Sunday, November 16, 2008

Depression Era Cooking with Clara

93-year-old cook and great grandmother, Clara, recounts her childhood during the Great Depression as she prepares meals from the era. Learn step by step how to make simple yet delicious dishes while listening first-hand to stories from the Great Depression.

Depression Cooking Ep: 1 - Pasta with Peas

Depression Cooking Ep: 2 - Egg Drop Soup

Depression Cooking Ep: 3 - Poorman's Meal

Not many 93-year-olds have their own Facebook account, let alone a blog and a wildly popular show on YouTube. But Clara Cannucciari's got all three, and she's also got the rapt attention of budget-conscious, Internet-savvy cooks everywhere who can't get enough of "Great Depression Cooking with Clara." On the show, she shares the recipes she learned from her mother for dishes that kept the family nourished when times were even leaner than they are today.

Cannucciari's grandchild, filmmaker Chris Cannucciari, films the episodes, which feature the feisty grandma sharing stories of her girlhood, explaining how to make dishes like Sicilian fig cookies and egg drop soup, and keeping up a stream of banter that's entertaining, instructional and even a little inspirational.

Born in Chicago to two Italian immigrants, she quit high school after sophomore year and worked filling Hostess Twinkies in a factory. She married Dino Cannucciari, an opera singer, in 1948 in Rome, and then had a son, Carl, in 1950. She now has four grandchildren and two great grandchildren, and lives in the Finger Lakes region.

As her Web site states: "The magic of Clara is that she can turn lemons into lemonade and potatoes into just about everything else. She had a childhood that most of us can't imagine but she was able to make the best of it and turn those trials into lessons we can all learn from."

After Chris Cannucciari filmed an episode of his grandma in her kitchen, he posted it on YouTube, where it was so well-received that he continued to make more videos. Each is peppered with old-fashioned advice and laced with practical tips, delivered in a warm and witty way by a very personable, bespectacled nonagenarian.

On one episode, which covers peppers and eggs, Cannucciari talks about how her mother used to make her pepper and egg sandwiches to take to high school. Another student asked for her to trade lunches, and Cannucciari agreed – only to find out that the lunch she'd received was a spaghetti sandwich. That day, she learned an important lesson: don't trade lunches with anyone because Mom's cooking is always best. On her show, Cannucciari teaches us all about how to make it. -- source