Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ham, Green Beans Depression Style, Leeks and Potatoes au Gratin, and Rice Pudding

This meal wasn't very different from having ham and scalloped potatoes, but it was much easier!
The Leeks and Potatoes au Gratin were a snap to make and only baked 15 minutes.
They were real rib stickers...so my boys loved the meal!
We also had leftover Whole Wheat Buttermilk Rolls from last night and homemade applesauce.
I am sure this is a little more than a typical depression meal, but I think a farm family would have had most of the ingredients on hand.
We really enjoyed it...even the rice pudding!

Here are the recipes...followed by some interesting facts about the Great Depression.


I thaw a 4-5 pound ham and then slice it fairly thin.
You can rub the top with brown sugar if you want.
Because our hams are smoked, I just leave it as is, add about a cup of water to the baking dish, cover, and then cook at 200 degrees for 3-4 hours.
Check with a thermometer to make sure the ham is above 160 degrees internally before eating.
We use leftovers for sandwiches!

Leeks and Potatoes au Gratin

I substituted cheddar cheese for the Swiss:).

Green Beans Depression Style

This was a very different recipe!
I had my reservations, and am sorry to say this was not popular at the table last night.
In many ways, they tasted like Dilly Beans...so if you love that combination, you will love this dish.
Original recipe HERE.

  • 1 -2 lb green beans {fresh or frozen thawed}
  • lb pork ends {I used the ends of the ham I was baking.}
  • salt
  • cup vinegar
  • ½ onion
  • water to cover


  1. 1
    Break beans in half and put in large kettle.
  2. 2
    Add rest of ingredients.
  3. 3
    Bring to full boil.
  4. 4
    Cover half way, turn heat down to simmer, forget it for about 3 hours.
  5. 5
    Scoop out with slotted spoon or serve with broth.

    Rice Pudding
    Recipe from HERE.

    2 1/2 cups whole milk

    1/3 cup long or short grain white rice

    1/8 teaspoon salt

    1/4 cup brown sugar or white sugar
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 cup brown or golden raisins, optional
    Lightly sweetened whipped cream {opt.}

    Rice Pudding: In a medium heavy bottomed saucepan combine the milk, rice, and salt. Place saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium to medium-low and simmer until the rice is tender (about 25 minutes). Stir the milk mixture frequently using a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. When the rice is tender (al dente) remove from heat and add the sugar, vanilla extract, and ground cinnamon. Return to heat and cook until the rice pudding thickens, about 5 to10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the raisins. Spoon the pudding into your serving bowls and cover with plastic wrap. If you want a film or skin on the puddings, allow them to cool before covering with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until serving time, about 1 to 2 hours. 
    If desired, garnish with lightly sweetened whipped cream.
    Makes 2 to 3 servings.
    Note:  Can double the recipe for 4 to 6 servings.

Interesting Facts from the Great Depression
During the Depression, distressed farms were sometimes sold at “Penny Auction” (forced auctions) in which farmers would assure that a distressed neighbor would be able to buy back his own farm by holding bids down to pennies, nickels, and quarters. They would dissuade those who wanted to make higher bids, sometimes symbolically with dangling nooses at the auction scene.

 By the 1930s, thousands of schools were operating on reduced hours or were closed down entirely. Some three million children had left school, and at least 200,000 took to riding the rails.

On May 6, 1929, Joseph Stalin predicted to a small group of American communists that America would experience a revolutionary crisis and that the American communist party should be ready to assume the leadership of the “impending class struggle in America. 

Scholars estimate that nearly 50% of children during the Great Depression did not have adequate food, shelter, or medical care. Many suffered rickets.

A new look in women’s fashion emerged in the 1930s. In response to the economic crisis, designers created more affordable fashions with longer hemlines, slim waistlines, lower heels, and less makeup. Accessories became more important as they created the impression of a “new” look without having to buy a new dress.

Causes of the Great Depression are widely debated but typically include a weak banking system, overproduction, bursting credit bubble, the fact that farmers and industrial workers had not shared in the prosperity of the 1920s, and a government-held laissez faire policy.

Have a great day!


Amy said...

I love this. I think that meal sounds lovely and comforting. Except maybe for the 3 hour green beans.... Isnt it funny that people used to cook veggies tll they were just mush!
Love those interesting facts too.

Natalie said...

I am loving your Depression posts. They are so very interesting.
Thank you for sharing.

Gumbo Lily said...

I think the beans would have been better just sauteed with the pork and salt & pepper. I wonder why the cup of vinegar? (ugh)

The rest sounded delicious. I love rice pudding. Interesting historical notes too. The Penny Auction is something I haven't heard of.


Gina said...

Sounds a bit like an Easter meal. Except the green beans. ;) I would think they ate more cornbread, but I guess that is probably a southern thing. Intersesting so far. :)

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm a wet blanket... I really don't think people ate this well. I think times were very hard.

Julia said...

A Bit of Our World...you are not a wet blanket:). The meals I planned are a little larger than a typical family would have eaten, but my boys have hollow legs!! So, I thought it would still be fun to post the recipes...just with a little added caloric intake:).


Only in Louisiana ~ documenting the adventures we call Life! said...

Refreshing to hear a bit of history! It has been so long since I have brushed up on American history so this is great...keep it coming. I used to make rice pudding when I was in high school and I loved it. Thanks for reminding me about the recipe. I can't wait to try it again! What a fun and different series this week's posts are...thanks!

Valerie said...

I am loving the history tidbits!

I knew about the Penny Auctions from when I used to teach 3rd grade. We actually read and taught a piece of historical fiction written for that age level (8-9 year olds). I'm going to try and see if I can find the title...

Since you homeschool, you might already know it. The story always fascinated my students and every year brought a tear to my eye as I got to the end where after purchasing all of the family's belongings for 1 cent, a nickle, etc. the neighbors the gave the items back to the family.

Guess it made the bankers hopping mad!

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