Home Economist and Food Writer
You’re sure to enjoy the kitchen-tested recipes from Betty Douglass! She’s not just a great cook, she has two college degrees and several decades of experience as a professional home economist for some of the largest companies in Virginia. She’s also been a food writer for almost 20 years.
Betty started with a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University, she then moved to Oakland, California to get her master’s. She went home just after WWII broke out. She was presented with a wonderful opportunity to work at Walter Reed [Medical Center] as a dietician and met her future husband there. After the war they headed for warmer weather and settled for a short time in Roanoke, Virginia. Betty’s husband’s next job brought them to Hampton Roads in 1949, where she settled in and raised two daughters.
After working as a dietician for the original Obici Hospital in Suffolk and later Maryview [Medical Center] in Portsmouth, she decided to leave the medical field and took a job at VEPCO (now Virginia Dominion Power) as a home economist in their Norfolk office.
Given Betty’s age, you might have guessed that she’s seen some major changes in technology. The biggest one to affect our kitchens is the microwave. While at VEPCO, a local appliance store installed one in the VEPCO kitchen. Betty was responsible for learning how to use it and teaching the community about it. She even did a private demonstration for the Camp family (of Union Camp Paper fame) in Franklin.
The next step in her professional journey was when she was contacted by Giant Open Air Markets . They were installing a public meeting room with a professional kitchen in their first supermarket in Portsmouth, and were searching for a home economist to run it. (It was located where the Big Lots is on Airline Blvd., near Victory Blvd.) The more she talked to them, the more she realized that she was the right person for the job. The in-store kitchen (called the Flamenco Room in that first store) was a big success and they opened several stores, all with kitchens that Betty managed.
Eventually, Giant was bought out by Farm Fresh Supermarkets, and in 1987 the tradition of having an in-store home economist came to an end.
Since then, Betty has continued as a professional recipe tester and writer. You might even recognize her name from her columns in The Virginian-Pilot, these days she manages the “Reader Requests” column. Always one to keep busy, Betty has been providing weekly recipes to Bennett’s Creek Farm Market & Deli for a little over ten years, too.
Even with all her experience, Betty stays up-to-date in cooking and kitchen trends. How? Her bedtime reading material is cookbooks and and cooking magazines!
From small town, Bedford, Ohio, to the hustle and bustle of Hampton Roads, Betty has lived an exciting life. She toured the U.S. by train as a young lady, and even met Gerald Ford when he was president.
On a personal level, Betty enjoys sharing stories about her children and grandchildren. She even admits to being teased by dear friends about it. She’s obviously proud of all of them.
You might think a professional home economist would have a favorite food… but when asked, Betty wasn’t so sure. It took some time for her to think about it, but she finally revealed it: strawberry shortcake!