I took Big Girl to the library this week for a free program, and on the way out we stopped in its used bookstore. I love this little place because you can always find something for practically nothing, and the stock changes all the time because library patrons are always dropping off used books.
On this visit, we actually found a treasure: Big Girl stoops down and grabs a book out of a bin and says "Mom, look!"
There is was, The Little House Coookbook, in all its glory! And at the bargain price of only $2. This book has been on my wishlist for a while, but I wasn't willing to pay full price for it just yet. Now I don't have to because of my bargain-hunting ways.
After browsing through the pages, I am definitely glad to have this in my Little House library. The book is more than just a cookbook; it goes into great detail about food in the era, how they cooked it, and the recipes are true to the time, with substitutions for modern cooks -- I don't exactly have lard on hand, but I do have butter!
It has recipes for most dishes and meals mentioned in the books. There's Fried Salt Pork with Gravy -- remember how the Ingalls family seemed to eat salt pork constantly? I always wondered how they never died of heart attacks at 25 years old, but I guess they didn't eat all the other fat we do today. Big Girl and I were grocery shopping once and I came across a package of salt pork. The two of us stood in the meat aisle for a long time marveling at it. Weird, I know, but it was the first time I ever recalled seeing it anywhere.
The book even has a recipe for "Long Winter Bread," the bread that the family ate so they wouldn't starve. It even includes instructions on how to grind your wheat in a coffee grinder.
You can also find how to make Ma's green pumpkin pie, which Pa though was apple pie. And Vanity Cakes, which Ma made for the girl's country party with Nellie Oleson. There are dozens of recipes, and it would make a great companion while reading through the series -- you could cook and bake chapter by chapter. The cookbook also borrows Garth Williams charming illustrations and features excerpts from the book throughout its pages. I am so looking forward to reading through this one.
We also found this book:
I've actually had this book on my Amazon wishlist because I thought about getting it for Big Girl after reading the Little House books. It has a story about a pioneer family, and is interspersed with snippets about pioneer life. There are a lot of little things in this book that overlap with Laura Ingalls Wilder's stories. Big Girl didn't as excited about this one -- she's more into Greek mythology and Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson books right now -- but I'm holding on to it for myself. Who knows? Maybe in my old age, I'll be a Laura scholar and run Little House programs at schools and libraries. Or write a book.
This book was also $2, so I didn't mind splurging $4 on both books even though the budget is very, very tight for our family this month. I had four dollar bills in my pocket so it must have been a sign.
The moral of the story is this: Always take a minute to browse in a used book store. You never know what you will find!