Lately, I find myself thinking about my grandmother. She and my grandfather married in September 1929, less than a month before the devastating stock market crash that ushered in the Great Depression. As newlyweds, and during the early years of their marriage, they made sacrifices and weathered hardships they could not have anticipated on their wedding day.
During the Depression, my grandmother spent her time in the kitchen “stretching” and “making do.” Fifty years later, when she was living with us, during the most prosperous times she could have ever imagined, my grandmother held steadfast to her belief in “waste not, want not.” I watched as she smoothed out the wrinkles in a sheet of aluminum foil, so it could be used again and again, until it was tattered beyond repair. She wrote grocery lists on the back of used envelopes. And she placed her morning teabag in a whiskey glass, and reused it for her weaker and less flavorful afternoon cup of tea. Even though we assured her that these measures of conservation were no longer necessary, she couldn’t seem to relax her life-long habits. Intellectually, I knew why she did these things. Now I finally understand it.
These days, I keep a small cup next to the bathroom sink, which holds a sliver of soap that, three months ago, I would have thrown away, thinking it was too small to use in the shower. I freeze any and everything – from blanched spinach to buttermilk – and flour has become as precious as gold. Each morning, I open the refrigerator and plan my meals according to the shelf-life of the coveted fresh produce I feel lucky to have. A potato gets cut in half, and the half that isn’t eaten tonight is stored in the refrigerator, preserved in water, for a future meal.
Once considered “Italian peasant food,” Potatoes, Onions, and Eggs is now a popular frittata that appears on the brunch menus of trendy neighborhood eateries. For me, it’s comfort food – and one of my go-to recipes during this pandemic. Here’s the recipe for Potatoes, Onions, and Eggs.