I have become quite fascinated recently with the Great Depression. More accurately, with the food of the Great Depression. It’s amazing to me how a whole generation of women and men learned how to make everything last longer, go further, and feed everyone at the table. My great-grandmother lived during the depression. After my great-grandfather got laid off from a factory in Chicago, they moved to Pulaski, TN to work at the Milky Way Farm. The youngest of 14 kids, my great-grandmother was no stranger to hard-times, hard-work and hard living. They, like many during the depression, grew everything they ate. They threw away absolutely nothing. Everything was reused, and what wasn’t was stored away. I remember when I was a child walking into my great-grandmother’s pantry/laundry room and seeing huge balls of aluminum foil, canning jars from decades ago, cardboard boxes, empty pie tins, plastic butter tubs…well you get the picture.
While most people simply ate what they had ( I heard one story of a spaghetti sandwich), some people got pretty creative. Necessity is the mother of invention after all.
I am actively searching for some Depression Era recipes to make and share with you all. I plan on my great-grandmother’s Tomato Soup Cake to take up a post here soon, but I would also love to hear any recipes that you may have in your family. In the meantime, here are some Apple-Oatmeal Bars from Stories and Recipes of the Great Depression by Rita Van Amber. They are simply delicious. Perfect with coffee in the morning or ice cream after dinner.
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup flour
1/2 t cinnamon
2 1/2 cups chopped apples
1/2 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350. Combine first five ingredients in a bowl. Pat down half of the mixture into the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish. Layer on apples and sugar, patting down. Add remaining mixture on top and pat down. Bake for 35-40 minutes. You may need to put under a broiler for a couple minutes to brown the top.