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Old 05-22-2020, 01:27 PM
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My grandparents were adults in the 40's and always had a garden for fresh produce in summer which was canned for eating in winter, even into their late 70s. They went to commercial peach orchards and strawberry fields to pick and can. My grandmother baked but not bread, that was store-bought.

Ketchup was an important condiment.

My grandfather came from humble background and would bring home possum to cook (my grandmother hated the smell). In later years saw him bring home a giant snapping turtle to kill and cook. He could live off the land but did not hunt, more of a forager. They went crabbing on weekends for blue crabs to cook and pick for crab cakes.

They took pride in their food table, always had far too much food when others dined with them. She'd bake a big ham then they'd eat it the rest of the week in different ways (lastly the bone cooked with shelly beans). Great macaroni and cheese, rice pudding. Meat and potatoes plus veggies was dinner. Eggs, bacon and a slice of bread (not toasted) was breakfast every day or my great-grandfather complained (he lived with them). No idea about lunch. They were not southern enough to make/eat biscuits but southern enough to make sweet tea. She'd boil a gallon of water in a pot, add a lot of teabags and make it really strong, after done with tea bags add huge amount of sugar to dissolve then add ice cubes. Always served slight warm with ice cubes.

Last edited by twinkletwinkle22; 05-22-2020 at 01:51 PM..
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Old 05-22-2020, 01:31 PM
Location: Was Midvalley Oregon; Now Eastside Seattle area
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In the early 50's, we ate SPAM and canned corned Beef. Fresh meat and veg were hard to come by. IIRC, we had an ice cabinet.
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Old 05-22-2020, 01:32 PM
Location: Moku Nui, Hawaii
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In the midwest, there would be huge gardens in the summer with most of it canned for use during the rest of the year. We had a 'root cellar' with shelves and shelves of canned fruits and veggies. My uncle had bees so we had raw honey in the comb, (he sold the pure honey, but the honey in the comb was considered inferior and didn't get sold) but as part of the bees he had a fruit orchard so the bees would have flowers and make more honey. We would get twenty bushels or more each time we went out to pick of apples, peaches, etc., and then the next several days we'd put those in the jars. That would happen two or three times for each fruit season.

Apples would be processed down into apple butter. Roadside blackberries would be picked for jellies and jams. Garden veggies would be canned; tomatoes, green beans, corn, etc. Summer time was sweating in the kitchen canning things time.

There were huge crocks of pickles as well as canned pickles. Sauerkraut would be in the crocks and then canned. These crocks were bigger than a five gallon bucket.

Spring and summer eggs would be put in a crock of some sort of goo and they'd stay fresh for months.

Root veggies were in the - you guessed it - the root cellar. In piles of straw, I think it was. Apples and squash, too. They'd have to be checked to make sure they were still good if one started to go bad it could spoil the whole pile.

In the fall, after the garden was harvested, the straw that had been spread between the plants for mulch was turned under and if any barn manure was available, that would be turned under with it. Then a new layer of straw would be spread about a foot thick and that was the end of the garden until the next spring.

Summer we ate loads of fresh veggies and fruits. Fish were caught and eaten from the spring to early winter. In town was a 'meat locker', we would get a quarter or half of a cow or hog and it would be kept there. We would go to town and get a roast or ribs or whatever when it was wanted. The desk clerk would bring out the wire basket that had our paper wrapped parcels of meat in it. This was before plastic.

Winter time there was usually a huge pot of soup on the back of the stove. It had to be brought to a boil at least once a day, the rest of the time it wouldn't have to be cooking but the lid had to stay on it. More water and ingredients were added when it got low and it would sort of change as the ingredients changed.

When we got chickens, well, you could tell they were healthy by how bright their eyes were and how fast they were if they got loose. Turkeys didn't have the big breasts like they do now. Hmm, most of the chickens didn't either. If the end of the breastbone was solid bone, then it was a soup chicken. If it was still flexible, then it could be fried.

We bought flour, we didn't really eat rice. When we lived out in the country, my grandfather had six dairy cows so we had fresh milk from the bottom of the bulk tank. Not sure how it was kept cold, but it seemed pretty cool. The dairy van would come around each morning and take the milk away although we would have already gotten the milk for the household before the milk van came. The bottom of the bulk tank wouldn't have the cream in it, if cream was wanted then some would come off the top of the bulk tank.

There were the six cows, a couple hogs, a flock of chickens and a tractor instead of a horse. The fruit orchard, the bees behind the graveyard across the road, the creek behind that. The cows had a pond we could put the small catfish we caught in the creek into the pond to catch again later. Another uncle had a metal stock tank, he would put the catfish he caught in there for a week or so before they ate them so they wouldn't taste so muddy since the creek by his house was a muddy creek.

There were crayfish in the creek to either use as bait or eat if they were big enough. Grasshoppers were good bait although harder to catch. Worms could be dug from the garden. We would usually catch crappie, perch, bass and sometimes trout if we fished from a different small river instead of the creek.

When cooking, there was a can to put the grease drippings in. That would later be used to cook with. The breads had a tendency to be more of the 'quick breads' such as biscuits, rolls, pancakes, corn breads, etc., as opposed to yeast breads.
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Old 05-22-2020, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Bungalove View Post
Mom also made really boozy fruitcake, which I also loved. The one exception was the year she over-administered the booze, and all the fruitcakes developed a lovely blue fuzz on the outside. We teased her about her "blue haired" fruitcakes for years.
Sounds like she actually didn't put enough booze. Alcohol inhibits mold and bacteria.
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Old 05-22-2020, 03:07 PM
Status: "Daring to hope" (set 25 days ago)
Location: Coastal New Jersey
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My mother remembered her mother having a pot of vegetable soup cooking on the stove and overhearing her tell her uncles (my grandmother's younger brothers, they lived there because their own mother had died of a stroke while pregnant) to go down to the pond and see if they could find some turtles to put in the soup. They did. My mother said she remembered that the soup was good.

