Great Depression Recipes: Blueberry Muffins

It’s blueberry season and you got a little over zealous at the local U-pick.  Yeah, it happens to the best of us.

Try this delicious recipes from the USDA 80 years ago.

or click here for an older article about reduced fat  blueberry muffins with reduced sugar option

Blueberry Muffins:

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

2 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder  ( AKA: 1 Tablespoon +1 teaspoon)

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 Tablespoons of melted butter or vegetable oil or whatever kind of fat

1 cup of blueberries or huckleberries, washed, stemmed and dried.


1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

2. In another bowl combine all the wet ingredients.

Bluberries or huckleberries count as a wet ingredient.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.

4. Mix until just blended.

Over blending muffin batter can really make for a tough muffin or blueberry hockey puck.

Julia Child once said that all muffin batter should be folded 20 times.  No more.  No less.

What that means is:

Scape your spatula all the way around the bowl. At the end of each stoke you “fold the outer bater into the middle.  Use one hand to move the spatula one way as you rotate the bowl in the opposite direction.  Once you get the knack of it, this will just become habbit.

5. Pour the batter into well greased muffin tins.

Never fill the muffin cup more than 2/3 full or you’ll turn your oven into one giant blueberry mess.

6. Bake in a medium fast oven ( about 400 degrees Fahrenheit ) for about 30 minutes.

The muffins are done when you can insert a toothpick and it pulls out of the muffin clean, not gooey.

You might also try canning your abundance:

How To Make Jam — A Beginner Tutorial for any berry jam

Blubarb Jam — simply delicious Blueberry Rhubarb Jam

How to Raw Pack Fruit With Simple Syrup


Great Depression Recipes: Rhubarb Tapioca

Keep rhubarb pieces petite since tapioca is little, too.

Keep rhubarb pieces petite since tapioca is little, too.

Join me as I head back to the rhubarb patch and we shall make some goodies.

As I have gotten a lot of requests for more of this kind of thing, here is another Great Depression recipe courtesy of the USDA circa the 1930s.

And remember, if this doesn’t suit your taste, check the Cooking/Baking Basics or Waiting-For-Payday Categories at the right for other ideas. Or try the “search” bar above the little calendar.

Rhubarb Tapioca

hm … probably the two most mysterious foods in one recipe, which, of course, means we have to try it.


4 cups Rhubarb, cut into little pieces

2 cups Water, hot

1/2 cup quick-cooking Tapioca ( Isn’t it all quick cooking these days, 80 years later? Who knows? Check the box.)

1 + 1/2 cups Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Salt


1. In the top of a double boiler, over steam, stir the rhubarb, water and tapioca for about 15 minutes. No double boiler? Click here to make do.

2. Stir in the sugar and salt.

3. Cook for about 5 more minutes, until the tapioca is clear and the rhubarb is tender.

4. Chill thoroughly and serve it plain, with whipped cream or, perhaps garnished with a strawberry slice or two.

More rhubarb  harvest, storage and recipes to come.

Now here is the big question:

I never buy tapioca, but I always seem to have it. Why is that?

Does this happen to anyone else?

Great Depression Recipes: Rhubarb Crunch

Freshly tugged from the garden, rhubarb awaits chopping.

Freshly tugged from the garden, rhubarb awaits chopping.

(Neighbor Nancy wipes the tiniest glisten of drool from the corner of her mouth as she shares this recipe. While the aroma of a fresh batch of Rhubarb Crunch fills her little home, she digs in the freezer for vanilla ice cream.)

Ah, rhubarb crunch time. It means that spring is officially here. It means that I must make sure the strawberries are doing well. For all too soon, the last of the rhubarb will be mixed with the first of the strawberries to make batches of Strawberry Rhubarb jam for Christmas presents.

From my earliest childhood memories, Spring covered dish Suppers always required a batch of Rhubarb Crunch.

I have had it covered in cream, drizzled with vanilla sauce. Hot. Cold. Scraped from the final bits of the pan. But, hot out of the oven with a single scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream … (sigh) … heavenly.

