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Jan 21, 2012 07:00 PM
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Any memories of "poor people food" from your childhood that you still crave?

My mother was amazing, raising three children all by herself. We were very poor, but simple and happy. I have very fond memories of the different things she would concoct to feed us! Some of it I still think of, and want to cook again.
She used to make sorullos ("cigars" ) with yellow corn meal dough. She stuffed them with American cheese and ground beef if we had any, and fry them until golden brown. I used to love those as a child, imagining they were submarines, or fat cigars. Haha! :D They were very yummy and crispy.

Here is a recipe similiar to what she made, except for the filling:
[Moderators' note: We've edited out a bad link here.]

Also, she used to fry little dough patties (flour, adobo, water) and serve it to us on a bed of white rice and beans. Another variation of the fried dough used flour, water only, fried and dusted with sugar and cinnamon. I used to love those! There are so many "poor" meals I've enjoyed, and still make today, simply because they are delicious :) Do you have any?

 
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  1. Grout: creamy white rice served with milk, cinnamon, sugar, melted butter. That was supper.
    Saltine crackers eaten like cereal, with milk poured over them in a bowl.

    29 Replies
    1. re: wyogal

      Reminds me of the hot milk and rice my mother made, except it had no sugar and was salty.

      1. re: wyogal

        Oh my goodness--didn't know I was eating "grout"! We often had milky, sugary rice for b'fast or dinner.

        1. re: pine time

          I think it's a simplification of a Norwegian word.

          1. re: wyogal

            My Norwegian mother called it "rice pudding." We often had it for breakfast (no such thing as school breakfasts back then). I was amazed at what real rice pudding tasted like, although I still like Mom's version and have it sometimes, especaily when not feeling well.

            1. re: wyogal

              I once made a 4-week journey on a Norwegian freighter that carried only 12 passengers, where various disgusting "grouts" were served as pudding. Grout seemed to be any kind of liquid thickened with any kind of starch and passed off as dessert. A Norwegian crew member told me that his country has a saying, "Kill me, King, but not with grout".

                1. re: kiarasexton

                  "Grout" is apropos, as all that starch & sugar probably turns to hard paste in your system.

            2. re: wyogal

              We would have spaghetti with butter and sugar. mmm. carb fest.
              and this is sort of gross, but I loved it: cheerios with sliced up hot dogs and milk. yes, gross. but I was little and didn't know better and it tasted good. (what I realize now was that was the only food in the house, and she gave it to me and didn't herself eat... love my mama)

              1. re: sdoconnell

                How touching, sdoconnell. It sounds like a horrible concoction now as an adult, but I'm sure it tasted wonderful. Who is it that said this quote, "Hunger is the best sauce"? It is very true. And your mother sounds like a very kind woman... like my own.

                  1. re: Seeker19104

                    Cervantes: "The best sauce is appetite."

                  2. re: QueenDairy

                    Spaghetti & butter, add parsley or ?
                    I still love that!
                    Also Eggs & Asparagus made in the iron skillet.
                    Lentil soup of course, with spinach & onions & carrot.
                    Notice that a lot of these are Friday Night dinners.

                    1. re: QueenDairy

                      It really is the best sauce. Amazing how people's tastes change when they're really hungry.

                      Not on par with many stories, but I can remember going through a stint in my early twenties when a piece of white bread tasted sweet to me. Stolen food from the kitchen was absolutely delicious, and my treat to myself was going to an all you can stuff buffet every two weeks and seeing how much I could eat.

                      My sense of taste was heightened dramatically. At the golden fork (or whatever it was called) I thought I was king of the world.

                    2. re: sdoconnell

                      Score one for the loving mothers of the world, sdoconnell. Your mother sounds like a truly lovely lady, and this post made my eyes wet; Thank you.

                      1. re: sdoconnell

                        We had pasta w/sugar too, but w/crumbled farmer's cheese on top. I think it was the lazy-man's version of sweet cheese vareniki, which my grandfather was a master of. But my mom didn't have the time to do. It was delicious and if I could find farmer's cheese now (we had friendship brand), I would love a bowl of this now.

