Saturday, March 6, 2021

Depression Era Recipes: More Porridge?


Porridge is the quintessential "Depression" food. Incredibly inexpensive and filling. It provides Calories if nothing else.

Porridge can be made of whatever starchy food is most abundant and economical. For most of North America, it will be corn (maize) based. It can also be wheat, oat, barley, millet, sorgham.....based.

Porridge is ground starch material that is boiled in water until it is gelatinous. It is usually served that way but it can be cooled, cut into slabs and fried. It can be served as a savory dish (cheese, chilies, salt, butter) or a sweet dish. But it all starts with ground starchy material, usually a grain, and boiling water.

There are three ways to fail at making porridge. You can burn it. You can make lumpy porridge or you can make it too thin. That is it.

There are lots of ways to make porridge (or cornmeal mush or grits or....) This is one way.

Put one full measure of water into a container and put over heat until it comes to a boil.

Take that same measure and half fill it with your cornmeal (or whatever). Then top-off with water. Stir vigorously until the meal is fully suspended.

Add to the boiling water and continue stirring. A spatula is a good tool for this task.

Stir until the mixture thickens. Turn off heat.

Dish out and serve.

While many of these recipes are intended to be humorous, this one is serious. If you can only cook one thing...this is it.


  1. When I eat grits, I use a little butter and a liberal dose of black pepper. Down south, putting sugar on grits is called "Yankee style."

    1. I like some bacon bits in the bottom of the bowl and the grits topped with shredded cheddar cheese, s/p.
      That's enough.

  2. This kind of reminds me of a dish my mom made when I was a child. It was called fried mush.

    At breakfast we would have something like fried sausage patties or bacon. Afterwords, my mom would reheat the leavings that were in the frying pan and mix corn meal in and heat and stir until it thickened up. She would then let it cool a bit and pour it into a bowl. That bowl would then go into the fridge. By the following day, it would be hardened to the consistency of clay. She would slice it and fry it in lard or butter with some seasonings like salt and red pepper. Served hot.

    It was delicious.

    1. My mom used to buy corn meal mush at the store. Came in a tube or square (didn't look anything like this stuff in the bowls) and she'd slice it, dredge it in flour, fry it in lard and serve it hot with maple syrup.

  3. Looks like Cream of Wheat. Throw in honey and raisins...
    Good Stuff!

  4. Make your corn meal mush with trimmings from hog butchering and broth from boiling the bones and slice it and fry it when it’s cool and you have scrapple. Serve with maple syrup.

  5. Ate a lot of that stuff growing up. It'll keep body and soul together.
    Corn meal mush for breakfast and beans for supper. Hard work for lunch.

  6. Joe,
    I read your blog every day but limit comments to when I have something to contribute. (I figure you're not a teenage girl looking for "likes"). I recommend this video about depression-era cooking:
    The Phantom


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