In the Kitchen With Laura Churning Garth Williams

Today’s In the Kitchen With Laura is reworking an old post. We’re going to look at one of the things that is most closely associated with Laura, churning butter.

Garth Williams Pictures Farmer Boy

This last read through of Farmer Boy has convinced that Garth Williams has led me astray. I always liked the barrel churn Williams pictured in Chapter 17 “Summer-Time” (page 198 in the yellow back paperbacks). I always wondered why Almanzo didn’t get on and ride it like a rocking horse. I always wanted to see one like it. I haven’t yet, but I suppose there was one Williams based his drawing on as I can recognize most of the equipment in the drawing behind Almanzo.

Dasher Churns

There are different kinds of churns. The one that the Ingalls family is described using in Little House in the Big Woods is a dasher churn. The dasher is the paddle in the middle that you push up and down to create butter. They are normally high capacity and operated while standing up.

Dash Churn
Dash Churn

Barrel Churns

I have seen lots of barrel churns. They just looked nothing like the rocking horse model. Well, this time I read through a line jumped out at me, “Almanzo turned the handle, and the churn rocked.” There is nothing to turn on the one in Garth Williams drawing, but a normal barrel churn turns the barrel by turning the handle. Loaded with cream it’s constantly off balance and does rock, though not on rockers.

Dashe and Barrel Churns
Dasher and Barrel Churns

I’m including a photo of a normal barrel churn which I’m now 95 percent sure that it is like the one Mother Wilder used. The churn on the left is a dasher churn, like the Ingalls Family used in Little House in the Big Woods. The metal ones on the far side are new to me, but I would guess they might be from a commercial dairy to go with the other photos in the chapter.

Don’t Feed That Cow Turnips!

Just as a fun note turnips came in as fodder feed for cows in the 18th century. Laura Mason notes in the Encyclopedia of Food and Culture that when cattle feed was less uniform different feeds created different tastes in butter. Turnips were especially know “for giving a characteristic and much-disliked taint to butter.” (Vol. 1, p. 272) So the cow eating turnip tops in On the Banks of Plum Creek was probably not giving the best tasting milk, even if she was producing any. 🙂

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

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In the Kitchen With Laura Fire

In the Kitchen With Laura, both the program and the blog post series, continue to be very popular. I really enjoy them too, so watch for more.

Prairie Burn
Prairie Burn

Was Fire a Big Danger When Laura Cooked?

Among re-enactors it’s a joke how people who aren’t aware of social history assume that most women died of fire back in the time of open hearth cooking. This isn’t true.

Fire was a normal presence in a house during most of the time Laura Ingalls Wilder was alive. It was a tool whether it was a camp fire, an open hearth, or within a cookstove. You got used to dealing with fire and wasn’t as big a deal as it is now. Still accidents did happen when you got careless or had a piece of particularly bad luck. Such an accident led to the little grey house in the west burning down.

Fire in the Kitchen Today

People are much less accustomed to dealing with fire today so it’s even more important to be prepared when cooking in your kitchen.

Here are some steps to help avoid kitchen fires.

Be aware of what NOT to do when putting out a kitchen fire. It’s NOT the same as a camp fire.

Be sure to have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. America’s Test Kitchen takes you through comparing fire extinguishers in the video below and recommends the Kidde ABC Multipurpose Home Fire Extinguisher.

And while we are talking fire extinguishers and road trips, it’s a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher in your car as well. You never know when a quick reaction can save the day.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her onFacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

July 2016 Presentations

Sarah at Ingalls Homestead
Sarah at Ingalls Homestead

This month I have two programs scheduled, but one of them is at the Ingalls Homestead in De Smet, South Dakota (one of my favorite places on earth) with a new twist on my In the Kitchen With Laura as I push it back in time about 30 years or so. Wish me luck! If this goes well I’ll start offering it both ways. I bought a new dash churn just for the occasion!

  • Ingalls Homestead – De Smet, South Dakota – In the Kitchen With Laura (Pioneer version) – July 9, 2016
  • Three Pines – Cedar Falls, Iowa – In the Kitchen With Laura – July 30, 2016

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her onFacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

 

 

In the Kitchen With Laura Spices

In the Kitchen With Laura, both the program and the blog post series, continue to be very popular. I really enjoy them too, so watch for more.

Today’s In the Kitchen is combining something that Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family did every year and something she probably never would have done. We’re going to clean out our spice cupboard.

