Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Depression Cooking

No, this isn't a post about cooking when you are depressed, although I DO do a lot of that. This is actually a post about a little video series I ran across that totally reminded me of my Gramma Stella.

Gramma Stella was my father's mother. She was born in 1903 and died in 2005 - yes, she was 102 years old when she passed. Gramma Stella was a vibrant woman, as big around as she was tall (well, to be honest she was kinda short). She had four children, all of them born during the Depression. Like my Gramma, my dad still has depression sensibilities, i.e., thrift, frugality, making do with what you have, saving, saving, saving, etc. She taught him very well.

Gramma watched us kids a lot when we were little, because my parents worked. Both of them worked afternoon shifts - my dad at the paper mill or the salt plant, and my mom at the hospital. So from about 2:00 until midnight everyday, Gramma watched us.

She was a tough cookie too. Nothing got past her. But I (and my severely whipped-a-lot fanny) digress.

We ate a lot of what people today might find sorta disgusting. We ate a lot of things like liver sausage sandwiches (on dark rye bread), czarnina (a fruity soup cooked with pork shoulder and duck's blood), weird sausages, a lot of Polish foods. Things were always fresh because of the farm - lots of eggs, lots of fresh milk, pork and beef.

During the depression, when things weren't going so hot, Gramma learned to make do with whatever she had on hand. Her creativity in the kitchen resulted in meals that are still familiar to me today - things like kluskis and bacon, noodles and cabbage, and what was known as Poorman's Meal. She made us kids a lot of Poorman's Meals.

Poorman's Meal always started out with potatoes and onions fried together (usually in bacon fat - yummy) with some sort of meat added in toward the end. I remember eating this with hot dogs, ring bologna, kielbasa, smoked sausage and even leftover pork chops.

I found this cool video on YouTube - it's someone's Gramma cooking the Poorman's Meal! Her's is a little different (my Gramma didn't use any tomato sauce or water in hers) but the feeling and tone are the same. She even says potato the way Gramma did (puh-tay-duhs).

This was a fun little reminder for me of those days with Gramma Stella and enjoying her Poorman's Meal.