Awhile back, I stumbled on a charming internet show called Clara’s Depression Cooking, in which a 95 year old woman recounts her childhood during Depression-era America and cooks recipes from that time. It’s a great peek into daily life during the Depression, and the woman is anything but depressing. On the contrary, she has one of those irrepressible spirits that people who live to be 95 always seem to have.
She talks about how one staple was potatoes. Her father would bring home a sack of potatoes that cost a dollar, and they would eat them with everything. One simple potato meal that she recalls was referred to as the Poor Man’s Meal, and it is especially popular with children. It is also cheap, tasty, and easy to put together.
Poor Man’s Meal:
- 2-3 potatoes
- 1 small onion
- 2 tbsp tomato sauce (optional)
- 2-3 hot dogs (I recommend organic and nitrate-free)
- vegetable oil
Cube the potatoes and add to a hot pan to which a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil has been heating. Slice the onion and add to the pan. Allow potatoes and onions to begin to brown in the pan. Next slice the hotdogs thinly and add to pan. Add a bit of water, tomato sauce, and cover to allow the potatoes to soften. Salt and pepper to taste.
A nice and slightly more nutritional (and modern) variation would be to use sweet potatoes instead of white and add a dash of southwest seasoning like chipotle or chili powder.
Hopefully our children will not grow up to talk about the depression of their youth, but we have our own tough times and could all stand to save a few dollars where possible.
Check out the book by Clara Cannucciari, Clara’s Kitchen: Wisdom, Memories, and Recipes from the Great Depression.