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Cooking Tips from Great Depression Great - Grandmother Print
In this day of budget-minded cooking, it helps to get advice from someone who's been there, done that. Enter Clara Cannucciari, a 93-year-old great-grandmother from upstate New York. Her "Great Depression Cooking with Clara" videos have become a recent hit on YouTube and beyond. "They're tasty," Clara says of her recipes. "They're good."

The series began as a project by her grandson, who posted the first "Cooking with Clara" video in 2007. The first recipe was pasta with peas, and episodes have included egg drop soup, peppers and eggs, and a dish known as the "poorman's meal" consisting in large part of potatoes and hot dogs.

"We cooked them a lot," she says. "Now I cook them for my grandchildren. They love it and they bring their friends over."

Her videos pepper memories of the Great Depression with her step-by-step instructions on making dishes popular in her home during the era.

"We'd have pasta everyday with a vegetable or something and a little tiny piece of meat, and that was our meal," she said. "We survived."

Clara grew up in Chicago, the daughter of Italian immigrants, who brought their Sicilian sensibilities to the dinner table. Her recipes, which require a healthy dose of olive oil and pasta, reflect that upbringing.

"We had a big garden," Clara said, "My father planted everything, so we didn't go to the store too much."

Tomatoes, lettuce and celery were among the veggies in that 1930s’ garden.

Her advice for those cooking on a budget? "Eat a lot of pasta," she says. "It's filling, it's good and it's cheap."

But don't buy too much. "If too many people buy pasta," she says with a laugh, "they'll raise the price."


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