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Friday, February 20, 2009

Depression Food For Discussion


NO..I'm not talking about what one eats when they are depressed..(Though if you had seen my paycheck from the last two weeks worth of work, you would go eat yourself an entire chocolate bar, specifically the humongous size that they sell at the Hershey's store in Times Square..)
I was looking at my schedule for the month, at the hospital where I am working, (if you can call it that), and out of 9 scheduled shifts, I Have Only Been Allowed To Work 3 Shifts!...hence the paycheck that is joke-worthy..(Doesn't even cover my rent!..What am I suppose to do with this kind of money? New shoelaces? Rent a couple of movies? Buy a few, and only a few, things at the Grocery Store, and hope that futuristically we have somewhere to cook and eat them?)
I know, I know, as everyone says, "Something will come along"...WWWHHHHEEEEENNNNNN?

THE YEARS OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION

That has been on my mind a lot lately, basically because I am for all intent and purposes, pretty much unemployed, and for other reasons as well.
I am not a "denial" type of person (though I think that those that are, are abundantly happier folks than I could ever hope to be..."la de da" and "tomorrows another day" have always just been either something Annie Hall would say, or some type of foreign language, and I only speak English....)
I am a CNN junkie, which I have previously mentioned, and let's face it guys..."IT JUST DON'T LOOK GOOD OUT THERE"...nor in the foreseeable future. If you have not already lost money in the stock market, or have not been layed off from your job, well Bless your little Heart! Now hit the floor and say 100 "Hail Mary's" immediately, and set the alarm, and plan to do it on an hourly basis! There's no time to waste!
So, I have been looking into those economically horrific years, listened to my parents discuss it, and have done a little research (yeah, and what else am I suppose to be doing?...Hell, I might as well educate myself a bit during this unemployed period!! "Ah may be poor but Ahm smart asa whip!")
I will only cover an aspect of it in this particular post, and do follow ups on other aspects in posts to come...
I decided to start out with a typical question any self respecting "foodie" would ask themselves, which is....WHAT DID PEOPLE EAT?

CHAPTER I Or "What did they eat during the depression?"
Across the nation, hungry people waited in "soup lines" for a free meal, especially in larger cities.
"On the farm, growing, tending, preparing, and preserving food took many hours of work. There was no electricity to power refrigerators, so it was difficult to keep milk and other foods fresh, especially during the summer heat."
Yet even during the Depression, many new foods were invented or introduced. Some of them we are still very familiar with today, or you may even find in your own food cabinet:


SPAM ( okay, you don't have to admit it if you have this, or you could say it's for the dog)
KRAFT MACARONI AND CHEESE
TOLL HOUSE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
GOOD HUMOR ICE CREAM BARS
BISQUICK
KRISPY CREME DOUGHNUTS ( what? and we had to hold out for 80 years? Note of interest here...The news reports that they are going bankrupt..Too bad you can't stock up..Nothing worse than stale doughnuts)
Ritz Crackers
Nestle's Chocolate Chips
And Kool-Aid was invented in Hasting, Nebraska in the late 20s and became a national brand in the 30s.
Also during the 1930s, Colonel Harland Sanders developed a secret formula of spices to flavor the fried chicken at his Sanders Court and Café (motel and restaurant) in Corbin, Kent, Kentucky.
In towns and cities, some women entertained in their homes, often at an afternoon tea with dainty sandwiches, nut breads, and tiny cookies. Women's clubs met for luncheons of sandwich loaves or creamed meat and vegetables in patty shells. Sugar prices were low, so women created desserts, cakes, cookies, and used marshmallows for the now-favorite Rice Krispie treats.
As more homes were connected to electricity, more people bought refrigerators and freezers. Clarence Birdseye* of Massachusetts introduced 26 frozen vegetables, fruits, fish and meats to consumers. (*I cannot being to tell you how many frozen Birdseye veggies are in my freezer...THANK YOU CLARENCE!)

To give credit, where credit is certainly due, I obtained this information from "Wessels Living History Farm in York Nebraska"...(thank you as well, Wessels!)

CHAPTER II (or let's talk about Fried Pies, as well as get a Recipe for em!)

This is also a blog about fried pies.. delicious and hard to find these days ( when you do they are usually inferior in terms of quality). They were and are such a delectable, economical, and tasty treat

I had to research a little history about them as well ...I know that they were eaten during the "Great Depression", as I was told that my Grandfather would take these and put them in his pocket when he went down into the mines to work...They are very "portable" and keep well. Often they were filled with meat.

"Fried pies are a Southern tradition and came about as a way for frugal cooks to use every bit of food. According to How to Eat Fried Pies by writer Paul Lukas (April 1, 2006, The New York Sun), "Fried pie history is sketchy. Before cold storage and imports made apples available year-round, lots of folks sliced up their fresh apples and then dried them, which was an effective means of long-term preservation. According to the book Apple Pie: An American Story by Southern food historian John Edge, "Many of those dried apples ended up in fried pies. From dried to fried—nice." (Let me once again give credit where credit is due, and that would be to our friends at the "Ozark Folk Center", where they apparently cannot keep enough fried pies to make their visitors happy...Fried pies are STILL their number one best seller...)
WHY, YOU ASK? " MY GOD, THEY ARE CERTAINLY NOT WHAT ONE WANTS TO EVEN ADMIT TO KNOWING ANYTHING ABOUT IN THIS DAY AND AGE, WITH OUR KNOWLEDGE OF CHOLESTEROL AND ARTERIAL PLAQUE!!!!!!!!!"
Hey, I am not suggesting that you make this a habit. I am just here to inform you of an easy to prepare, economical, heartwarming, and delicious alternative to the next nightly bowl of ice cream that you ladle up, that's all.
There is only one place, where I live, that I KNOW has delicious fried pies...They are too far away, so I never have one, but I know people who do, and they can barely get through the description of "Peggy Sue's Fried Apricot Pies", without drooling...(so very embarrassing...somebody hand that girl a kleenex...)

This Is "Peggy Sue's" Original Recipe...

1/3 cup shortening (hello...Crisco)
2 cups self-rising flour(notice SELF RISING)
2/3 cup ice water
1 package dried apricots
1 cup sugar
1/4 teasp. ground allspice or cinnamon
Oil for frying ( My experience is that the best oil for frying is Peanut or Corn Oil...I know, I know, it is not as healthy as Canola, but for heaven's sake, you're making fried pies here, not tofu!)

Combine shortening and flour in work bowl of food processor...(don't ask me what they did during the depression...uh...they worked harder?...yeah, that's it)_
Pulse several times, until mixture resembles cornmeal.
Sprinkle with ice water, and pulse briefly, until water is mixed into dough.
Remove from work bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Dice apricots into 1/2 inch pieces. Place in heavy saucepan and cover with water.
Cover with lid and simmer until apricots are tender.
Remove lid and cook until almost all of the liquid has evaporated.
Add sugar and spice of your choice and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved.
Remove from the heat and let cool while dough is resting.
To assemble, divide pastry into eight portions.
On floured board, roll each int a 6-inch circle.
Place 1/4 cup of filling in center, moisten edges with a little water, then fold pastry circles in half.
Press edges with a fork dipped in flour, and cook immediately or freeze.
For fresh pies, deep-fry in oil preheated to 375 degrees for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cook frozen pies, at the same temperature and without defrosting, for about 4 minutes.
To cook in a large skillet, use about 1/2 inch of corn oil and fry pies over medium-heat for about 2 minutes on each side.
Drain finished pies on paper towels and dust with powdered sugar.
Makes 8 amazing fried pies.

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