Saturday, October 12, 2013

Book Food: The Little House Connection

First in an occasional series on the food we love in the books we adore.

Jan has been posting on Facebook about the early October blizzard that hit South Dakota so hard last week. She was brave enough to read The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder DURING the storm.

In balmy North Carolina, I was reading The Children's Blizzard, a non-fiction account of the storms Laura wrote about in her book. As gripping as can be. Interview with author David Laskin about researching The Children's Blizzard

Between Jan's posts about how the storm affected her state and The Children's Blizzard, well, I had to go back and read Long Winter too. So many things we don't get as kids, just read over them without the significance jumping out at us.  That's why we need to reread our childhood favorites.

How I loved the descriptions of food in the Little House books.  I remember the roasted pig's tale from Little House in the Big Woods and the wedding cake tasting dry in Laura's mouth in These Happy Golden Years.

But other folks have differing memories. Farmer Boy says FOOD to a lot of readers, all the way through the story.  Others remembered different things out of Little House in the Big Woods like headcheese and snow candy making.

Actually, lots of folks loved Farmer Boy the best. What's with that? I was bored with it. It was about a boy. I spent my summers on a farm and loved it. Didn't teach me anything new.

Give me the romance of These Happy Golden Years, even when it was a hard-won, practical version of romance.

We interrupt this blog post for a Little House Smackdown. What's your favorite book in the series? Did you love Farmer Boy? Dislike Happy Golden Years? I'll take you on! 



Deep breath. Back to LH food.  I'm glad I wasn't the only one who tried to make snow candy with Log Cabin syrup. And totally failed.   I found a recipe that works from The Little House Cookbook. The Little House Cookbook can be found here  




But it uses molasses and brown sugar. Hmmm, I wanted the maple candy from the Big Woods not the molasses candy from the prairie days.  I searched the Internets and found something totally incredible. A recipe that uses maple syrup and butter but, more amazingly, VANILLA ICE CREAM for the snow. Thank you, grouprecipes.com Here's the recipe for maple candy on vanilla ice cream snow.

So what IS your favorite Little House book? Have you lived through a blizzard? Made snow candy? Or wanted to know the real story behind Laura Ingalls Wilder as a writer?

PS.

You can read my So You Think You Can Write Entry A Heart to Protect Love Inspired Historical entry 

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31 comments:

  1. I didn't realize I'd read that book until I saw the cover. I read 'The Children's Blizzard' when I worked at the local library and I was RIVETED. I was also the children's librarian and it would make me positively weepy when I would go from interacting with some small, gentle child to reading the account of that blizzard. So much tragedy!

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    1. Exactly my response with the grandkidlets. So tragic and yet such a story of survival.

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  2. My copy is in at the library and I pick it up today. I look forward to reading it post edits.
    And picking a favorite Little House book? Hello? I love them all for different reasons! Won't do it!

    And I'm one of the Log Cabin failures. That's because I was 10 and didn't know how to boil stuff yet. It was probably for the best...the candy should not be made on Pittsburgh snow....

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    1. Good point, Piper.

      Told my dad I had who failed at snow candy too. He didn't remember When I did that. Umm, because I snuck outside to do it? Confession time.

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    2. Piper, my copy of The Children's Blizzard is waiting at our library, too...and I will be devouring it post edits...

      Kind of spooky, isn't it?

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  3. Wow -- hard to pick just one Little House book....I think On the Banks of Plum Creek is my favourite. Living in a dugout always fascinated me and then there's the dreaded Nellie Olsen. :-)

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    1. There always has to be a villan! Was Plum Creek the one where Pa was lost in a blizzard and had to eat the Christmas candy?

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  4. never heard of the children's blizzard -not sure I want to either!
    now Little House absolutely! loved that series though I don't remember the later ones as well - hands down my 2 most favorite-ist of that series are Little House in the Big Woods and On the Banks of Plum Creek! easy peasy to pick my favorites! and probably in that order! though I don't remember headcheese in big woods...I remember the dolls, snow angels, making the candy in the snow, the 'bear'..
    the only reason I liked farmer boy was the food! all I remember is they had money then as I got older I wondered why almonzo didn't seem to have any money! otherwise yes it was boring -and about a boy which is pretty much the same...I didn't relate to the later books probably because I was a kid and not interested in the little girl close to my age being an adult! would probably like them now. is that the one where she's teaching and almonzo goes to pick her up in the blizzard and has to keep stopping and put his hands over the horses' noses to melt the ice so they could breathe? was very hard for me to relate since I'd never seen more than a couple inches of snow being in Texas and farther south than the panhandle. The Long Cold Winter was depressing though I liked the handwork they were doing!
    I got to visit Laura's museum in Missouri a couple of times with my mom and dad - my mom and I could have spent all day there but my dad wasn't patient enough for us to spend 2 days in the museum reading all the articls..sigh...
    Susanna

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    1. It really depends when you read them, doesn't it? So envious of your museum visit!

