Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Every Meal Almanzo Eats in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy

Recently, I read Kate Christensen's Blue Plate Specialwhich was a sharp, satisfying page-turner; go buy it – and found myself vibing hard on the section where she talks about food in children's books. "The absolute greatest pleasure I knew when I was little was to eat along with characters in books I was reading," she writes. "A keenly piercing brain hunger gripped me whenever a character in a book ate anything." Christensen mentions "the gigantic, caloric, wonderful Little House on the Prairie breakfasts," and I thought, no way, you know what was even better? Farmer's Boy. In this book, Almanzo Wilder (who, incidentally, looked exactly like Channing Tatum as a young man) is constantly hungry, always salivating over the prospect of the next meal. From cover to cover, here's everything that he eats. 

Eliza Jane opened the dinner-pail on her desk. It held bread-and-butter and sausage, doughnuts and apples, and four delicious apple-turnovers, their plump crusts filled with melting slices of apple and spicy brown juice.

He stopped just a minute in the pantry door. Mother was straining the milk, at the far end of the long pantry; her back was toward him. The shelves on both sides were loaded with good things to eat. Big yellow cheeses were stacked there, and large brown cakes of maple sugar, and there were crusty loaves of fresh-baked bread, and four large cakes, and one whole shelf full of pies. One of the pies was cut, and a little piece of crust was temptingly broken off; it would never be missed.

Almanzo ate the sweet, mellow baked beans. He ate the bit of salt pork that melted like cream in his mouth. He ate mealy boiled potatoes, with brown ham-gravy. He ate the ham. He bit deep into velvety bread spread with sleek butter, and he ate the crisp golden crust. He demolished a tall heap of pale mashed turnips, and a hill of stewed yellow pumpkin. Then he sighed, and tucked his napkin deeper into the neckband of his red waist. And he ate plum preserves and strawberry jam, and grape jelly, and spiced watermelon-rind pickles. He felt very comfortable inside. Slowly he ate a large piece of pumpkin pie.

There was oatmeal with plenty of thick cream and maple sugar. There were fried potatoes, and the golden buckwheat cakes, as many as Almanzo wanted to eat, with sausages and gravy or with butter and maple syrup. There were preserves and jams and jellies and doughnuts. But best of all Almanzo liked the spicy apple pie, with its thick, rich juice and its crumbly crust. He ate two big wedges of the pie.

They talked about spareribs, and turkey with dressing, and baked beans, and crackling cornbread, and other good things. But Almanzo said that what he liked most in the world was fried apples ’n’ onions. When, at last, they went in to dinner, there on the table was a big dish of them! Mother knew what he liked best, and she had cooked it for him.

Almanzo ate four large helpings of apples ’n’ onions fried together. He ate roast beef and brown gravy, and mashed potatoes and creamed carrots and boiled turnips, and countless slices of buttered bread with crab-apple jelly. “It takes a great deal to feed a growing boy,” Mother said. And she put a thick slice of birds’-nest pudding on his bare plate, and handed him the pitcher of sweetened cream speckled with nutmeg.

Almanzo took the biggest doughnut from the pan and bit off its crisp end. Mother was rolling out the golden dough, slashing it into long strips, rolling and doubling and twisting the strips. Her fingers flew; you could hardly see them. The strips seemed to twist themselves under her hands, and to leap into the big copper kettle of swirling hot fat.

Plump! they went to the bottom, sending up bubbles. Then quickly they came popping up, to float and slowly swell, till they rolled themselves over, their pale golden backs going into the fat and their plump brown bellies rising out of it.

In the pantry Mother was filling the six-quart pan with boiled beans, putting in onions and peppers and the piece of fat pork, and pouring scrolls of molasses over all. Then Almanzo saw her open the flour barrels. She flung rye flour and cornmeal into the big yellow crock, and stirred in milk and eggs and things, and poured the big baking-pan full of the yellow-gray rye ’n’ injun dough.

The big blue platter on the stove’s hearth was full of plump sausage cakes; Eliza Jane was cutting apple pies and Alice was dishing up the oatmeal, as usual. But the little blue platter stood hot on the back of the stove, and ten stacks of pancakes rose in tall towers on it. Ten pancakes cooked on the smoking griddle, and as fast as they were done Mother added another cake to each stack and buttered it lavishly and covered it with maple sugar. Butter and sugar melted together and soaked the fluffy pancakes and dripped all down their crisp edges. That was stacked pancakes. Almanzo liked them better than any other kind of pancakes.

