Post 164: From The Old Wolf: I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today and Creamy mushroom pasta with caramelized onions and spinach

No Hamburger Tuesday.


I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today. But during WW 1 and WW 2, Tuesday was a day of rationing. I originally thought this sign had something to do with Thimble Theatre, but it turns out it has more to do with the European and Pacific theaters.

During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation calling for every Tuesday to be meatless and for one meatless meal to be observed every day, for a total of nine meatless meals each week. The United States Food Administration (USFA) urged families to reduce consumption of key staples to help the war effort. Conserving food would support U.S. troops as well as feed populations in Europe where food production and distribution had been disrupted by war. To encourage voluntary rationing, the USFA created the slogan “Food Will Win the War” and coined the terms “Meatless Tuesday” and “Wheatless Wednesday” to remind Americans to reduce intake of those products.

Herbert Hoover was the head of the Food Administration as well as the American Relief Association during Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, and played a key role implementing the campaign, which was one of Hoover’s many attempts to encourage volunteerism and sacrifice among Americans during the war. The USFA provided a wide variety of materials in addition to advertising, including recipe books and menus found in magazines, newspapers and government-sponsored pamphlets.

The campaign returned with the onset of World War II, calling upon women on the home front to play a role in supporting the war effort. During this time, meat was being rationed, along with other commodities like sugar and gasoline.

This particular photo seems to have been taken in New York, where Nedicks was a big chain.

It does not escape me that the waitress is offering you a hot dog on meatless Tuesday. John Godfrey Saxe once said, “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.” Which reminds me of the old joke about a customer who returned some hot dogs to his butcher, complaining that the middle section was filled with sawdust. The butcher replied, “Times are tough. It’s hard enough making both ends meat…”.

LASTLY, about “Meatless Tuesdays”. Was your youth spent in NYC? Did you realize that kosher deli’s closed on Tuesday to support the war effort and also because of the short supply of meat period. By closing a deli, the owner, it appears helped thousands of Jewish workers in the industry keep their jobs.  From meatless tuesdays, until today the practice of closing is still followed. Of-course the 1,000 kosher deli’s have dwindled to a handful today.

Best Alternative to Meat:

Creamy mushroom pasta with caramelized onions and spinach

Prep time: 50 min


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 3 onions, medium or large, sliced

  • pinch of salt

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 10 or 15 small mushrooms sliced (I used shiitake with stems removed)

  • pinch of salt

  • 3 cups spinach or 1 cup frozen defrosted and drained

  • 8 oz fettuccine pasta or if you want less calories cut in half.

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream/creme fraiche 1/3 cup diluted

  • 1/3 cup milk

  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese or other hard cheese mixture.

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Makes 4 servings.

1) First we need to caramelize onions. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on high heat in a large skillet, when oil is heated, add sliced onions and cook on high heat for about 10 minutes, constantly stirring with spatula. The onions should start to brown, but without burning (a couple of onions may be burnt here and there, but overall they should not be charred). Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking onions for 10 more minutes, continuing to stir, as onions brown even more without burning. At this point add just a pinch of salt over onions. Continue cooking for 10 more minutes on medium or low heat, stirring occasionally to make sure onions don’t stick to the bottom of the pan or burn. Total you should have cooked onions for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle onions with a small amount of balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan. Using spatula, mix the onions, scraping the bottom of the pan and coating onions with a pinch of balsamic vinegar you just added. I used one pan for ALL.Poured the onions into a re heatable glass dish. I heated the addedolive oil and water and cooked and drained the pasts. The frozen spinach was defrosted in the Microwave. I set the cooked and drained pasta aside. In the same pan started 2)

2) After you have started cooking onions, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in another pan, and add sliced mushrooms (I used shiitake with stems removed, you can use any small sized mushrooms). Add just a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook mushrooms covered for about 20 minutes, occasionally stirring. Keep in mind that if you use other mushrooms (not shiitake) the cooking time will be much shorter, only about 5 minutes. Shiitake mushrooms need longer times to cook. If you use regular button mushroom – cook them for only about 5 minutes until they soften. (BTW, I also added chopped fresh cauliflower, which goes well with cheese, mushrooms and onions.

3) Add cooked mushrooms to the pan with caramelized onions, add 3 cups of spinach and stir on low heat just until spinach wilts. I skipped this step.

4) Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain.

5) Add heavy cream, milk, Parmesan cheese and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the mushroom-onions-spinach mixture on medium-low heat and mix. Add pasta to the creamy sauce, stir to coat on low heat for about 5-10 minutes until Parmesan cheese melts and starts to coat pasta as well. I skipped this and just tossed making sure all the cheese was incorporated into the sauce.

6) Serve on warm plates (warmed in the oven) as is, or with more parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

cooking mushrooms

Cooking shiitake mushrooms (without stems) in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. You can use any type of mushrooms of small size.

cooking caramelized onions

Caramelizing onions for 30 minutes to reach a nice deep brown color. Deglaze with a small amount of balsamic vinegar.

cooking mushrooms, onions, and adding spinach

Adding spinach to caramelized onions and mushrooms mixture

cooking mushrooms, caramelized onions, and spinach

After spinach wilts, add heavy cream, milk, Parmesan cheese and salt to the vegetables mixture.

cooking and adding pasta

Add pasta and cook for 5-10 minutes on low heat so that creamy sauce coats pasta and Parmesan cheese melts and coats pasta as well.

cooking pasta in a large pan


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