                        Same grandpa was on various food aid programs, and received a giant block of American cheese every so often. He would buy 3 "french" breads at the grocery for $1. Slice them and the cheese super thin, and bake slices of bread and smaller slices of cheese on top until the bread was like a hard cracker and the cheese was jerky-textured. These little 3 bite snacks were the bomb. Totally delicious!

                          1. re: QueenDairy

                            He was the original cook in the family - a genius. He made everything from scratch, european pastries, gefilte fish, you name it. And then, being a retired engineer, he also built his own carrying cases to transport his delicacies to our house for family dinners and parties.

                            Sadly, he passed last year. I still have his vareniki "form." I need to break that thing out and give it a go.

                        1. re: sdoconnell

                          I think your comment hit me the deepest, and there are some great posts on this topic. I can't stop the tears.

                        2. re: wyogal

                          We were never allowed to buy the processed cereals they advertised on tv but we did eat plain graham crackers crumbled in a bowl with a little sugar sprinkled on, and milk. You have to eat right away as they get soggy fast! Delicious though.

                          1. re: chewbacca

                            Had the same breakfast whenever we had extra graham crackers and I always liked it (even when it got soggy).

                            1. re: chewbacca

                              Had this for breakfast some times but the milk had to be really cold and no need for extra sugar. You are right though, you had to eat it right way or they get too soggy!

                              1. re: chewbacca

                                Breakfast: if we ran out of packaged cereal, it was time for broken up graham crackers and milk in the cereal bowl.

                                1. re: Florida Hound

                                  That's funny. We had that too. I posted it a while back. At the time when I was a kid I thought everyone ate this but I now know it was just us. Where'd you grow up? I was born in the Bronx.

                                  1. re: Vicky464

                                    Must be a New Yawk thing. Born a few miles up the road in Westchester. On other Chowhound threads that come around every so often, its fun to think about the White Castle on Fordham Road or egg creams on the corner. Chowhound may not be the place where I can reminisce about the #4 train out of Woodlawn or talk about what the Yankees have been up to, so graham crackers for breakfast will have to do.

                                    1. re: Vicky464

                                      Hubby remembers crumbled graham crackers and milk for breakfast and he was born in western Mass. My grandmother would make milk toast for us - toasted bread, buttered and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, laying in a shallow bowl of warm milk.

                                      Favorite 'poor folks' food? - yes - spam. My mother would feed our family of five with one can - sliced and fried crispy. Once in a very great while I get a craving for it.

                                      1. re: TampaGul

                                        Reminds me of a snack we had in KY, growing up: saltine crackers, crumbled, in a glass of buttermilk. Sheesh, haven't thought of that in decades!

                                2. re: wyogal

                                  Hey what you call Grout, we called desert...LOL

                                  1. We weren't poor. My dad always had a job--a good job for the times. But both parents had grown up in the Depression, and they were very cheap where food was concerned. When I was very young, my mom would make a cream sauce and mix it with ground beef and put it over bread. She also creamed dried beef--the stuff that used to come in little jars and was quite salty--and we ate that over bread. Of course it was the cheapest white bread she could find.

                                    For a salad, we had iceberg wedges topped with Miracle Whip, or a pineapple slice from a can topped with crated cheese and a dollop of Miracle Whip. I also ate Miracle Whip sandwiches from time to time. We never had butter; it was always margarine, or oleo.

                                    I really don't remember the food I ate when I was quite young fondly. Our diets improved as we got older, my dad got raises, and mom went to work. We began to eat a greater variety of food, and overall our diet improved.

                                    37 Replies
                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                      Oh I just remembered another one that I used to love. Yellow rice cooked with slices of hot dog, or vienna sausages. I still crave that to this day!

                                      1. re: QueenDairy

                                        Oh my goodness, Vienna sausages. Yes, I've eaten them. I have to admit I don't care for them all that much.

                                        Ever have fried bologna?

                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                          Fried bologna isn't "poor" food. It's a regional thing! There are restaurants that sell fried baloney sandwiches. And fried baloney and eggs is not bad. Not as good as salami and eggs but still.... : )

                                          1. re: happybaker

                                            LOL! Fried bologna -- my husband lived on that when he was in college...thought he was a gourmet chef, when he proudly showed me how he snipped the edges to keep it from curling up on the pan. Toss on a little cheese, a piece of toast to top and he was good to go. It did taste good, but makes me smile just to remember it. Miss him so much.

