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Depression Era Cooking Tricks

 
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My mom was talking to my sister, they are ending up with extra kids moving in (long story.) Mom asked "what are you feeding them?" She said "Hamburgers tonight!" And I was thinking how that much meat, in the depression of 1929 + would have been enough to feed them all for a long time. Meatloaf was made up to stretch meat. Meatloaf burgers work well too. I just made us, for brunch, french toast out of home baked bread, and not many eggs.

What are your favorite recipes or ideas for stretching food when times get tough?
 
pollinator
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Meatloaf: In Germany we have a dish that is like very small patties out of ground beef, egg, old rolls (soaked in milk), onions, herbs etc. called Fleischpflanzerl https://www.chefkoch.de/rezepte/1537291259595500/Bayerische-Fleischpflanzerl.html.

As I only buy organic ground meat (about 7 USD for 400 grams, mixed beef and pork) I stretch the loaves/patties even more. I add more bread (old bread that has gone stale) and cut oats, or I make them vegetarian altogether (based on bread or pulses like lentils). When they are condimented wisely, the kids will like them.

If you want to stretch ground beef, you can also use it in lasagna or bolognese style pasta sauce.

Another cheap dish is risotto where you can use a veggie like fennel or just onions and carrots.

My aunt gifted me a traditional Bavarian cookbook which is still very popular (many households have an edition) and it contains all the classical dishes that were used to feed the family without spending a lot. Traditional dishes include a wide variety of vegetarian dishes based on potatoes or eggs and flour ("Mehlspeisen", a tradition we share with the Austrian kitchen). Meat was mostly for sunday roast.
The book has all the basic classic recipes plus tips on frugal cooking (including offals).

Spätzle is a dish I often make, and I have taught my eldest daughter how to make delicious vegetarian gravy to go with it. It is also a big favourite in our family.

Tonight we had easy-style wraps: Just make pancake batter (luckily we have our own eggs), use a pancake maker in the middle of the table, and fill them with chili-sin-carne (I used kidney beans I soaked and cooked myself, a can of tomato sauce, onions, garlic, cumin, paprika, chili powder, fresh cilantro) and grated cheese. We had a bit of creamcheese left as well.
It was delicious, and I served it with a big bowl of salad from the garden (lettuce and all sorts of edible herbs and weeds and three mushrooms I harvested from our mushroom cultivation box).
 
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I am currently living with my grandmother, who was a child during the depression, came to adulthood in WW2, and was fairly  poor until the 1970s.

She still waters her orange juice. Meat is cooked as a roast, sliced fine, often served cold and overcooked. Its definitely not the focus of the meal, vegetables and mashed potatoes are. Gravy is always made.

Today we had chicken soup. One chicken served 3 people 2 dinners, then the bones and scraps were boiled and made into soup for lunch. 9 meals from one chicken. Soup is a great way to stretch meat, we always cut the meat into tiny pieces so you get more "mouthfuls" with meat, and often add rice and/or potato and/or beans.

My non depression era, celiac frugality tip is always adding cooked pureed vegetables to baking. The taste and texture of the resulting thing is better, and carrots, squash, zucchini, apples, etc, especially  homegrown are much cheaper than gluten free flour!
 
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A quick one from WW II, apparently there was a shortage of sausage or pork for sausage so for breakfast they had cooked ground beef.  And it wasn't even patties.
 
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As an non militant vegan but laughs at jokes about vegans. Beans are my go to food. Beans can be made into in many things. The most important thing to remember is to use spices and herbs with beans. Beans on there only are not full of flavor but can with the right spices and herbs taste meat like.  I also remember watching or reading a bit about stir fry and about it is a good way to use leftovers. I did that the other day with some salad mix along with soy sauce and spices. It was a good and fun to create.
 
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Having been raised by a mother who was keenly aware of having gone through the Great Depression and WWII, plus having to be very frugal while raising her children, I can still remember lots of her cooking tricks.......

