Cooking at Ushers Ferry June 2019

Sarah in 1890s Outfit Baking
Sarah Baking in Usher House Kitchen

Are you looking for a fun project for Wednesday, June 20th? Then come on out to Ushers Ferry Historic Village in Cedar Rapids.

Ushers Ferry is where I got my start in living history and first and third person historical interpretation. In the last couple of years I’ve returned for a couple of events and gotten a chance to cook on a wood cookstove again.

I’m going to be heading back next week.

Stop by:

Wednesday, June 21, 2019 between 5:30 and 8:30pm, tour Ushers Ferry and stop in to see me cook!

I’ll be in the Usher House.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting 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. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

In the Kitchen Pepper Rings

Close Up of hand slicing peppers
Slicing Peppers

A Cornucopia

During their years in Pepin, Wisconsin the Ingalls family had more and a bigger variety of food then they would until they became established in De Smet, South Dakota. Being settled they were able to have a larger variety of livestock and a garden. Living in the border area between woods, prairie, and lake, there was a much larger group of things they knew about to harvest from the wild. Many of which are described in Little House in the Big Woods including honey, molasses, fish, bear, deer, and forage for their pigs, etc.

Hand pointing to tab
These tabs go in holes to hold the window up.

The variety of food stuffs followed various methods of preservation. Laura describes the attic of the little house full of food preserved for the winter. One of the things she describes are dried peppers. There are different ways to dry them, but here is a beautiful thing you can dry like Laura.

Woman in Apron Threading Pepper
Sarah threading pepper slices on the string to hang between windows.

A Pepper String

In old houses windows often had a peg on each side in the frame of the window. These pegs were used to press in to keep the window raised. Another use was an excellent way to dry pepper rings. Not only is this method useful, multicolored pepper rings drying in your window are lovely and give the sense that you are actively using your kitchen. Let’s walk through how you do this in both an old-fashioned kitchen and in your kitchen.

What You Need:

Washed Peppers, you’ll need several if you want the string to appear full

Cutting Board

Sharp Knife

String

Suction Cups (if you don’t have old windows)

What You Need To Do

Step 1: Grow or buy bell peppers of various colors. – It doesn’t matter to the rings whether you buy them at a store or farmer’s market or grow them yourself.

Step 2: Wash and dry the papers and lay them on their side on a cutting board. With a sharp knife cut the peppers into rings, leaving the circle of the rings intact. The width of the pepper rings can vary, but the thinner you make them the easier it is to accidentally cut a ring in two. Somewhere between a quarter and a half inch wide.

Step 3: Tie one end of the string to a peg.

Step 4: String the rings along the string. Leave space between the rings according to how you think look best.

Step 5: Tie the other end of the string around the opposite peg pulling the string tight.

Pepper Rings in Window
Pepper Rings in Window

If You Have New Windows

If your window doesn’t have pegs, use two suction cups instead. Stick the suction cups on opposite sides of the window, one on the far right side and one on the far left side of the window. Follow the rest of the directions as is except substitute tying to the suction cups for the pegs.

Close Up Dried Peppers on a String
Suction Cups for Pepper Ring String

How Do You Use Them?

Dried Peppers will last for a long time. If you get them completely dry they can last almost forever. It can be used in various recipes, normally they have to be rehydrated first. A benefit of using them is often recipes may call for a smaller amount than a whole pepper and this allows you to easily use part of the pepper without wasting or scrambling to use the rest.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting 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. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

February 2017 Laura Ingalls Wilder Events

February tends to be bad time for Laura Ingalls Wilder events since in the northern part of the country tends to have event cancelling weather, but many people buck the weather and try anyway for local events. (Would it have killed Laura to be born in May? LOL) Here are the ones on my radar.

Bill and Me 2015

Pepin WI

150th Celebration of Laura’s Birthday – February 4-5, 2017 – an event in Pepin, Wisconsin in honor of Laura’s 150th birthday – Details coming later, but will include activities at the replica birthplace cabin.

Burr Oak IA

Spaghetti Supper and Silent Auction and 150th Celebration – February 17, 2017 5:30pm – 7:30 pm

Ushers Ferry Historic Village – Cedar Rapids IA

Laura Ingalls Wilder Birthday Party Sunday, February 5, 2017 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm Tickets Required. (Scroll down on page to find tickets)

Pomona Public Library – Pomona CA

Laura Ingalls Wilder Gingerbread Sociable – Saturday, February 4, 2017 1:00pm – 3:00pm
http://www1.youseemore.com/pomona

Old World Wisconsin – Eagle WI

150th Birthday Party at Old World Wisconsin– February 4, 2017  10:00 am to 12:00 pm or 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm More information –Preregistration is required.

