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.

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Great Depression Cooking: Banana Bread

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In 1931 a book called “Aunt Sammy’s Radio Recipes” came out and was available nationwide in the bookshops.

Aunt Samy was a fictional character and had her own cooking show called Housekeeper’s Chat. Its target audience was farm wives. She was introduced by the US Dept of Agriculture, Bureau of Home Economics during the Great Depression. Supposedly the wife of Uncle Sam, the character was voiced by different women at each individual radio station, using a standardized script.

The show was broadcast until 1944.

Banana bread recipe supposedly emerged during the great depression since the housewives were unwilling to throw away overripe bananas.

During my trip to Hawaii, I noticed that banana bread is very popular among Maui population and in my opinion it’s because the island has a lot of hiking options and banana bread is great for sustainable energy for such a long activity.

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Weekly News Recap: Oct 15 – Oct 19

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Halloween is just 13 (oooh!) days away and we have some good stuff for you this week!

Traditionally a lot of big and small companies release special seasonal products to match our spooky needs.

Secondly, fall is still around which means more pumpkins and more cozy dishes coming to the table.

Third: only 68 days until Christmas! It’s time to think about trendy table setting ideas and look for great recipes.

Today we are covering some exciting news that happened this week (and maybe last week too:)

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Great Depression Cooking: Cream Of Celery Soup With Spinach Pesto

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During the 1930’s Americans sought to escape the horrors of the Great Depression by listening to the radio or spending a dime to go to the movies. Around 60-80 million people went to the movies every week.

The most popular films during the era were ‘Gone with the Wind’ (1939), ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ (1937), ‘King Kong’ (1933), the ‘Wizard of Oz’ (1939) and ‘Mr. Smith goes to Washington’ (1939) or simply the classic movies is how we remember them by.

Mickey Mouse was an extremely popular character since he first appeared on television right before the great depression in 1928.

Housewives made a lot of “comfort” soups, usually creamed or with canned proteins. Today we are going to make an easy cream of celery soup.

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Great Depression Cooking: Caramelized Sweet Potatoes

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Great Depression was followed by Wolrd War II and the United States needed healthy soldiers badly. The government was hoping for a good amount of strong young boys who can stand out but they got shocked by the stats.

After children starvation during the Great Depression, about 60% of the men did not pass the test. Many of them were too skinny, weak, had multiple decreases caused by lack of nutrition and years of emergency diet.

Some of the states had a food stamp system but it was not enough to feed a family of four.

Caramelized sweet potatoes was a delicacy that appeared on the tables on a thanksgiving day. The recipe is simple and can be treated as a dessert, a side dish and a meal. I usually treat it as both a side and a dessert.

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Great Depression Cooking: Pumpkin Bread Pudding

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When Great depression went in full strength in 1933, some families were struggling. Children were put into a weird diet, got sick very often and had an enormous vitamin deficiency. Some parents refused to let children go to school because they were too weak to study.

The government program launched by Roosevelt allowed many needy school children who could not afford to pay for lunches to have at least some fresh food and enough nutrition to basically live. The schools were using foods which would not otherwise be purchased in the marketplace and farmers would be helped by obtaining an outlet for their products at a reasonable price.

Some families lived off school lunches since they skipped cooking at least one or even two meals. Some children got caught not eating food but instead, putting it into their pockets, napkins, and handbags to bring it home. It was indeed a very dark time. But even then people learned to make delicious meals from pretty much nothing.

Bread pudding is a good example of using stale sandwich bread that you may have in the kitchen.

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Weekly News Recap: Oct 1 – Oct 5

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Last week I got buried in research and book for the Great Depression cooking month and we skipped one week full of events that happened in the culinary industry. To make it up to you, today we are going to have a double portion of freshly baked headlines that may have changed the world at some point 🙂

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Great Depression Cooking: Tomato Bisque

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In May 1933 FERA (Federal Emergency Relief Administration) was created.

Its main goal was to alleviate household unemployment by creating new unskilled jobs in local and state government. Those jobs were psychologically more beneficial to the unemployed, who wanted any sort of job, for self-esteem, to play the role of male breadwinner. It was completely necessary during the hard times of the Great Depression.

Poor people lacked enough food in the Depression, and farmers had too much. The mismatch was solved by the FERA and WPA programs which aimed to reduce farm surpluses by government purchase and then redistribution of food to the needy.

This way some people got access to fresh produce like fresh tomatoes, turnips, rhubarb and some sorts of seasonal fruit.

Despite the fancy name tomato bisque is just a delicious soup which can be easily made and ingredients don’t cost a ton.

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Great Depression Cooking: Cheese Souffle

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Great Depression struck the United States on October 29th, 1929.

It was a huge segment of history that changed the lives of millions of people who stood in lines in the cold to get supplies to feed their families. Former rich, poor, middle-class families, everyone was there equal as hunger stroke the country.

Even though it was a hard time, homemakers and housewives did everything they could to cook the meals and make them delicious. This only proves one simple thing: no matter how hard the times were, people still loved to eat good and tasty food.

I would like to honor those brave ones who stood strong and kept going, spent hours in lines to get fresh goods and cook meals. I will dedicate this month to the great depression recipes that I have found in books, archives, and old recipe booklets.

I may slightly change the recipes but using the same old products that people used during the 1930’s.

Let’s start with cheese souffle.

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