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Depression Era Cooking Tricks

 
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Location: Ontario, climate zone 3a
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This thread is really making me miss my oma, and her cooking :(  My mom never took the time to learn much from her, or teach anything to me, when it came to cooking.  I wonder how common it is among first generation children of immigrants to want to distance themselves as much as possible from their immigrant parents' ways, for fear of not fitting in?  I wish I would have been mature enough before my oma got Alzheimers to spend time cooking with her.  When I did try it was hard to follow because very little of what she cooked was written down anywhere, so she would hold it in her hand and say "this much", and what was written down was in old European measurements that I didn't understand.  It took me a while to find a recipe for djuvec on the internet because I didn't know how to spell it, just how to say it (sounds like "joo-vetch").  I do remember watching her make hamburgers, putting the pork and beef through the grinder, and mixing it all with her hands, making patties with a lot of bread crumbs and onions, and egg and milk.  Her carrots and peas in a white roux was one of my favourite foods of all time.  And sarma (cabbage rolls).  Her pickles.  And her baking, don't even get me started T_T What I wouldn't give to spend a week cooking everything with her now and writing it all down, if that's all the time I could spend with her I would want her to teach me everything.
 
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Location: Southwestern Ohio
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Erik van Lennep wrote:

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?



I'm quite bad at identifying trees, but I think it might have been some sort of maple. My 'wood pile' right now is mostly deadfall from several trees in the neighborhood, which has the traditional ornamental like fruitless pear. I can say I avoided any resinous or strong-smelling wood because I know just enough about smoking that it would be a bad idea, especially since I wasn't going for any sort of smoky flavour. I used small diameter, so I had to feed the fire a few times; none were thicker than two fingers put together. I also didn't damper the grill at all, letting the fire go all-out, but pushed to one side. as an improvement for next time, I'm thinking of adding a brick or two to act as thermal mass. Might be able to cook something at a reasonable temperature then, by letting the fire heat the brick then go out. I just got a meat thermometer that might be handy for helping me finesse the temperature a bit. It's worth noting that I've failed every time I tried to grill something, though I'm trying to get better at it.

The bones I used, If I remember correctly, had lots of marrow but not much connective tissue. I had thought the marrow would make it thick, though I don't know why. The taste is enough that I wasn't too hung up on it other than wondering if it wasn't concentrated enough. Next time, I'll know not to expect it to be thick or I'll do as you suggest.

On the other note, my grandparents ate leftovers for the first time yesterday, and will for the second time today! I am looking to move out but they've made several comments whenever I've mentioned it, and even though I *know* it's emotional manipulation, they're good at making me feel guilty about it and they are at the age where I could just...wait them out. I am getting land without a building, so even after I buy I'll be stuck here another ~6 months or however long it takes to finish a small house. there is also the fact that the longer I stay, the more money I save and the more land I might be able to get.
 
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Chicken Biscuit (a kind of cracker made from schmalz, the fat of chickens. Not much else to do with the stuff but hide it in soup.)

Schmalz--what you have.
Flour--heirloom wheat fresh ground is best but what you have.
Salt--go easy, the flavor is right there waiting to pounce, and doesn't need much encouragement.
Baking powder or baking soda--you will know when you've added too much. Sorry, it depends on your flour.
Slightly off raw cream--or what you have that approximates it.

Bake on high heat, as high as you dare--thinner roll will cook faster. Cut into cutesy shapes before cooking. You are going for something approximating a pie dough, but tackier, as it will bake up harder. A hard crisp is desired. I don't know how long they last in the pantry. You had better eat them all with tomato soup and a little parmesan right away.
 
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Re the original question..WWII or depression food. There's a veggie turnover recipe at the 40s experiment blog that we love. It is huge tho'...

Link:
https://the1940sexperiment.com/2009/08/17/wartime-vegetable-turnovers/
 
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I make home stuffing or I use store-bought stuffing if it's on sale and make up ahead of time to put in the freezer. Making it home is just using old bread that's not moldy and I put it in a lot of things to make things go further.
One thing my mother used to make a lot was she by one can of mackerel or one or two depending on how many people are there and add eggs salt and pepper to it and then make little patties and bread it with flour salt and pepper to fry. But I found out myself with when I had leftover stuffing to add to the mackerel before you make patties and it makes the fish patties go a lot further and it makes more of them. You can also use this with salmon. I really like the flavor and it's great. The texture is real good too. Just fry it in your vegetable oil or I always use canola oil on both sides to Brown and it's so easy to make. We'd always serve it with mac and cheese and you know how cheap mac and cheese can be. And Mom would splurge sometimes instead of making a regular vegetable like corn or or green beans to go with it she would make asparagus. And asparagus goes perfect with the fish patties mac and cheese.
 
Sheena Carroll
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That was so funny to read how you mentioned about the orange juice being watered down. My mother always watered down the orange juice and I asked her one day when I got older why did she always make it taste like that and she said she was making it go further. Instead of using the three cans of water she'd always use four. She was raised on a farm during the depression time and everybody pick cotton even the children when they can start walking and picking up a cotton sack they would be out picking cotton. After breakfast which is mostly biscuits probably gravy and a little bit meat like bacon to go with it. They would put the wood burning stove down and throw in sweet potatoes to slow cook in the stove until they came back from the fields and the potatoes will be good and done and that's what everybody would eat on until dinner was ready.
We grew up pretty poor and mama was new how to cook for the five of us Mom Dad my two brothers and I and we would have a lot of beans and then rice. She would cook everything by hand. She always made us desserts by hand pies things like that. Our cinnamon rolls wasn't made with yeast because that would have to be saved for other things she would take leftover biscuit dough roll it out and add cinnamon sugar to it, roll them up and throw them in the pan LOL. And if she had any extra sugar or cream she would make a little sugar topping. She would only cook one chicken for all five of us and everybody would have their own piece all the time there was never trading around. Mom and dad always got the chicken breast my brother's always got a thigh and leg and I was stuck with the wings and sometimes mom would cut the wishbone out of the thighs and I would get that. To this day I don't care much for white meat, I wish phone was white and the chicken wings were to me white and now I love thighs and legs all the time.
 
Sheena Carroll
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A lot of leftovers were used in many ways in my mom's family during the depression. I saw you had that tomato soup cake never heard of that one before. But they have buttermilk cake, vinegar cake, LOL. A cake made of everything. But what's leftovers my mother's family would take like leftover oatmeal and make something fried up a little bit or add something to it to make it thickening and then eat it with syrup. Take leftover mashed potatoes and make potato patties out of them and fry them up and serve them with ketchup or by themselves. So this way nothing went to waste. It is unbelievable the amount of food that is wasted.
I'll look at the chicken that have been destroyed or recalled and you think of all those poor animals that died for nothing. It just breaks my heart. Back nowadays everybody mostly raised their own meals and didn't kill them until they're ready to use them.
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