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Monday Night Martha: Depression-Era Dinner

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In honor of the massive cuts sure to come to Arizona government soon, this week Chow Bella is dipping into the archival recipes of Grandma Hernandez, who was born in 1929, the year the Great Depression began.

What's lovely about grandmotherly recipes is that they often have a heavy reliance on mayonnaise and canned goods, which are ultra cheap and easy to cook with. Tonight's menu is Salmon Cakes and Broccoli Supreme.

Broccoli Supreme

20 oz frozen broccoli
4 egg whites, beaten stiff
1 C mayonnaise
1 C Parmesan cheese

Put cooked broccoli into a 13" x 9" pan. Mix egg whites, mayonnaise and cheese together, folding carefully. Spread over hot broccoli and place under the broiler for five minutes. Cut into squares and serve.

Just buy a bag of frozen broccoli. Beating the egg whites into stiff, white peaks is easiest if you have an electric mixer or, better yet, a hand-me-down, lemon-yellow
Kitchen Aid. Then add in the in the mayo and Parmesan cheese. Again, the cheaper the better on the Parmesan. Give in to the kitsch.

Salmon Patties

1 can of salmon
1/2 T mustard
1/3 C chopped onions
1 egg
bread crumbs
salt and pepper

Mix ingredients. Shape into patties. Fry slowly.

These are poor man's crab cakes and they take about 10 minutes to make. Fry them in a light Canola or other cooking oil, and make sure the oil is crackling hot before you ease the patties into the pan. When they're through cooking, daub then off with a paper towel to remove extra grease. This recipes serves two to three people, so double it if you're cooking for a family of four or more.

Round out the recipes with one of those cardboard tubes of instant crescent rolls and you have a complete dinner for less than $10.00. Yeah, so the meal is disturbingly monochromatic but it tastes considerably better than it looks.

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Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.