Spice Shelf
Spice Shelf

Spring cleaning was an important part of pioneer culture. Every spring you’d go to war with dirt, pulling things apart, refilling and restocking things, and washing every surface you possibly can. You’d also changed things over, pulling winter insulation away from the bottom of the house, putting up mosquito netting, covering up furniture with summer dressing.

This major cleaning would often include cleaning kitchen containers, etc. but you didn’t throw things out. Once you had something you thought you had it and it should last forever. This was especially true of the pioneer and Great Depression mind set. Once you had something it should last forever and you don’t waste it. It’s like the World War II slogan, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” You hold on to things, expect them to last or be good or at least usable forever. Sadly things aren’t.

I’ve been working on breaking out of this mind set and the spice shelf is a place to do it. (Now just FYI some of these containers I just love so these, especially the Tones cans, don’t have their original spice or herb in them. I’ve dumped them out a refilled them.) While it seems like that herbs and spice should last forever, they really don’t. As time goes by they lose both flavor and color and can really negatively impact your final product.

So to do your part for kitchen spring cleaning, go through your spice shelf. Replace everything that has outlived its date whether it’s empty or not. If you have cool old cans or bottles, just empty them out and refill with the new.

Spices, whole 1-2 years
Spices, ground 6 months
Herbs 6 months
Herb/spice blends 2 years (unopened)
12 months (opened)

These dates aren’t from the manufacturers (which of course want you to do this often, so you’ll buy more), but from the University of Nebraska Extension Service that conducts independent research. Find more information about things to check in your kitchen (including a printer friendly PDF) on their website.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

South Dakota History Conference Everybody Eats 2016

I had never had been at South Dakota State Historical Society annual conference before they asked me to come and be the second day’s keynote speaker, but I’m very glad they did. It was really a well organized and the prep, the information, the vendors, the meals was all really top rate. They’ve been doing this annual meeting since around the 1980s. They shift responsibility between the various departments of the historical society so each department does it every 5 years or so. This year it was done by the department that does their museum and the theme was Everybody Eats. This year’s conference was on April 29-30, 2016.

Susan Evans McClure of Smithsonian presenting in front of the Swedish Chef
Susan Evans McClure of Smithsonian

Conference Structure

The conference starts with a fundraising event on Thursday night and then with a full day on Friday with a reception following and a slightly shorter day on Saturday. Lunch is provided both Thursday and Friday and it was very good. The sessions were held in a room with theater style seating (with writing arm rests). I’d like to commend the organizers both for starting and ending sessions on time, but also having networking breaks of a decent length to talk to people.

One small grumble was that the room was really cold Friday morning and really hot Friday afternoon. I normally dress in layers and expect anything from conference session “weather” but this was unusually severe at both ends.

The vendor “room” ran on either side of the hallway right outside the main session room compelling you to walk by them every time you left. That window shopping should have supported them being there which in turn supports the conference. Vendors were there all day both days and there was a nice mix and number of them.

Jerome Kills Small, Harvesting Native Foods and Medicines
Jerome Kills Small, Harvesting Native Foods and Medicines

Friday Speakers

Speakers were on a single track and had a nice variety all focused on various aspects about foodways in South Dakota. The day opened with Jay D. Vogt, Director of the South Dakota State Historical Society,  giving a brief rundown on the variety of South Dakota foodways. Wanda Goodman, Media & Industry Relations Manager, South Dakota Department of Tourism followed up with a rundown of South Dakota food events. Opening activities ended with Conference Moderator Brad Tennant giving a brief overview of the conference.

The keynote speaker the first day was Susan Evans McClure of the Smithsonian Museum of American History. The Smithsonian has been working on more food into both their displays and their programming because food is an entry point to history that people can understand. She talked about their restoration of the Julia Child kitchen and individually related artifacts like a Mr. Peanut from the fence surrounding the Planter peanut plant. Another interesting bit I didn’t know was that spam was part of the lend-lease program. I knew it was involved in World War II, but I didn’t know it was part of that program. The Smithsonian has created a new section completed focused around food, FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950–2000. Follow them on Twitter under the hashtag at .

Next was Jerome Kills Small talked about Harvesting Foods and Medicines in the Siouan Homelands. He told stories of his life, about things that you could find on the prairie to eat, and how different cultures used similar things just using different names. He runs a daycamp every year teaching children about native life. He has lots of bear grease, he said he’d send me some. I hope he does. 🙂

Over lunch Jay Smith, State Museum Director, gave us a run down on the South Dakota State Historical Society Museum. It was a preview of the reception that night.