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    2. yes definitely not the same for me reading them now - when I was a kid I could tell how much she adored her pa and thought he was pretty good myself then a ad adult I felt sorry for ma being married to a man who had to wander all the time and could never get a job and settle down! then when he finally builds her dream house he puts it in indian territory..sigh...and laura has to work to help support mary (never did like ms goody two shoes mary!) think somewhere along the line I got too critical LOL!
      Susanna

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    3. I thought it was interesting that LIW had that Mary and Laura dynamic. So conflicted.

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  5. You nailed my two favorites . . . The Long Winter and These Happy Golden Years. I read them both over and over, especially "Golden Years." The romantic in me lived that courtship! My favorite scene is when they're running from the tornado.

    I never tried snow candy. Was born and raised in L.A. . . . land of palm trees, beaches and earthquakes.

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  6. Yes! I loved the romance .Had to order a new copy. And you must try snow candy now.

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  7. Didn't read the the books. Visited her grave. Do I get points for that???

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  8. Farmer Boy was my favorite for depicting farm life... Such a perfect monthly play by play of what life in the north country was like for farm families. Nothing wasted, every day, every minute working on nature's timeline! But the prairie stories I think it's The Long Winter.... again because of the honesty of the story telling, the weight of the story, how Pa went into Royal's store to get seed grain, and the old Indian, warning them of heap big snow. LOVE IT!!!!

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  9. I've read these books aloud to children for a couple of generations... With all the emotion I could muster, LOL! So when Laura was naughty, they knew she was naughty!!!! And we still "watch" children that do naughty things until they earn my trust back. Remember how Laura hated to be watched because she couldn't run and play and explore???? I have used that so many times it's scary but quite effective! Little monsters, one and all! It's a wonder we keep them alive.

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    1. So true! Laura expressed the emotions of so many children.

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  10. How can I choose a favorite Little House book? I love them all! I still read them over again every year or so - and aloud to any munchkin I can get to sit still long enough!

    Because, really, aren't they just one long story in separate volumes?

    One of my goals is to visit De Smet, South Dakota. Don't go thinking it's close by just because I live in the same state, though...it's a five hour drive to get there!

    But I'm going...some day!

    If you want to do something fun, go to Google maps, the satellite view, and look up De Smet, South Dakota. Zoom in really close and go visit all the places mentioned in Laura's books: Front Street, Ingalls Avenue (not mentioned in the books, but I think that's where the Ingalls house is), the railroad tracks, etc. Then zoom out a little and look for Lakes Henry and Thompson and the sloughs around the lakes.

    Cool, isn't it?

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    1. Oh, will do. Piper and I keep saying we need to set upan LIW tour.

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    2. Dave's aunt did a LIW tour, from town to town, state to state. She was a fourth grade teacher/reading specialist and this was part of her dream, to follow the Ingalls family and then report back to her class. A great lady and great teacher! She also ran for town government and sat on the town board for years, my kind of gal. Bossy, know-it-all.... we get along great, LOL! Hey, I'll go with you and Piper. In a heartbeat.

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  11. Julie, I loved the books! but I don't remember which one I loved best. Plus, I think mostly I just remember the shows that I watched religiously! :)

    Thanks for the recipe link!

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    1. I didn't read them until the tv show. I wonder what LIW would say about the Michael Landon version.

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  12. I have absolutely no memory of food from The Little House books, but I have the strongest memory of breakfast from The Happy Hollisters. In this book, they were camping out overnight in their yard so the parents started a campfire to cook pancakes for breakfast. Just thinking about it I can taste the powdered sugar on the pancakes. I always want oranges or orange juice with my pancakes and it's because in that scene, Mrs. Hollister brings out oranges for them to eat with their breakfast.

    Seeing as how I last read that scene about 40 + years ago, I'd say it really stuck with me.


    Julie, thanks for the inspiration. I'm thinking Farmer Boy would be an excellent book to read with my class as we study about New York State.

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    1. I can name the Boxcar Children meals - I remember when I read some of the new ones - where they dropped Henry's age down about 2 years and Violet wasn't so delicate and Benny not so whiny...used to be cookies, ice cream, cake, hot dogs, hamburgers...imagine my shock when they had turkey sandwiches on wheat and an apple for lunch! I never read the Happy Hollisters but if I'd had access to them I would have! I love the Boxcar Children and Trixie Belden - sometimes Nancy Drew and Bobbsey Twins...

      Susanna

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    2. Yup, Malone New York, where my North Country series was set... Well, close to that, around the corner and 30 miles away. :) But a frigid spot, on the northern-most tip of NYS. And you have to go through blizzard conditions half the winter on the stretch of I-81 that goes past the east end of Lake Ontario. The famous "Tug Hill Plateau" is there, a place that gets feet of snow dumped from Lake Effect about six months of the year... crazy! And the highway runs alongside, a place where the sun rarely shines all winter. Interesting how one tweak of geographical location and wind make such a difference!

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