Chapter Six

Hard Times, Old Times, Good Times Main Dishes

This chapter is called Main Dishes, but what is a Main Dish? If you like bacon and eggs, you can eat that for dinner, and call it a main dish. If you like stuffed baked potatoes, you can fix one with a cheese sauce and some vegetables, and that's also a main dish. Pasta with clam sauce, turkey and trimmings, enchiladas with cheese, bean soup and homemade bread, an omelet with salsa. The idea is, whatever is main is fine. Main means usually some protein, a vegetable or a grain, maybe some fruit or a sweet.

In this chapter we include main dishes with meats, poultry, and vegetables. There is also a section on Chinese food, which is some of the smartest cooking in the world. In other parts of this book are equally respectable main dishes, so check the Index. This opinionated cookbook doesn't like being put in a strait jacket and told to be traditional about how to arrange itself, so wander around, read it, and make up your own mind.

We have eaten cold linguine with clam sauce for breakfast. So there.

Low-Meat and No-Meat Meals

These meals can be a pasta dish, a hearty soup, fish, or a large salad with plenty of grains like bulghur or quinoa, or vegetables only with plenty of fresh bread. They can be a grain and a bean dish for a complete protein. They can be many things, have no meat or very low meat, with less fat, and good for the pocketbook as well.

Green Chili Eggs and Cheese

  1. Spread chopped green chilis over a 12"x15" pan.
  2. Mix: About a fourth of a cup of flour, a little salt and pepper, some minced onion, and about a half pound of grated Swiss cheese.
  3. Beat six large eggs with two cups of hot milk. Mix the egg mixture with the cheese and flour mixture, and pour this over the chilis and bake at 325 for about 30-40 minutes.
  4. Serve warm or cold.

This is delicious with warm flour tortillas. If you want, you can assemble this in the evening and bake it the next morning, for a hot and festive breakfast.

Chinese Style Cooking

The most ancient of cuisines is the Chinese. They were cooking elegant meals when our ancestors in Europe were worshiping trees and eating spoiled meat and letting the dogs scavenge in the dining room. They invented the most intelligent of cooking utensils, the wok, and we can learn a great deal about careful, thrifty and tasty cooking from them.

The wok and Chinese recipes are a great help to the Depression Cook. With the wok, or a skillet if you want to practice first before buying a wok, you can turn a meal for four people out of two dry leftover pork chops, some vegetables, a cup of rice and a little sauce.

The Generic Meal

Cook some rice, and while it is cooking:

  1. Cut the meat into slivers, set aside.
  2. Cut up some garlic and a few green onions, set aside.
  3. Check your refrigerator, and dig out a carrot, a bit of celery, some cabbage that needs to be used.
  4. If you have some, use a little sliced fresh ginger which you can buy at your supermarket. A little goes a long way, so be careful.
  5. Put the sauce together in a little bowl or pitcher, and cook your rice.
  6. Heat a skillet or wok, put a little oil in and stir fry the garlic, onions and ginger for a minute.
  7. Toss in the meat and the vegetables, stir fry until wilted but still green and crunchy. The Chinese like their vegetables still full of vitamins and taste, not cooked to death.
  8. In the skillet with the vegetables and meat, put the sauce, and cook for a minute to thicken.

Serve this over hot cooked rice.

Talk about fast cheap good food! You can use pieces or chicken, pork or beef, or no meat at all, just vegetables. I've used vegetables and cooked capellini to make sort of an Italian /Chinese stir fry pasta primavera, which is a true marriage of cultures that tastes wonderful.

Experiment with ingredients, check your supermarket for Chinese sauces in bottles, like hoisin and sweet and sour sauce, or oyster sauce. These add body and flavor to your meal, no matter what it is. Get a little Chinese cookbook, and you'll find a whole new world of interesting recipes and a new way to cook that is fast, low fat, and very healthy. The Chinese have been cooking longer than anyone, so we can learn from them and add our own ancestral thriftiness to theirs.

When I showed my Italian grandmother how to make Egg Foo Yung, she said an omelet I can make. But she loved it, and once she put little pieces of hot Italian sausages in it.

Let your imagination and your palate tell you where to go and what to add, and have fun. Buy some chop sticks and browse through a Chinese grocery, and learn new things. It will keep your heart young in more ways than one.

Stir Fried Rice

  1. Cut up and have ready to go:
    • chopped mushrooms
    • chopped onion
    • chopped garlic
    • chopped ginger
    • chopped celery
    • a beaten egg
    • two or three cups of cooked, cold rice
    • vegetable oil
  2. In a skillet, heat the vegetable oil, about one tablespoon, cook the onion and garlic and ginger. Add the chopped celery, onion, mushrooms, and whatever else you want, cook until hot and crisp. Cook the egg in a little corner of the skillet until scrambled, add to the vegetable mixture.
  3. To this mixture add the cooked rice, stir to mix and heat.
  4. Add soy sauce to taste, stir well and eat immediately.
  5. This can be a meal in itself, or served with cooked meat or fish. The beauty is that you can put leftover vegetables, little bits and pieces of meat or fish, and you have a substantial meal.

Just remember that you have to use cooked cold rice, so think about it when you cook rice. Plan ahead. That is one of the key things about this kind of cooking. Fast food costs money. Slow food, or planned fast food, only costs a little thinking time.

