I was a HUGE fan of anything pioneer when I was younger. Oregon Trail… um… maybe that’s it. Oh! And Little House on the Prairie! Now, I know what you’re thinking: But Candice, you haven’t given us a Retro Read of the Little House books yet!
Don’t worry… they’re coming.
But a book I wanted to talk to you about today was one of my favorites when I was younger – about 5th grade until 7th grade – and was well used over the years.
My BFF Kelly and I had lots of adventures playing pioneers. She had Oregon Trail on her computer, so we’d spend hours playing that and then once we had won, we’d go and create our own pioneer adventures. We turn her twin canopy beds into covered wagons, pretending we were crossing the prairie! We also would go out into the woods behind her house (when we were a little older, of course) and built houses out of stick, make campfires, and basically just be nerdy girls who loved doing things like that.
Then at a book fair I found The Little House Cookbook and it was chock full of my favorite foods to read about from my favorite series! Vanity Cakes, Fried Apples and Onions, Ox Tail Stew… everything Laura Ingalls wrote about was suddenly mine for the making! And make I did!
One of my first attempts was making this corn mush stuff. Looking back I’m pretty sure this was just how they made grits, but I remember slowly sprinkling cornmeal into a pot of boiling water, letting it cook and cook while I was stirring… y’all, that was the most disgusting shizz I have ever eaten.
Then there was attempts at making hardtack, which was like a super hard pioneer cracker. The book even had cool pioneer tips to make it authentic, like “punch holes in the dough with a nail!” No one told me that pioneers didn’t have self-rising flour, so my hardtack turned out to be overly salty fluffy biscuits.
The best recipe me and BFF made was the fried apples and onions. We made these during one of our “building a house in the woods and cooking over a fire” escapades. They were actually pretty darn tasty! And in case you are not a Little House fanatic like I was, fried apples and onions was Almanzo’s favorite food.
One thing I remember from this book that still sticks out in my mind is Crackling Cornbread. This is a recipe for cornbread that Ma Ingalls used to make, but it has what is known as cracklings in it. Cracklings were described in the book as a being “similar to the salty fried snacks grown-ups eat at fancy parties” (or something to that nature). For YEARS I had no clue what they meant by this. The best I can figure they meant pork rinds, as cracklings are essentially the skin/fat of pork when it’s cooked. Sounds yummy for cornbread, disgusting for a party snack.
So if you’re a Little House fan and enjoy cooking foods from your favorite books, this one is super fun. Granted it has some more difficult stuff in there (seriously, ox tails? blech) but overall it was great fun for me as a kid and really let me make my favorite books come alive!