The Amish are better able to withstand periods of economic angst than other groups. Self-sufficiency and thrift are already traits baked into Amish culture and these are traits that are very important when it comes to getting through economically tough times. Even today the most conservative Amish fit that mold, catching water in rain barrels and growing much of their own food.
🍲 One-Dish Meal
Main classic Amish recipes are't formal recipes as much as they a vague set of instructions. This one dish meal is classic. If you were to find it on a recipe card in an Amish kitchen it would look like it does below (In fact, I typed it directly from a recipe card):
Peel potatoes, wash and slice. Grease casserole dish with butter. Put potatoes in a layer. Next add carrots if you wish, then a layer of sliced onions. Season with salt and pepper. Put slices of butter on top. Next, prepare hamburger. Put hamburger on top. Add a little water, cover with foil and bake at 350 for 2 hours.
🌿 Season for Seasonings
Amish cooking has historically been "bland." Doesn't mean it's not delicious, but you - historically - have not found red pepper flakes, cumin, oregano, Italian seasoning, etc in Amish cooking. Most Amish cooks would simply make due with what they had on hand - salt, pepper, molasses - and go with that. Herb gardens with thyme and rosemary and peppermint have been popular over the years. It's only been relatively recently that Amish cooking has begun to adopt a spicier flavor profile, as Amish gardeners have experimented with jalapenos and the like.
💰 Economically Tough Times
The Great Depression of the 1930s really did influence Amish cooking for generations. Amish cooks were always frugal and inventive, but as farms failed and jobs became scarce, the Amish really had to stretch their resources. Eggs were eaten for almost any meal. Homemade cereals were the norm, and desserts were scratched out of whatever could be found. Doesn't mean these foods weren't still tasty, in fact, these dishes set the stage for Amish cooking to become what it is today: simple and hearty. The more recent Great Recession caused the Amish to reach back to their roots and reconnect with some of these old recipes.
🥣 Five Amish Great Depression Recipes
One-Kettle Soup: This is a dish that I have been familiar with forever. It is a staple in the frugal Amish kitchens outside Berne, Indiana...sometimes potatoes, noodles, and meat and modest seasonings, minimalist ,but delicious!
Economy Stew: Potatoes celery, hamburger, a classic confection of savory Amish goodness, check out economy stew.
Beef Chunk Casserole: This is a classic Amish economy casserole that throws in some beef chunks from home-butchering and whatever else is on hand. Check out Beef Chunk Casserole.
One of my favorite Great Depression recipes has always been mock lemon pie or "vinegar pie."
Vinegar Pie: When I first heard about vinegar pie years ago in Adams County, Indiana. When I first heard about the pie I envision a sulfuric-smelling, grotesque-tasting mess in a crust. But thought the recipe sounded interesting and that I’d give it a go. When it came out of the oven I had a smooth, silky tasting pie that delivered the flavor and tartness of lemon without a rind in sight.
Vinegar Pie likely originated during the Great Depression years when citrus was in short supply. But call it “mock lemon pie”, who wants to serve “vinegar pie” to company? Or even yourself! So if you have the urge for a simple but delicious and different pie give this a whirl this weekend!
Oatmeal Pie (Mock Pecan Pie): Pecans are so expensive and 100 years ago they were expensive and hard to find. But an oatmeal pie? I'm pretty sure almost everyone reading this has these ingredients in their pantry. Check out oatmeal pie here.