Cooking Sauces

Sauces are key to these recipes, so here are some fast homemade ones, with a bit of bought ones, too. Make up your own with different things like sherry or vermouth or flavored vinegars, and you'll find combinations that you and your family enjoy.

  1. In a small bowl, put one cup chicken broth
  2. In another small bowl or pitcher combine:
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce
    • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar and salt

The broth is used to simmer the vegetables for two or three minutes, then the cornstarch mixture is added to thicken, the vegetable mixture is simmered for one minute and served over rice.

Here is a slightly different sauce. In a bowl, combine:

And still another sauce, in a bowl, combine:

"Velvet-ing" Chinese Food

This is a process rather than a recipe. Velvet-ing just means covering raw food with a coating before it is used in stir- fry.

To make velvet chicken: read the recipe through and get the cold and hot water ready before you prepare the chicken.

  1. Remove bones from a raw chicken and cut the meat into chunks. Use about one and a half to two pounds of chicken to get two cups of raw meat Cut into small pieces or shreds.
  2. Add to the chicken in a bowl:
    • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
    • 1 egg white
    • 2 Tablespoon cornstarch
  3. Get a large pot full of cold water ready, and 2 quarts of water boiling in a saucepan.
  4. Bring water in the saucepan to a vigorous boil.
  5. Put the chicken into the boiling water and stir gently to separate the meat pieces. as soon as the water begins to boil again, turn the heat off, or remove from heat. Let stand one minute.
  6. Drain meat, put in the pot full of cold water at once to cool. Remove and drain dry. The chicken is now ready for any recipe you choose. You now have two cups of velvet chicken.

We will not pretend to compete with the wonderful array of Chinese cookbooks on the market, we will just tempt you to investigate this fascinating old cuisine. You will soon find why the Chinese and their cooking have lasted so long.

In other parts of this cookbook there are many low meat or no meat meals. For example:


Meats are the centerpieces of many American meals. The main thing is to concentrate on what you like, what you can afford, what is good for you, and how many people you need to cook for. Imagination and the size of your pocketbook are the most important ingredients.

The best and most simple foods include broiled fish, broiled lamb chops and broiled chicken. For lamb chops, do nothing. Just broil, add a little salt and enjoy. For chicken, you can marinate in white Worcestershire sauce and a little onion and put oregano, or basil or paprika over it and broil. Play with different herbs and you'll get different flavors. People think they need to go to MacDonald's for fast food; you don't. Broiled things and Chinese food are fast, good and much better for you than the fat and preservative-laden junk you pay a lot of money for.

When we are working and don't want to cook when we come home tired, we cook on weekends. We fix oven ready plates of things like broccoli, broiled chicken, and risotto, and freeze them. Then, when we come home tired, we throw our homemade TV dinner in the oven for a half an hour, and have our own food, with very little effort.


This is a generic recipe, you can plug in the types of foods you have or like:

  1. Mix about a pound and a half of ground meat, you can use beef, pork, or turkey in combination
  2. Add: a chopped onion, one beaten egg, some dry meal you can use crushed Saltines, bread crumbs, oatmeal, whatever
  3. Add some thick liquid, either tomato sauce, one small can, or an equal amount of homemade sauce or soup You could also use leftover mashed potatoes, water added to the right consistency
  4. Add seasonings Use Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, pepper,oregano, whatever you have around or want. You can also add chunks of cheese, some chopped green pepper, leftover bits of vegetables or cooked mushrooms
  5. Put some sauce on top
  6. Put this on a baking tin on a rack and bake it at 350 for about an hour. We don't like loaf pans, because the fat collects in the bottom and it's also hard to get it out in one piece.

Veal Parmigiana

This recipe is one of those elegant ones that is a lot easier and cheaper to make than it seems. You can make these cutlets plain or add sauce. It uses chicken instead of veal, which, like lobster and caviar, are outside the scope of this cookbook.

  1. Take chicken breasts and bone them, saving the bones and skin for soup.
  2. Dip the breasts in a beaten egg. Dredge the chicken in: bread crumbs, Parmesan, and parsley.
  3. Saute the chicken briefly until brown, put in a casserole. Top with your favorite tomato sauce (or use the Marinara Sauce in this book) and cover with mozzarella and Parmesan.
  4. .Bake for about an hour at 350. Serve with cooked pasta or rice, and salad.

When you make chicken plain, just bread, brown and serve as is. Serve it with a little pasta cooked and tossed with fresh basil and parsley and a little Parmesan. This is fast food that is actually good for you.


This recipe is a little tedious, but like all old times cooking, it serves a lot of people and the effort is worth it. You can make most of it the day before you need it, anyway

  1. . Peel about two large eggplants, and slice, dot with olive oil and broil until golden. Set aside.
  2. Heat four tablespoons of butter in skillet. Cook two large chopped onions.
  3. Add two pounds of ground beef, and cook for ten minutes.
  4. Combine three tablespoons of tomato paste with a half a cup of dry red wine, some chopped parsley, and a fourth of a teaspoon of cinnamon. Salt and pepper, to taste. Stir the seasonings into meat, simmer until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  6. In a separate large saucepan, melt eight tablespoons of butter, Blend in six tablespoons of flour with whisk; bring a quart of milk to a boil and add gradually to butter- flour mixture, stirring constantly. When mixture is thickened and smooth, remove from heat, cool slightly.
  7. Mix in four eggs which have been beaten until frothy, nutmeg to taste and two cups of ricotta cheese
  8. Grease a large lasagna pan and sprinkle the bottom with bread crumbs. Arrange layers of eggplant and meat sauce in the pan.
  9. Sprinkle each layer with a little Parmesan. Pour the ricotta cheese mixture over the top. Bake one hour and remove from oven.

