"Even More Historic Dishes Born From Tough Times to Make at Home" Discussion Thread

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The beauty of pot liquor is that the stems from the greens provide quite a bit of nutrition, even more than in the leaves. Though stiffer than the leaves, stems contain vitamins A, C, K, and, of course, there is iron in greens, The whole leaf and stem is healthy for the body because they come from the ground where nutrients are found.

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Tomato Soup Cake and Mayonnaise Cake, both delicious, are two other Depression-era recipes worth trying.


A cousin of the fried onion burger is the “glorified hamburger” which has somewhat less onion but is still designed to stretch ground beef. Recipe and some history here: Why Did We Stop Glorifying Hamburgers? | TASTE


Mock BLT – if you actually have fresh Tomatoes and Lettuce but lack the main ingredient, Bacon, this is the sandwich for your. Just substitute some heated up Tortilla Chips for the Bacon. The crispy crunch and the saltiness, add a some salt after heating them, the illusion will amaze you.

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Our neighborhood would have Refrigerator Soup. I don’t know that this was from hard times, but certainly from the aesthetic of no waste. The recipe for this soup is: contents-of-refrigerator and hot water. We would have a giant cauldron over an outdoor fire with water in it and the neighbors would clean out refrigerators and dump everything into the water. Surprisingly, it never turned out bad. The worst anyone would say about it is, “Interesting.”

I’ve been really intrigued by the hard times recipes, but I have one that I haven’t seen. I copied this from the 1950s edition of the Mennonite Community Cookbook edited by Mary Emma Showalter. It is from the WWII German Mennonite comunities
Geburtstag Kuchen und Kaffee

6 slices homemade type white bread
6 slices dark heavy rye bread
2 cups cottage cheese
2 cups skimmed milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup oatmeal flakes

spread the bread with cottage cheese and sprinkle with sugar. Build up the slices alternately to make a loaf. Pour some of the milk over the bread loaf and cook the oatmeas in the rest of the milk until it makes a thick mixture. Beat the oatmeal mixture with the rest of the sugar until it forms peaks and spread the result over the loaf. Sprinkle with toasted oatmeal flakes

For the “kaffee” toast rye bread slices until they are completely dark and hard. Powder the toast and soak with boiling water to make a coffee-like beverage.

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Coffee soup is an oldie but a goodie in my family. My Depression-era grandparents ate it all the time, and when my mother and her six siblings were little and money was tight, they ate it, too. It was a simple recipe: tear up a slice of white bread, pour enough coffee over it to cover it and eat. Children ate it with a little sugar, about half a teaspoon. For a real treat, they’d get a dollop of cream!