Posts filed under 'main dishes'

Ketchup Spaghetti (AKA “Depression Spaghetti”)

Grama Dee grew up during the Great Depression in one of the most poverish towns in Missouri. They raised rabbits and chickens to eat and growing up in such dire straits as she did, she was not one to ever waste food.

Many times I would watch her in disbelief as she scraped the mold off some old bread and eat it with a slab of butter. When she caught my looks of shock and horror, she would roll her eyes at me and say…”Julie Anne, a little mold never hurt anyone.” I begged to differ…but that’s beside the point, because old habits die hard, and for her…wasting food just wasn’t an option. Many times she would scrape our plates clean, and then…when the last spoonful of green beans just could not be eaten…she would save it in an old margerine tub, put it in the refrigerator to be eaten another time.

This used to drive my mom crazy because whenever my grama came over for dinner (which was a few times a week at least), we’d have 20 margerine tubs full of food that NOONE was ever gonna touch. But then Grama Dee would come over again the next day or so, and sure enough…she’d take out that margerine tub full of those 10 green beans and eat them. So nothing ever really did go to waste.

Anyway…one of the most important food memories that I (and everyone in my family) has of my Grama Dee, is her most beloved Depression staple, ketchup spaghetti. From the time I could slurp down a noodle, I’ve been eating it. And it’s my dad and cousin Brian’s favorite food. I’m not kidding, it really is. There are so many memories surrounding this one dish, that they’d be far too many to write here.

But one of the most comical, was the first time my poor brother-in-law, Mark encountered this infamous dish. Now, Mark is 100% Italian (or EYE-TAIL-YUN as Grama Dee used to say) and he was horrified that a spaghetti noodle could be so abused. IN EVERY WAY. But he was a good sport, and for my sister (and our grama) he obliged us all, and tried a bite. After his first gag reflex kicked in…my dad howled with laughter, and my poor grama was never able to convince Mark to eat another bite, no matter how many times she tried.

Yep, true enough, ketchup spaghetti is not for the weak of palette, because unless you were raised on the stuff like I was, I can’t imagine most people would react much different than Mark did. But as gross as it must seem to most, it is the one food I hold dearest to my heart, and will never, EVER tire of eating until the day I die.

So I probably don’t have to tell you that ketchup spaghetti was born out of the Depression because all it required was spaghetti and ketchup and of course, the hillbilly requirement to any dish…BUTTER.

Times were tough, and that’s all I know. My grama used to tell me that when her family did happen to have a few extra pennies, they would fancy it up with some sugar, onion and ground beef. But most of the time, it was just simply noodles and ketchup. While my grama was known to mix it up every once in a while and make it with elbow macaroni, for my purposes here, I’d like to keep it real, and stick with the way she usually made it – with spaghetti noodles. So here it is…(and I’m giving you the fancified version, with the onion and ground beef, and if you’re too poverish for that, then you can just omit those from the recipe)…

KETCHUP SPAGHETTI recipe from Doris Foxworthy

INGREDIENTS: (see photo)
1/2 lb Spaghetti
1 24 oz bottle of Heinz Ketchup
1 lb Ground Beef
1 Medium Onion
1/4 stick Butter
1 Tbsp Sugar
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste


  1. Cut up medium sized onion to a small dice.
  2. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions.
  3. While the spaghetti is boiling, heat a large skillet over high heat and throw in the diced onion with a little bit of butter.
  4. Saute the onion until it’s just translucent (not brown) and then add the ground beef.
  5. Saute the beef mixture until the meat is cooked through.
  6. Drain the cooked spaghetti and return to pot.
  7. Combine beef mixture and spaghetti.
  8. Squeeze in about 3/4 of the bottle of ketchup until the noodles are good n’ saucy then add the butter, sugar, salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Heap a pile of noodles on your favorite plate and see what all the fuss is about.

I really, really hope that you like this ketchup spaghetti, but if you don’t? Well, I won’t feel so bad, as you probably only wasted less then $6.

4 comments January 18th, 2006

Grama Dee’s New Year’s beans

For as long as I can remember, every New Year’s Day was rung in with a pot of my Grama Dee’s “good luck beans”. It was a sacrilege not to eat them, and let me just say, that when you are a very tiny person, a heaping spoonful of sludgy beans and pork fat is the last thing you want to be force-fed. But as the years multiplied, so did my acceptance of these beans. As did my growing fear and suspicions of the horrible bad luck that would be inflicted upon me if I did not partake of them. And so I ate them. Hesitantly at first, but 34 years later, I wolf them down as if my luck depended on it.

It’s been almost 7 years since Grama Dee passed away, and every year I spend my January 1st cooking up a pot of her infamous beans…in fear that if I do not, my next 365 days will be riddled with broken mirrors, black cats, bad boyfriends, and the inexplicable random firing from my job. And so it is out of that deep-seeded fear, that I now share with you this sacred secret recipe, in hopes that you too, can enjoy the “good luck” that lies miraculously within a 99¢ bag of beans. You may now also share in the longest running joke of my entire family which is…”I ate the damn beans, now where the hell is my good luck?”

GOOD LUCK BEANS recipe from Doris Foxworthy

2 lb bag of beans (great northern or navy work well)
1 ham bone or packaged salt pork
1 onion – diced
1 lg stalk celery – diced


  1. Rinse beans under cold water and set aside.
  2. Dice up the onion and a large stalk of celery.
    Grama Dee tip: To stop sobbing over your onions, bite down on a piece of bread while you are chopping.
  3. In dutch oven or large pot, sweat the onions and celery along with the salt pork over medium high heat (see the photo or learn how to sweat an onion)
  4. Add the rinsed beans to the pot, and add enough water to cover beans and meat (see photo)
  5. Throw in a teaspoon of salt and some pepper to start (you can always adjust the seasonings as you cook).
  6. Cover the beans with lid, leaving the lid slightly ajar.
  7. Turn heat to low and simmer for 2 or more hours, occasionally stirring the beans.
  8. The beans will be done when they start to break down and the water becomes kinda like gravy and look something like this.
  9. After your beans are cooked, you want to remove the big chunks of salt pork (or the hamhock/hambone) and begin to shred the pork (see photo). I usually just take two forks and pull the pork that way. once all the pork is shredded, throw it back into the pot (minus any bones of course) with the beans, and give it all a good stir.
  10. Dice up a little more onion, and throw it on a plate, like so.
  11. Slop a heaping portion of beans over the pile of onions, and begin to see the effects of your year’s worth of good luck!

Now, I know it’s hard to believe…but Grama Dee didn’t just stop with the good luck beans. A typical New Year’s Day menu would consist of such heart-stoppers as:

And don’t worry….I’ll be getting to all those recipes at a later date…but for now, you can just be happy knowing that a menu like that even existed. I know I am.

Add comment January 15th, 2006

Next Posts


June 2024

Posts by Month

Posts by Category