Great Depression Cooking: Potato Salad With Homemade Cooked Dressing

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After reading a book about great depression “A square Meal”, I started wondering: “What caused the country to break into pieces? What happened before the great depression? What did the people eat?”.

I stumbled upon a book called “Poison squad” by Pulitzer Prize Winner – Deborah Blum.

This book shocked me to the ends of my hair. I thought the Great Depression was bad but in fact, before, the food in the US was even worse…Generally speaking, people ate embalmed meat filled with poisonous formaldehyde (for preserving), coal tar dye (for color), and borax (also for preservation) without even knowing how much chemicals they consume. Many of the chemicals caused unfortunate lethal circumstances.

The protagonist of this story is Dr. Harvey Whiley who was fighting for the transparency, food purity and general requirements that we see on the packages today. Thanks to Dr.Whiley, every product we consume has a thorough ingredient list and the government has requirements for food processing.

We all know that the best and the purest foods are homemade, so let’s look at an easy potato salad that contain homemade cooked dressing which also goes well with other salads.

Pro tip: cooked dressing recipe from the Great Depression era contain sugar. I think it is unnecessary so I did not use it at all. If you still want to make it the “right” way, the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of white sugar.


Ingredients for dressing:

  • 3 tbsp of flour
  • 1/2 tsp of mustard
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of paprika
  • 1/8 tsp of pepper
  • 2 eggs well beaten
  • 1/2 cup of vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of melted butter

Ingredients for salad:

  • 2 cups of new potatoes diced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 1/2 cup of cooked salad dressing ^^
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika


Let’s make the dressing first. In the top of double boiler (if you don’t have it, use a saucepan with boiling water and a large metal bowl) put the butter, eggs, mustard, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring with a whisk until the mixture starts to thicken.

Add all flour, paprika and whisk for a minute. Mix vinegar with water and start adding slowly.

Cook until the mixture is nice and smooth and do not stop whisking, otherwise, you will get an omelet.

Cool and store in the fridge.

Boil and dice the potatoes. Cool them down.

Boil and dice the eggs and cool them down.

Dice celery and onion and put it into a big bowl. Mix in cold potatoes and eggs.

Season with salt, pepper, paprika and cooked dressing to taste.









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