                                            1. re: Spaceechik

                                              yeah this is one that could stay here or go on the 'guilty pleasure' thread. indeed good, yet something hard to 'fess up to.

                                              make one soon (OK just for you) and indulge in that secret Cheshire cat smile that you never need explain.

                                            2. re: happybaker

                                              Bologna--err "baloney" as we always called it--WAS poor food.
                                              Back in the day it was cheap meat. As were weiners.
                                              And we had tons of it.
                                              School lunches, sliced thin and fried crispy.

                                              The poor foods I miss the most are "pluma mouse" a German dessert made by cooking prunes, raisins, sugar, cinnamon, water and cornstartch.
                                              In summer my Mom would make it with wild blueberries plus a little cream.

                                              And fried bread.
                                              If Mom made bread that day she would save about a loaf's worth for supper; roll it out thin-ish, slice some holes so it would stay flat and fried it in lard.
                                              We ate it with margarine(!!) and corn syrup.

                                              Oh yeah, and pancake suppers.

                                              1. re: happybaker

                                                Growing up we were most certainly poor, I didn't really realize until i was older. But we used to get block of American cheese and those plastic containers with bologna in it. Bologna, while it can be a regional food, was definitely a poor food. We couldn't afford the yummy deli roast beef or carved turkey, so bologna roll ups it was. Also, cans of government meat with the animal inside depicted as a picture on the front. My dad used to make this awesome meal, I steal crave to this day, it was with can o' pork cooked with seasonings and ketchup when we couldn't afford tomato sauce, and all of that was lovingly glopped over fresh cut, pan fried, french fries. We had one of those cool gadgets that you put over your potato and pushed andit sliced them. I cut my fingers on it many times. I wish I still had that. He would strain the oil of the fries off by laying them on paper bags from the grocery store. My mom would create something out of nothing every meal. Every dish was better than the last and no one was made the same way twice. She fed us with love. She fed us with soul. She fed us with life.

                                                1. re: Sarrastia

                                                  Sounds like you cut your finger on the Ronco Veg-o-matic. I always wanted one of those!

                                                2. re: happybaker

                                                  A neighbor of mine in Brooklyn was from down South and used to make fried bologna. I thought it was a great idea when I was a little kid. We were never allowed to eat anything like that.

                                                  1. re: t19103

                                                    Growing up (Deep South), this was somewhat common, among my friends. I could never warm to it, and declined.

                                                    Hunt

                                                    1. re: t19103

                                                      Fried bologna sandwiches are very popular in Southern Ohio. And surprisingly tasty : )

                                                      1. re: happybaker

                                                        When I was young, It was a treat to make a fried bologna sandwich with sautéed onions, garlic salt, and mayo/ketchup "Russian dressing", and lettuce between 2 slices of white bread. Wouldn't eat it today, but the memory still makes me smile.

                                                  2. re: sueatmo

                                                    Had fried bologna and onions for breakfast yesterday...

                                                    1. re: Cathy

                                                      For me bologna is poor food. So I apologize if for you it is not. I haven't eaten bologna in probably 40 years. When I spotted it in my mom's house almost a decade ago I cautioned her that this wasn't good food for an elderly lady--too much fat and salt and not enough protein. But she didn't believe me of course.

                                                      Neither Vienna sausages or bologna are good sources of protein I don't think. I don't eat them now and never will again.

                                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                                        well, except for that bologna thing. I grew up in PA, live in CA; while vacationing in NY last summer, I ordered a fried bologna sandwich ~~ something we definitely do not have in California.

                                                        1. re: laliz

                                                          I grew up in Connecticut but my mom was from Queens and we had fried bologna sandwiches. We even fried the bologna in butter. I am clutching my chest as I write this--but so good! Haven't had it in a long time.

                                                        2. re: sueatmo

                                                          It is "poor people food" from my childhood that I still crave. We didn't have bacon, sausage or Spam for breakfast; we had bologna. With eggs, with pancakes, with toast and jam...it was 'my' breakfast meat.