So from the depths of the family recipe box…(oh my, is this a crusty well-loved recipe card?! ) … here we go.

Rhubarb Crunch


Crunch bottom and topping:

1+1/4 cup Flour

1 cup rolled Oats, quick or regular

1+1/4 cup Brown Sugar

10 Tablespoons Butter, melted

Fruit Mixture:

4 heaping cups Rhubarb, diced

1 cup Sugar

2 Tablespoons Cornstarch

1 cup Water

1 teaspoon Vanilla


In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, and melted butter.

Press about half of this mixture into the bottom of a 9″x 13″pan. Set the rest aside.

Cover with all the diced rhubarb. Set aside

In a small sauce pan, combine the white sugar and cornstarch.

Over medium low heat, stir in the water. Heat and stir, until it boils and becomes clear and smooth.

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour the entire mixture over the rhubarb in the pan.

Cover with the remaining oat mixture. This, of course is the “crunch” part.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit ( a medium oven ) for 1 hour.

Serve it warm or cold.

Top it with cream, vanilla sauce or ice cream.

Warning: Beware of the Rhubarb Crunch phenomenon. Do not tell jokes while eating this dessert, because as you laugh,it will feel like your jaw will blow off. The more you laugh the more it hurts. No one knows why and it happens every time.

So, with what are you going to top your batch?

Great Depression Recipes: Asparagus Timbales

Well hello there!

You look a little crisp. Did you spend the whole day in the garden? Me, too.

For those of you further south than I, here is another asparagus recipe for your garden gleanings. Again, this recipe is courtesy of the USDA circa The Great Depression. Hurray for tax dollars at work.

Asparagus Timbales


3 Tablespoons butter ( or marg.)

3 Tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

2 cups cooked or canned asparagus, finely chopped.

salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

3 eggs


Over medium-low heat in a medium sauce pan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and let it bubble until the starchy smell leaves and it begins to smell like buttered popcorn.

Add the milk and continue to stir as it thickens.

Remove from heat and add asparagus, salt, pepper and thoroughly beaten eggs.

Pour the mixture into buttered timbale molds.

What? No timbale molds? Me neither. In fact I had to ask my ex-cooking teacher mama what the heck they were. “Thimble shaped” molds. Whatever.

Instead, pour the mixture into any buttered oven-safe single-serving-size bowls. So ramekins are fine …. but the straight sides might make clean removal a little tricky. Serve in the ramekin, but warn everyone they are hot as the Dickens.

Ah, oven-safe custard cups. Perfect. Rounded bottom. Okay, moving on.

Now place the little bowls of asparagus sauce in a pan of water.

Personally, I place the bowls in the pan on the oven rack then slowly add the water so I don’t flood everything.

Bake in a medium oven ( about 350 degrees Fahrenheit ) for about 20 minutes or until the mixture has set nicely.

Serve hot in the molds or overturn onto each plate and garnish.

Boy, is anyone else getting hungry?

Great Depression Recipes: Asparagus on Toast

Hi there! If your not an asparagus fan, remember there is a whole category of Waiting-for-Payday recipes over there on the right.


I’m ever so glad you could join me today. Grab a fresh cup of coffee and a warm cappuccino muffin.

I was walking around the garden looking for signs of returning perennials and it occurred to me that those of you in the more southern climates, probably are ready to harvest some young, tender asparagus.

Now remember, if you just planted your asparagus patch this year, no harvesting yet, so the roots have a chance to develop. Year two, you may harvest ever so lightly. Year three, harvest away until about the end of June or Early July

Today I have an old recipe courtesy of the USDA from way back in the ’30s.

Asparagus on Toast

Thoroughly rinse the asparagus.

With a nice, sharp knife, scrape off the little scales.

Break of the lower, fibrous end. Usually it will naturally snap it just the right place.

Now either leave the remaining stalks as is or cut into 2 inch pieces.

Drop however much you are going to use in lightly salted boiling water and simmer for…oh…about 15 to 20 minutes.

After you drain it, arrange the asparagus on a piece of buttered toast. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, “pour melted butter or other fat over the top” and serve immediately.

