Country Breakfast During the Depression Era

Iowan recalls with fondness the filling, delicious country breakfast that her parents managed to provide, even during the lean times of the depression era

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When I was a little girl in the Depression era, country breakfast is the meal that I most remember! During the corn-husking season my parents used a home smoke-cured ham to feed the men who walked out in the dark each day. Along with the slice of ham, my mother served fried potatoes, eggs and biscuits, milk and coffee. What filling food!

In the winter, just after the "beef butchering" day in the barnyard, we would eat fresh, fried liver every meal until it was used up. Winter mornings when my Dad didn't have to hurry out to do the chores, he liked to cook breakfast. Choosing to slice some of the fresh beef-steak from the carcass, hanging high in the rafters in the freezing cold shed, my Dad often served delicious cubed-steak with man-made milk gravy (spread thick and wide) over a giant-size slice of home-made white bread.

Frequent times, in late evenings, Dad would coax my Mom to cook a kettle of com-meal and make mush. This she would pat down in a loaf pan and then slice it in the morning and fry each piece. We put sorghum syrup on the golden hunk of mush to make our early morning meal.

I cannot remember that we ever had fruit juice, omelets, a blueberry muffin or citrus on our breakfast menu in the Depression years. We had enough to eat of what my parents raised on the farm.

Our enormous breakfasts served their double-duty: most winter days only two meals were prepared for the family.

During the Depression years, one mother of five daughters made biscuits every morning of the year to save their bread. Another lady made pancakes 365 days of the year to feed breakfast to 10 children. Our beefsteak-breakfasts were exotic!

Hope Robinson
Yale, Iowa

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.