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Post Holiday Depression Diet

If you're like me after the holidays, a person who routinely has trouble pushing herself away from the table**, you're feeling fat and broke. So I looked up some traditional Depression Era recipes, hearkening back to the days when everybody was skinny because they ate so much cabbage, noodles, beans, and potatoes (for some reason back in the '30s, carb consumption didn't lead to out-of-control weight gain). Most of these recipes are vaguely in the "stone soup" family, where a minuscule dab of protein is stretched, via the judicious addition of breadcrumbs or other starchy carbs, to feed an entire village. (I  noticed that even the New York Times has been printing recipes lately that any Depression-surviving mom would have been happy to serve her family, like this one for cabbage with lentils.) 

Here's an original  Depression recipe appropriately called Poor Man's Casserole:

1 small head cabbage
2 large potatoes
I large onion, diced
1 1/2 lbs hamburger
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 stick butter
1/2 tsp salt
dash of paprika

Cut cabbage into cubes, salt and pepper to taste, and cook until well done. Drain. Peel and quarter potatoes, salt and cook until well done. Drain potatoes and smash with butter, making sure they are on the dry side. Put hamburger in skillet with onions, salt and pepper, and cook until well done. Drain off all the fat and add cumin. Put cabbage in baking dish to level of about 3 inches. Put meat on top of cabbage. Put potatoes on top of meat. Sprinkle with paprika. Cook in 350 oven for 25 minutes. Makes 4 large servings. The author adds: "In a casserole you have your whole meal: meat, vegetable and starch."

From "Great Depression Recipes."

-- Gail Shepherd

**disparaging Depression-era slang for one who overindulges, food-wise

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Gail Shepherd
Contact: Gail Shepherd

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