April 12, 2013

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.

So, anyway. Lately every time I'm in the kitchen, I find myself thinking of Mrs. Wilder and how she  probably would have been working on dinner for a few hours already. I've been thankful for the reminder that time I spend in the kitchen, especially upwards of the 31 minute average, is time invested in a worthwhile thing. Also, lately I'm really in the mood to make big meals and pie. :)


Megan Anderson said...

I love this book! I just started reading the series to my seven year old daughter (she even did a really cute vlog post about it: http://thenerdnest.com/2013/03/elizas-reads-little-house-in-the-big-woods.html ).

One of the main things she took from Little House in the Big Woods was how hard the family worked for food and the seasonality of it. It made her so much more interested in going to the Farmer's Market and helping to prepare food.

Farmer's Boy was my favorite, I can't wait to get to that one!

Maggie Mizelle said...

Love this post! My husband and I were just re-evaluating our food budget (after rent, it's the biggest expense we have). As our 5-month old gets closer to eating solids, I worry that we are looking at an even higher bill each month. We are both happy to spend our money (and time) on good wholesome food, but I would love to know on what ingredients you are willing to buy at cheaper prices. Thanks!

sarah {on the brightside...} said...

I will have to check out this book and others by Laura Ingalls Wilder... I so love reading good & wholesome stories that take you to a different time & place than today. And I love the insight you shared from this about food & hard work. That truly is such a huge part of life!

Lindsey said...

Funny, I remember Farmer Boy being my least favorite when I read through the series years ago. I'm not sure why... maybe because it wasn't really about Laura? :)

But now I see I need to go read it again. :)

Stephanie said...

Fascinating post. I read the Little House books many times as a child but need to re-read them again.

There is such value in taking the time to prepare meals for your family, and passing this practice on to your children! I know I have great memories of cooking with my mom.

Annabelle said...

Graydon and I read that book together a few months ago and we both loved it! His favorite chapter was when the teacher surprised the naughty boys and threw them out of the school. We read that chapter a couple of times.

Sarah said...

I love the Little House series. I have all the books and I grew up with my mom reading to them. I love hearing about all the food they make and how they make sure to use everything! Love it.

Christina said...

I read through the whole Little House series every couple of years! Love it. I also find the descriptions of food fascinating. (One of my very favorites was the description of cheese making in the first book.) And I definitely spend significantly more time in my kitchen than 31 minutes each day! It genuinely boggles my mind that people can survive doing that!

Katie said...

love everything about this blog. very inspiring!

Nessa Bixler said...

I love these books. My 3rd grade teacher read them to us - the whole series. My little blue paper back copies are well worn. A hard back set is one of my dreams to own. Have you read All-of-a-Kind Family? I love reading about their simpler life too.



about this blog

Hello, I'm Summer. A people-loving introvert whose hope and life is in Jesus. His promises are my passion and my ministry is homelife. This blog is a place for me to write about everyday things. Especially food. My favorite thing to do is sit around a table, lingering over a long meal with good conversation. I live with my husband and our 2 littles. We like blizzards, thrifting, grammar, guacamole, cheerful hearts, nice manners, good movies, and making simple, real, nutrient-dense food.

"If Christ be anything, He must be everything."
-C.H. Spurgeon

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