                                                          I think it's better than those other meats for breakfast and I really do crave it.

                                                          1. re: Cathy

                                                            I remember when I was growing up people would buy large chunks of bologna (with a cloth-like waxed rind) and bake it off like a roast for their family. That with a few potatoes on the side was Sunday dinner. Like you Cathy, we used to fry it up with eggs for breakfast or for sandwiches. Bacon was that twice a year if you were lucky treat at Easter and Christmas breakfasts. I still love bologna today - in a sandwich or fried with eggs.

                                                            1. re: Aislyn

                                                              My husband was told the hard, crackly edges of an egg fried hard in grease was "bacon".

                                                              1. re: Aislyn

                                                                Back in the late 50's/early 60's with 6 kids to feed (5 sprouting boys) and very little money, my mother would score a big chunk of bologna like a ham - stick whole cloves in the intersections, bake it and glaze it...we loved that Sunday dinner. Sunday was the only day we ate meat unless it was payday.

                                                          2. re: Cathy

                                                            I love bologna.... to this day, I jokingly pronounce it "BUH-LOG-NAH" just to be silly.

                                                            1. re: Cathy

                                                              Fried bologna and fried onions with garlic salt, a little lettuce and "Russian" dressing, i.e. mixed ketchup and Ann Page mayo, was a luxury as a kid.We were allowed to make it about once a month, and appreciated it because it was considered a luxury.

                                                            2. re: sueatmo

                                                              Ooooh, yeah! Fried bologna sandwiches with Best Foods mayo! Sometimes that was dinner.

                                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                                Fried Bologna sandwiches were one of my Grandmothers favorite lunches to make us! I loved them. I also remember something my Mom made called "cheese dreams". It was cheese on a slice of bread then placed in the broiler part of the oven until the cheese melted and puffed up and turned a little brown! We loved them and when we were young it was often our Sunday evening dinner!

                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                  Bologna may be "poor" food, but leave in globs of fat, mix in sliced pistachios (opt), call it mortadella and pay 4 times as much. lol :)

                                                                2. re: QueenDairy

                                                                  Ah yes, my mom and grandma still make that dish, the Carmela brand of vienna sausages is the best : )

                                                                3. re: sueatmo

                                                                  sueatmo, I could have written your post!

                                                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                                                    I ate a *lot* of creamed tuna as a child, I think usually over toast, sometimes rice. It was a dish from my father's childhood that I could always make from what was in the pantry.

                                                                    I haven't bought Vienna sausages in years, but I used to. The 'proper' way to eat them is to cut a slice of white bread in half, slather generously with yellow mustard, and then roll the Vienna sausage up inside.

                                                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                                                      My Mom was a fan of "Creamed Chipped Beef on toast" which was that salty stuff from a jar. My Dad, a WWII vet called it "S... on a shingle" much to our delight, my Mom, not so much.

                                                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                                                        The dried beef with a white "gravy" was called "sh*t on a shingle" by the military for several wars (may still be called that). I had a boy friend who loved it, so I had to get the recipe from his Mom.

                                                                        1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                          My grandfather loved "sh*t on a shingle, after his time in the army. He made it with turkey, milk, onion, carrots and peas. My mom loved it too and still makes it to this day. I never make it myself but I do love it when my mom does, and it reminds me of my dear grandpa.

                                                                          1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                            From what I remember about that, or similar, I do think that the S-O-a_Shingle concept is appropriate. However, I grew up in a household, where canned Corn Beef Hash," and various canned "spiced meats" were considered haute cuisine.

                                                                            I never picked up on any of those - sorry.

                                                                            Hunt

                                                                          2. re: sueatmo

                                                                            no offense intended suatmo, but your post reminded me of an old joke: do you pray before you eat? no, my mom is a pretty good cook.

                                                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                                                              Creamed chipped beef over a slice of white bread was sometimes a meal, considered special. Iceberg wedges with a mix of mayonnaise and ketchup (faux Russian dressing). My father was a country minister, so we were poor a church mice. But, parishoners gave us milk and vegetables until we grew our own big garden.

