I've been mentioning to you guys that I recently re-read Farmer Boy, one of the much loved Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have fond memories of this book in particular, because as a little girl I was completely fascinated by their simple (but hard-working) life and their good food. And Farmer Boy is chock-full of amazing food! While reading it this time, I took notes on all of their meals and methods so I could google them later. I couldn't help it; every piece of information felt so valuable. How to make wintergreen extract? And what are watermelon rind pickles? Vinegar pie?! I have to try it. Now that I know a bit more about traditional food, I'm hungry for more knowledge and I love how it's presented in the Little House books; simple enough for a child to understand, or someone living in 2013. I liked reading about how each season held its own jobs, from tapping trees to berrying, from sowing seeds to butter-making, from harvesting to threshing, from butchering to candle-making.
I have a sweet next-door neighbor. Our kitchen windows face each other, and I often wonder if she wonders if I ever leave that room. She must see me in there all the time! Every once in awhile I have the fleeting thought, "I spend too much time in the kitchen. I should try to make faster food so I can get more things done, other than our meals." That simply couldn't have been the mindset of the Wilder family, because their life was built around getting dinner on the table. This was what was so enchanting to me as a little girl while reading these books! Life was so simple. You work to eat. Food = life and life = food. Everything they did was to ensure that they'd have enough food to last until next year, and enough energy to do the work. Overall, I came away from the book refreshed by this thought. It re-affirmed that the time I spend in the kitchen is anything but wasteful. I recently stumbled on a staggering fact:
“Americans spend a smaller percentage of their income on food than any people in history—slightly less than 10 percent—and a smaller amount of their time preparing it: a mere thirty-one minutes a day on average, including clean-up.”
excerpt from The Food Movement, Rising. I cannot imagine what Almanzo's mom would have done if all her work for the day were finished in half an hour, but it may have been an appreciated holiday... for a few days. After a while, work is welcome. This is coming from someone who has been snow-stranded for for 4 days and is a little anxious for routine to return. I do know that the Wilder family seemed to really enjoy the fruit of all her hours-long labor. You should hear what their meals consisted of!
Oatmeal with cream and maple sugar, fried potatoes, buckwheat pancakes, sausages, doughnuts, apple pie, ham, baked beans, mashed potatoes and turnips, stewed pumpkin, bread with butter and strawberry jam, plum preserves, pumpkin pie, creamed carrots, apples and onions, chicken pie, roast beef, beet pickles, birds nest pudding, ice cream, egg nog, popcorn, cider, cranberry jelly, baked squash, fried parsnips, cookies, apple turnovers, and cream pie. Oh my. They worked hard and they were hungry.