Written by Jamie of Simple Homeschool
Ya’ll, I can’t seem to escape Little House. Is this some kind of disorder or syndrome?!
After our year of Little House in 2013/2014, I honestly thought we were done with it.
We’d read the series twice start to finish (once when the kids were 6-8; once when they were 8-10), and even voyaged in crazy road trip fashion to see with our own eyes where the Ingalls lived and worked.
But then Christmas happened–and I read this book aloud. One of the kids, who tends to be my more reluctant reader, got all into it: giggling at the funny parts, engaging with thoughtful questions. This same child? Loves to cook.
So in my “inspire, not require” brain, a plan began to brew:
There’s a lot of good food in Little House. A lot of good life lessons, too. Why not cook our way through Little House in the Big Woods?
So we did. I’m here to invite you to do the same, and make it really easy for you, too!
It goes without saying that if you’re serious about the food in Little House, you need to invest in this cookbook. We’ve had our copy for years, and have learned so much from it! It not only describes recipes, but also includes historical notes, book excerpts, and illustrations.
For this post, though, I’ve also included links to a few online recipes so you can get started right away.
What I did first:
Back in January, I went through each chapter of Little House in the Big Woods and made a list of every food mentioned in its pages, so that afterwards I could create a specific menu plan for our family to follow.
Here’s that list, so that you can come up with your own meal ideas (or just skip to the end of the post for the plan we used):
Chapter 1: Little House in the Big Woods
- venison, fish, sausage, potatoes, carrots, cabbages, onions, pumpkins
Chapter 2: Winter Days and Winter Nights
- butter, bread (made on Saturdays!), cookies
Chapter 3: The Long Rifle – none
Chapter 4: Christmas (yum!)
- salt-rising bread, rye and Injun bread, baked beans, Swedish crackers, vinegar pies, dried apple pies, molasses snow candy, pancake men
Chapter 5: Sundays – none
Chapter 6: Two Big Bears – none
Chapter 7: The Sugar Snow
- maple syrup (on bread), cake of maple sugar
Chapter 8: Dance at Grandpa’s
- hasty pudding with syrup, pumpkin pies, dried berry pies, salt-rising bread, pickles, pancakes
Chapter 9: Going to Town
- bread, butter, cheese, hardboiled eggs, cookies, candy hearts
Chapter 10: Summertime
- cookies, honey, eggs, cheesemaking
Chapter 11: Harvest – none
Chapter 12: The Wonderful Machine
- walnuts, hickory nuts, hazelnuts, boiled potatoes, carrots, turnips, stewed pumpkin with bread, baked Hubbard Squash, hulled corn and milk, cabbage and meat, beans, johnnycake, salt-rising bread, pumpkin pies, dried berry pies
Chapter 13: The Deer in the Wood
- bread and butter
What I did next:
I knew it would take us around four weeks to reread the book, so I came up with a meal plan (one meal each week) to highlight the foods we wanted to try.
We’re not big meat eaters, but just check the chapter listings above to add a meat of your choice in if desired!
A 4 Week Meal Plan to Cook Your Way Through Little House in the Big Woods
- Making homemade butter (This recipe uses a stand mixer, but shake it in a jar for a more hands-on experience!)
- Salt-rising bread
- Ma’s Christmas pancake men
Note: The first three bulletpoints below are from Chapter 9: Going to Town. The Ingalls ate this picnic lunch by the shore of Lake Pepin in Wisconsin–and so did we two years ago!
- Bread & butter
- Cheese (No, we didn’t make our own.)
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Pumpkin Pie
While we’re on the subject of cooking, I wanted to mention another favorite resource to check out this week: the Kids Cook Real Food e-course, (afflink) created by my friend Katie Kimball of Kitchen Stewardship.
Sometimes we want to involve our kids in the kitchen (and have them take over some of our duties!), but we don’t know how to get started. Katie’s course is stellar–highlighting simple recipes and basic skills, all in the context of engaging videos featuring other kids!
This self-paced course would be perfect if you’ve found your lazy summer days could use just a bit of gentle structure, or save it for the fall and add it to your homeschool year.
Check out the curriculum map here if you’d like to see all the course covers!
What Little House food have you always wanted to try?
Originally published on April 11, 2016