The Little House Cookbook
Recipes inspired by literature are great fun in my book, especially when they are based on childhood favorites like the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Barbara M. Walker published The Little House Cookbook in 1979, a lovely cookbook for any Little House fan that is peppered with familiar Garth Williams illustrations and food related quotes from the books. Leafing through the recipes brings back many childhood memories, as I often imagined the food from these stories. Things like buckwheat pancakes in The Long Winter, or the snow candy Laura and Mary made in Little House in the Big Woods. Oh how my sister and I wanted to make that candy, and we wished for snow, which was a rarity at our little house on the Oregon coast.
Farmer Boy Eats
Almanzo Wilder’s childhood story, which was told in Farmer Boy, was particularly rich in food tales. The Wilders ate very well on their New York farm, and stories were not only impressive because of the diversity of dishes, but also Almanzo’s robust appetite. While it’s tempting to make a Farmer Boy apple pie or Birds-Nest Pudding, I decided to go with something a tad healthier, and chose the creamed carrots.
Almanzo ate four large helpings of apples ‘n’ onions fried together. He ate roast beef and brown gravy, and mashed potatoes and creamed carrots and boiled turnips, and countless slices of buttered bread with crab-apple jelly. –Farmer Boy
I changed some of the proportions of the original recipe, since two pounds of carrots is more than enough to feed us for several days. Since I am not a growing farm boy, I decided to use half and half instead of heavy cream, and I added a few toppings to pump up the autumnal flavors, and bring some crunch to the dish. I fried up some sage leaves and sprinkled toasted pepitas on top. I liked the texture these additions brought to the dish. If you don’t like sage or pepitas, use your imagination and create your own toppings. Bacon? Toasted hazelnuts? The options are endless.
- 2 pounds carrots
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons flour
- ¼ cup half and half
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Sage leaves
- olive oil
- Toasted pepitas
- For the fried sage: Using a small pan, fill with about ¼" of olive oil. Heat on medium high. Fry leaves a few at a time for about 3 seconds. Remove and let drain on a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt. Set aside.
- Scrub carrots and slice them into rounds, about ⅛" thick. Place them in a large saucepan with two cups chicken broth. Cover with a lid, bring to a boil, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until fork tender.
- In a small bowl, blend the butter and flour with a fork until it forms a paste. Slowly add the half and half. It's easier if it is room temperature. Place it in the microwave for a few seconds if you need to warm it slightly. Add the salt.
- Drain the carrots, reserving the cooking liquid. Return the carrots to the pan and carefully fold in the paste, letting it coat the carrots. Return to low heat. Add a ladle or two of the cooking liquid as needed. Continue carefully mixing the paste and carrot until heated through.
- Top with toasted pepitas and fried sage.
Enjoy with the people in your little house.
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