Okay, so they were a different generation. Can you just feel your arteries clog?

My non-heart-attack variation:

Make a roux. (look up “roux” in my search bar on the top right )  Oh you know, 2 T butter and 2 T of flour heated and stirred ’til the starchy smell goes

Add about 3/4 cup of whatever white wine you might have laying around. Stir until thickened. Then pour it over the unbuttered toast. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, chives, and perhaps a touch of dill.

Cheapest non-heart clogging variation:

Butter the toast with your favorite “spread.” Then add salt, pepper, chives and dill to taste.

If I was feeling particularly naughty, I might make a cheese sauce to top this.

For the Grill: Honey Mustard Chicken

Hi there. I’m glad you stopped by.

I’m just headed back to the fire pit. Why don’t you join me?!

Today, I’ll be grilling up some chicken.

Honey Mustard Chicken

1/2 cup of mayonaisse or salad dressing

2 Tablespoons of a Dijon-type mustard

2 Tablespoons of honey

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves ( that’s around 1 1/4 pounds)

Mix the mayo mustard and honey.

Toss in the chicken and stir it around so each piece is covered with the mixture.

When the coal are glowing nicely, place the dipped chicken on the lightly greased grill. Please, grease the grill before you start the fire so you get to keep you eyebrows.

Grill for 8 to 10 minutes then flip and cook until the juices run clear. ( Around 8 to 10 minutes more)

Another way to tell the coals are the right temperature for this:

Hold your hand about 5″ above the cooking surface. If you can hold your hand there comfortably for about 4 or 5 seconds, throw on the chicken.

What is your favorite thing to grill?

Hard Boiled Egg Recipes: After Easter Casserole

My! Just look at all those colorful eggs in your refrigerator. Oh, that reminds me of a great after Easter dinner recipe.

After Easter Casserole:

Basic ingredients:

8 hard-boiled eggs, chopped or slice

4 slices cooked ham, chopped or sliced into strips

2 cups wide egg noodle, cooked to package directions and tossed with butter or margarine

No egg noodles? Make two cups of rice instead. Again lightly toss with butter.

Cheese sauce:

4 T butter or margarine

4 T flour

2 c. milk (or 1c.evaporated mild and 1 c. water )

1 c. shredded cheddar or Swiss cheese

pinch onion powder

pinch mustard powder ( or 1 t. prepared mustard )

Sauce procedure:

In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, melt butter.

Whisk in the flour and let bubble a few minutes until the starchy smell is replaced by a more “buttered popcorn” smell. Golden is fine, but do not let it brown.

Slowly stir in 2 cups of milk and stir occasionally as it thickens.

When the sauce is close to a nicely thickened consistency, stir in onion powder, mustard and grated cheese.

In a deep casserole dish or maybe a pie plate… OK, You know what? In any oven safe dish that will hold the whole dad-blasted thing:

Spread the buttered noodles or rice evenly on the bottom of the pan.

Sprinkle the ham and egg pieces on top.

Pour the cheese sauce over everything and sprinklr the top with bread crumbs, if you like.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until heated throughout. A casserole dish may take 40 minutes while an 9″X13″ pan may take much less. Your just gonna have to give it a try.

Other hard boiled egg recipes:

Deviled Eggs –appetizer

Eggs Goldenrod — Main dish

Shu’s Pickled Eggs — Snack from King Biscuit Pants

Waiting-for-Payday Recipes: Creamed Spinach or Swiss Chard

Hi there! How are you tonight? You look a little tired.

Well, I have just the thing for you. Loaded with iron, b vitamins and more potassium per serving than bananas, I offer you my favorite frugal vegetable side.

Sometimes, I even serve it on top of something plain like baked chicken. Oh, it is just scrumptious!

Creamed Spinach or Swiss Chard (for fresh or frozen)

Over medium-low heat:
Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter or margarine. Stir in 2 Tablespoons of flour. Heat until the mixture bubbles and looses its starchy smell. It should smell like butter popcorn, when it is ready.