...ripple soup
...corn cob soup
...broth "soup" made from bones and veggie waste, thickened with cornstarch. If flour was used, then it was called gravy and served over rice or bread slices. I still love gravy sandwiches to this day.
...lots of weird ingredients added together make "spaghetti" sauce .
...bones & marrow to flavor soups and stews in place of meat
..."off cuts" of meats to make meals -- chicken necks and backs & gizzards, heart, tripe, (mom couldn't stomach kidneys, so I was spared them), chicken heads, fish heads, pigs feet, tongue, etc
...lots of meals with some veggie conglomeration spooned over rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes
...milk was watered down
...all fats were saved from cooking and used for frying future meals
...beans were popular for many meals, and added as a filler for others
...oatmeal was popular for breakfasts, as well overly boiled rice to the point that the broth thickened into a porridge
...although we weren't so poor that we couldn't afford to buy sugar, mom showed me how she would melt old candy to use as a sweetener for drinks and pancake syrup during the war.

Most water used to cook foods was recycled into borths. All bones were saved to make broth. Most veggie peelings and waste was used for making broth. Very little was ever discarded. I read about the amount of food waste nowadays and know that my mother would have despaired. She lived through two food crises and just could not have fathomed food wastage.
 
pollinator
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Anita Martin wrote:
My aunt gifted me a traditional Bavarian cookbook which is still very popular (many households have an edition) and it contains all the classical dishes that were used to feed the family without spending a lot. Traditional dishes include a wide variety of vegetarian dishes based on potatoes or eggs and flour ("Mehlspeisen", a tradition we share with the Austrian kitchen). Meat was mostly for sunday roast.
The book has all the basic classic recipes plus tips on frugal cooking (including offals).



Your cooking sounds delicious, Anita! Regarding the cookbook, would you please share the name and author of it? Thank you!
 
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grandmothers soup

large pot about 1/2 filled with water

1/4 to 1/2 of a chicken

1/2 to 2/3  cup dried split peas

1/2 to 2/3 cup barley

large yellow onion chopped up, best are the kind that make you tear up, not sweet onion

4 or 5 or 6 stalks of celery chopped up, or a couple teaspoons of celery seed or powder if you have no fresh stuff

1 lb carrots chopped up

salt and pepper to taste




bring to rolling boil  then add water if needed to fill pot to about and inch from the top then simmer for an hour or two till meat falls off bones and peas and barley are soft

other things can be added if you wish such as leeks, parsnips, kohlrabi, turnips, etc and lima beans, kidney beans or other dry type shelling beans.
start with the basic recipe and go from there
 
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Mom -- born in 1936, daughter of a man who was a failed commercial fisherman and proprietor of an unprofitable second-hand shop -- was fond of trotting out "biscuits and gravy" as a main meal when she was trying to figure out how to stretch a tiny bit of ground moose or a few strips of bacon into a meal for six people.  She'd fry out the meat into brown crumbles for maximum flavor, supplement the tablespoon or two of meat grease in the pan with sufficient cooking oil, then make a whole big frying pan full of milk gravy with the rehydrated non-fat dry milk that we always had when I was growing up.  Not too many spices, perhaps a dash of onion powder, but pretty liberal with the salt and black pepper.  Over hot fresh biscuits it was filling and tasty, but nothing like the same meal made with enough burger or sausage.  

Her default "chowder" recipe -- clams when she was a child, canned river salmon where we were trying not to starve in the sub-arctic -- consisted of a little bit of seafood plus a whole lot of that dry milk, thickened with potatoes and usually pretty well stocked with carrots or canned peas or whatever else winter vegetables we had.  Pro-tip: neither turnip nor rutabaga is good in chowder -- or so we all voted (for what little good it did us).
 
Anita Martin
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Annie Collins wrote:
Your cooking sounds delicious, Anita! Regarding the cookbook, would you please share the name and author of it? Thank you!


Not very surprisingly, the cookbook is called Bayerisches Kochbuch (Bavarian cookbook - Homepage cookbook), the most popular and most often sold cookbook for this region. It is updated on a regular basis (the first edition was published over 80 years ago, the precursor is 100 years old). It was and is used in schools for domestic housekeeping.

Reading the other replies, I find it is valuable if you had a teacher like mother or grandmother who lived through hard times.
My maternal grandmother, although a city girl, went foraging mushrooms with us and showed us how to make syrup with spruce tips. She was very frugal and I remember how she once asked me why I rang up a schoolmate instead of taking a walk and talking to her directly...

However, my mother is very bad at leftover management (and very chaotic with her financial planning).

