Laura's simple kitchen
Jeff and I drove waaaay off our normal route to visit Rocky Ridge Farm, the home of Laura and Almanzo, which is located near Mansfield, Missouri. The home's simplicity is stunning. Laura designed the farmhouse and most of it is built from the raw materials found on this beautiful Missouri farmland. It rests there easily, like a cat curled up on a sunny windowsill. I adored the kitchen with its vintage stove, the short countertops for tiny, five foot Laura, and the wavery view out the window and across the property. Just think–Laura looked out at this same view.
When researching Laura and Almanzo's life, I found that Laura had designed the sunny, little kitchen, and she and Almanzo, between bouts of working the farm, built it for under just under $50.00. Amazing.
Laura was quite a good cook. She had to be because her cooking helped earn their livelihood. She and Almanzo welcomed paying guests to their ten room home. The guests, who were summer boarders trying to escape the heat of the cities, enjoyed Laura's plain and wholesome offerings. Imagine being fed by Laura and sharing a table with both of them.
"There's chicken and dumplings for dinner;
With salads and vegetables fine
And fruits just fresh from the orchard
Oh who wouldn't love to dine!"
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Jeff and I wandered Laura and Almanzo's property, went on the small tour of the little house, and visited the museum dedicated to her and her works. We've stopped at some of their other homesites, one is Pepin, Wisconsin, another along the shore of Plum Creek in Minnesota (watch the videos at this link), but this was our favorite. You really can feel the strength and beliefs of this remarkable couple.
That is me on the left in the red jacket. I am absorbing every sight, sound, view
Tonight I am going to bake Laura's famous (and one of her favorite recipes) gingerbread, stick a candle in the center of it, and sing a hearty happy birthday song.
a cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup molasses
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup boiling water (measured in a 2 cup or larger measuring cup because you'll be adding baking soda)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon each nutmeg and ground cloves (Laura used a teaspoon each, but it is overpowering)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, well beaten
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 9X9 baking pan (I use a square iron skillet)
Blend the sugar and the shortening and slowly add the molasses
Add the baking soda to the cup of boiling water and mix well
Combine the flour and the spices and sift. Combine the sugar-molasses mix with the flour and the baking soda/water.
Add the well-beaten eggs. Mix ingredients well and pour into greased skillet.
Bake for about 45 minutes.
I make homemade whipping cream, but use your imagination. I think Laura would approve.
Happy day to you all!
P.S. Here is some of my recent work for the bird book, which is deliciously close to its finish.
Birds on a wire to teach kids comparative sizes
Side portrait of a Barred Owl so kids can see the powerful, flesh-tearing beak
So this is not my normal blog posting, but I really wanted to share this with you.