This rather tedious recipe is excellent. Make it the day before, just reheat in a moderate oven and serve with green salad and garlic bread. You can also get the eggplant and meat mixture ready and layer that in the morning, and then do the white sauce and ricotta later in the day if you want to do it in two stages.


This is a quick and tasty meal, inexpensive and nourishing.

  1. In a skillet cook a sliced onion, a small red apple, and about a tablespoon of crushed fennel seed in a 6 oz can of low salt vegetable juice. Cook covered for about ten minutes.
  2. Reduce heat to low, add a jar of rinsed and drained sauerkraut.Cook for about three minutes.
  3. Broil sausages or franks, add to skillet, heat and serve with good dark bread or rolls.

Variation: I

Take a smoked sausage of any type, Hillshire Farms Turkey Sausage is good, and cut it into pieces about two inches long. Drain a can of sauerkraut, mix with sausage in a small casserole. Add a bit of caraway seed and some vermouth, bake for an hour at about 350. Serve with pumpernickel bread or baked potato.

Variation II

Cut a smoked beef or turkey sausage into two-inch lengths. In a large bowl, to the sausage add: a cut up raw potato, some sliced green peppers, and an onion cut into rounds. In a small bowl, mix some barbecue sauce with beer or white wine or water, to thin it a little. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables, mix it well, and put the whole thing into a casserole and bake it for about a half hour or so at 350, until the potatoes are tender.

Cornish Pasties

This is a very old recipe, dating back over a couple of hundred years. These meat and potato filled pastries were made for the miners in the copper mines of Cornwall and then Upper Michigan and the northern Midwest. The miners went to work and their wives made their midday pasties and carved the name in the top , to let the steam out and identify the owner. Then the children carried the hot pasties to the mines. It's an ancestral Parnall dish, and very very good. The pasties are hearty and nourishing, and the design of the initials on each pasty told the miners whose was which.

This is one of the few recipes that has exact measurements for the dough because it is very different than regular pie dough. It needs to stay together so you eat the pasty holding it in your hand. Miners didn't have forks, so they picked the pasty up and ate it like a hot dog.

Pastry Dough

  1. Sift together
    • 3 cups flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • ice water about 2/3 cup
  2. Cut in one cup of cold shortening. (Always keep shortening in the refrigerator, anyway.)
  3. Add ice water, depending on the humidity of the room. Mix with your hands, and the feel of the dough will tell you when it is ready.
  4. Roll on a floured board into circles, add filling. Fold over so that you have a half moon shape.
  5. Crimp the edges with ice water to seal. Cut the first initial of each person in the top of the pasty, for steam release and to identify them later on. Bake at 400 degrees for one hour on a greased baking sheet. They need about 15 minutes to cool on a cookie rack. If you are taking them on a picnic, wrap in foil or newspaper and they will stay warm for over an hour.

Pasty Filling

The measurements for the filling are not exact. It depends on how much meat you have, how many people you are serving, and whether you want to stretch the meat a little.

  1. Slice and cut into bite-sized pieces an arm or chuck roast, several potatoes and some green onion.
  2. Add salt, and mix well.(The old Parnall recipe called for beef, potatoes, carrots and turnips. I prefer the Fink version, beef, potatoes and onion, and NO TURNIPS! OR CARROTS!) Someday Jack will put green chili in them, which should be interesting.

This makes about four fairly large pasties, depending on the appetites of those you are making them for. You can use up leftover dough and potatoes to make small "potato pasties".

These may keep the troops quiet while the big pasties are cooking. Work fast, keep the dough cold. Chill all utensils.

Pork Marsala

This recipe is not cheap but it's elegant and fast, and can be stretched using rice, or serving a bowl of good soup as a first course

  1. Cut a pork tenderloin diagonally into cutlets, pound to 1/4 inch thickness.
  2. Heat a little oil and butter, brown cutlets on both sides. Remove from pan.
  3. To the skillet, add chopped garlic,and sliced fresh mushrooms, saute briefly.
  4. Mix about a tablespoon of tomato paste with a half-cup or so of Marsala wine, add to pan, with mushrooms. Stir to blend. Simmer 3-5 minutes. Return cutlets to pan, heat through. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.<./li>

Eggplant and Meat Casserole

  1. Fry about a pound of hamburger meat lightly, with some Italian seasoning.
  2. Cut one eggplant into round slices, grease a casserole dish. Layer the casserole as follows:
    • eggplant, salted
    • meat
    • sliced or chopped onion
    • mozzarella cheese
    • garlic powder
    • tomato sauce
    • Parmesan.
  3. Bake at 300 for about an hour.