My husband is from Argentina. They have a very different background without a war or depression they had to live through. I was totally shocked when I learned that bread (which is served with almost all meals) gets just thrown into the bin when it is not eaten. Granted it is a very tasteless bread, but still - my grandmother used to say it is a sin to throw away food.
Meat (especially beef, but also chicken) is so cheap there - at least when my husband grew up - that you only used the best cuts and fed the rest to the dogs. He will still not eat things like liver or heart.
My SIL throws away carcasses of chicken which I collect to make a great broth.
But soups, broth and casseroles are basically missing from the Argentine cuisine. Yes, the beef is heavenly (but far too much in one serving) and the Italian tradition of artisan pasta is great, but it is not a very frugal cooking.

Luckily my husband is as frugal as me and we both enjoy delicious meals that are homemade and not too costly.
 
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I lived in China for a time and my host grandmother was old enough to remember World War Two there.


We often think about using more parts of the animal for food in homesteading, but really, there are so many parts of plants that can be used too. Squash tips,  edible flowers of all kinds, certain tree leaves and blossoms (like from Linden,  Chinese fragrant spring tree, and others). I remember flowers being used as a vegetable in potsticker filling
 
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Strangely, I am more frugal than my parents (who were born around the time of the 2nd WW), my mother never ever made a single bone broth for instance, nor did she simmer or slow boil things, and my parents didn't care about using different cuts of meats, not did they want to, probably because they grew up with it and wanted to distance themselves from it.
I discovered bone broth because of health issues, and I really loved it from the first time. Also simmering hen, or other tougher kinds of meat, including game. Also, some slightly older animals are often appreciated for their more complex flavours in other cultures, but in the west its often not an option, as they are seen as tough and useless, but we have forgotten the TIME people used to put in stewing, simmering, baking etc... Nowadays we just do a quick boil or fry, or fry a piece of chicken breast. Meat (and game) that has simmered for hours can taste really nice, when combined with the right ingredients.
I was chocked to discover that in Europe a huge proportion of pheasant meat is processed into dog food! Pheasant can be tough, but if you use low temperature and time, you can get a very fine meal. Dogs are eating better than humans sometimes!
Mashed meat is also great and there are many option for meatloaves and meat balls.
Another simple, filling and tasty recipe is a soup with broth/meat/veg, and then add some dumplings to boil in the soup. I see how people use complicated techniques to make dumplings etc, but the original way is often the simplest. You could also, in your broth/soup add meatballs to boil in it, easy and tasty, and less frying/fat.
I saw a recipe for baked beans, cheap, very tasty, but you need TIME. First you soak the beans overnight, then boil them, then add molasses or maple syrup, and bacon or salted porc, put in  oven or simmer over low temperature for 4 hours at least.
 
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GRAVY SANDWICHES! Gravy and biscuits! Gravy and dumplings! my people!!!

I don't like ground beef but we tend to cook "Asian style"- tiny portions of pork or chicken act as flavorings for the veg that makes up the bulk of the meal (lately, veg from my garden or a long storer like cabbage, squash, carrots). I also save up all bones and carcasses for soup, and save all fats for rendering and cooking (it may take a while, but all that chicken skin is worth saving).
We never have leftover bread, which is a shame but also probably a good thing! (I make it all myself, and we have gotten really good at freezing the loaves and only taking out what is needed so nothing goes bad). We are also great fans of leftovers, whether repurposed or just put back on the table again and again til they are gone. Both my husband and I lived through very hard times and we are generally not too picky about what we eat.

Definitely true about TIME being an important ingredient. Those leftover bones make a great broth if you can put them in the crockpot for a day. Same for stews (every so often I have access to roosters for next to nothing, and time is the key to a fabulous meal).
 
Annie Collins
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Anita Martin wrote: Not very surprisingly, the cookbook is called Bayerisches Kochbuch (Bavarian cookbook - Homepage cookbook)



Thank you for the name of the book, Anita!
 
master pollinator
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I can't remember having too many hamburgers as a kid. They were all meatloaf burgers.  We also had lots of soups and stews.
 
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Not from the 1930s depression, but probably useful for the 2020s one:

I save the pulp from our juicer and use it to make really tasty cookie/crackers that are fruity-sweet and satisfy kids and adults equally.