Mother kept on frying them till the others had eaten their oatmeal. She could never make too many stacked pancakes. They all ate pile after pile of them, and Almanzo was still eating when Mother pushed back her chair and said: “Mercy on us! eight o’clock! I must fly!”

He felt a little better when he sat down to the good Sunday dinner. Mother sliced the hot rye ’n’ injun bread on the bread-board by her plate. Father’s spoon cut deep into the chicken-pie; he scooped out big pieces of thick crust and turned up their fluffy yellow under-sides on the plate. He poured gravy over them; he dipped up big pieces of tender chicken, dark meat and white meat sliding from the bones. He added a mound of baked beans and topped it with a quivering slice of fat pork. At the edge of the plate he piled dark red beet pickles. And he handed the plate to Almanzo.

Silently Almanzo ate it all. Then he ate a piece of pumpkin pie, and he felt very full inside. But he ate a piece of apple pie with cheese.

Then Almanzo drank a mug of acid-creamy buttermilk and ate cookies, while Mother skimmed out the grainy butter and washed it in the round wooden butter-bowl. She washed every bit of buttermilk out of it, then she salted it, and packed the firm golden butter in her butter-tubs.

Almanzo ran after Royal to the ice-house. They dug a block of ice out of the sawdust and put it in a grain sack. They laid the sack on the back porch and pounded it with hatchets till the ice was crushed. Alice came out to watch them while she whipped egg-whites on a platter. She beat them with a fork, till they were too stiff to slip when she tilted the platter.

Eliza Jane measured milk and cream, and dipped up sugar from the barrel in the pantry. It was not common maple sugar, but white sugar bought from the store. Mother used it only when company came. Eliza Jane dipped six cupfuls, then she smoothed the sugar that was left, and you would hardly have missed any. She made a big milk-pail full of yellow custard. They set the pail in a tub and packed the snowy crushed ice around it, with salt, and they covered it all with a blanket. Every few minutes they took off the blanket and uncovered the pail, and stirred the freezing ice-cream.

The egg-nog was made of milk and cream, with plenty of eggs and sugar. Its foamy top was freckled with spices, and pieces of ice floated in it. The sides of the pail were misty with cold.

Mother and the girls were making cucumber pickles, green-tomato pickles, and watermelon-rind pickles; they were drying corn and apples, and making preserves. Everything must be saved, nothing wasted of all the summer’s bounty. Even the apple cores were saved for making vinegar.

“You’re as hungry as I be!” Almanzo said. He could not bear to be selfish anymore. “You eat half,” he told Alice, “and I’ll eat half.” The potato was burned black outside, but the inside was white and mealy and a most delicious baked-potato smell steamed out of it. They let it cool a little, and then they gnawed the inside out of the black crust, and it was the best potato they had ever eaten. They felt better and went back to work.

Almanzo simply ate. He ate ham and chicken and turkey, and dressing and cranberry jelly; he ate potatoes and gravy, succotash, baked beans and boiled beans and onions, and white bread and rye ’n’ injun bread, and sweet pickles and jam and preserves. Then he drew a long breath, and he ate pie.

When he began to eat pie, he wished he had eaten nothing else. He ate a piece of pumpkin pie and a piece of custard pie, and he ate almost a piece of vinegar pie. He tried a piece of mince pie, but could not finish it. He just couldn’t do it. There were berry pies and cream pies and vinegar pies and raisin pies, but he could not eat any more.

Every year Father killed a beef and saved the hide to make shoes. All that afternoon the men were cutting up the meat, and Almanzo and Royal were hurrying to put it all away. All the pieces of fat pork they packed in salt, in barrels down cellar. The hams and shoulders they slid carefully into barrels of brown pork-pickle, which Mother had made of salt, maple sugar, saltpeter, and water, boiled together. Pork-pickle had a stinging smell that felt like a sneeze. Spareribs, backbones, hearts, livers, tongues, and all the sausagemeat had to go into the woodshed attic. Father and Joe hung the quarters of beef there, too. The meat would freeze in the attic, and stay frozen all winter.

Butchering was finished that night. French Joe and Lazy John went whistling home, with fresh meat to pay for their work, and Mother baked spareribs for supper. Almanzo loved to gnaw the meat from the long, curved, flat bones. He liked the brown pork-gravy, too, on the creamy mashed potatoes.

