Quick and Easy Depression Era Dinner

My husband Dan is very supportive of my vintage and retro cooking experiments. And why not when Aunt Lil who is the inspiration for this project was his own great aunt. Last week while he was in an antique store without me he picked up two small cookbooks for my collection. One was the Glenwood Cook Book from 1933. Published by the Glenwood Range Company in Taunton, MA, this slim book has “some selected recipes and suggestions for better home menus.” It also gives suggestions on using your new Glenwood gas stove.

I couldn’t find much history on the Glenwood Stove Company except that the stoves were made by the Weir Stove Company on the banks of the Taunton River. Here’s a link to some photos which show it in its pre-restored state. The town of Taunton did tear down a good portion of the factory and the rest was retained for low income housing.

Depression era cookbooks are pretty basic. People obviously didn’t have a lot of money to spend on fancy cooking. My mom who grew up in Elmwood and Peoria, Illinois remembered always being hungry during these years.

The Glenwood Cook Book has a section with complete dinner menus where everything is cooked at the same temperature in the oven. That seemed like a simple and easy solution and a recipe for Baked Ham in Ginger Ale caught my eye. So following their suggestions we had Baked Ham, Baked Potatoes, and Baked Bananas for Sunday dinner.

Baked Potatoes

Into the oven first were the baked potatoes, which they suggested you rub with a small amount of shortening (I used butter) and cook in a 425 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. I only had sweet potatoes on hand, which meant with the ginger ale/brown sugared ham and baked bananas it was a pretty sweet dinner!

Baked Ham in Ginger Ale

  • 1 slice ham 1 1/2 inches thick
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground clove
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • ginger ale

My first worry was that the recipe called for the ham to be cooked in a 425 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. I guess back then when you bought ham it was uncooked. Today’s ham is pre-cooked, and if I’d left it in for that length of time it would have been shoe leather. So I changed the cooking time to 1/2 hour.

Place ham in a baking dish and spread brown sugar on top. Sprinkle with cloves and mustard. Pour enough ginger ale into the dish to almost cover the ham. Bake.

Ham going in oven.

Baked Bananas

  • 6 bananas
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 3 tbsp. butter

Remove skins from bananas, cut in halves lengthwise and place in a shallow baking dish. Mix lemon juice with sugar and spread over bananas. Dot with bits of butter. Bake in the 425 degree oven for 20 minutes.

The resulting meal was ok. I rather bland, but quick and satisfying meal. In other words a typical American early 20th century meal.

If any of you have thoughts on hams in the 1930s I’d love to hear it!

Baked, baked, and more baked.

One Response to “Quick and Easy Depression Era Dinner”

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  1. Bev says:

    Ummmmm, I wasn’t alive in the 30″s so I can’t help. The bananas sound awful so we be trying those! (I don’t eat bananas unless they are green!) The ham and potatos sound really good. We’ll probably try thosed.

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