Video Recommendation: Great Depression Cooking with Clara

By Rainy

My husband likes to surf the internet and sometimes he runs across a gem. A few weeks ago he found Great Depression Cooking with Clara. When he showed it to me I was mesmerized by the first episode Pasta with Peas. The host, Clara, is a charming 91 year old woman who grew up in the depression. Her grandson films her cooking recipes that her mother cooked for her family. The recipes are basic, wholesome and provide balanced diet for families.

This kind of cooking is becoming a lost section of classic American culture. It is only recently that families do not cook every meal in their own kitchen. Clare points out the basic ingredients of inexpensive nutritious food: potatoes, onions, salt and pepper. Every other ingredient added is just variety.

The video reminded me of my own grandmother’s cooking. She would cut, peal and prepare onions and potatoes in the same fashion. Peeling potatoes were a ritual using the irreplaceable old-fashioned peeler; the modern styled ones are inferior she would complain. I know she was the expert because she could peal the skin off and apple in one long twirling strand. She would not use a cutting board for vegetables, but a dull knife to slowly cut by hand. I always use a cutting board and a large sharp knife, so this habit of this older generation must be ingrained. I can imagine when slicing vegetables daily it would be difficult to keep a sharp knife. When resources are rare, it is best to use less cookware and hand wash afterwards. This is the opposite of how I cook; using every clean spoon in the kitchen and creating a large pile of dirty utensils and pans in the sink.

Clara’s Pasta with Peas

While cooking these recipes the best part was the smell. It immediately brings me back to my Grandparent’s warm and inviting kitchen. The smell of cooking onion, potatoes, lentils and browning butter is ingrained in my memory. The sense of smell is the strongest to form memories that last the longest. One sniff of an old familiar sent and it will send you back decades to a place long gone. I may not be able to visit my Grandma’s kitchen ever again, but I can create the same inviting environment in my own kitchen by cooking the way she cooked.

Clara’s Pasta with Peas

potato, onion, olive oil, peas, salt, pepper, pasta, tomato sauce, cheese

1 large potato

1 small onion

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 can of peas (or other canned veggies)

1 – 2 cups water

salt to taste

pepper to taste

1 cup uncooked small pasta

3 tbsp tomato sauce (optional)

1 tbsp grated cheese

 

Peel off potato skin and dice into small cubes. Dice onion and put into sauce pan with potatoes and olive oil. Fry potatoes and onions on medium heat until soft. Add can of peas including canned juice. Add enough water to cook the pasta. Increase heat to a boil. Add salt and pepper. Once boiling, add pasta and boil (or cover and remove heat) 5 to 11 minutes until pasta is cooked. Add tomato sauce if desired. Top with grated cheese.

Pasta with peas, beef short rib, spent grain bread and raspberry lamic

 

Clara’s Egg Drop Soup

potato, onion, Olive oil, bay leaf,salt, pepper, Water, eggs, and parmesan cheese

1 large potato

1 small onion

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 bay leaf

salt to taste

pepper to taste

water

4-6 eggs (4 eggs to scramble, one whole egg for each person)

2 tbsp parmesan cheese

 

Peel off potato skin and dice into small cubes. Dice onion and put into sauce pan with potatoes and olive oil. Fry potatoes and onions on medium heat until brown. Add bay leaf, salt and pepper to desired taste. Once browned, fill half the sauce pan with water and heat to boil. Once the potatoes are cooked, stir in 4 eggs to scramble into the broth. Add each additional egg unscrambled; one whole egg for each person sharing the meal. Sprinkle in the cheese. Serve in bowls over bread or toast.

Egg drop soup with spend grain bread

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One thought on “Video Recommendation: Great Depression Cooking with Clara

  1. What wonderful memories you have with Grandma C. cooking in the kitchen! I was always impressed with her apple curls too! I’m glad that she inspires you to cook from scratch.
    Mom

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