Learn to cook Depression era meals


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For some reason, this instantly popped into my head…


In Sweden we call this “pytt i panna”.

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And for anyone who grew up in the 80’s, watching her pour all that oil into it was a bit of a surprise.

I know fat isn’t the early grave guarantee it used to be but it still sticks with me, I put as little oil in as I can get away with.

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Growing up, I used to have to cook one Depression meal a week so that we “would never forget what it was like”. Oil and hotdogs were never part of it. Mainly, it involved boiling vegetables – cabbage, potatoes, carrots, celery if you were lucky – to make a weak stew. Meat of any kind (even hotdogs) was a very occasional thing for many families in the 1930s.


The need to restrict fat intake is pretty much a first world problem.

As a high-density calorie source, and back in those days, that quarter liter of oil she so cavalierly poured in would have been a necessary part of the the day’s food intake for anyone who was eating such a meal.


But why peel the potatoes?

I’m with you on that one, but again we have a distorted view due to modern access to high quality fresh produce.

In The Great Depression, those potatoes might have been months old.


sadly, Clara passed away a couple of years ago. she was 98 in 2013, and passed away in November of that year.


A few things that weren’t so popular back then:

  • Fresh veg
  • Spices
  • Herbs

I used to have a midwestern cookbook from the 30s or 40s. It was loaded with hyper-modern ingredients like Jell-O and ketchup. I refuse to believe those things were ever cheaper than onions.

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I agree with @davide405. And the potato toxicity problem gets more likely if you need to eat a lot of potatoes, like every day. maybe for multiple meals.

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See, I went here (because this is a friend’s band):

(good lord, how does one embed videos here…)

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I’m talking out of my ass as I don’t know first-hand about the depression, but I can say “cookbooks” are not the same as “cooking”.

Back then, at least in my country, the art of cooking was taught from mom to daughter and the like - my mom’s cookery had nothing to do with a cookbook. Said books were usually made for posh people.

Not the ones published in a church basement!

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Agreed. I just looked up the date of the first publication of the Betty Crocker cookbook, and it wasn’t until 1950; well after the depression.

This also goes to what @Boundegar noted earlier: the cookbooks that were printed during the depression seem, suspiciously, to go heavy on processed foods that would cost a lot of money.

Sounds like an early implementation of the infomercial to me :wink:

I am suddenly nostalgic for the scent of a freshly prepared quiz.

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The “My Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook” was first published in 1930 and had sold about a million copies (in it’s revolutionary for the time ring-binder) by 1938. Not too heavily focused on processed foods, but squarely aimed at the middle-class.


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