Clara Cannucciari, the 93-year-old YouTube sensation, made it through the Great Depression eating well. And she says you can weather this economic storm well-fed and happy, too. • Haven't seen Clara, yet? She's been the darling of the video sharing site with her online cooking show for a while now, but just hit mega-stardom last week when ABC's Good Morning America and the CBS Evening News came calling. A slew of newspaper articles followed. age 6.) • Clara's folksy, no-nonsense approach to cooking is an inspiration in these tough times. She tells stories while she cooks, and her tales add perspective to today's troubles: "I had to quit high school because I couldn't afford socks, couldn't afford anything to wear. But we survived. We were all fat, eating potatoes." • If you miss your grandma, you'll pine for her even more after you watch the episode on "Poorman's Meal." Browned potatoes and onions mingle with thinly sliced hot dogs in a skillet. Clara has made it a lot, even when times weren't tough. • She may be the most engaging, but the upstate New York great-grandma isn't the only person on YouTube sharing tips for eating cheap. The production values vary — sometimes you can't even see the food — and there are rarely recipes to follow. But they are entertaining and certainly a sign of the times. Here's a sampling:
Depression Cooking With Clara
From her kitchen in the Finger Lakes region of New York, Clara Cannucciari, 93, cooks the foods she ate as a child, all while reminiscing about the Great Depression. Life lessons along with cooking class. You'll fall in love. More on Clara, Page 6
Great Depression Food Project
Teenagers Tyler and Matt film their effort to make "Meatless Loaf" as a project for a language arts class. They wash their hands. They put on aprons. They use the stand-up mixer, all to the pulsating beat of techno. You see the rice and cottage cheese melange only once, perhaps thankfully. Still, they are highly entertaining, especially when Matt mistakes the microwave for the oven.
Cooking With That One Guy
The slightly foul-mouthed host boasts that his show will be "popular among white trash and poets." He gets food from the food bank and turns it into "magic" in a kitchen that looks more like a storage closet. If the economy completely implodes, his concoctions might look good. Otherwise, don't try this at home.
Cooking Cheap With Uncle Jesse
This South Georgia good ol' boy plays the piano mighty fine while the food is cooking. "You only live once: Eat what you want to eat and do a little exercise. You'll be all right." The only thing that's not manly about this master of the one-dish meal is the flowered pot he cooks in.
Cooking on an Extreme Budget
A young mother shows her son, who gets bored halfway through the quick video and wanders off, how to make tuna patties. It's cheap and quick, and we like the idea of shaking a bit of seafood seasoning into the poor-man's crab cakes.
Japanese Cooking Show
Yong and Daniel demonstrate how to make pork cutlets, speaking Japanese in an American kitchen. If you're a Japanese language student, this video is for you. (Does "yucky" mean the same in Japanese as it does in English?) You'll probably figure out how to make the dish even if you don't speak the language.
Cooking for Cheap
An amazing lesson (not) in chopping potatoes. The host, who might be a year out of high school, instructs viewers to "cube or rectangle" the spud. Not sure you'll learn much here, but it's always nice to peek into other people's kitchens.
Student Cooking Guide
Brilliant Brits Debbie and Oliver have an online cooking show (studentcookingtv.com) that's uploaded to YouTube. The show is aimed at college students, but any new cook, young or older, can find helpful tidbits here, especially the list of essential cooking equipment: frying pan, sauce pan, potato masher, peeler, wooden spoons, bowls and blender.
Cooking Unreasonably Cheap With Chef Ron
Another precocious wanna-be video star shows us how to make tacos, which, according to the number of YouTube videos on the topic, is an inexpensive go-to meal. If you make it through all six-plus minutes, you've got more staying power than we do.