Carli's Stew

This is obviously a good times recipe, very elegant and time- consuming at the beginning. But it makes a wonderful stew, and can feed lots of people very well. If you like, leave out the cognac, but someone will probably notice.

  1. Cut up several pounds of good lean stew meat into goodish sized pieces, not too small, brown well in a little oil on high heat. Place in casserole,
  2. Add sliced carrots, quartered onions with a couple of whole cloves stuck in them, several cloves of garlic. Brown this in a 450 oven for fifteen minutes.
  3. Remove casserole from oven, turn heat to 250.
  4. Add: about a half cup of cognac, about a pint of red wine, a couple of pigs feet, (this is optional) a bay leaf,about a teaspoon of thyme, some chopped parsley, And a little salt.
  5. Cover and cook several hours.
  6. When meat is done, remove everything from the casserole to another bowl, with a slotted spoon. Make a roux in a separate frying pan with fat and flour,(put 2 T shortening or butter and add 2 T flour, stir well, and brown. Do not burn!)
  7. Add the liquid from the stew, and cook until thickened. Return to the casserole with the meat and vegetables, continue cooking for another half hour. Serve with noodles.

Braised Beef with Noodles Szchewan Style

This is one of those vaguely Oriental dishes that can be stretched forever and tastes wonderful on a cold night.

  1. Take about a pound of lean beef stew meat, and brown it in a little oil in a Dutch oven.
  2. Add about four cups of water, four cups of good chicken or beef stock, a little soy sauce, a bit of brown sugar and some crushed red pepper, depending on how hot you like things. During the last half hour you can add some chopped bok choy or Chinese cabbage.
  3. Cover and simmer about two hours.
  4. In a large stockpot, boil egg noodles al dente. Drain, place in a deep tureen. Pour the braised beef and broth over the noodles and serve.


There are 957 different recipes for this, so don't be afraid to change it. It's nourishing, cheap and it freezes well. You can eat it out of a bowl, or put it in a flour tortilla and serve burritos.

  1. Sear about three pounds of cubed meat (pork or beef) in a heavy Dutch oven in a little oil until gray.
  2. Add a large can of tomato sauce, a cup of water, a little hot pepper sauce, some ground chili peppers or chili powder, about three or four tablespoons depending on your taste.
  3. Add some oregano, cumin, chopped onions, chopped garlic, salt, cayenne and paprika to taste, four or five red chili pods. (This is a hellfire version, so cut back on the spices if you want to ease into this gradually.)
  4. Simmer for about an hour and a half. Add a thickening made with two heaping tablespoons of flour mixed with some water and simmer another thirty minutes.

Some Texan (a pejorative term in New Mexico) put pinto beans in this once, only once, you hear. But it wasn't bad.

Bobbie's Stuffed Cabbage

This is one of those Old World recipes that you can make changes on forever. Use less meat if you want, or add rice.


  1. Mix well: one pound ground round, two eggs, a little salt, chopped garlic, one quarter to one-half a cup of water one handful of bread crumbs a little grated onion.
  2. Cook a cored cabbage for fifteen minutes in a large kettle of boiling water remove and cool slightly.
  3. Remove leaves. one at a time and stuff. with filling, folding carefully to make sure they don't open during cooking.
  4. Place cabbage rolls in kettle with a cut up onion. Add the juice from one can of apricots, 1/2 c orange juice, 1 can of consomme or a cup of beef broth. Add about ten prunes, apricot halves and a few raisins. Season with salt,pepper and paprika.
  5. Let come to a boil and add enough water to come within one inch of the tops of cabbage rolls. Cook slowly uncovered for 1 hour. Add two cups of tomato sauce, juice of one half a lemon, and two tablespoons of brown sugar. Simmer for two hours covered, or in a 300 oven. This works well in a crock pot, too.

Beef with Mushroom Gravy

This is one of those home grown recipes that surfaces every ten years or so, and is never found in a gourmet magazine. It's good, fast and easy, and will cook while you are busy with something else. It feeds many people, depending on the amount of noodles or potatoes you serve. Like meatloaf, everyone loves to hate it, but it's all eaten up when they get up from the table.

  1. Take a large piece of heavy foil, place an arm or chuck roast on it. Trim the fat off first.
  2. Rub a little oil into the meat, and put one half of a package of dry onion soup mix over the meat, rub it in.
  3. Turn the roast over, put the rest of the soup mix on it. Pour a can of undiluted cream of mushroom soup over the meat, add a little red wine if you like,
  4. Fold up the foil. to enclose the roast completely and not leak.
  5. Place the wrapped meat in a pan, put it in a 250 oven or a 325 oven, whatever you need, depends on what you are doing and how your day goes.
  6. Cook for two or three hours, or more on low heat.
  7. You can bake some onions and carrots in the oven for the last hour or so if you want.
  8. Turn the meat out on a platter, pour the gravy in a boat, and serve with hot broad noodles or mashed potatoes.

Grandma's Meatballs and Lasagna Stuffing

Grandma taught me many things, and one of them was The Little Brown Bread Bag Trick. She put bread ends and scraps of bread into a small lunchbag and let them get hard, and used them for crumbs and stuffings and meatballs. Keep a brown bag on your shelf, or pantry, not in the refrigerator, and put the ends of different breads, then when it's time to make meatballs,or bread crumbs, you have your dry bread all ready to soak, or put through the blender for crumbs. This is a real Depression move, but it is thrifty and sensible. Why pay the Bread Crumb People to put bread soaked with preservatives in a cardboard can?