He looked at the crisp, crackling little pig lying on the blue platter with an apple in its mouth. He looked at the fat roast goose, the drumsticks sticking up, and the edges of dressing curling out. The sound of Father’s knife sharpening on the whetstone made him even hungrier. He looked at the big bowl of cranberry jelly, and at the fluffy mountain of mashed potatoes with melting butter trickling down it. He looked at the heap of mashed turnips, and the golden baked squash, and the pale fried parsnips.

He swallowed hard and tried not to look anymore. He couldn’t help seeing the fried apples ’n’ onions, and the candied carrots. He couldn’t help gazing at the triangles of pie, waiting by his plate; the spicy pumpkin pie, the melting cream pie, the rich, dark mince oozing from between the mince pie’s flaky trusts. He squeezed his hands together between his knees. He had to sit silent and wait, but he felt aching and hollow inside.

Almanzo went on eating. He was listening, but he was tasting the good taste of roast pork and apple sauce in every corner of his mouth. He took a long, cold drink of milk, and then he sighed and tucked his napkin farther in, and he reached for his pumpkin pie. He cut off the quivering point of golden-brown pumpkin, dark with spices and sugar. It melted on his tongue, and all his mouth and nose were spicy.

110 Comments / Post A Comment


Thank you for doing this. I've been meaning to read "Farmer Boy" ever since Laurie Colwin wrote about it in an essay about good food in books. Now I think I will, ideally while eating a great deal a pie.

maybe partying will help

I have been waiting for this post for so long.

That potato scene! Every time we cooked potatoes in coals during my camping youth, I was afraid one would explode all over my face. Thanks, Manly.

loren smith

@maybe partying will help My husband and I were talking about that exact scene while baking potatoes last night.

Tragically Ludicrous

@maybe partying will help I think I'd forgotten this/all the food descriptions until now and it has all just come rushing back to me. I loved this book SO MUCH and I think it was because all the food sounded awesome.

Jocasta Carr

Oh good God I just had to clench my hand over my mouth and take deep breaths at my desk to keep from having a complete snort/giggle fit at my desk over "Chalmanzo Tater." Well done, Jia. Well done.



although I think my favorite tag is "the invisibility of woman's work in the home"

Jocasta Carr

@anachronistique Agreed, that is indisputably the best tag. It was the link that really killed me - the sheer brilliant ridiculousness of "Chalmanzo Tater" in bold, all-caps, hot pink font was just too much.


@anachronistique Word... SHE HAD TO MASH ALL THOSE POTATOES BY HAND. And don't even get me started about butter... the churning, the washing, the WRINGING... I'm reading this article with the adding machine in my head just racking up the hours spend in the kitchen. My hands and feet are tired just thinking about it.

loren smith

Jia, thank you! This is so wonderful! Whenever we are hungry and not able to immediately eat my husband and I talk about meals we remember from "Farmer Boy".


Hands up, everybody who had the Little House Cookbook and puzzled over it for ages.

loren smith

@anachronistique Does it count that I attempted an MA in historical cookbooks?


@anachronistique I had it! In fact, I think I still have it around here somewhere (which is saying something, since I apparently decided to move it with me when I left GA for California 10+ years ago).


@anachronistique I rushed down to the comments section just to see if anyone else had the LH Cookbook! My little sister and I used the hard tack recipe as the basis for our 'fried dough' and attempted the ice cream on more than one occasion. We may have been strange children. Someday, I will make cheese. Oh, yes. I will make cheese.


@anachronistique The Little House cookbook was so sad if you read between the lines! All the good recipes you'd actually want to eat were from Farmer Boy, and everything else was like, "Uh, if you want to eat like Laura after her few years of relative affluence, make this cornbread using just cornmeal and water." This did not stop me from trying apples and onions even though I knew I would hate it, and I did.


@autoclave I read somewhere (I wish I remember where) that LIW pretty much intended Farmer Boy to be food porn, to make up for all the very lean years she had growing up.


@anachronistique I didn't but I had the American Girl cookbooks. I think I read them more than the actual books! I wonder if my mom still has them... An AG or LH dinner party sounds weirdly fun.


@anachronistique I did! I was just looking at it the other day, in fact.


I've had such a yen lately for maple sugar and this just made it worse.


LOVE THIS. I remember, reading Farmer Boy for the fiftieth time, reflecting that Almanzo came from this incredibly lavish Upstate NY lifestyle, and was having his little adventure in the territories, playing around with failed crops and claim shanties, and she'd already been on that ride for her entire childhood, and is ready to have some glass windows already. And he's regaling her with stories about shelves full of pie and having your own stabling at the church. Fuck this shit. Take me back there!



