Depression Era Cooking

Clara Cannucciari

Clara, cooking up a storm!

Depression Era Cooking!  Is there anyone who has yet to be introduced to the wonders of Clara Cannucciari?  Being the international super-star that she is, I find it hard to believe.  Yet, from time to time, I get a puzzled look in response to my effusive rhapsodizing over this 94 year old cook and YouTube sensation.  So today, dear readers, I would like to take the opportunity to extol the virtues of Clara!

While the more culinary refined may turn up their noses at Clara’s simple, yet healthy, recipes, those of us who are a.) poor  b.) terrible cooks  c.) both (Miss Fierce belongs to the latter category), will delight in what she has to offer.  Most of her dishes are comprised of 5 ingredients or less, making preparation practically blunder proof.  Although if you’re like me, then all bets are off.

However, the less kitchen-handicapped of you will find that these meals come together in a snap, and more importantly, they cost mere pennies per serving.  Ok, I’m exaggerating a little on that last claim, but the truth is that they’re pretty damn cheap.

What makes Clara standout amidst a plethora of similarly themed YouTube channels is that all of her recipes are authentic “meals of necessity” culled from her Depression-era childhood.  Interspersed between straightforward cooking directions are anecdotes about the hardships of life in the 30s.  Some of them are heartrending (having to quit high school because she could not afford to buy socks) some of them are hilarious (living near a family who rented out their garage to bootleggers), but all are designed to give those struggling with the current economic downturn a shot in the arm.  When you see Clara happily chopping and dicing away in her Skaneateles kitchen, some 80 years after the crash of ’29, you think:  “Hey, if she can make it, I can too!”

And really, who couldn’t do with a little encouragement these days?

In addition to having watched Clara’s videos, I also own her book, “Clara’s Kitchen.”  Like her channel, it’s part cookbook, part scrapbook, and receives Miss Fierce’s highest recommendation (for whatever that’s worth).   Fellow vegetarians, fear not, for there are plenty of recipes that don’t contain meat.  For the ones that do, I find that if you throw in your preferred meat substitute, they turn out just fine.  One of my favorite Clara dishes is the “Poorman’s Meal,” where I use Smart Dogs or Tofu Pups instead of hotdogs.   Tasty times!

Clara also has a DVD, and while I don’t currently own it, I imagine it’s wonderful. . .just like everything else she does.


Poorman’s Meal!


Pasta with Peas, another good one. And I don’t even like peas!

Clara’s YouTube Channel:  http://www.youtube.com/user/DepressionCooking

Clara’s Website:  http://www.greatdepressioncooking.com

3 Comments to “Depression Era Cooking”

  1. I love this. There are a glut of depression-era or forgotten cookery skills making the rounds these days, but Clara is the real deal! (As in, she actually lived through the depression and probably had to make do with less, rather than viewing a kitchsy lifestyle choice.)

    Plus, it is also interesting from a sociological perspective – there are so many things we don’t eat these days.

  2. Then there’s food-bank and gatherer cooking, as in: http://clallamatbay.blogspot.com/2011_10_01_archive.html

    Scroll into the earlier months for kelp pickles….

    • good stuff, thanks! clara talks a bit about “found” foods in her book as well. very helpful hints for our present economy.

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