Bernie Hunhoff of "South Dakota Magazine"
Bernie Hunhoff of “South Dakota Magazine”

After lunch Bernie Hunhoff, founder of South Dakota Magazine spoke on “Coffee Please – Restaurant Stories of a Roaming Editor.” He told stories of mom and pop coffee shops and small restaurants across the state and some of the interesting people who run them.

Catherine Lambrecht presented “South Dakota’s Heirloom Recipes.” Lambrecht is one of the founders of the Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance. Their major project is an annual conference, but an early project was promoting heirloom recipes by creating a category of them at the state fairs. Recipes for the winning dishes are available on their website. Lambrecht told stories of her experiences of families sharing these recipes and their great diversity. Greater Midwest Foodways has been a real leader in reclaiming Midwest as a legitimate focus of study.

Catherine Lambrecht, Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance
Catherine Lambrecht, Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance

The final speaker of the day was filmmaker Troy McQuillen on the Aberdeen Railway Station Canteen documentary. While a lot of information has been presented about the North Platte Canteen in Nebraska, but this South Dakota one was equally impactful. The unique part of Aberdeen was they offered pheasant sandwiches. The unusual dish started as way to use a food supply available for free but word spread that it was something special. The documentary included interviews with 4 women who served in canteen, people who hunted pheasants even out of season & even former boy scouts who did running for the restaurant. I knew the story going in, but by 30 minutes in had me and quite a few people tearing up. Really didn’t care for the last 15 minutes, but I liked it enough to buy the DVD and got the recipe booklet. This is a four minute greatly condensed version.

Read more:
https://issuu.com/troymcquillen/docs/am_issue_3-5-issuu

The evening ended with a reception at the South Dakota State Historical Society Museum which let us see both their permanent exhibits and their current temporary exhibits “Play Ball! The National Pastime in South Dakota” and “South Dakota Environments: A Window to Past Times.”

Saturday Speakers

I was the Saturday keynote presenting “In the Pioneer Kitchen With Laura.” This was a brand new presentation and looked specifically at pioneer cooking in South Dakota as Ma and Laura would have practiced it. For this presentation, talking about eating greens, I actually picked, ate, and photographed dandelions.

Sarah S. Uthoff, "In the Pioneer Kitchen With Laura Ingalls Wilder"
Sarah S. Uthoff, “In the Pioneer Kitchen With Laura Ingalls Wilder”

Ken Stewart was next covering “Brewing in South Dakota, 1861-1941” looking at brewing beer, near beer, and soda before and after Prohibition. He had tracked down photos of breweries in addition to their stories and made a tour of those sites today to see what was left.

Kevin Gansz of Siouxland Heritage Museums “Cruisin’ Cuisine:  The Drive-Ins of Sioux Fall” looked at the culture of the drive-in, how it suddenly popped up, became dominant, and disappeared within a decade. He had put together a display about the local ones for the Siouxland Heritage Museum tracking down their spread, how they fell, and what traces remain of them today. It was hard to find a lot of stuff for the display because much of what was produced for drive-ins was meant to be thrown away, lots of staff rotated through they didn’t stay taking photos, and people just never had any idea they would disappear like it. Most of the early drive-in were small mom and pop operations, they would be sourced locally, and often jointly advertised with their suppliers. The fast food industry has changed a lot over the decades, Americans spent $6 billion on fast food in 1960 and $117 billion in 2015.

Kevin Gansz, Siouxland Heritage Museums
Kevin Gansz, Siouxland Heritage Museums

The lunch on the second day featured the annual awards presented by the South Dakota State Historical Society and then a serving a of Cookies and Cream ice cream from the South Dakota State University Creamery. Howard Bonnemann who has long run the creamery showed us highlights of the history of ice cream in general and the creamery in particular. The SDSU creamery is very well known in the area. Although there is some debate, the creamery claims the title of inventor of Cookies and Cream ice cream.

The conference ended with Jay D. Vogt giving some closing remarks and giving us the topic for next year.

Go West!

I truly enjoyed this conference. It was one of the most enjoyable I’ve been to in awhile and I strongly recommend it if you’re looking for an interesting, enjoyable history conference. They have one every year.

Find the details here on the archive of their website.

Press

http://listen.sdpb.org/post/dakota-midday-south-dakotas-food-heritage#stream/0

http://www.drgnews.com/south-dakota-state-historical-society-conference-april-29-30

http://www.capjournal.com/news/sd-history-conference-in-pierre-focuses-on-food-including-beer/article_ed2a2560-0e80-11e6-a568-27abfcaf8e3f.html

http://rapidcityjournal.com/south-dakota-food-heritage-is-theme-for-annual-history-conference/article_444e2fc5-7b32-5c21-8c60-83d4a464f8c1.html

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

 

In the Kitchen With Laura Whipped Cream

Make Sure Mixing Bowl Is Chilled
Make Sure Mixing Bowl Is Chilled

In the Kitchen With Laura, both the program and the blog post series, continue to be very popular. I really enjoy them too, so watch for more.

