Friday, February 27, 2009

Clara's Depression Cooking

Have you heard about one of YouTube's most popular chefs? She is Clara Cannucciari, a great-grandmother, and a child of the Great Depression, now 93 years old.

Mrs. Cannucciari was 91 when her grandson had the idea to keep a video tape record of her as she cooked some of the the simple, inexpensive and delicious meals her mother made during the Great Depression. As she cooked, Clara reminisced about her life and her sweet, yet feisty, personality shined through. Being an aspiring film maker her grandson edited the films, added some graphics, posted them to Youtube, and soon Clara's popularity grew!

Born in 1915 in Chicago, Illinois, to immigrant Italian parents, Clara remembers in one video how she had to drop out of high school because she didn't have stockings to wear, and how potatoes were one of the more affordable foods and were served at almost every meal, in just about every form imaginable. Home made bread and pasta were other depression staples made by her Mom. She said that they had no refrigerator in their home so they kept food frozen outside in the snow, and in order to conserve the coal that they used to burn for heat they often wore all their clothes and sat by the stove for warmth, as her Mother baked bread for the week.

You can view all 10 episodes of Clara's "Depression Cooking" on her Youtube web page.

I've included one of my favorites here, because I remember my 87 year old Mom making this dish for us when we were children. It was simple, but so good!

To view this video on this page please turn off my playlist music on the purple box on the right sidebar of my blog, by clicking on the double bars in the top center of the playlist box, or double click on the Youtube photo below, which will bring you right to this video on the Youtube web site.



Clara has said in recent TV interviews that at 93 years of age her cooking days are almost over, so there will probably be no more future cooking videos made, but her grandson has plans to offer a DVD for sale of all her cooking shows combined, plus bonus video material not shown before. Check their Great Depression Cooking web site to learn more.

Do you have an elderly Mom, Aunt or Mother-in-law that still is able to cook your favorite meals? Perhaps it's time to ask her if you could take a video of her cooking, or at the very least sit down with her and ask her to tell you the recipe before they are lost for good. They will become a family heirloom treasured by future generations!

25 comments:

Vee said...

Have you featured Clara before? I've seen her video and was completely charmed by it.

Joanne Kennedy said...

How funny you should post this. Just before I logged on to blogger I was reading about her. I didn't watch her videos yet though but I will soon.

I think it's a wonderful idea to tape your elderly family members doing what they love to do and have passed down to their kids and grandkids.

Wish I did that while my mom was alive.

Hugs,
Joanne

Say It In Color said...

I don't know how I happened onto your blog, but I LOVE it....and what a nice VISIT!!! I'm a Texas girl, my daughter got to go to FIT in New York in the early 90's and we got hooked on the city!! I will enjoy revisiting it with you!! Your blog is real and very pleasant!!!...sherry

Nola @ the Alamo said...

How wonderful; I know if I'd had videos of my mom or grandmothers in the kitchen, I'd treasure them! Those people raised in the Depression were really strong, independent folks. Too bad today's young don't have more of that spirit!

Junie Moon said...

Great post, Pat! I think it's very important to record and, pardon the expression, "savor" the memories as well as the food.

Gracie said...

Great post! I surely will watch the videos and visit the website. Thanks for sharing. I've always thinked that through food cooking, so much love was spread in a family, and this gentle old lady is the living proof!

aliceinparis said...

How WONDERFUL! Great idea. thanks for posting this. I think I will watch them tonight:)
Cheers, Shelagh

pammiejo said...

That was great! I'm going to mark it as "My Favorites". My mom (who is 89) will get a kick out of watching that! Thanks!! PAM

TheWritersPorch said...

I went on YouTube and watched several.Thanks for telling about her!
What a Sweetheart Clara is! I've always made her Poorman Dinner,since it came from my mother,through her mother, I'm guessing it was a depression recipe!My kids make it now. I think I'll try Clara's Peas and Pasta, it looked tasty.
Carol

Maryann said...

She's wonderful, isn't she? :)

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

Wonderful post, Pat! Thanks so much for introducing me to Clara!

Betsy said...

I have never heard of her! I'll have to check out youtube for some recipes. I love the old recipes I have handed down in the family. The old stuff and old stories attached to them just make them more special!

Barb said...

thanks for sharing about Ms Clara,I will check it out....Barb

Rhonda Hartis Smith said...

What a great idea to video your Grandmother or Mother cooking one of your favorite dishes, I wish I had done that with my Grandmother.
Have a Great Weekend!

ARLENE said...

I absolutely loved this post, Pat. I lost my mom in June; how I wish I had a video of her cooking. I do have some of her handwritten recipes and, of course, many memories of us in the kitchen. In fact, one of the dishes she made when I was young--and we were poor--was peppper and onions with slice hot dogs and sauce. Giombatta (sic) was another Poor Man's dinner that I remember--fried potatoes with any veggies that we had on hand. Your blog is terrific.

M.Kate said...

wow...that's new to me Depression cooking..but certainly sounds good.

Kathy said...

She sounds like an amazing woman. Thanks for sharing. I'm going to pass this on to my daughter. Her fiance loves to cook. He'll enjoy it.

jeanne said...

Hi Pat, thank you for sharing the story of Clara. It is so sweet and I loved it. What a wonderful thing to have Clara recorded and on U tube so we can share her wonderful stories and cooking.

Hugs...Jeanne

Sue said...

Now that's one video I would buy...I have an 87 year old Italian father-in-law that still loves to cook but if I made a video of him we would all be in trouble...most of the time he leaves out a main ingrediant and he also has his own names for ingrediants....like the time he told me to use a scunion....yes, that would be a combo of a scallion and an onion....

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

Thanks for introducing me to Clara. What a great story...and how neat to have her heirloom recipes recorded for all to see. Every family should somehow preserve the family favorites...to be passed down to future generations!

Cori G. said...

Ha! What a sweet post. I've never heard of this lady, but then I'm beginning to think I live in a bubble.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Wow! So neat, Pat! Thanks for sharing this with us.

Love to you!

XO,

Sheila :-)

Jojo said...

I hadn't seen these before but these are great. I was a home economics major who was greatly inspired by my high school home ec teacher. We prepared several depression recipes and my favorite is potato candy. She would do the same - tell us a story about the time period while we learned to prepare more with less. My home ec teacher is now 91 and our high school blog has just finished sharing a number of Mrs. Smith stories. I can't wait to watch all the rest of the Depression Cooking videos.

black eyed susans kitchen said...

I have never heard of her before, but I will watch this as soon as I finish commenting. We have so many wonderful cooks and recipes in the family, that I started collecting them from my mother and mother in law. I have been reaching out to my friends and sisters in law as well. Your pasta e fagioli was added to the folder...we loved it and will make it again.
♥, Susan

Proud Italian Cook said...

I love her! What a great thing to have her on video. She was just on Good Morning America the other day, via phone. I love her attitude!