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Clara Shows Us How to Cook When Times Are Tough

Clara_depression_cooking

Meet Clara. She's a 93-year-old great grandmother in New York state. And she can throw down in the kitchen with the bare minimum of ingredients.

You see, Clara, like many folks her age, lived through the Great Depression. During that time, people had to figure out how to feed their families on very little money. After the country's financial situation improved, people like Clara held on to their recipes and frugal techniques and passed them down to their kids and grandkids.

Christopher Cannucciari, Clara's great-grandson, started filming Clara at work in her kitchen so that he could remember her techniques. What was important for Christopher to capture was not just the ingredients that she scrapes together, but the way she tells stories of what life was like when she was growing up. It's not the usual, "uphill both ways, in the snow, and a tsunami," rants. But rather, Clara muses fondly on how they managed and how they continued to find happiness, even though things were really bad. Christopher put his videos online and there is now a whole website devoted to Clara's cooking lessons: Great Depression Cooking with Clara. (Update: Something's up with Clara's site, so here's a link to her YouTube Channel: DepressionCooking.)
 

In the episodes, Christopher often focuses on Clara's hands, which soften in the afternoon sunlight that shines into her kitchen. There are some hints of trembles as she scoops sugar out of a tin and the brown aging spots are impossible to miss. But any viewer can see the pride that Clara feels when making a meal that can feed several mouths and how pleased she is when visitors to her kitchen silently devour the tasty things that she makes.

Clara, of course, hopes that her viewers won't have to find out just how far a family can stretch a sack of potatoes, but they're certainly good tips to keep in mind when we all have to tighten our corners.

The episode in which Clara makes "Poorman's Meal," a mixture of potatoes, onions, hot dogs, and a little bit of tomato sauce, has been making the rounds lately, but I found the episode in which she makes her Depression-era Sunday breakfast to be the best one. Never have cookies and coffee looked so sumptuous.







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Comments

cindy w

This is so cool, thank you for posting it. I've been trying to come up with cheap recipes lately to try to save money, so I am totally going to check this out to see what other recipes Clara has.

michele

adorable. what a wonderful idea.

Meg

Hmmm...the link didn't work :( But I did find the videos on YouTube. I know what I'm going to be doing tonight!!!
Thanks!

Darcey

She reminds me so much of my own grandmother - though she was born after the Great Depression, she did live in Amsterdam in WWII and used to tell me about many of the ration recipes her mother would come up with for the family.

I so wish that I had had the opportunity to film her for something like this.

supertiff

how wonderful.
missing my grandmas now.
feeling a little weepy, actually.




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