                                                                              1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                sueatmo your meals sound almost exactly like mine growing up. I still love "Creamed Beef on Toast" although I rarely indulge in that now. It wasn't until very recently that I realized that was considered a 'poor' food. I knew we weren't well off growing up but rarely did I want for anything and since I liked the food I just assumed everyone would eat something similar.
                                                                                We also ate a lot of Spaghetti and as a side we would get a half a canned Pear with a dollop of Miracle Whip and a slice of American Cheese on top.
                                                                                My favorite treat that honestly makes my stomach clench now was a slice of white bread spread with Country Crock and sprinkled liberally with sugar.
                                                                                Sometimes, although we didn't eat healthy by any means, I miss those days just for the appreciation of the food.

                                                                                1. re: piggirl7

                                                                                  now if one takes that slice of smeared bread and sugar, sprinkles it with ground cinnamon and throws it in the toaster oven until the sugar mixture starts to bubble and caramelize... I use butter now, but still fall prey occasionally.

                                                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                                                    Yep. That's one of my comfort food breakfasts. Its best when it's snowing outside accompanied by hot cocoa.

                                                                              2. Rice with canned sardines in tomato sauce.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                  Omg ipsedixit, that brings back so many memories. To this day, I still love sardines and rice.

                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                    Me too , once a week for the Omega3 that we are being told about.

                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                      I remember the rice with canned sardines in tomato sauce days!! .... but I don't miss it

                                                                                    2. Pinto beans cooked with ham hocks, along with skillet cornbread made with bacon drippings.
                                                                                      Turnip greens on the side.

                                                                                      25 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                        We always added pork rinds to the beans during the final cooking phase. Oh and since my mother worked as a factory line worker for produce, she would come home dusty and tired, with a bag full of "rejects" which in my honest opinion, were perfectly edible vegetables. Maybe a couple of bruised or scratched squash LOOKED ugly, but they tasted just the same! :) lol

                                                                                        1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                          Upthread I commented on bologna, and others posted back that they still eat bologna, and don't consider it poor food. Well, I don't consider slow cooked beans of any sort poor food, or if they are, I don't care. I wouldn't eat cornbread with them mainly because of carb considerations, but I'd want to. I like greens too, but my family never ate those three in combination.

                                                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                            I agree :) "Poor food" was simply in reference to cheap, easily accessible food. I still buy and cook most of it today!

                                                                                            1. re: QueenDairy

                                                                                              I made garlicky black eyed peas with a "mess" of baby kale. So good. This not a recipe from my childhood, but eating black eyed peas is eating gourmet poor food!

                                                                                                1. re: QueenDairy

                                                                                                  We had a lot of black-eyed peas growing up, and also tomato chili. Tomato chili was just the tomato base with spices and beans (no meat). Meat only started being added when we got older, and my parents could afford to buy meat more often. I was the oldest of 4 kids and remember more times with less meat in our diet than my other three siblings! We also seemed to have a lot of fish, but I grew up along the Mississippi River near St. Louis, and fish was pretty inexpensive, plus my Dad use to go fishing a lot on days off in nearby Lakes and bring home mostly catfish; which to this day, 59 years later, I do not like to eat!

                                                                                                  1. re: Mariposa410

                                                                                                    my Dad (also STL) is the same way about fish for the same reason, and I don't think I'd fish out of the River there today.

                                                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                                                      He didn't fish out of the river then! Maybe because he worked in the Steel Mill and knew all the awful stuff that either got dumped or spilled into the river even then! Though not as bad as Pittsburgh where I think was where they had a river "catch on fire" regularly!!! No matter what I still am not much of a Fresh Water Fish lover. I prefer salt water fishes to this day (deep salt water at that)!

                                                                                              1. re: QueenDairy

                                                                                                I agree too. Back in the day, families were larger, people were on much tighter budgets and our parents had to find more cost effective ways to stretch meals, etc. It just so happened that the foods we have been discussing (bologna, beans, etc.) were cheaper to buy and could be stretched much further. Today, at least here in most of the provinces, bologna cost more to buy than Black Forest Ham or Smoked Turkey!

                                                                                                1. re: Aislyn

                                                                                                  In my family eating bologna was more commonly done that eating dried beans. I've never heard of roasting it. But it was definitely the cheapest cold cut available, or at least almost the cheapest. Seems like I remember olive loaf being somewhat cheap too.

