Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Laura Ingalls Wilder Buzz: Surviving the Wait

This week in the Carolinas, some homes are still obsessed with Frozen. My granddaughter still insists on being called Elsa. It's been crazy up and down cold while my friends in the Kansas and Nebraska had the 60s and 70s before a major snow storm. People are still talking about the Super Bowl and the dancing shark at half-time who couldn't keep in step. 

But in the Steele house, it's all about Laura Ingalls Wilder. Now we've talked about Laura and her books here on Yankee Belle.  Jan reminded us there are still devastating Long Winters in her October Blizzard Macgyver That Sauce post  .  I followed up with a discussion on all the food featured in Little House books in Book Food: The Little House Connection .
My two favorite Little House books: The Long Winter and These Happy Golden Years.
Surely we don't need to revisit the topic!  

YES, we do!!!!!!  And yes, I'm jumping up and down because Laura Ingalls Wilder is a blockbuster hit yet again, thanks to the South Dakota Historical Society's runaway best-seller, Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Biography, edited by Pamela Smith Hill. A book fans have anticipated for years is finally out.

The book is coffee table sized: 9 inches by 11 and 1.5 inches thick.

But there's a problem. The buzz has exploded for a book with an original printing of only 15,000 copies, 4000 already earmarked. I despaired. Then second printing of 15,000 and the book I ordered in August showed up last week. The buzz is humming like an upset hive of bees (yep, a little boy tangles with one of the Little House books). The third March printing of 45,000 copies and a fourth printing is on the horizon.  Folks are in a frenzy waiting for their book to show up.

A once in a life time book and we are either waiting for or celebrating its arrival. Ack!

How to celebrate now that it's here? and for my friends who are waiting, How to survive until the book arrives?  You can go back and read the original series but the best survival manual for those who cook is the Little House Cookbook. Not only does it has a lot of beloved snippets from the Little House book series, but it is the perfect cookbook for those who need to feed their families food that is as fresh and natural as possible.  Remember, this was plain food in the days before icky chemical preservatives and food additives no one can pronounce.

Such a fun book even if you don't like to cook.

I picked up some bison, thanks to a coupon. I figured since Little House on the Prairie talks about Pa living on the land belonging to Osage Indians and Pioneer Girl details the reality of the situation, it would be a nod to the real life and times of both the Ingalls and the Native Americans who added drama to Laura's books.  

Why yes, we have bison in North Carolina.
I decided to adapt my all meat meatball recipe and make a glaze out of items in my pantry. After all, it's Long Winter time and food stuffs are scarce.

Since bison is very lean, I added a third of a pound of ground pork (a nod to the pig butchering in Little House in the Big Woods) to the pound of bison, one egg to bind the meatballs and keep them gluten-free. I also didn't add seasoning to keep them "neutral" so I could freeze some and pop them into spaghetti sauce and such.

I formed the balls and baked them at 400 degrees in a pan lined with foil to keep mess to a minimum and cooked until brown, about 12-15 minutes.


After putting them in the fridge overnight to cool down, I went off to read more Pioneer Girl and my cookbook to see what sauce Laura might whip up.

Lots of meatball sauces contain ketchup and mustard. Pioneers ate tomatoes but most likely they were cooked. So I was good there. Same with spices like mustard. I added maple syrup, imagining they may have carried a jug as they left the Big Woods.

I used equal amounts of all three but no more ingredients.  The real Ingalls were far more strapped financially than the fictional books let on, even though we readers knew they had their struggles. I heated the combined ingredients, stirring until blended.

After reheating the meatballs, I poured the warm sauce over the hot meatballs, stirring until coated. Voila.
Oops, someone has been snitching the meatballs.
Hopefully Ma Ingalls approves. 

So are you waiting to get Pioneer Girl in your hands? Are you surprised by Pioneer Girl's place on the top of the best seller lists? Have you eaten bison meat or tried other pioneer themed foods? Let's talk.


16 comments:

  1. I think Ma would approve! They look delicious. Would you believe I've never braved trying bison? I'm weird about trying new meats. :)

    But maybe it's time I do try it. I hope our grocery sells it!

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    1. It is a far leaner meat that, according to ManO, is not that different from beef. In our area, you can get it ground in most grocery stores but it is definitely pricey. So I tend to use ground turkey if I want to stay lean.

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  2. Also meant to say I'm glad you got your book!!

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    1. I'm having to budget my reading to an hour a day. I guess I could knock it out in a couple of days but major eye strain would be involved and it would pretty much feel like eating a whole gallon of ice cream at one time.

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  3. I bought ground turkey 2 days ago with hopes of finding a meatball recipe...never made them. Thanks for your post, Julie (I still need a recipe)!!!
    I used to cook lots of venison.

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    1. There are more meatball recipes than I can count. I love so many recipes I find on Pinterest and allrecipes. Since I am gluten-free, I try to make mine all meat.

      I do love game meat but really love duck.

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  4. The new Laura Ingalls Wilder book is gorgeous. And a runaway hit!!! Yippeee. I read a few of the Little House books growing up, but I have to admit they were never my favorites. I was in love with the tv show...Half Pint, Paw, Mary. And who could forget mean old Nellie. I do love meatballs, although I'm not adventurous enough to try bison.

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    1. Glad to hear you liked the tv show better too. But Pa's hair!

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    2. It was the 70's and 80's. What can we say?

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  5. My copy is here, but I'm trying to ignore it. I have other reading I need to do WITH A DEADLINE! I love judging contests, but this year I'd much rather read Laura's book! Sigh. Only 1 1/2 more contest entries to go....

    And we love bison! It's offered in most of our local restaurants. There's also a company near the Pine Ridge reservation that makes a packaged form of pemmican with bison meat. I've considered buying bison for our freezer, but even here it's pretty pricey. I'm afraid to ask how much it would cost for a quarter.

    I'm with you on the meatballs, too, Julie. If I add anything to the meat, it's seasonings. Onion, a little garlic. The sauce is what's important. :)

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    1. I keep my book by my bed and read for a while before ManO turns out the lights. If it was downstairs in the family room, I wouldn't be able to ignore it.

      It's amazing how many sauces there are out there for meatballs!

      And I still envy your home location. So wonderful to be close to all that history. And this is from a girl who grew up in DC.

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  6. I haven't had bison, but I love beef and venison, so I'd probably love it... and I love Little House books... oh, sigh..... But I haven't ordered this yet and I'll most likely wait for the hubbub to die down because reading is taking a back seat to writing right now, unless it's a ranching book, psychotherapy or focuses on the Islamic uprising in Chechnya some years back. I'll put off Pioneer Girl until I'm caught up and have these books in the bag... and then I'll treat myself to pleasure reading time!

    I love meatballs. They're a fun way to stay lower-carb and I like them with onion, garlic, a bunch of Parmesan cheese, 1 egg/pound and a splash of ketchup, salt and pepper. Unless I'm making them for Italian Wedding soup, in which case I change the spice mix! Julie, thanks for talkin' red meat today! Love it!

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    1. Ranching and Chechnya? Your brain is like mine. I promise Pioneer Girl is worth the wait.

      I love your meatball mixture.

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  7. Why didn't my comment post this morning? As you know, I'm a rabid fan, but like Ruthy, I'll wait until the hubbub dies down. The television show is just another version of the story, but nothing like her real life, which, from a writer's point of view, is inspirational. Thanks for the extra help on the meatballs as well.

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    1. I don't know. I am reading about the situation at the Burr Oak hotel and wondering if the television show knew something we didn't.

      And YES, the book also looks at her life but also her life as a writer which is just as fascinating IMHO!

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