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Bena Mae's Kitchen: From the Great Depression to Google

Popular Culture 1935
Alcoholics Anonymous is founded in New York City
First Canned beer goes on sale
Babe Ruth hit the 714th and final home run of his career
Parker Brothers releases the board game Monopoly
Penguin produced the first paperback books
This was big news in pop culture in the middle of the Great Depression in 1935. I was 8 years-old and pop culture was not a known term at this time. In the meantime, Mussolini was gearing up for war in Ethiopia and Hitler was arming his forces for the start of WWII. I read this in the Readers’ Digest sent to me by Roy Hendrickson of Corbin last week. And I must say this was quite a gift since in was a 1935 issue and surely must be a collectors’ item, owing to its age. Many thanks to Mr. Hendrickson for being so thoughtful.
Back in the little town of Corbin, these events were far away and little heard of, if at all. Our concerns were nearer home where the problems may have seemed more minute and personal, but important, nevertheless. Like getting the 25 cents for a new school workbook, paying the grocery bill, looking for work, and making meals stretch. But these were everyday problems which we didn’t attach to world matters or what was happening “across the pond.” We never imagined our lives would be so intertwined with the rest of the world in the near future. Our boundaries were East, West, North and South Corbin and that was the focus of our world.
And the rest is history.
One good thing that came out of this era was the construction of Cumberland Falls which has been a boom to the area ever since. Before, it had been just a large forest of trees bordering on the beautiful falls. But President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his wisdom, set aside the area for a state park and primarily for flood control. It brought about many jobs and was to become an attraction for tourists from all over the world.
I have a soft spot in my heart for Cumberland Falls. Under the WPA, my father was named superintendent of the project and many nights after supper, he would load the family up in the car and take us down to check on the day’s progress. I fondly recall many evenings of sitting on the foundation of the lodge and playing in the sand.
Last, but by no means least, You may recall my home being featured in a national magazine several years ago when I entered a decorating contest. Well, I had lost my only copy of the issue and was searching madly for a replacement, for posterity, you know. So far I had been unsuccessful in finding one, when Eureka! I opened the mail and nearly fell out of my chair. In the package was the issue I had been searching for for so long. It was from Ramona (Mrs. Paul) Smith) of Corbin. I can only imagine that some mystical being from another world was guiding her thoughts to my needs. In any event, I am ever so grateful to Ramona for her thoughtfulness.
Now I won’t have to google a request for a copy.

This is so good it melts in your  mouth.

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp. shortening, melted*
1 cup finely chopped nuts (optional)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup cocoa
1 3/4 cups hot water

Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a mixing bowl, measure flour, sugar, 2 tbsp. cocoa (or use up to 4 tbsp.), baking powder and salt. Blend in milk and shortening; stir in nuts.
Pour into an ungreased 9x9x2-inch square baking pan.
Stir together brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa; sprinkle over batter. Pour hot water over the batter. Do not stir!
Bake for 30-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake (not the pudding) comes out clean.
While the cake is still very warm from the oven, spoon cake and pudding into dessert cups or serving bowls. Top with Cool Whip, whipped cream flavored with rum or vanilla ice cream, or garnished with chocolate curls, if desired, or serve as-is.
*If using salted butter, decrease salt by half.