                                                                                                  I never formed an attachment to bologna. But as a child it was bologna and Miracle Whip on white bread. A piece of cheese was luxurious addition to the sandwich.

                                                                                                  We were unusual in that we didn't use Velveeta or sliced American sandwich cheese, but Longhorn or Colby in the blocks or half rounds.

                                                                                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                    I remember an olive loaf too. Didn't it have green olives and red pimento in it? There was also a macaroni & cheese loaf and a mock chicken. If I remember correctly, they were all slightly less expensive than bologna. I remember a funny story that my late mother told me. When she was a young bride, she decided to cook up something different for my father so she tried to fry a few slices of macaroni & cheese loaf. Much to her embarrassment, the meat suddenly had perfect little round holes in it - the cheese had melted obviously. My father used to tease her for years about that. Her cooking skills became much better after that. lol

                                                                                                    1. re: Aislyn

                                                                                                      Cute story.

                                                                                                      Yes, the olive loaf and slices of stuffed olives in it. I didn't think it was that good, preferring bologna, but now I wouldn't eat either one.

                                                                                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                        I also remember the olive loaf, and another lunch meat loaf that had little pieces of cheese throughout it (no macaroni noodles though). I use to love it with miracle whip on my lunch sandwiches I took to school! I also remember something called "brick cheese" that I loved! I think the Brick Cheese is still made, but haven't seen that lunchmeat and cheese loaf in years (like about 40 or more)!

                                                                                                        1. re: Mariposa410

                                                                                                          I've eaten brick cheese. It is, or was, very mild.

                                                                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                            Yes, it was. I heard on one of the food channels that it comes from Wisconsin and got its name from having Bricks placed on top of the forms the cheese was put in to push out the air pockets. I think it may still be made. My husbands father was an independent cheese maker who made and sold his own cheeses in a small Italian family run market back in New Jersey back in the 1930's through the 1960's. He said he remembers it too, though they made varieties of Mozzarella cheese only. He said he thinks it is still being made too, but just not sold too many places outside the midwest.

                                                                                                            1. re: Mariposa410

                                                                                                              While I am not familiar with the specific 'brick' cheese it is that you refer, I know of a cheese plant in Wisconsin that nakes sharp cheddar in 5 pound 'bricks'. I would not describe it as mild however. You can get similar shaped and sized bricks of provolone and mozzerella.

                                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                It could be the same Cheese Plant, my husband said the process to make all the Cheddar's is the same, the difference comes in cheese making with the length of the processing part for each cheese, and in some the coloring that gets added. The "bricks" I referred to are the concrete kind! They were placed on top of the cheese being processed to force out the "cheese whey" in the early part of the cheese being processed. My husband said when his Dad ( an Italian Cheese Maker) made cheese, he used the heavy milk barrels to put on top of the cheese forms he used while processing his cheese! His Dad made mostly the younger cheeses like Mozzarella and something called "scamozza" and smoked forms of these cheeses. He then sold them in his own Italian Market in the area of New Jersey they lived as well as to some other small Italian Markets and Restaurants.

                                                                                                                1. re: Mariposa410

                                                                                                                  I don't know about how the cheese plant to which I was referring processes their many variety of cheeses but I would guess it is not the same place. The plant to which I refer is a coop that did not get ramped up to big time production until the mid to late '80s in northwest Wisconsin.

                                                                                                            2. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                              It came in a cardboard box, right? And was gigantic....

                                                                                                            3. re: Mariposa410

                                                                                                              We called it Government Cheese. It was great on burgers.

                                                                                                2. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                  I think you grew up in my house! My siblings and I ate that yummy meal at least three times a week, and now I miss it if I don't make it often - and my daughter craves it, go figure. We didn't know we were poor!

                                                                                                  1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                    This is one of my favorite meals from my childhood. I am fortunate that my mother still makes it from time to time.

                                                                                                    1. re: GCBananaBread

                                                                                                      Fortunately, I learned how to cook these things (along with fried okra) from my grandmother.
                                                                                                      If you have time, learn from your mother how to make these things you love.

