The Great Depression Foods (Baked Stuffed Onions)
My mind is blown. Many of the recipes I post are from watching my Mother, Grandmothers, and Aunts cook.
The Stock Market crash of 1929 spiraled the country into The Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 to 1941. During 1932-1933, approximately 1 in 3 people were unemployed.
My Mother was born in 1923, so she would have been 6 in 1929 and 18 in 1941. Many foods were scarce during this time. Going into WWII, ingredients like sugar were sent to soldiers, and homes in the US had to ration food.
I always thought the dishes my Mother loved were because they were popular in the 1960s and 1970s. What I realize now, is that those were the years I grew up, but Mother cooked years before that. In reality, she grew up on the following dishes when food was scarce. Recipes were created with cheap ingredients during The Great Depression. With food and grocery prices increasing today, these Great Depression Recipes could be used successfully to save some money.
Some of the foods my Mother loved were:
- Baked Apples – (click on link)
- Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast (SOS)
- Haluski – Fried Cabbage and Noodles (click on link)
- Peppers and Eggs
- Navy Bean and Ham Soup
- Ketchup or Raw Onion Sandwiches
- Prune anything – Stewed Prunes
- Jello Molds
- Rice Pudding
- Date Nut Bread (made in cans)
- Baked Stuffed Onions (recipe below)
I will save you from any Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast (SOS) recipe. My Mother loved this and made it frequently for herself. I never cared for it, so I never wrote the recipe down. I believe it was pretty simple to make. Buddig packaged beef with a cream sauce. She would make some toast and pour the Cream Chipped Beef over the toast. She also made a dip to use with crackers in the 1960s using diced Buddig pakaged beef, cream cream and finely minced onions.
Pepper and Eggs – You really don’t need a full recipe for this. She simply fried up some sliced green peppers and mixed them with scrambled eggs. This was a common breakfast or brunch item on Saturdays for my parents.
Navy Bean and Ham Soup – I haven’t found her recipe yet. It may be buried in some of the loose recipes she kept. When I find it, I will post it. I wasn’t fond of beans, so I never ate it, but I remember it smelled delicious.
Ketchup or Onion Sandwiches – If my Mother got hungry between meals, she would occasionally grab a Ketchup or Onion Sandwich. I actually watched her just eat small raw onions in the past. She must have had a cast iron stomach. LOL!
Prunes were common food for my Mother and Grandmother. Beside the obvious of keeping you regular, they seemed to enjoy using them in various dishes like Stewed Prunes.
Jello Molds – What can I say? The 1950s and 1960s were all about the Jello Mold. You would find at least one at every party. However, jello molds became popular during the 1920s and 1930s so they have been around for awhile. If you need a jello mold recipe, just look for the Joys of Jell-O Gelatin Dessert cookbook.
Rice Pudding sprinkled with ground cinnamon was my Mother’s favorite dessert. She made this quite often for herself. Anytime we had a meal that called for rice, I would make extra so she could make Rice Pudding for herself. She also loved Tapioca Pudding.
Date Nut Bread made in cans was something my Mother made every year around the holidays. I do have this recipe and will post it at some point. She made enough to give as gifts for the family. Things have changed since the canned foods popularity of the 1960s. Truthfully, I have never made this since I rarely use any can goods. Everything I use now is fresh or frozen. I’ll have to get some canned fruit or something in 15 oz cans so I can save the cans to make the bread in.
I have made the Baked Apples and Haluski (Fried Cabbage and Noodles). The recipes are linked above.
I always enjoyed the Baked Stuffed Onions when my Mother made them. She didn’t make them often, but they were a great side dish. Here is our recipe below. The difference with my Mother’s recipe is that she used cream/milk and made a gravy with it when they were finished. You can serve these Baked Stuffed Onions with beef, hamburgers, chicken or even ham. It should be noted that there are Depression recipes for Baked Stuffed Onions with Peanut Butter, but some recipes should be left in the past. I believe this is one of them.
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Baked Stuffed Onions
These onions are filled with a flavorful stuffing, baked and served with a gravy.
- 4 medium size sweet onions
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup of herb seasoned classic stuffing
- 1/4 cup onions, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried crushed parsley
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 freshly ground black pepper
- 2 sprigs thyme leaves
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 cup cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4-5 tablespoons flour or packaged gravy mix
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Step 1 Peheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Step 2 Hollow out each of the onions so you have space to fill them with your prepared stuffing mixture. Place the hollowed out onions in a baking dish. Add a dab of butter into the center of each onion.
NOTE: I used a knife to cut around the inside of each onion and then a spoon to hollow them out.
- Step 3 In a large frying pan, add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, herb seasoned classic stuffing, minced onions, crushed parsley, garlic powder, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, thyme leaves and the cayenne pepper. Sauté until everything is soft, approximately 4 to 7 minutes.
- Step 4 Fill each of the onions with the cooked stuffing mixture. I was able to get 4-5 teaspoons in each. Pour the cream over the onions so that there is cream in the bottom of the baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 40 to 45 minutes.
- Step 5 Remove the onions from the oven. Remove the aluminum foil. The cream may have separated. That’s ok. Pour the whole milk over the onions and the stuffing mixture. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for another 30 to 35 minutes or until the onions are soft and tender all the way through. You can use a sharp knife to test.
- Step 6 Remove the onions from the oven. Place the baked stuffed onions on a serving tray, covered to stay warm.
- Step 7 To Make the Gravy: Pour the cream/milk mixture from your baking dish into the same frying pan you made your stuffing in. Those little pieces of stuffing that are left in the pan add to the flavor. Add the flour, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper or a few tablespoons of a prepared gravy mix. Mix well. I use a whisk to remove any lumps. You can add some additional cream or milk if you need any extra liquid. Cook long enough for the gravy to reduce and thicken. Pour the gravy over the onions and serve.
NOTE: If you are serving these Baked Stuffed Onions with hamburgers or beef, you can use a packaged brown gravy mix. For chicken, you can use a packaged chicken gravy mix.