Little Old Lady Recipes: Classic Frugal Cooking
Today I'm thrilled to announce release of my new book — Little Old Lady Recipes: Comfort Food and Kitchen Table Wisdom, published by Quirk Books. It's a collection of simple comfort-food recipes; sassy advice; and photos (by the excellent Michael Reali) of wonderful women in their kitchens.
The recipes in the book came from several different sources, including my own grandmother, the women whose photographs are featured in the book, and bygone cookbooks like the 1921 Atlanta Women's Club Cook Book. But no matter what their source, one thing that I love about all of these these recipes (well, besides the fact that a lot them call for real butter) is that classic "little old lady" cooking is more than simple and tasty, it's also darn frugal. Recipes like chicken and dumplings aren't just aiming to pair delicious chicken soup with bready dumpling goodness, they're using those dumplings to stretch a little bit of meat into an inexpensive, filling meal. Vegetable scraps and leftover meat bones aren't trash, they're what you make fragrant soup stocks out of. And a good weekend pot roast, well — that will serve you convenient leftovers all week long. (See also: Stretch Your Food at Every Meal)
One of my favorite recipes that I had the pleasure of including in the book is my family's baked bean recipe, one of my personal favorite comfort foods. The beans can be made in a crock pot, or they can slowly cook over several hours in the oven (if you use your oven, make this recipe in the fall or winter and turn your house heat down accordingly while cooking so you're not wasting energy). In the evening, you're rewarded with rich, not-too-sweet beans that are great served with another money-saving powerhouse — coleslaw made from that super-cheap vegetable, the cabbage.
The beans are also fantastic served with Boston Brown Bread. I've included both recipes from the book below, and I very much hope you enjoy them.
Baked Beans Deluxe
- 1 qt navy beans
- 1/2 lb salt pork
- 1/2 tbsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp molasses
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 onion, chopped
Baked beans are best served with brown bread; save your empty coffee cans to steam it in. Although thrift is always a virtue, do not skimp on the salt pork. It's what adds the majority of flavor.
Cover beans with cold water and soak overnight. Drain. Pour into a pot or casserole dish with the rest of the ingredients. Add enough water to cover the beans. Cover and bake in a 250°F oven [or crock pot] for 8 hours. Serves 4 to 6, and tastes great with coleslaw.
Boston Brown Bread
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 cup sour milk
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 3/4 cups graham flour
Between baked beans and this moist, molassesy bread, they're doing something right up in Boston.
Beat eggs, add sugar and molasses, and then the rest of the ingredients. Mix and place in 3 greased 1-pound cans. Cover tightly. Steam 1 to 2 hours by placing on a steamer over boiling water, letting the water go about halfway up the can. Basically, you just don't want the can touching the bottom of the pot you're boiling in. (You can also steam the bread in a deep oven-safe pan in the oven itself. Just make sure to replenish the water if needed.) Bread is done when a toothpick comes out clean. Makes enough to sop up a lot of delicious bean juice.
What are your favorite frugal "little old lady" recipes? Share in the comments!