If I'm making a complex juice, I first process the sweet elements (carrots, ginger, beets, apples...) and set that pulp aside.
(The savory items could be used for something equally interesting but I haven't experimented with that possibility yet).

We also make our own oat milk from rolled oats and water, and the solids left after the pressing go into the sweet pulp mix. Add some more rolled oats, a smaller amount of spelt flour, coconut oil, an egg and a bit of organic sugar or honey, plus cinnamon powder. Combine the ingredients, roll out as thin as a piecrust and bake for about 15-20 minutes at 350F/180C. Flip to bake the other side another 10 minutes or so. It's easiest if you bake each batch whole like a pancake, then flip and snip into cracker size wafers before baking the 2nd time.

I am a follower of the "Lump 'n' Dump" school of cooking, so I rarely measure anything. Sorry. (On average the resulting solids in the mix are about 50% pulp, 20% oat pressings, 20% rolled oats, 10% spelt flour).
But there's lots of room to experiment and get them right for your own tastes as far as sweetness, texture and base materials.
 
Tereza Okava
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At this very moment I have half an old stewing hen in the crockpot to make stew with dumplings!!
It stewed up to make broth and soften up all day yesterday (I saved some broth, which will be frozen for some other use), I took it off the bone last night and threw it in the fridge, and today it is back in the crockpot with onions, carrots, some garlic, some celery, chayote, and green beans from the garden, a splash of wine. Later I will mix up some dumpling batter and put it on top, and maybe add some flour to thicken up the whole mess.
(I still have bone broth from the last rooster in the fridge or i would have saved the bones for another go-around. And I learned from last time that there is no need to do the whole hen, half a hen makes just as good broth and a large enough recipe. I split it when I buy it and then take it from there.)
 
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My go-to in times of no money has always been "macaroni and", meaning, I cook up a big bag ofwhatever kind of noodles I have and add whatever leftovers or other ingredients I have.  Almost anything goes with noodles.  They aren't the most nutritious meal, but when your belly is empty, they fill it well and have plenty of calories.  Any vegetable or meat goes well with noodles, and if you don't have anything else, they are perfectly edible with butter and salt, olive oil and salt, or in a pinch, just salt.  I like pepper, my lady doesn't, so it gets eaten both ways at our house.

My prediction is that we will all see a resurrection of this type of cooking/meals soon, so thank you all for sharing yours.  All of the ideas sound great to me.
 
Tereza Okava
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Trace Oswald wrote: Almost anything goes with noodles. ..


And for a bit more nutrition, a few good handfuls of whatever greens you can grow/scrounge/forage go very well thrown in the boiling water just before you drain the pasta (or raw, sliced real thin).
I do this with a variety of seasonings on busy days when I need a quick meal and have no leftovers available. Our favorite is "easy sleazy noodles" (a spoon each of miso, sesame oil, mustard, peanut butter, and soy sauce, with some garlic powder, all mixed together in the hot pan while the pasta drains and then throw it all back in). Sounds like an abomination but it is DELISH, and extra points if you eat it from the pot (for just me, 3/4 cup of dry whole wheat fusilli or penne pasta is my go-to with kale from the garden).
 
Erik van Lennep
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Trace Oswald wrote: If you don't have anything else, they are perfectly edible with butter and salt, olive oil and salt, or in a pinch, just salt. .



I also do lazy with a bit of olive oil (or a dab of butter) and a splash of soy sauce and call it done.
When I want to feel more fed from noodles or spaghetti, I drain it, and while still boiling hot crack a raw egg into it and stir until the heat in the pasta cooks the egg (which ends up coating them well). Then olive oil, salt and pepper.
 
Trace Oswald
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Tereza Okava wrote:

Trace Oswald wrote: Almost anything goes with noodles. ..


And for a bit more nutrition, a few good handfuls of whatever greens you can grow/scrounge/forage go very well thrown in the boiling water just before you drain the pasta (or raw, sliced real thin).
I do this with a variety of seasonings on busy days when I need a quick meal and have no leftovers available. Our favorite is "easy sleazy noodles" (a spoon each of miso, sesame oil, mustard, peanut butter, and soy sauce, with some garlic powder, all mixed together in the hot pan while the pasta drains and then throw it all back in). Sounds like an abomination but it is DELISH, and extra points if you eat it from the pot (for just me, 3/4 cup of dry whole wheat fusilli or penne pasta is my go-to with kale from the garden).