National Cowgirl Museum – Fort Worth, Texas

The National Cowgirl Museum had quit their annual Laura party a few years back so thanks to Beyond Little House for giving me a heads up for this one.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 150th Birthday Program – February 25, 2017 10am – 1pm

Books

New HarperCollins edition out Feb. 7, 2017 – 1st three “Little House” books, also available as single titles “Return to the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic series with this gorgeous box set, which includes hardcover, unjacketed editions of the first three Little House novels—all featuring new, iconic cover art, special forewords, and no interior art.”

NOTE: The Little House on the Prairie website uses a more extensive definition of events then I do. So check them out.

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 Wringer Washer

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.

Throwback Photo - Washing Demonstration at Ushers Ferry Historic Village
Sarah and Derek Throwback Photo – Washing Demonstration at Ushers Ferry Historic Village

In today’s post we remember that has Laura said the kitchen is where the barnyard and house meet in pitched battle. In other words, there is generally a lot more going on in a kitchen than just preparing food. One of those things that was either done in the kitchen in bad weather or on a porch or other area just outside the kitchen in good weather is washing. I’m also helping people that Laura didn’t stop living just where she left her books. She kept learning new things and getting new products as they came out. The one on the back porch of Rocky Ridge is older than the model I’m demonstrating here; mostly like a separate small engine would have powered hers, but this will give you an idea how washing was done.

The video above demonstrates how to use a mid-20th century wringer washer with an internal motor. The demonstration includes:

  • how to load the machine
  • how to start the agitator
  • how to work the wringer
  • what to do if something pulls you into the wringer
  • how to drain the washer

Previous models like the one displayed on Laura’s back porch were worked either by hand action on a lever or by a small engine that was used to drive a flywheel.

So watch the video and get ready to wash the clothes In the Kitchen With Laura.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting 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.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Mansfield Years

Sarah Uthoff Twisting Hay

This episode of Trundlebed Tales focuses on the Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Mansfield Years event that was hosted by Ushers Ferry Historic Village in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Meal in the Church

Originally scheduled for 1998, it was moved back to 1999 when the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library scheduled their event for the same month. Even though it was that long ago, I still get questions and comments about it. Take a listen and learn about it for yourself.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/trundlebedtales/2012/05/26/ep-33-adult-laura-ingalls-wilder-day

Vicki Hughes as Rose Wilder Lane

Take a Bite Out of History

Baking on a wood burning stove
Baking at Ushers Ferry

My radio show’s, Trundlebed Tales Radio, primary focus is Laura Ingalls Wilder. However, I think understanding Laura requires understanding things she knew and experienced in her life. You start researching Laura and then you want a Laura dress, you want to make the stuff she and Ma made, and each step you take along Laura fandom draws you deeper into wanting to know more about life in the 19th century. So from time to time the show will do a special episode where we look at food history and it’s current practice.

My first historic foodways episode will air Sunday, April 3, 2011 6 PM ET, 5 PM CT, 4 PM MT and 3 PM PT. Take a Bite Out of History: Biscuits will feature the same basic information I used when doing the “prairie meal” section of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Patch at Ushers Ferry.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/trundlebedtales/2011/04/03/trundlebed-tales-ep-9–take-a-bite-out-of-history-biscuits

Call in and listen or talk at:  (714) 242-5253 or toll free 1-877-633-9389

I’m still experimenting with what times bring in the largest live audience. So far week night seem to do better, but I’m giving the weekend another chance. Hopefully soon I’ll settle on a regular broadcast pattern although it might be interrupted depending on when interviewees are available.

Ushers Ferry Update May 2010

Ushers Ferry School Interior Pre-Flood

The fall out from the Floods of 2008 continues. (A fact sadly that Nashville will soon learn.) Ushers Ferry is the historic village I used to work at in Cedar Rapids. A grant from the U.S. Department of Labor paid 4-6 workers (with preference given to local workers who lost either jobs or houses during the flood) since last November and will until June 30th. 34 of 36 historic buildings were damaged or destroyed in the flood. Teresa White, director of the site, says “We’re two, three, four years ahead of where we would have been (without the grant funded workers).” The buildings not destroyed or damaged beyond repair should be fixed and should be opened in June.