 2013

By Merle Monahan\Contributing Writer

Betty Modlin

Betty Modlin

FRANKLIN—For a country girl who grew up on a farm in Windsor, you’d think Betty Modlin would prefer to cook the old-fashioned country way, like her mom and grandmother.

And she does, often, but she says she loves Mexican and Italian, and is more apt to come up with an entire dinner of chicken enchiladas and Mexican cornbread than fried chicken and biscuits.

“My husband, Shelton, and I used to eat out a lot, and we just acquired a taste for Mexican,” she said.

“I love to cook, and, in fact, collect cookbooks, so I just pulled out my Mexican cookbook, and it wasn’t long before we were eating Mexican at home.”

Modlin said she learned to cook from her mother and grandmother, but mostly from her grandmother, with whom she spent a lot of time when she was growing up.

“My grandmother was a farm girl, so I learned to cook things grown on the farm, like pork chops and chicken with dumplings,” she said.

“Actually, I didn’t cook all that much, but I did learn.

“When I got married, though, it was different. I had a husband and very shortly, two daughters to feed, so I had to put my skills to work.”

Modlin said she quickly began to love cooking. She began to try new things and to experiment. But she also stuck by her early training, adding that you can‘t really beat old-fashioned country cooking.

Her family loved it. As her family grew, the more involved in cooking the active grandmother (four grandchildren,) became.

Although she’s slowed down a little, she says she’d still almost rather sit down and read a cookbook than a good novel.

Today, Modlin and her husband live quietly in the suburbs of Franklin. They entertain friends on occasion, but her biggest challenge is when it is her turn to entertain her family. One of five children, Modlin and her siblings and their families alternate hosting family dinners on holidays.

“My husband and I have Thanksgiving,” Modlin said. “When everybody attends, there’s from 30 to 35 of us.

“I don’t do all the cooking, though. I usually do the meats and maybe a vegetable or two, while they each bring a dish.”


NAME: Betty Modlin.

AGE: I don’t like to give my age. Just say, 39 and holding.

OCCUPATION: I am retired from Union Camp. I worked in sales and marketing.

FAVORITE FOOD: Anything sweet.



WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR WORST COOKING EXPERIENCE: I tried to ice a cake once and the more I tried to spread it, the more I tore up the top of the cake.

ONE INGREDIENT YOU CAN’T COOK WITHOUT AND WHY: Sugar, it gives almost everything a better flavor.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU HAVE LEARNED ABOUT COOKING: Have all of your ingredients on hand before you start.

WHO IS THE BEST COOK YOU HAVE EVER KNOWN AND WHY: I have two; my mom and my grandmother. They were both raised on a farm and cooked using the things that were grown there and could make some of the most delicious meals I’ve ever tasted.

They never used recipes, just seemed to know how much of each ingredient to use. They never made mistakes.

I learned to cook from them, but stayed with my grandmother a lot, so it was mostly from her. She of course taught my mom, so it was all the same.



Chicken Enchiladas


¼ cup butter or margarine

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 (10 ¾ -ounce ) can chicken broth, undiluted

¾ cup water

1 (8- ounce) carton sour cream

2 canned jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped

12 corn tortillas

Vegetable oil

¾ cup chopped cooked chicken

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided

¾ cup chopped onion

Chopped fresh parsley


Melt butter in heavy saucepan over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth. Cook one minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add chicken broth and water; cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly. Stir in sour cream and peppers. Stir in half of sour cream sauce into lightly greased 12 x 8 x 2-inch baking dish. Set aside dish and remaining sour cream. Fry tortillas, one at the time, in 2 Tbls oil, for five seconds on each side or just until tortillas are softened. Drain on paper towels. Place one Tbls each of chicken, cheese and onion on each tortilla; roll up tortilla and place, seam side down, in reserved baking dish . Pour remaining sour cream over top. Bake uncovered in 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 1 ¼ cup cheese on top and bake additional five minutes or until cheese melts. Serve with green onions, sour cream, tomatoes and guacamole if desired.

New Mexican Corn Bread


1 box yellow cornmeal

1 Tbls baking powder

¾ tsp salt

1 cup cream style corn

1 cup (8-oz.) sour cream

2/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

2 eggs

½ cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese

1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies


In bowl, combine

cornmeal, baking powder and salt.

Combine remaining ingredients and add to dry ingredients. Stir until blended. Pour into 9-in-square baking pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until bread tests done.