That sounds delicious.

Erik van Lennep wrote: I also do lazy with a bit of olive oil (or a dab of butter) and a splash of soy sauce and call it done.
When I want to feel more fed from noodles or spaghetti, I drain it, and while still boiling hot crack a raw egg into it and stir until the heat in the pasta cooks the egg (which ends up coating them well). Then olive oil, slat and pepper.



Erik, that's an excellent idea, thank you.
 
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I've been only buying frozen fish and ground beef which I freeze. I have made the beef into meatballs so I can use filler to stretch the yield. I can ration the meatballs equally per day and know exactly how long this food source will last before I have to defrost something else. I use instant mash potatoes instead of flour or bread crumbs as a filler, and mix in onions, eggs, spices, etc. They are pretty good, almost like meatloaf meatballs. Spaghetti is a good food to dry-store, and can keep for years in an airtight container. For sauce I used canned diced tomatoes, just add to the meatballs half way through cooking, and use the Tomato and meatball juice as a pasta sauce, this way you are not wasting anything.

Also I'm not sure if I invented it but I think I did. I stocked up on almond milk, granola cereal, peanut butter, and mixed berry jelly, all of which can store for over a year if sealed. Mix 1 spoon of jelly, 2 spoons of PB, Granola, and almond milk in a bowl, and stir thoroughly. I call it Super Cereal.
 
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Tereza Okava wrote:

Trace Oswald wrote: Almost anything goes with noodles. ..


And for a bit more nutrition, a few good handfuls of whatever greens you can grow/scrounge/forage go very well thrown in the boiling water just before you drain the pasta (or raw, sliced real thin).



I do this often since one of my goals is to have something "green" with every meal. Kale and/or chard, minced, and added to the boiling liquid seems to be a good way to get something green when I'm making things like dumplings, pasta, rice, etc or a "one pot" meal.  
 
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When I was young we lived for many years with no running water, electricity, or much money. I have two brothers and a sister and my mom made soup from everything. We hunted when we could and gardened when we could. We had Dairy Goats and chickens. But soups are the survival food, a squirrel, some potatoes, celery, onions, carrots, etc. will fill a family of six. And there isn't much meat on a squirrel.
 
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With my husband having Crohn's, it would be far more devastating to eat bread than for him to go without food. His last crohn's flare up was devastating. It's a good reminder that while bread and other filler foods might help many through hard times, if your health won't let you eat those things, then you really have to get creative.

I wish I knew what my grandparents ate during the Great Depression. I do know they ate a lot of sunchokes/Jerusalem Artichokes in salads (not cooked). I'll have to ask my grandma!
depression-Era-cooking-tips.jpg
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Erik van Lennep
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Trace Oswald wrote:

Tereza Okava wrote:

Trace Oswald wrote: Almost anything goes with noodles. ..


And for a bit more nutrition, a few good handfuls of whatever greens you can grow/scrounge/forage go very well thrown in the boiling water just before you drain the pasta (or raw, sliced real thin).
I do this with a variety of seasonings on busy days when I need a quick meal and have no leftovers available. Our favorite is "easy sleazy noodles" (a spoon each of miso, sesame oil, mustard, peanut butter, and soy sauce, with some garlic powder, all mixed together in the hot pan while the pasta drains and then throw it all back in). Sounds like an abomination but it is DELISH, and extra points if you eat it from the pot (for just me, 3/4 cup of dry whole wheat fusilli or penne pasta is my go-to with kale from the garden).



That sounds delicious.

Erik van Lennep wrote: I also do lazy with a bit of olive oil (or a dab of butter) and a splash of soy sauce and call it done.
When I want to feel more fed from noodles or spaghetti, I drain it, and while still boiling hot, crack a raw egg into it and stir until the heat in the pasta cooks the egg (which ends up coating them well). Then olive oil, salt and pepper.



Erik, that's an excellent idea, thank you.



A step deeper into deliciousness would be a wad of finely chopped fresh parsley or chives tossed in at the end. :)
 
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What recommendations do you have for fast recipes or recipes with little prep? I'm living with my grandparents and they refuse to eat leftovers so I'm having to cook something different every night and I'm starting to get a little burnt out. every meal has to have meat, two sides and bread, but they refuse to eat any bread or rolls I make.  I've trained them to freeze leftovers instead of pitching them, for the most part, but they won't eat it again until its been a week since we've eaten it or something like it. they also don't like beef of any kind, though they will eat it.

