My New Hobby: Watching Depression Era Cooking with Clara Cannucciari

Do you have fond memories of listening to your grandma telling stories of her childhood?

I do.  My grandma was born in 1913 and lived through the Great Depression.  That experience changed her, and even into her 80s she was washing aluminum foil to reuse as well as plastic baggies.  She passed away 9 years ago, and I still miss her.  I would love to talk with her again, especially since I became a mom after she passed away.

Recently I was looking for ways to save on groceries and yet still feed my family healthy meals when I stumbled upon the book, Clara’s Kitchen, in the library.  Clara is now a 97 year old grandmother.  Her grandson, Christopher Cannucciari, is a photographer and videographer, so he created Depression Era Cooking on You Tube.  In each episode, Clara shows how to make one of the meals her family ate in the Great Depression and interspersed throughout the video are her stories of her childhood.

I feel like I am sitting with my grandma (even though my grandma was Irish, not Italian :)).

Clara’s father was out of work for several years in the 1930s, so he made a huge garden, and his family survived on what the garden produced.  Clara says, “Where there’s dirt, there’s food–healthy, nutritious food.”

My own uncles talked about sometimes bringing lard sandwiches to school because they were so poor they had nothing else to put between the bread.  Clara shares that some of her friends also brought lard sandwiches to school.  But she brought aspargus sandwiches or pepper and egg sandwiches.

Reading this book and watching her videos has changed my way of thinking.  We are trained to think that a sandwich is comprise of bread, lunch meat and cheese.  Lunch meat is expensive and not particularly healthful.  If you don’t have lunch meat, then you have something like peanut butter and jelly.  I never would have thought of making an asparagus sandwich, but why not?  If the vegetables are in season, you are saving money and eating a nutritious lunch.

Her videos also make me realize just how blessed we are now.  We have so much food.  Even if we don’t have much money or are funneling money to debt repayment, we still have an abundance, but don’t realize it.

For instance, Clara shares a “Poorman’s Feast.”  What is the feast?  Maybe 1/4 pound of thin beef, a salad and lentils and rice.  Most of us eat more of a feast than that each night for dinner.

Most of us have more than we need, more than we realize.  Reading Clara’s stories of life during the Depression or watching her videos can make us more appreciative of all we have.

Have you watched Clara’s videos?  What do you think of them?



  1. Haven’t seen these but it looks like a good watch. These would definitely help put things in a different perspective. I know my grandparents were all very frugal and did not trust banks. Unfortunately, I think we’ll end up growing older not trusting Wall Street in much the same way, because they’re basically keeping the rich rich by funneling money off the middle class. Anyways, I deviated there, but this is good stuff, thanks for sharing!

  2. I loved her videos. I actually got her book, and although I didn’t have a relative that was still living from the depression, it was nice to hear a grandmother voice of how life was.

  3. I love these videos. I wish I had done something similar before my great grandmother died. She was 103 and an amazing woman.

  4. What a neat find! I can’t wait to watch her myself as I love to watch and read about the Depression Era.

  5. Love Clara’s videos! The pepper and egg one is my favorite. My co-worker and I watched it last year and had to cook some up for lunch and ate pepper and egg sandwiches, delicious!

  6. Claire died on Nov 29 2013. They have posted a memorial video.

  7. The grandmother I was closest to never discussed the depression. I think perhaps her lifestyle was on the pampered side. Not until 2009 did I realize my other set of grandparents still had quirks from that time. It was mostly my grandpa who had to have a certain amount of canned goods in the pantry.

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