  1. Take a bagful of dry bread from your little brown bag, and soak it in warm water for about ten minutes, squeeze dry.
  2. In another bowl, mix about a pound of lean ground meat, beef or turkey mixed is good, with two lightly beaten eggs, a handful of fresh basil and parsley, another handful of good grated Parmesan, and the squeezed bread.
  3. Mix and squeeze this mixture well with your hands, Add salt to taste.
  4. Roll this mixture into round walnut sized balls, and fry in oil until brown. Don't overcook, because you will put them in sauce and cook them a little more.
  5. Serve with spaghetti, or other pasta and sauce.

This meat mixture is good with lasagna also. Just make cheese lasagna and add this to the layers of cheese and noodles.

NOTE: Grandma said the regular recipe for this is one pound of meat to one pound of bread. In Depression Times, use one pound of meat and four pounds of bread. Learn to stretch the protein, or use wonderful mixtures like lentils and rice, or limas and corn, to make up for the expensive fatty kind of protein.


  1. Fix the cheese filling by mixing together ;
    • one package Ricotta
    • two eggs, beaten
    • Parmesan
    • cut up mozzarella
    The amounts of these cheeses depends on how many people you are serving..
  2. Mix this cheese up with fresh parsley, basil, dried or fresh, salt and pepper.
  3. Cook lasagna noodles, drain.
  4. Put a little sauce on the bottom of the lasagna pan, put a layer of noodles. Add a layer of cheese, sprinkle with more Parmesan, and add meat mixture from the meatball recipe if you want to put meat.
  5. Add some sauce, then another layer of noodles, cheese, sauce, continue until you run out of something. Put sauce and Parmesan at the end.
  6. Bake at about 350 for an hour or so.

This lasagna is good made early and let sit or refrigerate and reheat before serving.


Serve this lasagna, a wonderful Good Times casserole, with green salad. and red wine.


This is a recipe for homemade pizza, which is very good and easier than you think. It's also a lot cheaper and better for you than the bought kind. You can make several dough rounds and freeze them, and make the sauce up and keep it in the refrigerator or freezer for good fast pizza made to order. Why let the Pizza People have ten or twelve dollars when you can make your own for half the price and use better ingredients?

Pizza Dough

The dough uses the following ingredients:

To fix the dough:

  1. Sprinkle yeast over water and stir until dissolved.
  2. Stir in one cup of flour, sugar and salt.
  3. Add egg and oil and stir until smooth and glossy.
  4. Stir in remaining flour and knead for ten minutes.
  5. Place in greased bowl, cover and let rise for one hour.
  6. Shape and press into a pizza tin and bake without topping for five minutes in a preheated 450 degree oven.
  7. Prepare the pizza sauce. Mix a small can of tomato sauce, a small can of paste, a minced clove of garlic, a little sugar, oregano and basil, and red pepper flakes if you want.
    Mix well, simmer a minute, and spread over baked pizza dough.
  8. Remove pizza rounds from oven, cover with sauce and cheese. Add pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, green pepper slices, and whatever. else you like.
  9. Return to the oven and bake for fifteen minutes.
  10. Remove from oven,top with shredded Mozzarella and Parmesan, bake for ten more minutes.

You can also cook several pizza dough rounds and freeze them all shaped and ready to be defrosted and covered.

Carne Adovada

Carne Adovada can be made two ways; each one is good. You can make it hotter or milder, depending on your taste.

Variation I

  1. Cut lean pork butt into serving size pieces and place in a baking dish.
  2. Sprinkle with chili powder, garlic powder and oregano. Stir until meat is evenly coated.
  3. Pour about a cup of enchilada sauce, canned or homemade, over the meat and marinate the meat in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  4. Place covered in a 300 oven and cook slowly for six to eight hours.
  5. Uncover for the last hour before serving to brown. Add water, beer, chicken broth or other liquid occasionally to keep meat from drying out.

Carne Adovada is great with hot flour tortillas and is also good when cold. It is also delicious with rice cooked with sour cream and green chili. We have a recipe for the green chili rice in the rice and beans section.

Variation II

  1. First make chili caribe, the recipe is in the Sauces section of this book. Put four or five red chili pods in about two cups of cold water, bring to a boil, simmer five minutes and let cool for a while. Put pods and water in a blender with three cloves of garlic and a little oregano. Blend well. Pour this mixture over cut up pork in a large pan, marinate 24 hours. Roast covered at 275 for about four or five hours, depending on how thick the meat is.
  2. Uncover and roast another half hour making sure it doesn't dry out. Serve as above with beans or green chili rice and flour tortillas.

Leg of Lamb

Leg of lamb is a good times recipe for the first cooking, a hard times recipe for the second, and a harder times recipe for the third. You can roast the entire leg first, feed many people, and then cut up the cooked lamb and make ragout and serve it with rice or noodles and feed the same people, or more, with a delicious leftover. And then, you can use the leftover bone in lentil soup to flavor the beans. If you buy the lamb on sale, you're ahead of the game.