Canned evaporated milk method:
Stir in a 1/2 cup of evaporated (not condensed) milk.
Add a package of undrained semi-thawed frozen spinach. Heat and stir until the the whole mixture thickens.

Jug milk method:

Thaw and drain the spinach and stir in 1 cup of regular milk. Heat and stir until the the whole mixture thickens.

Either way, salt and pepper to taste. Personally, I find it takes more salt than you would expect, but to each his own.


1. If you are using fresh spinach or swiss chard, use the jug milk method.

Or add 1/2 cup of water to the canned evaporated milk method.

2. For people who are not fond of the vegetable itself, turn down the heat a little and let it cook longer to soften the texture and flavor. Swiss Chard has a milder flavor than spinach, just so you know.

3. Oh you wanted that in a cheese sauce? Just add about 1 cup of your favorite cheddar, shredded. Add it when the sauce is close to ready and stir it to melt smoothly into the sauce.

Oh, dear! I’ve done it again. I have made myself crave something just because I wrote about it. Let’s see… I know I froze some swiss chard last summer…

(Neighbor Nancy buries her head further into the deep freeze, as a very heavy frozen pork loin lands at her feet and skis across the floor in its icy vacuum pack.)

You had better just sneak out the back door. You know how she gets, when she digging in the freezer.

Just be sure to come back tomorrow night for this weeks edition of “Neighborly Advice.” You’ll be up to your ears in learn-a-new-skill adventures.

Waiting-for-Payday Recipes: Crispy Parmesan Potato Wedges

Okay, so this one can also be done with sweet potatoes, if you’ve got them. Either way is great. Combine them if you like: 2 baking potatoes and 1 sweet potato. Your choice.

Crispy Parmesan Potato Wedges

3 medium baking potatoes or sweet potatoes

2 Tablespoons cooking oil

2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

1 teaspoon paprika

a pinch of garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon thyme

pinch or two of pepper


1. Cut the potatoes lengthwise into 6 to eight wedges.

2. Coat the wedges with the oil.

3. Put the rest of the ingredients into a gallon size baggie and mix.

4. Add the potatoes and shake to coat.

Think Shake ‘n’ Bake.

5. Place the coated potatoes on a sheet pan in a single layer.

6. Bake in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until the potatoes are tender.

Enjoy them hot, but don’t burn your mouth in your excitement.

Will you make them the same next time or tinker with the spices?

For other frugal cooking ideas, check the waiting-for-payday category at the right.

Join me in about half an hour for the 1st edition of the Neighborly Advice weekend magazine. A few neighbors and I have gotten together to share some beginner articles on backyard livestock, preserving, cooking, baking, knitting, etc. Join the fun as we challenge you to learn a new skill.

Waiting-for-Payday Recipes: Another Stale Bread Dinner — Wisconsin Strata

Good evening. Join me for a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin, while I dig out the recipe for tonight.

Oh, this is a good one.

Remember, if you don’t have the ingredients to make it this time there is a whole waiting-for-payday recipes category to the right.

Wisconsin Strata


8 slices of bread


plain old prepared yellow mustard — like the stuff you would put on a hot dog

1 pound of sliced ham

1/2 pound American or Swiss cheese

3 eggs

2 cups of milk


1. Using the bread, ham, cheese, mayo, and mustard, make 4 ham and cheese sandwiches.

2. Cut them crosswise into 4 triangles each

3. In a pan about the size of a sheet of paper… the closest I have is 7 1/2 by 11 1/4…it works fine.

Where was I?

Ah yes, stand each little sandwich triangle so the point without crust is up.

4. Beat together the eggs and milk and pour them all over the sandwiches.

5. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.

This is so the sandwiches soak up the egg milk mixture.

6. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit ( a medium oven ) for about 40 minutes until puffy and golden.

Serve hot.

Due to the appearance, this recipe took several dives out my childhood bedroom window, before I would even try it. However, once I tasted it, I learned to make it myself and still make it frequently. So filling. So warm and good.


If you don’t have enough stuff to make a whole pan or you are just cooking for 2, cut the recipe in half and bake it in a bread loaf pan.

Don’t forget a veggie and fruit to balance out your meal.