I know! I remember wondering how Laura didn't punch him in the head at least once a week while reading THE FIRST FOUR YEARS.


@City_Dater Oh, that book is so heartbreaking. Four years of one problem after another and at the end of it all, when things are maybe looking up a little, their infant son does and their goddamn house burns down.


Who has two thumbs and is now making cornbread for dinner? Fluffernutter!


Thank all the gods that be that I happened to read this article while stuffing my face, because otherwise so help me there would have been fatalities as I mauled my way to the bakery.


I legit just had to go and eat a piece of my sliced lunch ham because of this, so thanks. Also, apples n onions???!!! Vinegar pies?


@royaljunk ah! thank you!


@iceberg And apples n'onions are actually delicious together, and make a damn fine accompaniment to pork of any kind.


@Jinxie Yes! Apples and onions slow cooked over anything, basically.


@Jinxie Thanksgiving stuffing needs to have apples and onions in it! (If it is made with white bread. Cornbread does not.)


@iceberg Vinegar pie in a book called Farmer Takes a Wife. Columns by a farmer in Maine who marries a nice Boston girl, first half of last century or so. She arrives unprepared to be a farm wife, and is expected (by husband's family, not husband himself) to jump right in, with pie every day. She retaliates by making a vinegar pie.


@iceberg I fucking love the internet. Almost before I have time to wonder what it is, a link appears!


@Jinxie I love them with pierogies!

Faintly Macabre

@iceberg My sister used to make onion pie from a recipe she got at the colonial living history museum we sometimes volunteered at. It was more than onions, though--it was thin layers of onions, sliced hard-boiled eggs, apples, and potatoes, with some nutmeg and salt in between. It was heavenly.


@Faintly Macabre http://recipes.history.org/2011/09/to-make-an-onion-pie/

That it? :) I might try veganizing it, because it looks really dense and delicious. All I'd really have to think about are the hard-boiled eggs; maybe leave them out.

Faintly Macabre

@Lu2 It sure looks like it! I don't remember the proportions of my sister's recipe, since I stole bits of apple while she cooked, but hers also had mace and I doubt there are many versions, so that could well be the exact same one.

The eggs mostly provide a nice contrast in texture. Maybe some kind of tofu could work? Though I don't know how it'd compare taste-wise to eggs.


@Faintly Macabre Yes, I thought tofu, too. Since the eggs are hard-boiled, I thought maybe smallish slices of lightly pan-fried tofu would give the protein, fat, and texture elements. The difference in taste would be insignificant to me, I think, because of all the other good stuff in that pie. Mmmm. Thanks for mentioning it here!


@iceberg Vinegar Pie is also sometimes known as Chess Pie. Make a Lemon Chess pie. Or a Chocolate Chess Pie. Make a classic Chess pie and crumble cookies into it the batter before you bake it. Eat nothing but pie for the rest of your life.



This is the best ever.


This is amazing. I reread that book many times and well remember how visceral the food experiences were! Are you going to do a companion piece with all the miserable eating scenes from The Long Winter? Mmmmm...chaff bread!


@narrative The Long Winter DID have some decent food porn at the beginning, what with the garden bounty (tomatoes and peas!) and the blackbird preparations. I still think about blackbird pie when I make my own chicken pie.

maybe partying will help


Was TLW the one where Ma Ingalls makes a green pumpkin pie? By god even that sounded good.


@narrative Cambric tea, wheat ground in the coffee grinder, and ... nothing else. :(
It's so wonderful when the supply train finally gets through in the end.


@TrixieBelden I forgot about the blackbird pie...makes the rest of it even harsher.


@Lu2 I had such heartwarming memories of that book, but it turns out it's mostly about a family slowly starving to death (thank goodness for that supply train). I remember being awed at the family having to climb out the second story window to leave the house.


@narrative Yes, it's really harrowing!


@Lu2 I read about Cambric Tea in Jane & Michael Stren's book "Square Meals" and it was hot milk with a little black tea mixed in, to make it ok to give children. Maybe it was a catch-all name for a tea that wasn't really tea?


This is AMAZING. I loved all the Little House books as a kid (still do, to be honest) and I remember how painful this one was to read sometimes - I would get SO hungry reading it.
I think you did forget one part though, the evening sitting around the stove eating apples and cider and popcorn and milk. I mean, technically, that's not a meal, but the eggnog wasn't a meal either...

Tragically Ludicrous

@Jinxie I totally used to put popcorn in milk because of this. (It was okay I guess?)


@Jinxie I think about this ALL THE TIME, that if you put popcorn in milk it won't make the liquid run over like bread does.