  1. Take a whole leg of lamb, make little cuts in the top and put a fresh basil leaf and some garlic cloves.
  2. Roast in a 450 oven basting once in a while with vermouth. Pour off the fat several times.
  3. Always make lamb relatively rare, don't cook it to death like most people do. One and a half hours is plenty for a regulation sized leg.
  4. Serve with rice or couscous.

This recipe comes from Carolyn's Italian grandmother, but a Greek lady we know said it was a Greek recipe. Either way,it's good.

Lamb Ragout

  1. Cut up leftover cooked lamb in bite sized pieces, getting rid of as much fat as possible.
  2. Brown in a little olive oil with mushrooms, sliced green peppers, sliced onions, and minced garlic.
  3. Add some homemade tomato sauce and simmer for about a half hour. Serve over rice or noodles.


You can use the leftover lamb as a curry if you follow the recipe in this book for Curry Sauce


Tortilla Paisana

  1. Break six eggs,into bowl. Beat. Do not over beat.
  2. Microwave or bake a baked potato to firm but done.
  3. Slice half an onion, two large cloves of garlic, and the potato, and set aside.
  4. Put one tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet. Have another skillet of the same size ready. Fry the onions until clear, put in potatoes, saute for four minutes. Set this mixture aside.
  5. Add about a Tablespoon of olive oil to the same skillet: add eggs. Cook for one minute without stirring.
  6. Add onion, potato and garlic mixture. Spread evenly throughout the pan. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook for three minutes, place the other skillet over the first skillet and invert.
  7. Cook in second skillet for another three minutes and cover with platter and invert.
  8. Serve hot with fresh hot bread with the juice from fresh or canned tomatoes and olive oil on top.
  9. Also delicious cold.

Baked Ziti with Sausage

A recipe like this is a standby for many a cold winter night at our house, with a salad and a glass of wine, and maybe some garlic bread if the cooks are feeling hungry. If you have made sauce and frozen a little of it, take it out of the freezer in the morning when you go to work, the heat it up when you come home.

  1. Heat spaghetti sauce
  2. Take some Italian sausage, remove casings, and brown well. Pour off fat, add some sauce and cook for a few minutes.
  3. In the meantime, cook ziti plain or rigati, or penne or rigatoni and drain. Mix the sauce with the macaroni and spoon into a greased casserole dish, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  4. Bake it at 350 for about a half hour. Serve with salad or meatballs.

This is a good dish to make and freeze, or make early in the day and heat up for dinner. It's also a great casserole to bring to pot luck suppers.

Corny Hamburger Stew

This is an old recipe born of starving students who had lots of appetite, little money, and few pots. It's good and filling, and certainly inexpensive.

  1. Brown one pound of hamburger meat, or ground turkey, with a chopped onion and some garlic, and pour off fat.
  2. Add one or two cans of creamed corn, depending on how many people you are feeding.
  3. Add:
    • parsley
    • salt and pepper
    • cut up celery
    • chopped green pepper
    • whatever vegetable you like, maybe carrots or leeks
  4. Simmer until meat is done, and liquid has mostly boiled off. Serve on rice, over noodles or over a hamburger bun, like Sloppy Joes.

This is fast, easy and tasty. For a variation, you can add some chopped green chili. Play with the seasonings and you can invent your own dish. Children may like it mixed with mashed potato.


To make this dish, you need to go to the Sauces section and make Fink's Enchilada Sauce, either from the chili pods or from frozen chili. When you have a pot of sauce simmering on the stove,continue with this recipe.

  1. Fry corn tortillas briefly in oil, put grated Longhorn style cheese on the tortilla, add chopped onion and a ladle of the sauce, another tortilla, in layers on an oven-going plate.
  2. Put in the oven briefly for about five or ten minutes to melt the cheese.
  3. Top with a fried egg and more sauce, if desired. At the table, you can add shredded lettuce if you like.

This is the flat school of enchiladas.

There is a rolled school, too. Rolled enchiladas tend to show up on combination Mexican Plates in restaurants, but, even so, they can be quite good, depending on the sauce, the cheese, and the onions.

  1. Dip each tortilla briefly in hot oil.
  2. In the middle of a fried tortilla, put grated cheese, finely chopped onion and some sauce.
  3. Roll the tortilla up around the filling and put in a baking dish. Repeat with other tortillas.
  4. Top the enchiladas in the baking dish with more sauce, cheese and onion, bake at about 350 for 15-20 min.
  5. <.ol>


    At step #2, you can add chopped cooked chicken or turkey, or some cooked crumbled ground beef.

    We prefer the plain cheese, but if you are feeding lots of people, some added protein is fine. Don't forget the beans (frijoles) you'll find the recipe in Pasta, Beans and Rice section.

    Tacos and Burritos

    These are some more New Mexico recipes that can be made with chicken, ground beef or just beans and cut up tomatoes and lettuce.

