I grew up on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books. My mother read the books to us children as we grew up. When I was able to read, then I read them myself numerous times. My children grew up with the same tradition. I read the whole series over and over again out loud to them, right up until Tyana moved out. We all enjoyed the stories and the comfort of reading together. That was our nighttime routine for most of their childhood. I remember feeling cold and hungry every time I read The Long Winter, even in the heat of summer. It would have been a good investment to buy the series in hardcover because the paperbacks are very worn out.
Some years ago I was happy to find a book called, Laura Ingalls Wilder Country Cookbook. It is really a delightful book for her fans. Full of photos and anecdotes and recipes, I treasure this book. I wish I could say I have tried all the recipes in it, but I still have not.
In 2015, Austin was serving as a temporary volunteer at Bethel in New York. Tyana, Grant, and I took a 2,500 mile drive across the country to visit him and leave him Bessie, our minivan. Along the way, we had a wonderful time visiting the Wilder’s Rocky Ridge Farm in Missouri. It was fabulous to visit Laura’s house and farm and walk where she walked. I found it is very different to actually experience something in person, rather than just read about it or look at pictures. The location was so beautiful and the trees so tall and the grass so green! Especially for us Arizonans! There is so much more meaning to see the photographs in the book now.
Laura was an experience country cook and her gingerbread is truly an old-fashioned recipe. But I find that old-fashioned, country cooking and baking is my favorite. I can make fancy desserts, but simple foods seem to be the most comforting. The book says this was one of Laura’s favorite recipes.
- 1 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
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon each ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9 x 9 -inch baking pan.
- Blend the sugar and the shortening and mix in the molasses.
- Add the baking soda to the boiling water and mix well.
- Combine the flour and the spices and salt and sift. Combine the sugar-molasses mixture with the flour mixture and the baking soda-water liquid. Mix ingredients well and pour into prepared pan.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until cake tester inserted in the center of the gingerbread comes out clean.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Delicious with lightly sweetened whipped cream or applesauce.