I'm kind of envious for those learning to cook from their grandparents, its the opposite way around here -- I've taught my grandmother, but while she admits she knows nothing about cooking she refuses to listen to me most of the time...

 
Erik van Lennep
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Morgwino Stur wrote:What recommendations do you have for fast recipes or recipes with little prep? I'm living with my grandparents and they refuse to eat leftovers so I'm having to cook something different every night and I'm starting to get a little burnt out. every meal has to have meat, two sides and bread, but they refuse to eat any bread or rolls I make.  I've trained them to freeze leftovers instead of pitching them, for the most part, but they won't eat it again until its been a week since we've eaten it or something like it. they also don't like beef of any kind, though they will eat it.

I'm kind of envious for those learning to cook from their grandparents, its the opposite way around here -- I've taught my grandmother, but while she admits she knows nothing about cooking she refuses to listen to me most of the time...



Sounds like the kind of challenge that would make me pull my hair out. Were it me, and my house, I'd tell them they are on their own as far as meals go. Are you living with them in their place, or are they with you in your's?
 
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The ‘More-with-Less cookbook’ is my go-to for frugal meals. It is a compilation of recipes from Mennonite missionaries around the world, written in the 70s to encourage less consumption. Most recipes have little notes on them like ‘use 1/2 the sugar and it tastes just as good!’ ‘leftover cooked potatoes can be used for this recipe’
Or on a recipe for a roast ‘put that oven heat to good use with some baked goods for the week ahead.’
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I ran out of my last meat two weeks ago, so I'm subsisting mostly on dried beans, brown rice and whole wheat pasta. I generally grab as much kale, collards, spinach, and tops off my multiplying onions (the bottoms aren't big enough to harvest yet) to stir in with the carbs. They're especially good stir-fried with cooked noodles in sesame oil and soy sauce. When tomatoes and squash start coming in, I'll be able to make half-*ss minestrone with a little macaroni and beans.
 
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Chicken, or turkey carcass soup. I cut the "good" slices off a roast chicken and save for casseroles, enchiladas, etc. Boil the bones with celery tops I have collected in the freezer, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (like the song) and pull off whatever meat is left on the bones. Strain the broth and add whatever veggies are lingering in the fridge or garden, pasta of choice, S and P, probably tumeric, maybe siracha. I freeze lightly steamed kale and spinach flat in sandwich bags so I can toss some in soups, casseroles, etc. So, not six meals but one roast chicken meal, one casserole, maybe some chicken salad, at least two soup days.

I remember eating squirrel and rabbit with dumplings. My father hunted so we ate duck, pheasant, geese. (Watch for the pieces of shot.) And Mother canned, as do I. Easier these days, no dealing with rubber rings and parafin. I make end of summer pickles with whatever I can glean from the dying garden. You can pickle anything.

I used to keep a bread starter going. The kids got peanut butter bread for jam sandwiches, oatmeal bread for breakfast, cheese bread for sandwiches, etc. I had a bunch of "how to feed a family with a pound of hamburger" recipes. The kids happily ate most of them except for "Zanzibar Casserole" (peanut butter and catsup?) that I have yet to live down.

I have a thing about food security, probably overdo the beans and pasta on sale thing. But I am having a hard time understanding why people don't have at least a couple of weeks worth of food on hand. Is it all about pay check to pay check? Now we have astonishingly long lines at food pantries. When did we become addicted to the grocery store?
 
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Anita Martin wrote:
Spätzle is a dish I often make, and I have taught my eldest daughter how to make delicious vegetarian gravy to go with it. It is also a big favourite in our family.


My family loves spätzle! My mom makes it with a ginger beef roast and cabbage. I would love to try it with a vegetarian gravy. Could you share the recipe?
 
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Bihai Il wrote: Could you share the recipe?