    1. Open a package of corn tortillas, fry lightly in hot oil.
    2. Bend each tortilla in half into taco shapes, and pat with paper towels.
    3. For meat tacos
      • fry chopped onions and ground beef until done
      • add seasonings, ground cumin, salt and pepper, maybe some chili seeds if you want.
      • Drain, and stuff taco shells,
      • add grated cheese, chopped tomato, chopped onions and shredded lettuce to taste.
      • You can add salsa or enchilada sauce for more spice if you want.
    4. For chicken tacos, use cooked chopped chicken or turkey instead of beef and stuff as for beef tacos.


    Tostados are a kind of flat tacos, so when you fry the tortillas, leave them flat and drain on paper towels. You can pile on cooked ground beef, chicken, carne adovada, shredded cooked pork, cheese, lettuce, chopped onion shredded lettuce, enchilada sauce, whatever.

    One of the best teenage parties we had was a Build Your Own Tostada Party. We put all kinds of food on the table and let the kids build their own dinners. You can put sour cream or yogurt cheese and some guacamole and salsa on the table, with all the other condiments,a platter of stacked hot fried tortillas, and a big pot of cooked beans, and let them have at it.


    Burritos are also basically the same as tacos and enchiladas but made with flour tortillas and are not fried. The basic recipe is the same:

    Take a meat or bean stuffing, some grated cheese and lettuce and chopped onion and tomato, and fill a hot flour tortilla, wrap it up and eat it. The idea of wrapping food in a bread or pastry container is very old and very widespread.

    The Chinese call it won-ton, the Italians call it ravioli, the Jewish version is the kreplach and the knisch, in Cornwall they make pasties, in Russia they make pierogi. There are many versions all over the world, and they all have the same basic ingredients: a stuffing and a wrapper, either fried, baked or boiled. It's a great Hard Times recipe, because you can stretch a little meat a long way, and the bread or pastry wrapper fills people up.

    These meals can be No Meat or Low-Meat, too, depending on the taste and the pocketbook.


    Poultry is a great friend of the hard times cook. It can be dressed for dinner, made fancy and saucy, or as plain as old socks. It can be used for soup, sandwiches, fried, broiled and sauteed, and has a delicate and versatile taste. In rich red wine dishes it is Bourguignon, and with a white wine it is a lighter Chardonnay.

    It is naturally low in fat, and even lower if you take the skin off. It's also cheap, and can be stretched to the limit. It also cooks fast, so it satisfies the cook who wants a meal quickly and cheaply and tasty. You can often find fryer leg quarters for far less than their beefy brethren, so keep an eye out for poultry sales.

    Turkey is included here, also, being a cousin to the little fryer but less versatile. Cornish game hens are not included. You will have to look to a different set of cooks for those. The only game hens we cook are the ones with parts missing and our sons accuse us of serving crippled food.

    Chicken Breasts with Mustard Sauce

    This is fast, cheap and elegant. It meets all the criteria for this cookbook and more!

    1. Cook medium sized pasta (wide noodles, farfalle, etc.) while you brown two boned and skinned chicken breasts in a bit of butter in a skillet, keep warm.
    2. Cook a package of frozen peas, mix with the drained pasta..
    3. Put the chicken breasts over the macaroni.
    4. In the skillet put the juice from two lemons, a little Dijon mustard and a little vermouth or dry white wine. Stir and cook for a minute, Pour over the chicken and serve.


    Chicken breasts that you bone yourself are very versatile, and can be sauteed with a little onion and whatever herb you like in about twenty minutes. Serve them on rice, or pasta, or toast, or hamburger buns. Serve them with salad, vegetables, or just with a cut up cucumber and tomato in the summer for quick, tasty, good cheap food. What more can you ask from a chicken?

    Becky's Chicken Chalupas

    This is sort of a mild Mexican-type meal, good for large parties. You can spice it up by adding salsa or more green chili. Becky is a wonderful lady but she's from Pennsylvania and doesn't like hot food.

    You will need about a dozen fresh flour tortillas.

    1. Simmer four good sized chicken breasts (or the equivalent of other chicken pieces) in a little water, bone and cool at room temperature. Set the chicken aside.
    2. Combine two cans of cream of chicken soup, some grated onion, one half of a bunch of green onion tops, about two cups of sour cream or non-fat yogurt cheese, a large can of diced green chilis or a good amount of fresh frozen chilis and about a can of drained, sliced,black olives with about a pound and a half of grated cheese. A mixture of Jack and Cheddar is very good. Set aside about two cups of this mixture without chicken.
    3. Combine chicken and the rest of the mixture, mix well, fill each tortilla and roll up. Place filled tortillas in shallow baking dish.
    4. Pour remaining sauce over top and sprinkle with remaining cheese and onion tops.
    5. Sprinkle with paprika and refrigerate overnight.
    6. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

    Pollo Adovada

    This is fast, cheap and easy, all the criteria for hard times and good times cooking.

    1. In a blender, mix:
      • one small chopped onion
      • two Tablespoons each:
      • chili powder
      • salad oil
      • water
      • vinegar
      • two cloves of garlic
      • salt and pepper
      • <.ul>
      • Put this paste over a cut up chicken in a pan, marinate overnight. Next day, broil or grill. This is excellent with sour cream and green chili rice.

