Monday, March 30, 2009

Depression Era cooking and recipes

I've been doing research for years on ways to cut back on living expenses. One of the first places that most people look is food. Even though there are a lot of resources out there on how to live frugally or more thrifty, my favorite ones are those focused on what our grandparents and great grandparents did during the Great Depression and World War 2. I've collected a few books from those time periods focused on ways to make more use out of less, both with food and with clothing.

Tonight, I watched a bunch of videos on YouTube called Depression Era Cooking with Clara. I do have to admit that I am tempted to make some of her dishes, even if I have to find substitutions for anything containing gluten. The videos were made by Clara's grandson. She's in her early to mid 90's and the videos aren't only about the recipes she's cooking, but also has little stories about her youth growing up in those difficult times. I wish they had more videos up, but am glad for the few that are there.

I do admit that those videos inspired me to look into websites, blogs, and forums focused on thrift and frugality from the 1930's and 1940's. Like I said, I've researched them before, so this is nothing new, but you never know what new information you will find when you take up the hunt again. (I'm also keeping an eye out for thrifty vegetarian recipes and blogs too for a buddy on my LJ blog. Just sorting through the ones I found thus far. The information on the Depression and WW2 sites also have a lot of vegetarian recipes and such, so that could be a help too.)

Something that is alarming is reading other frugal/thrifty people mention the same dread that I had over a year ago. Hopefully we are wrong, but a number of us (who have looked at the afore mentioned time periods) have stated that we see another Depression around the corner. I've had that concern since before the government admitted that we were actually in a Recession. There are certain trends that a person can see if they look. I guess that's why I can't say I'm too surprised about much and haven't been for a long time. I just hope that things don't get as dire as a number of us are expecting.

Anyways, here's a couple interesting recipes that I've never seen before (but want to try). Found on the Taste of Home forums:

Chicken Soup
Boil chicken and remove from bones. (Left over roasted or baked chicken is fine.) Heat broth until boiling and then reduce heat and sprinkle in corn meal. Whisk until thickened and stir in chicken. Add salt and pepper to taste. No measurements as the cooks long ago did not use measurments. Sometimes they might have a lot of broth sometimes not.

Vegetable Soup
Peel and dice about 6-8 potatoes. Put potatoes in a large pot and add a diced onion or two and a chopped up head of cabbage. Boil in enough water to cover all vegetables. Salt the water to taste, but remember that you will not be draining the water. When these have all softened, to the water add one can of tomato juice, 2 cans of corn (drained), 2 cans of green beans (drained). Allow to simmer for at least 15 minutes and serve. This is delicious, cheap and easy to make.

Chicken Soup for a small army
1 clean 3-4 lb chicken. Place chicken in 2 gallon stockpot with an onion and 2 stalks celery. Bring to boil and simmer an hour. Lift out chicken, pull a part and remove bones. Return chicken pieces to pot and add veggies from garden including at least carrots and potatoes. Fill pot with water again and bring to boil then simmer till done. I season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, parsely and chives. Now, that is comfort food for pennies a serving and plenty to freeze if you don't have an army to feed.

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