Small town in northern NJ, 1930s.
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Old 05-22-2020, 05:36 PM
Status: "Happy Juneteenth!" (set 12 hours ago)
Location: The New England part of Ohio
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They (my parents, born the 30s) in they always talked about this dish - Chicken Fricassee.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fricassee

As good as it was, it never made it to the 60s.

They also both ate frikadellin (sp) I need to look that up. They apparently didn't like it enough to eat it in the 50s, 60s, 70s. and 80s.
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Old 05-22-2020, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by JSmithMMXVIII View Post
Was the way Americans ate in the 1930s/1940s completely different than since the 1950's? Some sources say it was basic, more traditional with healthier portions, no GM food, less chemicals. Certainly almost no fast food, at least not in the way we know it since the 50s, and especially the 60s. Anyway, I don't really care when the change started to occur (circa 1954 space age is my bet). What I would like to know is what did the average American in NY or some midwestern farm would eat in, say 1946, and was it different than today? Would mom prep Kellogs with milk for breakfast like today?
I believe my grandparents ate way more fattening and unheart-healthy food than people eat now. It was the same fattening food we eat now, but back then it was normal, whereas now it's more of a special thing. Like fried chicken made at home. Back then, it was a regular meal. Now, people don't eat it that often, and when they do, they but it, not make it at home.

The meat was healthier, probably. Now animals are pumped with hormones & antibiotics, and meat you buy may be injected with saline solutions & chemicals.

My grandparents all lived in rural or semi-rural/small town areas. They all had gardens and fruit trees, so they ate: raw figs, fig pies, gumbo, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fried eggs & toast, all sorts of beans (mostly from a garden), satsumas (from their own trees), apples from the store, all kinds of fish (bought at local stores & provided from local fishermen). Crisco, lots of salt and other spices. Cakes and candy, homemade, but also bought at the store.

It was a special treat to go to the local Busy Bee Diner to get a burger with fries & a Coke or shake. Most meals were prepared and eaten at home. Wives didn't work, so prepared the meals. People didn't watch tv (almost no one in our area had a tv until the 1950s). So they were busy doing things most of the time, instead of sitting around watching tv or listening to the radio.

So they ate fewer chemicals, no microwaves & other radiation sources, and ate more unhealthy, IMO. But they also were much more active, grew more of their own food. I don't know how much they ate. There were a lot of chunky people back then, but not nearly the number of obese that we have now.
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Old 05-22-2020, 10:18 PM
Status: "Daring to hope" (set 25 days ago)
Location: Coastal New Jersey
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I remember going to Sunday dinner at my mother's mother's house on occasion. She would make a pot roast and mashed potatoes and corn and string beans. The post road sat in a gravy that had about a half-inch of clear fat floating on the top.

Then we have cookies and cake for dessert. Her cakes were heavy. She must have used a stick of butter in each one. She kept a full candy dish.

When she was 92, my mother needed surgery. Nana lived with my parents by then but needed help with getting her clothing and making meals. I took two months family leave to take care of her. She wanted Spam for lunch and those salmon cakes made with canned salmon and bread crumbs cooked in butter because her mother used to make them.

She lived to be 94 years old, eating grease and sugar for most of her life. But she drank tea with sugar and milk all day long. Maybe that did it.
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Old 05-23-2020, 05:48 AM
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
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Originally Posted by silibran View Post
I had forgotten this: in our family, I never remember eating real butter. We ate margarine because it was cheaper. My mother might have put out a stick of butter for company.

We baked with Crisco or margarine.

I imagine this began in the 1940s. My parents were always price conscious about food.

I don’t remember jello before the fifties. But I was very young in the late 1940s.
We also used margarine and only rarely did we have butter. I can remember, and I bet not many can, when there was a little colored thing that looked like a button inside a plastic package full of what was more like lard, than margarine. We would squeeze this little button thing until it popped and then keep squeezing it as it turned the lard into margarine. By changing it into margarine, what it did was change the color. This way of mixing only lasted maybe a year. My sister and I used to love to be the ones to squeeze the package. I think it failed quickly as the plastic bags would often split or get a whole in them. Remember this was the very beginning of using plastic and it wasn't as perfected like now.

Yes we certainly did bake with Crisco.

Tylerrose: you are right about women not driving until the 50s but even if they did, families only had 1 car. My dad was in a car pool or would use a company car often so mom did have access to the car.

I will add though, we did not actually have delivery meals at all and we lived in the city. We did have the milk man and the bakery truck that came around every few days and we had Jewel Tea guy who sold non parishable items likes canned goods and jello, etc.
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Old 05-23-2020, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by nmnita View Post
I will add though, we did not actually have delivery meals at all and we lived in the city. We did have the milk man and the bakery truck that came around every few days and we had Jewel Tea guy who sold non perishable items likes canned goods and jello, etc.
My parents also had a milk man (in fact, we still had home milk delivery in California well into the 1970s). My dad even remembered the ice man who brought blocks of ice for people's iceboxes. He broke his collarbone falling off the wagon after trying to hitch a ride.

But otherwise, being city people, they walked or took streetcars to stores to get their groceries. When they moved to Mississippi in the 1950s, they had one car, but Dad needed it to get to work, so Mom would put my two oldest siblings in a wagon and pull them to the store.
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