The Little House Cookbook

If you’re not hungry when you start reading one of the Little House books, you soon will be. Author Laura Ingalls Wilder loved to eat, and when she turns her attention to the table, she describes her family’s simple pioneer fare so evocatively that it’s a surprise each page isn’t dotted with drool. Butter is churned, meat is smoked, maple sap is boiled into syrup—it’s not that you’d want to rustle up a farmhouse breakfast yourself (it starts with chopping wood!), but you wish you could taste just one bite.

And thanks to The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories, you can. Author Barbara Walker started trying to work out some of Wilder’s recipes when she began reading the Little House series to her own children. First she tried making pancake men, then sourdough starter, then drying blackberries, by which time the whole family was obsessed. Several years and many tinkering sessions later, The Little House Cookbook was born.

Studded with text and images from the stories and historical background on pioneer food, The Little House Cookbook does readers a service by adapting Wilder’s cooking methods to modern times. You use a jar to make butter instead of a wooden churn; bread rises in a turned-off oven rather than on top of a wood cookstove. Methods are simple and straightforward, and many recipes are so easy to make that even a small child can help out in the kitchen. I can’t think of a better way to encourage kid-on-book love than to make the molasses-on-snow candy described in Little House in the Big Woods.

The Little House Cookbook, $9.99