Great Depression Cooking and Honey Cinnamon Berry Muffins

Have you met Chef Clara? Chef Clara is a ninety-one-year old woman who is featured in a YouTube cooking program. She lived during the Great Depression and the recipes she offers are from that era of essential thriftiness. In addition to preparing some cheap and delicious food, Chef Clara tells about her girlhood during the Great Depression. In the first episode she talks about bootleggers renting out her neighbor’s garage and the smell of whiskey permeating the community.

The meals look delicious!

I usually get groceries about once a week or maybe every 9 days or so. Last weekend I refused to go grocery shopping. I had just paid the rent and had two scheduled outings with friends. I decided to forgo food shopping this past weekend and dining out this week in order to buy books and enjoy lunch out this past weekend.

I find it helpful to go through a “pantry blitz” about once every other month. It encourages me to use up the odds and ends that accumulate, never get used, and end up getting dumped because they are rotten, out-of-date, or a victim of freezer burn. Right before I restock, I defrost the freezer and scrub the refrigerator; this is also a great time to reorganize the cupboards.

In addition to making various pastas and casseroles to use up meat, canned items, pasta, and fresh veggies; I made muffins this week. We were nearly out of milk (at least there wasn’t enough for the three of us to have cereal every morning) and there was nary a NutriGrain bar in sight. Also, during the week I already wake up at 5:15 a.m. and I knew I wouldn’t get up any earlier to cook a breakfast. The muffins I made start out as most of my recipes do: I find a recipe on All-Recipes and then take stuff out and add in a slew of other ingredients. Here is what I concocted yesterday afternoon:

Honey Cinnamon Berry Muffins

  1. Mix together 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup oats, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.
  2. Add in, while your mixer is stirring, 3 tablespoons honey, 1 cup milk, 1 beaten egg, 3 tablespoons applesauce.
  3. Mix until batter is wet, but still lumpy.
  4. Add in 2 cups of berries. I used 1 cup of frozen strawberries and 1 cup of frozen blueberries.
  5. Mix well.
  6. Fill lined or greased muffin tins. Make sure to not fill them more than 2/3 of the way full — or you will have burnt bits on the tin.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes. I put my oven on 350 — but my oven is old, tiny, and temperamental.
  8. Muffins are done when they are firm, but springy on top. You can also stick a fork or toothpick in the middle to check — if it comes out clean its done.
  9. Let muffins cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to rack.
  10. Eat ’em.



  1. I’ve always found “The great depression” cooking very interesting.I think we have a few recipes somewhere, like, Mock apple pie 🙂

    Those muffins look delishy!!

  2. Catherine — not really. I usually wait until I am pissy and then I scrub everything. It takes a bad mood or frustration to get me to really clean!

    Giggly — that’s awesome — do you have an old cookbook with recipes? Were they handed down?

    Michelle — thanks, they were quite yummy!

  3. I have heard a few great depression stories from time to time and there is a real sense of connection and community in many of them, of people combining their resources out of necessity. I think we can learn a lot from these folks, and I find it kind of comforting that there are 90 plus year-old women on YouTube inparting their generational wisdom.

    The muffins look divine btw. I have been known to make creative chilli recipes based on what scattered ingredients remain in the cupboard on the day before I hit the grocery store.

    Like you blog – linked here randomly through a mutual fondness for E.M. Forster. Keep up the good writing!

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