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"Poverty meals"

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"Poverty meals"

Postby jthomas1264 » Thu Jan 07, 2016 6:46 pm

When I was a kid in the late '60s and early '70s, my mom used to make what she called her "poverty meals." She had grown up in the deep south with little money, and she learned to cook just about everything with pinto beans and bacon grease. So, as kids, we always knew it was getting close to payday when dinner was pinto beans and cornbread. To this day it is one of my favorite meals (though I've learned to doctor up the beans a bit.)

How about y'all? Any of you have those "poverty meals"?

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Re: "Poverty meals"

Postby pausted » Thu Jan 07, 2016 7:06 pm

My mom would brown a pound of hamburger in a skillet and then add a can of pork and beans. My dad loved it. I hated it!
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Re: "Poverty meals"

Postby ShadowsDad » Thu Jan 07, 2016 8:53 pm

We didn't have a lot of money growing up and mom could turn an old boot into great food. I wish I could cook as good as she could with nothing but the simplest items to work with. We weren't poor but the money had to be stretched as far as possible.

She'd turn chicken hearts and "margles" (sp? chicken stomach muscles) into great food by fricasseeing them and making a wonderful gravy served over rice; it was delicious. Her chicken livers and onions were to kill for. I wish I knew how to cook them today, but I can't. She'd cook oxtails the same way as the chicken hearts and that was also delicious. I learned how to feed lots of folks from one smoked ham from her. She did the same at home. I love ham and ham and bean soup to this day. Ham and limas? Delicious! When I was a GI I got many cans of "ham and MFers" from other GIs who couldn't tolerate them; those were the days of C-rations.

It was the rare day when I would eat lunch at school. Instead I'd walk home and mom always had hot lunch waiting for me. Lots of times it was eggs and peppers and onions, or crepes and some filling. Yes, crepes are inexpensive food; milk, eggs, and flour, but delicious. If the weather was terrible I'd brown bag it or buy lunch at school.

I learned to make perogies from her and grandmom. That was peasant food from the old country and only required grain grown during the summer and milk from the cow to make. I still make my own cheese for them. I lack the cow. The poverty version would be perogies made with potato filling I guess. They'd tell stories of using leaf lard because they couldn't afford butter. Making soup from goose blood (chanina?) and then there was Kishki (sp?) which was barley and blood sausage. I loved it as a child, but either I've changed or the kishki isn't the same today. Nothing went to waste when they slaughtered an animal.

No doubt I've forgotten a lot that will come to me over time as this thread has time to work in my mind... and it will. Pleasant memories.

Edit: When my wife and I moved to Maine 35 years ago, on a shoestring and with nothing definite to move to, we had tough times and we ate many meals of beans with bacon as flavoring. Back then game was bagged not for sport but for meat on the table and not always by sporting means either. But that was many years ago. But give me a .22, fire, and access to the Forest and I can feed myself pretty good with meat and greens even today.
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Re: "Poverty meals"

Postby brothers » Fri Jan 08, 2016 8:26 am

Those old memories are priceless, aren't they. I remember many of the meals my mom put together, and how enthusiastic my dad (hard physical worker) was, eating his portions with gusto, and always a smile, even when it wasn't much. Those were the days before fast food and television commercials, and everyone was skinny. Payday would eventually come around, and I enjoyed going to the grocery store with my mom. She taught me how to shop for food, which I still enjoy to this day, but my wife now retains full veto power most of the time, and with good reason. :) Some of the dishes I remember from my grandmothers and my mom are fresh fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, goulash, and cornpone.
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Re: "Poverty meals"

Postby jthomas1264 » Fri Jan 08, 2016 9:44 am

I've been enjoying these responses so much that I think I'll make a few over the next week. (And I may steal some of your recipes)!

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Re: "Poverty meals"

Postby dosco » Fri Jan 08, 2016 3:11 pm

ShadowsDad wrote:They'd tell stories of using leaf lard because they couldn't afford butter.


My dad grew up on a dairy farm in the 1930s. Two stories come to mind. First was about how my grandfather would eat straight lard ... usually with a sprinkle of sugar. The other was about how they would occasionally butcher a cow, and eat everything. I mean everything. His favorite was heart, although he really liked tongue.

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Re: "Poverty meals"

Postby ShadowsDad » Fri Jan 08, 2016 8:14 pm

Ah yes, tongue. That was another poverty dish I would cook up because we could get it extremely inexpensively after we moved. I'd boil it and remove the skin, then it could be used for anything. Many times I'd make a stew, but of course tongue is excellent sliced thinly for sandwiches.
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Re: "Poverty meals"

Postby dosco » Sat Jan 09, 2016 7:17 am

I think I have a copy of my father's mother's cookbook somewhere. Need to dregde that up.

