Tarnation! You modern kids. What with your iTelephones and remotely controlled cars. And yer fancy-pants food! Foo-eey! I tell you, back in my day, we didn't have none of that highfalutin stuff you whippersnappers shove down your gullet. Sea salt? Organic kale? Feh! Gimme a good ol' tin can of baked beans, or a steamin' plate of sweet, juicy liver.

Better yet, gimme a nice thick slice of my Mama Boxcar's patented Tar 'n' Raisin Loaf. Mmm-mmm! Yessirree bob, only the finest. One piece of that'll fill you up for weeks, and each mouthful only has a couple pieces of gravel. I tell's you, yer entire dad-gum generation is spoiled by all 'em fancy lobsters and such!

You young 'uns ain't got no sense of what kind of food makes a man a man. Or a woman a man, in the cases of my Mama Boxcar, and her sister Locomotive Sally, and their cousin Coal Hopper Barbara.

Not a peep of complainin' came outta our mouths when the stock market crashed in October 1929. It was the beginning of the Great Depression, and my oh my, it was Great, indeed. That's when food was honest, boy howdy. Didn't need none of them "eggs." Or "dairy." "Clean water." "Expiration dates." Who needs 'em? We didn't, that's for sure!

You see, we didn't have none of them refrigeratin' boxes that you young lot seem so keen on shovin' all yer foodstuffs into, neither. If we wanted milk, we went straight to the cow! And we drank it all up. Cream and butter? Hah!

So to teach you whippersnappers a lesson on honest cookery, here's a few recipes that're CHEAP and put some hair on yer pointy bits.

(AKA Great Depression Cake)

• 1 apple, peeled and grated
• 2 cups raisins
• 2 cups brewed coffee (make sure it's a strong cuppa joe)
• 2 cups sugar (I'd say this is optional, but each time I make it without, my meddlesome great-grandkids say it's "creepy," "inedible," and "the worst birthday cake ever.")
• 1/2 cup shortenin'
• 2 cups flour
• 1 tsp. bakin' soda
• 2 tsp. bakin' powder
• 1 tsp. each of nutmeg, allspice, cloves, cinnamon (in my day these were hard to come by. We usually had to do all kinds of favors for Caboose Bruce so's he'd trade us for these spices, and not the good kind of favors, neither.)
• 1 cup pecans or walnuts (for all you fancy pants)
• 1 cup gravel (optional; adds a little extra crunch, and puts hair on your chest, dad blast it! When you ain't got teeth like me, who cares about the grit?)

Stick your frying pot over the fire and simmer the apple, raisins, wet coffee, sugar, and shortenin' for about 10 minutes. Combine all that other stuff in a separate bowl. Take that hot pot off the fire and let that sumbitch cool down. Then pour all that hot stuff into your second bowl so everything is good and mixed together. Pour it all into a greased-up pan and then stick it in an oven for a bit. I ain't no math scholar, but if I had to guess, I'd say leave it in for, oh, 25 minutes at about 350 degrees, I reckon.

And then eat it up, gol-durnit!

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• 2 tbsp. bacon drippings
• a green pepper
• an onion, a big one
• a clove of garlic
• 4 potatoes
• 8 frankfurters
• 8 ounces tomato sauce

Take your frying pan and pour that juicy bacon fat in there, then slice up your green pepper and your onion, and throw 'em in there, too. Make sure that garlic is nice and chopped up, and toss it in there with the rest. Cook it all until it softens up a bit. Meanwhile, your spuds need to be peeled and cut up into medium-size pieces. Boil 'em slowly for 10 minutes or so, then take 'em out of the water.

Cut up them wiener dogs into bite-size pieces, and put 'em, along with everything else, into the tomato sauce. Dump half a cup of water on it, and if you've got money to burn you can throw in some fancy spices, like "salt," or "pepper." Even a little cinnamon might do some good, and a pinch of brown sugar never hurt nobody. So make sure everything is good and mixed and even, then pour it into a pan and bake it all up at 350 degrees for at least 45 minutes.

* * *


• 1 cup flour
• 1 cup cornmeal
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup buttermilk
• 1/3 cup sugar (if you want)
• 1/4 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• 1/4 cup oil

Okay, yer gonna need some buttermilk for this one, so save it for special occasions. You'll want to mix together your flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking soda, maybe get a sifter or something. Make sure all that powder is mixed up good. Then whisk yer eggs in with the buttermilk and the cooking oil. Once that's nice and blended, mix all the dry stuff and the wet stuff together. Mix it up real good, which means yer gonna have to exercise that stirrin' arm of yours, ya dadblasted emo kid! Pour it all into a greased-up baking dish and stick that sumbitch in the oven at about 400 degrees for 30 minutes or so. HOT DAMN! That there's good eatin'!