@Tragically Ludicrous I never tried it, though I wanted to. The only popcorn we ate when I was young was the microwave kind and I think I instinctively knew that chemical butter popcorn soaked in milk would be oogy.

Olympic Hopeful

@Jinxie Oh man, I'd better rethink some menus. I feel like popcorn and milk plus a fruit is a solid dinner. Have even (bad parent alert!) subjected my toddler to it.


@Tragically Ludicrous I still always drink milk with my popcorn! Everyone I know thinks I'm weird for doing this, but it's genuinely delicious? It makes going to the cinema really awkward because there's no way I'm going to drop that kind of money on popcorn if I can't even have a pint of semi-skimmed with it.


Can't read, too hungry already.



Valley Girl


In The Wilder Life the author has a great theory about the lavish meals in Farmer Boy and how they relate the LAURA's childhood; like @noReally points out above she had a more hardscrabble history until they got together so of course she'd be mesmerized by his stories of white sugar and pancakes. So many pancakes!


@Valley Girl I've never read The Wilder Life, but I was thinking that as I read this post! Not only how delicious the food was, but also the sheer BOUNTY of it would be fascinating to someone who had extremely limited resources most of her life. It reads almost like porn.


Can we also talk about the chapter in Little Men (the less-loved sequel to Little Women) where Daisy gets her own mini-kitchen and does cooking in there? I can't count how many times I reread those chapters, but it reminds me strongly of this.


@cherrispryte should i do a series


@j-i-a Please, please, please do a series! I almost called my blog "Patty Pans" after that chapter because I feel like I'm playing at being a grown-up, just like Daisy.

This piece also reminded me of Anne of the Island when Anne reads the Pickwick Papers and her roommate remarks: "That's a book that always makes me hungry," said Phil. "There's so much good eating in it. The characters seem always to be reveling on ham and eggs and milk punch. I generally go on a cupboard rummage after reading Pickwick. The mere thought reminds me that I'm starving. Is there any tidbit in the pantry, Queen Anne?"

Exactly how I feel about Farmer Boy. Only my pantry is tidbit free.


@j-i-a Yes, please!


@j-i-a YES. Please do!


@j-i-a Please, PLEASE do a series. Food porn of our childhoods.

Rishe G@twitter

@Valancy THIS. THIS. THIS. On both Anne, and Farmer Boy. And I love that we can quote Anne.

Fear Biter

@j-i-a I respectfully submit the Betsy-Tacy series. There are so, so, so many delicious meals in those books, not to mention making fudge of an evening, or Saturday trips to the ice cream parlour with the "crowd".
I demand at the very least a cataloging of the Sunday Night Suppers from the high school books! I'll do it myself if I have to!


@renegadeoboe DONE. I need very little nudging to do a series called "Food Porn of Our Childhoods"

sarah girl

@j-i-a Don't forget Redwall!!!


@sarah girl Oh, man, Redwall books. I absolutely cannot read those books on an empty stomach.


@Fear Biter Everything Pudding (probably not delicious) and, of course, onion sandwiches with egg-included coffee.


@j-i-a ooh there's plenty in All-of-a-kind Family about soda crackers and hot chickpeas and latkes. I didn't even know what chickpeas were and I wanted some.


@editrickster @Fear Biter I have found my people- Betsy-Tacy AND All-of-a-Kind Family are among my favorite books ever! I've had onion sandwiches at the Betsy-Tacy convention, and they're amazing.
Also, I think when I was a kid, I tried out Charlotte and Gertie's crackers-and-candy in bed game.

A. Louise

Is this the book where the parents go out of town and the children manage to bake an entire barrel full of sugar into sweets for themselves while they're gone?

I love this book so much, I might have to dig it out of the attic and reread it.

Favorite parts other than all the food parts:

The giant ice carving and packing them in sawdust! How does that even work?

The fact that his mother calls up to him, "Be you sick? It's 5 o clock!" and it took me close to a decade to realize they were supposed to get up at 5 o clock and that his mom was not asking if he was sick because he was awake at 5 in the morning.


@A. Louise BE YOU SICK. omg yes


@A. Louise The "Be you sick?" scene is the first that pops into my head when I think about this book! When I read it as a kid, I always very glad I did not live on a farm for just that scene alone. :P One of these days I need to read the series again.


All I want to do right now is eat fried potatoes and sausage and gravy. And pancakes.


@JanieS I know! I ate lunch not too long ago and right now I am starving. Trying to think of what to make for dinner, and "Something with gravy" is as far as I've gotten.