    Chicken Pie

    1. The day before you want to eat, make a rich chicken broth, using the recipe from the Soup section in this cookbook.
    2. When the soup is cooked, remove and save the chicken meat for salad or enchiladas.
    3. Chill the broth overnight, remove the fat from the chicken broth and save it.
    4. In the broth, cook another small chicken. for about 45 minutes, cool and remove the bones.
    5. Put the chicken meat aside, cover.
    6. In a skillet,melt four Tablespoons of the reserved chicken fat .
    7. Whisk four Tablespoons of flour into the fat.
    8. Add four cups hot chicken broth. to the fat, cook until smooth,
    9. Add the cut up chicken meat, a package of frozen peas and carrots
    10. Turn the meat mixture into a casserole dish, bake at 325 for about a half hour while you make biscuits.
    11. Season to taste.

    Stroganoff with Chicken

    This recipe was originally called for strips of beef filet, but we enjoyed it so much that we had to make it cheaper. I think the chicken is just as good if not better and certainly more healthy for both the heart and the pocketbook.

    You can use boned chicken breasts or just cut-up chicken. This makes a lovely buffet dish with rice and a green salad.

    1. Saute about a half a pound of mushrooms in some butter.
    2. Add cut up scallions.
    3. Remove from skillet.
    4. Brown chicken pieces in butter with a little paprika.
    5. Remove with mushrooms to a baking pan.
    6. In the skillet,put one half cup beef or chicken stock and about a half cup of Madiera and boil rapidly, scraping up the pieces from the chicken.
    7. Beat in one cup of heavy cream and then beat in a combination of two teaspoons of cornstarch blended with one Tablespoon of the cream.
    8. Add the sauteed mushrooms and chicken, and simmer for a minute. Put in a casserole and bake at about 350 for an hour.
    9. Serve over rice.

    Curried Chicken

    This is a good quick curry, for company and for good times, and it stretches by adding more rice, or chicken wings. It also freezes well. I stole this from Peg Bracken but she won't mind. It's in the I Hate To Cookbook which is full of interesting other things, too.

    1. Cut one apple into dice, also one onion.
    2. Put a little butter in a saucepan, add curry powder, and cook for a minute. We use about a tablespoon of curry powder, but you might start with less.
    3. Saute the apple and onion pieces in the curry powder and butter, for about five minutes.
    4. Add one undiluted can of golden mushroom soup and one cup of cream. Mix well, remove from heat.
    5. Put chicken pieces in one layer in a shallow baking pan, sprinkle some paprika over them and pour on the sauce.
    6. Bake at 350 for about an hour and a half, uncovered.

    This curry is good served with rice, but you could also use the sauce over fish, or shrimp. It's one of the the best and fastest curry sauces I ever tasted.

    Chicken Cacciatore

    One of the names for this dish was Kitchen Cacciatore when our children were small.


    1. Make a sauce with tomatoes, mushrooms, green pepper herbs and red wine, like the Marinara Sauce recipe in the Sauce section of this book.
    2. Add some canned puree or sauce to make it more like sauce if you like.
    3. Put a cut up chicken in one layer in a baking pan, cover with sauce.
    4. Bake covered for about an hour. Serve with plenty of fresh Parmesan and pasta or rice.

    About Chicken Saute

    This is one of those recipes that is very generic. You can put in whatever you have around. It is also very fast. Each time you make it, it's a little different, depending on what you put in.

    The Basic Recipe:

    1. In a deep skillet brown a cut-up chicken in a little oil and butter
    2. Add some vegetables, green onions, leeks, mushrooms
    3. Add some seasonings, a bay leaf, oregano, fresh parsley and basil
    4. Add some liquid, white or red wine or broth
    5. Turn the heat to low and cook for about an hour.
    6. Serve with rice or pasta.

    The combinations are important: if you use heavy flavored herbs such as bay leaf, you should use a red wine. A lighter white wine or vermouth is used with lighter herbs such as basil and parsley. Play with this and find the combinations you like.

    We have made this with a combination of leeks, onion, garlic, some cut up eggplant and Japanese dried mushrooms, with some red wine and Greek seasonings. We have also made it with onion, garlic, tarragon and sliced carrot, celery, and snow peas, with white wine.

    You can do this endlessly and you have a new dish every time.

    Some combinations:

    • Leeks, eggplant, onion, (green or white variety) garlic and mushrooms
    • Onions, garlic, basil, parsley, oregano and tomatoes, with a little Parmesan cheese
    • Onions, garlic, snow peas, a little soy sauce, and celery and carrot
    • Green peppers, onion, garlic, red or white wine
    • Lemon juice, parsley, onions, leeks
    • Chinese cabbage, or Bok Choy, soy sauce, green onions, some Chinese seasonings like Five Spice Powder, white wine, serve with rice

    Use your imagination, your pocketbook and your pantry.

    Chicken Dijonnaise

    1. Put chicken breasts, boned or not as you wish, on a baking dish or on a piece of foil on a cookie sheet.
    2. Spread them with a little Dijon type mustard. You could also use any other cut of chicken for this recipe.
    3. Sprinkle chopped red onion on top, and grated Swiss cheese on top of that.
    4. Bake at 350 for about 20-30 minutes, and if you want, sprinkle with paprika and run them under the broiler for a minute to brown them. We added a little white wine halfway through the process.
    5. Serve with a green vegetable and rice or cooked fettucine tossed with a little Parmesan and parsley.