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April 10, 2006



We are well on the way to obsessed. I loved your post, and there's more . . . working backwards, we have:

chocolate lady on eating bears, and then, previous to that, chocolate lady on ma's hominy and even mzn gets involved, as my post on laura ingalls moves from the passions of temper to those of cooking . . .not that they are unrelated.

Other special gustatory events on the prairie include the instense cake and lemonade experience, at Nellie's party, the orange at Ben Woodworths (??) party at the depot, which also includes that sensuously described and slightly naughty experiment with the telegraph . . . and the New Year's Eve oyster soup with the Boasts, again, I think. I like the everyday cooking too, but these special events are really striking for me . . . and so is that description of building the grade for the train tracks bed.


whoops, here is ma makes hominy from the chocolate lady.


What a lovely post. I read thru the entire Little House series in the fourth and fifth grades and remember still how sad it was to read the last book and not have another one to look forward to.

My nieces were all mad for the Little House books at about age 8 or so. One of my sisters made her daughter a dress of the sort that Laura would have worn and my niece wore it constantly one summer. This same niece also felt that her family should observe the Sabbath, not because of any religious convictions but because the Ingalls family did.

I'm interested in your thoughts about Pa not being the paragon you originally thought he was. I have never reread the books as an adult but it does seem to me the family moved a lot. As a child this never occurred to me but now I wonder what was going on with Pa's constant need to uproot his family and move on.

By the way, the pear ginger preserves sound lovely also!


Lindy - I'm beginning to think you've been reading my mind. First the baked beans, now this: I've been sitting on a rabbit and mustard recipe for weeks, just trying to figure out who to invite for dinner before making it. As for those books - I am a complete and utter fanatic of them. How about Almanzo's big meal scene in Farmer's Boy? I loved it.


zp: Pa was stuck in a snow drift, waiting out a blizzard and scaring the family silly. He dug himself in, and ate all the tiny soda crackers and candy that he bought in town, but he kept the can of oysters unopened, and they all had oyster stew when he made it home.
Damn if they didn't eat a bear, too.
On a different ocasion, of course.
Julie-Yup. Pa got antsy as soon as anyone else moved into the general area. He was very easily made to feel "crowded."
Luisa-I loved the rabbit, despite a bit of trepidation. Hope you are now feeling better, and well enough for beans.
I suspect this series of books may have been a childhood favorite of many people who now like to write about food. They remain quite readable for adults, I think. And great to read with children-there's so much they want to talk about..Re Farmer Boy, I wonder if the relative abundance of Almanzo's prosperous farm childhood, with all the gorgeous fresh food, didn't seem a blissful dream to the poorer Laura. The tone of that book is almost ecstatic.


Just yesterday my sister - the one who's read the whole series plue the Rose books plus the various apochrypha (yes?) - and I were talking about this. She says that as an adult, she finds herself so relating to Ma, not Laura. Now I have another reason to keep working on my book club to do a "books we read as girls" series: FOOD! Lovely post.


I think that it's good day for me to see your site.I used to watch the series five yrs ago on T.V title is "Little house onthe prairie".I also remember one recipe lemon meringue cake.I used to love that series.and Laura in one series would come to New york to study further.It's really worth to read and watch the series again.Your post brought me to refresh memories.


I think back to these books often, remembering all the little domestic details: Ma sweeping the earth floor when they lived in the mud house, how she would color the butter orange with carrot juice--I didn't read all the books--perhaps only 2--but I'm still longing to taste a piece of maple sugar. I don't know about everyone else, but I read these books for school, and I have great memories of the activities we did: making our own butter, pancakes, corn bread. It's by far the biggest food/cooking memory I have from school. Some day I'll have to look at these books again.

Thanks for your post!


you know what else is great about the 'little house' books? they live in little houses! so there are great descriptions of the very conscious, very creative use of space that I think a lot of people can identify with now. I forgot about the oysters in the snowbank; I was thinking of the New Year's dinner that follows the rabbit feast, "savory, fragrant, sea-tasting hot milk, with golden dots of melted cream and black specks of pepper on its top." Mrs. Boast has to do a lot of rearranging to fit everyone in their little house.

there IS so much to say about the books.