I don't have a written recipe, but here is more or less how I do it:

First you have to roast ingredients, that would be for example onions (generous amount), garlic, a bit of peppers, leek, root vegetables like carrots or parsnips or very little of celeriac, mushrooms, some tomato paste with little oil (or butter).
When they have a acquired some colour, add a good splash of red wine (as an example), you could also add balsamico vinegar or broth.
When that liquid has boiled down, powder with a bit of flour, roast some more and then add more broth and all the condiments you like: bay leaves, thyme, a bit of ginger, pepper and salt, star anise, paprika, a clove, splash of soy sauce, a good dollop of a preserve (redcurrant, cranberries or similar). You can add a can of tomatoes at this point or some more tomato paste.
Cover and let simmer for about half an hour. If you like, you can blend the gravy now partly or completely after removing bay leaf and other hard condiments. You can also add some cream now if you want.
That's about it. Remember that the gravy will be "diluted" by the spätzle so make sure it is well seasoned.
 
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My aunt told me the other day about tomato soup cake and I thought, that sounds like something someone made up in the great depression!  There are so many recipes from that era that are honestly just whatever someone had left in the house mixed together, so a lot of casserole recipes had their beginnings this way too.  Depression era recipes seem to be a mixture between old-world cooking that didn't suit a modern palate (fills you up but isn't exciting), and using up industrial-era foods and packaged ingredients in creative ways, or using up stale things, like grilled cheese and french toast, which is how I use up old bread because you can't tell it's stale, or breaking it up and putting it in with ground meat recipes.  Thankfully no milk toast :P

Is it good or bad that we don't make clothing out of the packaging when it's empty these days?



Rice pudding is a great way to have something tasty and filling with not a lot of ingredients.  It can be made as simply as some rice, milk, egg, and sugar (brown is better), but to make it nicer you'll want cinnamon and raisins, and even fancier with vanilla extract.
 
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I asked my mom what she remembers her mom doing. She mentioned there were a lot of casseroles, LOTS of canning, making meatload with oatmeal to stretch it, and hunting for deer.

They also mended and passed clothes from one cousin to another, as well as between siblings.

I also heard a story of her best friend's mom. She canned a lot, and after they ate what was canned, she put the juice into a pitcher. Sometimes it was great (mmmm, canned pears and peaches), and rather awful (canned tomatoes and apples, or green beans and pickles??). And, of course you had to drink it to be polite, no matter what it tasted like.  It was like the V8 of yester-year!
 
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My aunt told me the other day about tomato soup cake



That is so delicious!  My mother used to make it, and I still do. Easy to make, good plain or with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.
 
Morgwino Stur
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Erik van Lennep wrote:

Morgwino Stur wrote:What recommendations do you have for fast recipes or recipes with little prep? I'm living with my grandparents and they refuse to eat leftovers so I'm having to cook something different every night and I'm starting to get a little burnt out. every meal has to have meat, two sides and bread, but they refuse to eat any bread or rolls I make.  I've trained them to freeze leftovers instead of pitching them, for the most part, but they won't eat it again until its been a week since we've eaten it or something like it. they also don't like beef of any kind, though they will eat it.

I'm kind of envious for those learning to cook from their grandparents, its the opposite way around here -- I've taught my grandmother, but while she admits she knows nothing about cooking she refuses to listen to me most of the time...



Sounds like the kind of challenge that would make me pull my hair out. Were it me, and my house, I'd tell them they are on their own as far as meals go. Are you living with them in their place, or are they with you in your's?



It's a struggle. I'm living with them in their place and they make it quite clear I don't need to cook for them. They usually eat out every night for dinner but I don't like to eat out so eating together is nice. If I didn't cook they order out or have frozen meals, so it isn't like they'd starve, I just wish they would meet me in the middle a bit. My grandma remembers what they did growing up and absolutely hated everything about it. I was looking to move out before this whole Corona thing, and might still, but she makes all sorts of passive-aggressive comments about wanting me to stay, but it's honestly stressful not being able to do what I want to, but she sees it as trying to 'save me'. Sorry for the rant, I'll put something more on topic now

I made some beef stock last year and froze it, when I thawed it for beef stew I took all the fat and froze it again, I almost have enough fat to try clarifying it! I was a little disappointed about how thin my beef stock was, though it had plenty of flavor; my chicken stock stays at a jello-like consistency, even in the fridge and I felt like that was a sign of quality. I planted some onion bottoms and they started growing, but we had a few frosts so I think I might have to start over from scratch.