The holiday season is often a time for special holiday foods and homemade desserts even if they are rarely seen in your kitchen any other time of year. If you’re not used to cooking one way to make your cooking special is not to reach for commercial whipped topping (aka Cool Whip), but to make your own whipped cream. It’s very simple to make and is delicious. Some people who’ve only have had Cool Whip might only notice the difference from Cool Whip, but if you’ll give it a chance you’ll find it’s much better.

Some Hints

To make it you need some of the Laura Ingalls Wilder cooks’s best friend, heavy whipping cream. Heavy whipping cream is also the best thing to use for making butter. The fresher it is the better, so buy some just for this and check the expiration dates (grocery stores normally rotate product so grab from the back but still check the dates).

Heavy Whipping Cream in Mixer
Heavy Whipping Cream in Mixer

Normally I use our mixer, but you can also use an egg beater. Cold is your friend in getting the cream to whip properly so my grandmother always recommended whipping it in a metal bowl that you’ve chilled. In the winter setting it outside for awhile is just the ticket.

I’ve given the measurements for a reasonable amount of whipped cream that can be consumed in a couple of days. It will only hold the whipped form for that long when refrigerated so don’t make too much. If you have a large party coming you might want to make more, but see how much this makes first.

Ingredients

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons of sugar (to taste)

Directions

  1. Put the one cup of heavy whipping cream into the pre-chilled bowl.
  2. Stir using either a mixer or egg beater. If you have a whip attachment for your mixer, use it.
  3. Watch the cream carefully. You want it to be thick enough that when you stop mixing you can still see the tracks that the whip or beater made. Be careful though because if you over beat it, the cream will turn into butter. Check regularly. Leave it a little underwhipped if you are unsure because you still have to mix in the other ingredients evenly throughout the mixture after it reaches the right consistency.
  4. After the cream is thick add 1 capful of Watkins vanilla or 1 teaspoon of any other vanilla and stir.
  5. Add the sugar a Tablespoon at a time. Mix and taste between adding more sugar. I like 3 Tablespoons, but you may find you want it more or less sweet. Don’t dip the same spoon back into whipped cream once you’ve tasted off of it.
  6. Transfer the whipped cream to another bowl either for serving or to a bowl with a lid to keep in refrigerator. Feel free to lick any bowl or mixer that you aren’t going to put back in the whipped cream you’re going to serve other people. (No eggs so licking is allowed.)
Add Sugar to Almost Whipped Cream
Add Sugar to Almost Whipped Cream

You can use genuine whipped cream anywhere you would normally use whipped topping. Puddings, cookies, pies, puddings, or, if you are truly lucky, steam pudding are always good choices to use your whipped cream. Keep in the unused portion in the refrigerator. You can expect it to last 2-3 days. Don’t make it too far ahead.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

In the Kitchen With Laura 2015

What is In the Kitchen With Laura?
http://littlehouseontheprairie.com/in-the-kitchen-with-laura-ingalls-wilder

Learn more about my program In the Kitchen With Laura:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/fizz-boom-read-and-in-the-kitchen-with-laura-ingalls-wilder

Check out these images from the program:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/in-the-kitchen-with-laura-test-shots

Peeling Apples
Peeling Apples

In the Kitchen With Laura Posts

Butter and Egg Money:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/in-the-kitchen-with-laura-june-2014

Cook’s Country Food History Videos:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/in-the-kitchen-with-laura-morel-mushrooms

Fannie Farmer Cookbook and The Joy of Cooking:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/in-the-kitchen-with-laura-august-2014

Ginger Water:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/in-the-kitchen-with-laura-july-2014

Goats:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/in-the-kitchen-with-laura-april-2014

Handwritten Recipes:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/in-the-kitchen-with-laura-project-jan-2014

Measurements:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/in-the-kitchen-with-laura-project-march-2014

Morel Mushrooms:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2015/04/30/in-the-kitchen-with-laura-morel-mushrooms

Roundup of Food History Videos:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/in-the-kitchen-with-laura-cooks-country-food-history

Shortening:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/in-the-kitchen-with-laura-may-2014

Woodstove Basics:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/in-the-kitchen-with-laura-project-february-2014

Wringer Washer:
https://trundlebedtales.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/in-the-kitchen-with-laura-wringer-washer

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.