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Re: "Poverty meals"

Postby GA Russell » Sat Jan 09, 2016 5:19 pm

I loved my mother's goulash and her Spanish rice.
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Re: "Poverty meals"

Postby EL Alamein » Sat Apr 08, 2017 7:05 pm

When I was a younger man I worked for UPS and carpooled with another young man whom I would pick up to ride to work. When I'd pick him up often times I'd have to wait for him to eat supper (we worked Evening shift). Many times his mother made what she called a Depression Era dish of scrambled eggs and elbow macaroni with some seasonings. She often offered me some but I never took her up on it. She was an off-the-boat Scottish woman who was fun to talk to and full of "pluck".

This meal she made for him reminded me of a Depression Era dish my own mother made as we were growing up called "ground mouse". It was different in that it was ground meat, seasonings and elbow macaroni with perhaps cheese and some seasonings. I loved it. I've not had it since but should ask my mother for the recipe while she is still alive.

I can only imagine what the original recipe must have been as my mother grew up in the middle of the Depression but it does bring back great memories.

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Re: "Poverty meals"

Postby Rufus » Sun Apr 09, 2017 5:50 am

Tripe and onion stew is my favourite. I acquired a taste for it working in the gold mines where it was served every day at the end of shifts. I thought most of the food served at my boarding school could be classified as "poverty meals" until I lived in residence at university where the meals were indescribable...thank goodness for Pines Pizza.
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Re: "Poverty meals"

Postby brothers » Sun Apr 09, 2017 7:16 pm

Once I had occasion to read something written many years ago, in which a fellow who worked the late shift in an underground mine. Every day he would put one whole onion in his pocket when he left home to go to the mine. The onion was his lunch. I can imagine how thin he and everybody else must have been, and have verified this as seen in group photos taken seventy to a hundred years ago.
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Re: "Poverty meals"

Postby ShadowsDad » Sun Apr 09, 2017 10:05 pm

Bryan, I love tripe! I never had that stew but I'd love to try it.

Not so poverty today, but survival food on the coast years ago was dried cod. OK, I love finnan haddie and I think we have discussed that before. I have a box of dried cod for codfish cakes in the shop refrigerator just waiting for the day for me to make them. The wife will not partake (she's not hungry enough :-) ).

There was a time when Maine lobster was food fit only for the poor if you can believe that.
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Re: "Poverty meals"

Postby Antonine » Mon Apr 10, 2017 12:33 pm

ShadowsDad wrote:Bryan, I love tripe! I never had that stew but I'd love to try it.

Not so poverty today, but survival food on the coast years ago was dried cod. OK, I love finnan haddie and I think we have discussed that before. I have a box of dried cod for codfish cakes in the shop refrigerator just waiting for the day for me to make them. The wife will not partake (she's not hungry enough :-) ).

There was a time when Maine lobster was food fit only for the poor if you can believe that.


I'd love to have some Lobster.
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Re: "Poverty meals"

Postby ShadowsDad » Mon Apr 10, 2017 2:28 pm

Antonine, lobster is delicious and I'll never turn my nose up at it, but neck clams, AKA steamers or piss clams are ranked above lobster in my book. Many have been the tourists who were surprised that anyone would pay more for a pint of clams than a lobster roll. But I drive there specifically for the fried clams and I don't care what they cost.

There's a place on the Maine coast where I can get the best fried clams on the planet. It's seasonal, and it's getting ready to open again. It's not much to look at, but the food is really good. We generally take our orders and go out onto the pier or next to the water.
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Or find it here: Italian Barber, West Coast Shaving, Barclay Crocker, The Old Town Shaving Company at Stats, Maggard Razors; Leavitt & Peirce, Harvard Square
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Re: "Poverty meals"

Postby Rufus » Mon Apr 10, 2017 3:29 pm

Our close friends from Newfoundland tell us that when they were young the poor children brought lobster sandwiches to school and the better off children brought Spam on white bread sandwiches. Speaking of Newfoundland, I think that a traditional Jiggs Dinner could be classified as a "poverty meal"; it consists of boiled salt beef, yellow split peas, a head of cabbage, a Swede (rutabaga), carrots, an onion, and parsnips. I love it, but the salt meat does tend to get caught in my teeth.
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Re: "Poverty meals"

Postby cooper_odry » Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:58 am

bread and butter, guys, it's the best
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Re: "Poverty meals"

Postby brothers » Tue Apr 25, 2017 5:35 pm

Homemade biscuits and butter made from the fresh cream from the separator on grandpa's back porch. That was the loudest machine I had ever heard.
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Re: "Poverty meals"

Postby Rufus » Thu Sep 14, 2017 4:23 am

I don't think the following qualify as "poverty meals" per se, but they are easy and inexpensive; I'd prefer to call them "lazy university boy meals": A tin of Clark's Irish Stew with a handful of frozen peas mixed in whilst heating and Kraft Dinner with copious amounts of ketchup.
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