                                                                                                      1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                        Absolutely. I miss that dish so much.

                                                                                                      2. Tamago gohan (raw egg and soy sauce mixed with rice), ochazuke (dried package of green tea nori and dehydrated salmon) and natto (fermented soybeans). I never thought of these as poor people food, but upon reflection, they are very frugal meals. My mom grew up post WW II in Japan- a very lean time. Her frugality persists to this day. My brother and I just thought of these dishes as delicious. I still eat these dishes today.

                                                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                          I'm not sure where she got it from, but we sometimes had military rations. We used to joke that it was astronaut food. LOL! I remember how it was packaged... dark green foil pouches with crackers inside, canned food with plain white labels and black letters. My favorite was the canned pork. It looked horrible, like dog food, but tasted very good. She would jazz it up with onions and tomato sauce.

                                                                                                          1. re: QueenDairy

                                                                                                            Rice pudding using leftover rice and raisins, baked till a skin forms on top
                                                                                                            Sausage casserole with mashed potato.
                                                                                                            Swiss chard in cheese sauce (bechamel) with boiled potatoes.
                                                                                                            Actually, I think pretty much everything we ate was 'poor food'!

                                                                                                            1. re: pippimac

                                                                                                              All of the above sounds delicious. I miss my mother's rice pudding. ;)

                                                                                                              1. re: QueenDairy

                                                                                                                Seconding the rice pudding with leftover rice and raisins. I recently found a recipe for one similar to mom's- "Rice Custard Pudding" in The James Beard Cookbook from 1959. It was sweeter than I remember, so next time I'll cut down on the sugar, but otherwise good and nostalgic.

                                                                                                                1. re: lawhound05

                                                                                                                  Yep.... never knew "real" rice pudding was cooked from raw rice til I was in my 20s and away from home.
                                                                                                                  Also, was my mother the only one who made a tuna casserole not with noodles but layers of crushed potato chips (and, of course, the requisite cream of mushroom soup)?
                                                                                                                  And creamed chipped beef; our "beef" came in a plastic pouch...very salty, but on plain white toast, it wasn't too bad.

                                                                                                            2. re: QueenDairy

                                                                                                              Same here! We still eat them occasionally on camping trips, but those green packages were a staple of my childhood. We also called it astronaut food! :P

                                                                                                              1. re: Caerus

                                                                                                                Ah, the memories! This made me tear up. If we were poor, I didn't know it! :) I just had a memory... Age 5, pretending to be an astronaut exploring an alien terrain (I covered the floor and bed with blankets). I would pretend there was zero gravity and made funny breathing sounds, narrating my observations as I went along. lol Then I would sit on an alien mountain (the bed) and open a pouch of crackers. =D

                                                                                                              2. re: QueenDairy

                                                                                                                I think in the 60's a lot of Army Warehouse Stores were around that sold those "rations", because I remember them too! We had an Army Supply Depot that did sell things to civilians near us - in fact that was what it was set up to do. I think it literally was an Army "Surplus" Supply Store. They sold all kinds of things like Rations, heavy Parkas, army or military style clothing that was "defective" somehow (we never knew how from what my parents bought).

                                                                                                                1. re: Mariposa410

                                                                                                                  I remember those stores from the 70s. In my area of PA, it seemed like every town of measurable population had one. The one my parent's frequented had a strong oder of rubber, down and canvas (actually, they all probably did)

                                                                                                                  I considered those rations a treat! I just to pretend I was camping in the spare bedroom.

                                                                                                              3. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                Wow, Sal, my dad too. Japan 1929 to 1949, ethnic german (jewish). Tamago gohan was a staple that I've introduced to my own kids. Never really associated with poverty. The only things my dad refused to eat due to wartime memories were certain root veggies - turnips and parsnips. I tried a turnip soup on him a few years back - no dice. He loves that stinky yellow radish pickle thing, thought.

                                                                                                                1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                  bigsal, how about fried spam as the meat side? :-))

                                                                                                                  1. re: ritabwh

                                                                                                                    Well, in Hawai`i, there IS a spam festival, but I have managed to miss it, over the last 30 years.

                                                                                                                    Hunt