I came across You Tube videos by a 94-year-old Clara Cannucciari. Since 2007, she’s been doing a video series called Great Depression Cooking. Wow, did she start her series at the right time. With the economic downturn that began shortly after her debut, it’s become a huge hit as grocery budgets have gotten tighter. So big that her You Tube series is now available on DVD and she’s published a book. Clara's Kitchen: Wisdom, Memories, and Recipes from the Great Depression was published last fall.
We’ve all become reacquainted recently with the Great Depression motto “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” The old saying has become new again as environmentalists have embraced it as another way to remind people to reduce, reuse, recycle. Clara’s video series and book are one way to embrace that concept in the kitchen. Not only do the recipes use inexpensive, basic ingredients, but they also help cooks use what they have and remind us not to waste food.
Here’s what one reviewer on Amazon, J. Clarke, had this to say about the book.
The recipes are mostly very simple — Dandelion Salad, Eggs and Potatoes, Pasta with Beans ... with Broccoli ... with Escarole — and mostly stem from traditional Italian cooking. Lots of pasta, lots of greens, lots of eggplant, supplemented with eggs and potatoes and tomato sauce.
And yet, though the dishes seem simple by today's standards, there's a lot of nutritional common sense to be found here, too, as Clara's family used fresh vegetables from their own garden and minimal meat, as it was too expensive for everyday use.
You can watch Clara make Couscous — a dish her father enjoyed when he lived in Africa. She does make me a little nervous with that knife!
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