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8 Curious Recipes From the Depression Era

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According to historians, modern society can learn a lot from the myriad ways people put food on the table during the Great Depression. While some people raised livestock and grew their own fruits and vegetables, others had to stretch every dollar and pinch every penny to get the most food for their buck during hard economic times. Here are eight recipes that might seem strange today but were regular features at mealtime in the Depression Era. For more recipes from that time, pick up A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression.

1. POOR MAN'S MEAL

During the Great Depression, potatoes and hot dogs were very inexpensive, so many meals included either or both ingredients. In this video, 91-year-old Clara—who lived through the Depression—walks viewers through the process of making the Poor Man’s Meal: peel and cube a potato, then fry it in a pan with oil and chopped onions until they brown and soften. Then add slices of hot dog, cook a few minutes more, and serve.

2. CREAMED CHIPPED BEEF

Made with dried and salted beef, Creamed Chipped Beef was an easy and cheap dish that originated in Eastern Pennsylvania Dutch Country, New Jersey, and the Mid-Atlantic. To make if yourself, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pot over a medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of flour to make a roux. Slowly whisk in 1.5 cups of milk until it thickens and boils. Later add 8 ounces of dried beef (like Hormel). Serve over toast.

Affectionately called S.O.S. (“Sh*t on a Shingle" or “Save Our Stomachs”), Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast was also a staple of the U.S. military during World War I and especially World War II.

3. HOOVER STEW

Hoovervilles—shantytowns that sprang up during the Depression—weren't the only things named after our 31st president, who had the misfortune to be elected just before the Crash. Hoover Stew was the name given to the soup from soup kitchens or similarly thin broths. One recipe calls for cooking a 16-ounce box of noodles like macaroni or spaghetti. While that's on the stove, slice hot dogs into round shapes. Drain the pasta when it’s almost done and return to the pot; drop in the sliced hot dogs. Add two cans of stewed tomatoes and one can of corn or peas (with liquid) to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer until the pasta is finished cooking. No need to use corn or peas; you can substitute those veggies for anything canned and inexpensive.

4. EGG DROP SOUP

Here's Clara's recipe for Egg Drop Soup: Peel and dice a potato and an onion. Slowly brown them in a pot with oil until soft, then add bay leaves and salt and pepper. Once browned, add half a pot of water to the mix to make broth. Simmer on the stove and add more salt and pepper to taste until the potatoes are cooked. While boiling, crack two eggs into the pot and stir until scrambled. Add two more eggs into the soup, so the yolk hardens. Add cheese to finish it off. Once completed, serve the Egg Drop Soup over toast.

5. CORNED BEEF LUNCHEON SALAD

In the 1930s, gelatin was considered a modern, cutting edge food. Dishes like Corned Beef Luncheon Salad—which consisted of canned corned beef, plain gelatin, canned peas, vinegar, lemon juice, and occasionally cabbage—were very popular and inexpensive to make. According to Andy Coe, the co-author of A Square Meal, the recipe was just "wrong in every possible way" when compared with today’s modern tastes and palate.

6. FROZEN FRUIT SALAD

Served during the holiday season as a special treat, Frozen Fruit Salad was made with canned fruit cocktail (or your favorite canned fruit), egg yolks, honey, and whipping cream.

7. SPAGHETTI WITH CARROTS AND WHITE SAUCE

One of the dishes Eleanor Roosevelt recommended and promoted with the development of Home Economics in schools and colleges during the Great Depression was Spaghetti with Boiled Carrots and White Sauce. It was spaghetti cooked until mushy (about 25 minutes) and mixed with boiled carrots. The white sauce was made from milk, flour, salt, butter or margarine, and a little bit of pepper. After mixing, pour into a tray and bake to make a casserole.

8. PRUNE PUDDING

Although he had a taste for fancy meals, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was served a humble seven-and-a-half-cent lunch, which included deviled eggs in tomato sauce, mashed potatoes, coffee, and, for dessert, prune pudding. Roosevelt’s White House ate modestly in “an act of culinary solidarity with the people who were suffering,” Jane Ziegelman, the co-author of A Square Meal, told The New York Times.

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Food Going Bad? How to Set the Correct Temperature For Your Fridge
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Depending on the size of your household, your grocery bill can sometimes outpace utility costs or other expenses, making it one of the biggest monthly expenditures in your budget. If you've spent that money on organic, fresh produce, watching it go bad faster than it should can be a frustrating experience.

If your lettuce is getting icy or your meat is smelling a little fishy, the problem might be your refrigerator's temperature setting. While many newer fridge models have digital thermometers that make checking for the correct temperature easy—it should be right around 37°F, with your freezer at 0°F—others have a manual dial that offers ambiguous settings numbered from one to five or one to 10.

Fortunately, there's an easy way to make the knob match your ideal climate. Refrigerator thermometers are available at home goods stores or online and provide a digital readout of the refrigerator's interior that's usually accurate within 1°F. Leave the thermometer on the middle shelf to get the correct reading.

Once you have the appliance set, be sure to check it periodically to make sure it's maintaining that temperature. Packing too much food on your shelves, for example, tends to make the interior warmer. If the coils need to be cleaned, it might be retaining more heat. Kept at a steady 37°F, your food should remain fresh, safe, and perfectly cold.

 

[h/t Reader's Digest]

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Voodoo Doughnut Is Coming to the East Coast (Finally!)
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Universal Orlando Resort

Voodoo Doughnut, the beloved Portland purveyor of creative pastries, is finally coming to the East Coast. The company is opening a shop at the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida, according to Travel + Leisure.

The original Voodoo Doughnut opened in Portland, Oregon in 2003. An early adopter of the maple-bacon dessert trend, it became famous for its Maple Bacon Bar and has since added doughnuts that incorporate other quirky flavors like bubble gum dust, Tang, and Fruit Loops. (At one point, the company sold doughnuts glazed with NyQuil, as well as one called a Vanilla Pepto Crushed Tums doughnut, but both of those have been discontinued by order of the health department.) Several of its unique flavors have also been turned into beers by the Oregon-based Rogue Ale.

A chocolate doughnut with a candy skull inside the hole.
A Dia de los Muertos-themed doughnut
Mathieu Thouvenin, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The popular Portland location usually features a line out the door and down the block, and the company now has outposts in Eugene, Denver, Austin, and Los Angeles. It has such a cult following that the stores will not just provide doughnuts for your wedding—they will host the ceremony. Now, East Coast doughnut lovers will be able to get in on the action, too.

The Universal Orlando CityWalk store has opened already, but it’s still in preview mode, meaning the hours can vary, and there's no guarantee it will be open every day. When it officially opens later this spring, it will be serving up more than 50 types of doughnuts seven days a week from 7 a.m. to midnight, and until 1 a.m. on weekends.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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