One of my all time favorite series growing up was the “Little House” books by Laura Ingals Wilder. My mom read them to my brother and I multiple times, we even used them as part of our history lessons. They were also my first “thick” books to read on my own when I finally learned to read at age 9. I was so proud of myself. One of the beauties of homeschooling is that you can work at your child’s pace and gear their education to what they need. It may have taken me a long time to read but I haven’t been able to put books down since that day.
My mom reading to us before be could even talk definitely instilled a love of reading in me. The highlight of my young life was when I got to tour the house where Laura wrote her book at Rockyridge Farm in Southern Missouri. To make our reading more fun my mom cooked different meals that Laura ate growing up. It made us feel more connected with what was happening at that time. I was reading back over some of my favorite parts from the books (which at one point my friend Laura and I had memorized the page numbers of where they were located) when I decided that it would be fun to cook one dish from every book that Laura ate.
For the next nine weeks I’m going to be sharing some simple, yet delicious old staples of the American diet from the 1800’s. Now there is a “Little House Cook Book”, my mom actually has that but I have just research on the internet or made up my own version. I’ve been wanting to get the book for a few years now, I finally ordered it yesterday, so I should have it in the next week or so depending on when our mail gets brought down. Part of the fun is being creative anyway and not following a book, it’s not like I follow one on a regular bases anyways.
For my first week I have a dish from “Little House in the Big Woods”, corn meal mush which is a dish that my mom has been making since I was little. There are two diiffertent ways to enjoy this yummy dish. The way I ate it growing up is with a little butter salt and pepper. The way Laura ate was with maple syurp known as hasty pudding.
Next time I make this I plan on soaking my corn meal in lime water to release vitamin B3 (niacin) the otherwise remains bound in the corn. During the 19th century in the deep southern United States many consumed a diet high in untreated corn. The result was an epidimic of pelegra. Pellagra caused depression, thinness, listlessness, sore skin, sore mouths, mental disorders, hallucinations and irratability. A deficency in niacin was later proved in 1937 to be the cause of pallagra.
During this same time period the Mexican women who had been soaking their corncobs in lime water before making their tortillas did not suffer from pallagra. Less of the vitamin is needed if their is plenty of protien in the diet.
But for supper Grandma made hasty pudding. She stood by the stove, sifting yellow corn meal from her fingers into a kettle of boiling, salted water. She stirred the water all the time with a big wooden spoon, and sifted in the meal until the kettle was full of a thick bubbling mass. Then she set it on the back of the stove where it would cook slowly…. Then Uncle George came with a smaller bucket of syrup, and everybody ate the hot hasty pudding with maple syrup for supper.
(Little House in the Big Woods)
Corn Meal Mush
- 2 quarts water
- 1 cup corn meal
- 1 tsp salt
- For serving:
- Maple Syrup (not the fake stuff!)
- Bring water and salt to a boil.
- Slowly pour in corn meal,stiring constantly to prevent clumping.
- Turn burner to low, stirng frequently for 45 minutes.
- Dish into bowls and serve with salt, butter and a pat of butter. Or to eat to how Laura liked it serve with a pat of butter and some maple syrup.
More Cooking Through “Little House” recipes: