Depression fare was seafood, wild game

Part 3 of 4: Try Lacy’s oven based ‘Dutch Baby’ pancake recipe

Cordovans said bon voyage to one of our dearest community members this past year,  as Virginia Lacy set her sights on Shelton, Washington to be closer to her son Michael Noonan and other family members.

For those of you who may not know about Virginia’s rich and exciting history in Cordova here’s a little background pulled from her own writings and presentations that she made at various occasions for the Cordova Historical Society and the Alaska Historical Society. Now we continue her story …

From her paper: “More Than Subsistence”:

So far as food was concerned, I don’t recall that things were any different during the Depression We still had seafood and wild meat and it didn’t matter that we didn’t have the money to buy hamburger from the local meat market.

We didn’t get to go to the movie matinees as often and my father had to let his life insurance go but life went on pretty much the same. It is interesting to see the changes in the past few years and how we now take things for granted. Like turkeys with no pinfeathers. And packages of beans and split peas without all those little round rocks we had to sort out. And sliced bacon. And the wide variety of foods in the frozen food section so a person doesn’t even have to know how to cook anymore!

Part of the fun of a variety of foods is the traditions that develop with family recipes and special dishes we might have tasted at a friend’s home or at a restaurant when we traveled “Outside.” There was a restaurant on First Avenue in Seattle called, “Mancas” that made a wonderful oven pancake which they called a ‘Dutch Baby.’ Sunset magazine printed the recipe when they went out of business and it has been one of our special breakfasts over the years and something my grandson would ask for whenever we were travelling. He would be shocked so few places knew what he was talking about. He would say, ‘But my Grandma knows how to make them. She should teach you!” and settle for pancakes. My son’s favorite birthday cake was not a cake at all but Nabisco chocolate wafers covered with whipped cream and sliced on the diagonal.

I too, have been a hunter and a gatherer. While I do my hunting now with a camera, one of the thrills of my life was spending a week in a tent in the Chehotna River Valley near Glennallen and coming home with a more than ¾ curl Dall Sheep. We ate ribs cooked over the campfire and brought back every ounce of the delicious meat.

We had a duck cabin out at Pete Dahl Slough on the Copper River Flats and every weekend in the fall we were down there trying to get our limits of ducks and geese. And in the winter, there were ptarmigan and rabbits just 13 miles from town.

We are fortunate in Cordova to have excellent fishing less than a mile from the city center. King salmon and silver salmon fry are released each year and the returns have made Hippie Cove a popular fishing spot. Everyone has a favorite fishing hole whether it be down Eyak River or in one of the many sloughs out the Copper River Highway. We truly live in God’s country.

I feel that growing up, I had the best of both worlds. We didn’t worry about cholesterol or calories but had a varied diet that was healthful and satisfying. As a result of our diverse experience with foods we enjoy cooking and eating and it is always interesting to try something new. And now I’m hungry! What’s for lunch?

And here Virginia concluded her talk on Subsistence to the fascinated members of the Alaska Historical Society and Museums Alaska at their annual conference. And she shared some of her recipes once the standing ovation ended!!  And we’ll share Virginia’s Dutch Baby recipe:

Pan Size = 2-3 quarts; ¼ cup butter; 3 eggs; ¾ cup milk and ¾ cup flour.  Put butter in pan and set into a 425-degree oven.  Then mix batter quickly while butter melts. Put eggs in blender and whirl at high speed for 1 minute. With motor running, gradually pour in milk, then slowly add flour; continue whirling for 30 seconds. (With a rotary beater, beat eggs until light and lemon colored and gradually beat in milk, then flour.

Remove pan from oven and pour batter into the hot melted butter. Return to oven and bake until puffy and well-browned, approximately 20-25 minutes. Dust with ground nutmeg if you wish. We like it best served with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and lemon squeezed over. Also, good with any fruit syrup or sautéed fresh fruit – apples, pears, peaches in a little butter and sugar.