The only way I really enjoy carrots is when they've been cooked in beef stock, so I took to using stock to cook the carrots, then saving the stock for the next time. I don't keep it like that indefinitely, but it helps concentrate the flavor before using it in a stock I think. I've heard mention of a 'forever stew' so I think I could keep the stock circulating indefinitely as long as I brought it to a boil every day and kept it out o the 'danger zone' by either keeping it simmering or in the fridge. My theory is the more concentrated, the better not just from a flavor standpoint, but from a canning perspective too. one pint of ultra-concentrated stock could make ~two quarts of good-quality stock (more if you don't need the flavor as much/use it to replace water in a recipe).

Not really strictly a cooking trick, but instead of my oven to roast the beef bones, I used a charcoal grill and some dead branches. We're in suburbia, so there wasn't much use for the wood, and I was able to keep the house from heating up in summer, plus they roasted way better than anything I had done in the oven, probably because I let them sit until the fire had died completely down. I don't know why it was such a revelation to me that you could use wood in a charcoal grill, but it felt like a big brain moment to me.
 
Erik van Lennep
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Morgwino Stur wrote:
It's a struggle. I'm living with them in their place and they make it quite clear I don't need to cook for them. They usually eat out every night for dinner but I don't like to eat out so eating together is nice. If I didn't cook they order out or have frozen meals, so it isn't like they'd starve, I just wish they would meet me in the middle a bit. My grandma remembers what they did growing up and absolutely hated everything about it. I was looking to move out before this whole Corona thing, and might still, but she makes all sorts of passive-aggressive comments about wanting me to stay, but it's honestly stressful not being able to do what I want to, but she sees it as trying to 'save me'.



That's a tough dynamic, and I wish I could say "power through it" with confidence, but to be honest you're probably better off moving out as soon as that's feasible. Trying to make family functional is a thankless and endless loop of frustration and stress.

Re: jelling the beef stock vs the chicken, the skin and cartilage normally left on chicken bones is the source of the gelatine. Unless you have equivalent on your beef bones the stock won't jell (gel?). You could always add a packet of dried gelatine, or maybe just do a batch with chicken and beef mixed.

I'm curious about the BBQ wood you used. Any idea what kind of tree /shrub it was from?
 
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Morgwino Stur wrote:

It's a struggle. I'm living with them in their place and they make it quite clear I don't need to cook for them. They usually eat out every night for dinner but I don't like to eat out so eating together is nice. If I didn't cook they order out or have frozen meals, so it isn't like they'd starve, I just wish they would meet me in the middle a bit. My grandma remembers what they did growing up and absolutely hated everything about it. I was looking to move out before this whole Corona thing, and might still, but she makes all sorts of passive-aggressive comments about wanting me to stay, but it's honestly stressful not being able to do what I want to, but she sees it as trying to 'save me'. Sorry for the rant, I'll put something more on topic now



Sorry to continue the off-topic, but... It sounds like they're happy with not cooking or thinking about cooking, and if they can afford to do that, let them.  Would it work for you to say, "I'm making X tonight, would you like to eat that or do your own thing?"  And either way the leftovers are yours.

Good luck!
 
Morfydd St. Clair
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Anita Martin wrote:

Annie Collins wrote:
Your cooking sounds delicious, Anita! Regarding the cookbook, would you please share the name and author of it? Thank you!


Not very surprisingly, the cookbook is called Bayerisches Kochbuch (Bavarian cookbook - Homepage cookbook), the most popular and most often sold cookbook for this region. It is updated on a regular basis (the first edition was published over 80 years ago, the precursor is 100 years old). It was and is used in schools for domestic housekeeping.



Thank you, this looks like a great resource!  Though I often say that it's good for my waistline that I ended up in northern Germany instead of southern.  It's not that I don't love fish - I do* - it's just that spaetzle... and haxe...  sigh.  If I can make my own I may be doomed.

*though I really only love Alaskan Salmon.  Herring, especially herring with the fins still attached, is not the same.  Weirdly, Aldi North owns Trader Joe's, so every once in a while I see TJ's Alaskan Smoked salmon there, which seems very out of place.
 
Here. Have a potato. I grew it in my armpit. And from my other armpit, this tiny ad:
BWB second printing, pre-order dealio (poor man's poll)
https://permies.com/t/147624/BWB-printing-pre-order-dealio
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