When times were tough in the 1930’s, a good meal was the best present many people could hope for.
During the Great Depression, people simply couldn’t afford expensive gifts for their loved ones (and for many that hasn’t changed to this day) but that didn’t necessarily mean they didn’t enjoy the Holiday Season. Christmas is really about celebrating the birth of Jesus with family and friends; and what better way to that then with a great meal followed by playing games and socializing.
Compared to today, Christmas in the 1930’s typically had few presents but lots of home-cooked food including sweet treats like pies, cakes, cookies, and tarts. Ingredients for desserts were expensive making them a luxury reserved for special occasions that everyone looked forward to.
The Bailey family on Wind at my Back struggled throughout the Great Depression but that certainly didn’t stop them from enjoying Christmas festivities. In A Wind at My Back Christmas, not even the threat of the fast approaching World War II prevented the Bailey’s from gathering for a Christmas feast.
That brings us to a typical retro 1930s/1940s Christmas Dinner. The recipes below are simple, affordable and best of all, delicious; but whether you use these recipes or favorites of your own, the important thing is that you have a wonderful Christmas dinner surrounded by those you love.
THE ULTIMATE 1930’s CHRISTMAS FEAST
Appetizer – Sunday Hot Bread
Ingredients: 3/4 C. Sugar; 1 egg; 2 tbsp. butter; 2/3 cup milk; 1 1/2 cup flour; 3 tsp. baking powder; 3 tsp. lemon extract; granulated sugar; cinnamon
Method: Cream butter and sugar, add egg mixed with milk and extract, then flour and baking powder. Spread in 2 large cake tins, sprinkle with mixture of sugar and cinnamon. Bake 20-20 minutes at 400F. Serve preferably hot for Sunday night supper.
Salad – Supper Chicken Salad
Ingredients: 1 pkg. lime gelatin; 1 cup boiling water; 1/2 tsp. salt; 1 tbsp. grated onion; 1/2 cup whipping cream; 1/2 cup mayonnaise
Method: Combine gelatin, hot water, salt and onion. Stir until dissolved and let it cool. Beat cream and add the mayonnaise and mix well. Add to the gelatin mixture and stir well. Pour mixture over the following salad ingredients and mix well:
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 pound longhorn cheese, chopped
1 tsp. green pepper, cut small
3 cup celery, chopped fine
1 cup cooked, chopped chicken
1 cup chopped walnuts
Let this stand in the refrigerator overnight and garnish with olives before serving.
Main Course – Brown Sugar Glazed Ham
Glaze Ingredients: 1 cup brown sugar; 2 tbsp. prepared mustard; a little pineapple juice to thin it
Method: Purchase a fully-cooked ham that will take between 12-15 minutes a pound in a 325F oven to properly heat to 160F internal temperature. To cook ham, put it in a pan with a rack and pour one can of 7-Up over it and cover it. Bake to about 1/2 hour before it’s done cooking and then add the glaze.
Once the glaze has been basted on, you can put up pineapple slices over the top and continue baking the last hour.
Dessert Course – Pecan Yule Log
Ingredients: 1 cup butter; 4 tbsp. powdered sugar; 1 tsp. vanilla; 2 cup flour; 1 cup pecans, chopped
Method: Mix all ingredients together, form into logs, balls, or crescents. Bake at 350 F for 12 minutes. Just before they cool, roll in additional powdered sugar. They can be placed close together on the cookie sheet since they do not spread.