What a lovely post. I haven't thought about the Little House books in a long time, but they were, probably even more than any others, responsible for shaping my young mind. And the food references have stayed with me long since - to this day I still have a desire to eat maple syrup taffy poured onto fresh snow. Interesting theory that these books were particularly meaningful to people who now write about food. Or could it be the other way around? I really must get myself some new copies.


Alanna-It is interesting how the perspective changes. Ma was sooo controlled, though. Generous, gentle, ,resourceful. admirable in many ways, but so strict with herself.
ramya-I actually almost never saw the tv show.I think I was the wrong age..too old to see it as a kid, too young to watch reruns with my own daughter when she was small.
little bouffe and zp: the books set off a strange interest in certain kinds of housekeeping details which is still with me to some extent. I love to sleep on sheets which were dried outside, even if they are a little stiff, because they smell fabulous. I also like it that this is a luxury more available to ordinary people than the wealthy, who have other people wash their sheets. Needless to say, I don't do this most of the time. Once in awhile, though.
Melissa-I have reread them as an adult-I think you'll enjoy them if you do.

Raspberry Sour

Wow, I also haven't thought of these books in years, although I absolutely loved them as a child, and read them obsessively. The culinary details were some of the most vivid in my imagination (Melissa, I've tried the maple syrup poured into snow and sadly, it's never worked for me, although I suspect I probably did something wrong).

I'm somewhat curious to reread the books now- I'm intrigued that perhaps I will identify more with Ma, but not sure I want to delve into Pa's character.

Lindy, thanks for the post and unexpected memories.

Baking Soda

Maybe I should read the books? I only have seen some episodes of the tv-series and the thing I seem to remember is that the women were always caring, taking care of everybody else's needs, resourceful and the backbone of their community, ironing out crinkles and lots of blankets of love. (And Pa being an extra sort of child to take care of?) Funny thing is, I do remember the snowstorm episode vividly. Strange. Love to read this post and all the memories you all have of the books.


Rs and BSoda-If you read these now, I think you will find a lot of interest.As zp said, there's much to think about.
Another thing that strikes me is how carefully they tend their limited possessions, mending them and keeping them always in working order. They don't seem to have anything in their homes that is not useful, beautiful, or of particular sentimental value to them.And they keep their tiny spaces so tidy-they really have to, I guess, or they couldn't live in them.

the chocolate lady

Hi Lindy,

This is a wonderful post and I hope you will be writing a bit more about what might be up with Pa. When I reread the books as a (younger) adult I thought a bit more about what on earth Ma must have endured being the only one who really knew what they were missing, but on this latest rereading what impressed me most was Ma's silence or complete absence from substantial stretches of the story. I cannot believe that between the ages of four and eighteen a girl could have so little interaction with her mother, especially not in such a little house. I have to guess that LIW felt it was better to write nothing at all than whatever it is that is missing.
Thanks again, and thanks, zp.


Hmmm. I am remembering-(don't have book here at home), about when Laura stayed with a family while she was teaching, and the woman had serious cabin fever, and was so angry? I wonder there wasn't more of that. Or perhaps there was. Laura always wanted desperately to go home when she lived there, and Almanzo came and got her on weekends-despite the blizzard.

I 've also wondered if Laura was being coy when she wrote about the early days of her friendship with Almanzo. Perhaps she felt it would have been unseemly in some way to reveal that she liked him from the start?


Wow, isn't it wild what an impact those books had on so many people! I was a huge fan as well (going so far as to make everyone call me Laura for a brief period in elementary school). Did anyone try making the dishes? I had an absolute failure of an attempt at making vanity cakes when I was about twelve. There's a cookbook out, written by a woman who started trying to make the dishes with her daugher as they read the books together--The Little House Cookbook. I have a copy but have never tried anything from it. Might have to re-attempt those vanity cakes some day, though the 2 pounds of lard required are a bit of a put off.

Great post. Thanks for the side trip down memory lane!

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