@Jinxie Biscuits and sausage gravy? Technically breakfast food, but who's gonna know?

Miss Sparrow

At some point this summer I am going to visit the Wilder Homestead in Malone, NY, and I have been thinking about bringing a Farmer Boy Picnic. Obviously I can't bring EVERYTHING mentioned in the book, but what do you think would be the critical elements of a FB picnic?


@Miss Sparrow Doughnuts and ham. Individual apple pies, too? Beans and salt pork, maybe, but that probably wouldn't be good cold.

Miss Sparrow

@Jinxie I was also thinking individual apple pies, and maybe ham or roast pork sandwiches with some kind of apple-n-onion-based condiment?


@Miss Sparrow That sounds perfect, so long as you don't mind me coming to crash your picnic.


@Miss Sparrow An assortment of hand pies; savory with some kind of meat as well as apples & onions, plus a fruit pie, plus bread & butter & jam, and maybe some pickles (pickles are always picnic fare).


@Miss Sparrow Just make sure it's in a pail.

Rishe G@twitter

But WHERE IS THE BIT WHEN THEY MAKE ICE CREAM? When Mother and Father go away? And they raid the entire larder and Eliza Jane is in charge and they go sledding and make ice cream? Or have I made this all up in my head? Because seriously, I think I remember underlining half these paragraphs in the library version I used to read, and I have no shame in the fact that every time I visit my parents' home, I do a serious Little House reread.


@Rishe G@twitter They don't go sledding then, they make ice cream and candy that doesn't set up so they feed it to Manzo's pig who gets his teeth stuck together and Manzo throws a tar brush and ruins the wallpaper in the parlor.


@Brunhilde And then his sister patches the wallpaper so he won't get in trouble, as her one non-bitchy act in the whole book.


@Rishe G@twitter it's in this piece! just slightly abridged


This is the 1,008,645th time I have pondered on how much the Hairpin is in my head. Also, does anyone (other than me) have The Little House Cookbook? I'm shocked that they haven't re-released it with the new interest in eating local.


@sheistolerable It's still available! I bought myself a copy just a few months ago.



All this bread and pie being talked about is giving me the gluten free sads.


I don't remember ANY of this book, but I do remember how I assumed, since I knew an Alonzo, that Almanzo was a Hispanic dude. And how awesome it was that there were Hispanic people on the prairie too, and that their stories were getting told, and that any of Laura and Almanzo's kids would be halfsies like me.

It was only a few years ago that I went on a wiki binge and was horrifically disappointed by his photograph.


@hopelessshade I could NOT figure out the name Almanzo as a kid! What is it even. And then they called him "Manly" later, which I thought was odd but now think is kind of hot.


@Lu2 OH! From Wikipedia:
"In one of her books, Little Town on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder attributed to Almanzo Wilder the following explanation for his rather unusual first name: "It was wished on me. My folks have got a notion there always has to be an Almanzo in the family, because 'way back in the time of the Crusades there was a Wilder went to them, and an Arab or somebody saved his life. El Manzoor, the name was. They changed it after a while in England..."


I am a little late to this party but OMG I love this so much! Jia, you probably didn't include it because it is more butchering/cooking than eating but I have vivid memories of the hog butchering and Manzo describing all that was done with it including making headcheese. It was such a contrast to the Ingalls family's butchering in Little House in the Woods.

Other food memories from this book! Popcorn and milk! Sharing carrots with his baby oxen and describing the different taste in the inner carrot from the outer carrot! Pink lemonade on the 4th of July! The milk-fed pumpkin!


@highjump I always remember the butchering scene in Little House in the Woods - specifically the part where they fry the pig's tail and fight over it because it's so good and crackly.


1) Almanzo was hotter than Channing Tatum, but like hopelessshade above I'd also thought he was Hispanic (like me!) when I was a kid.

2) Maybe this is why Farmer's Boy was my favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder book. (That and I always liked the odd one out in a series when I was a kid.)

Internet Magpie

I wonder if LIW wrote so lovingly about food because there were plenty of times she didn't have much.


Oddly, my favorite food thing in Farmer Boy is when Almanzo and his sister go hunting for wintergreen berries in the snow and crunch them gleefully. It sounds like a fairy tale!


@stonefruit Yes! There were at least TWO berrying scenes weren't there? Manly and his father also went fishing on a rainy day and then fried the fish, right? This book is All About Food.


@highjump Yes! And then the mom and the daughters made jams and pies with the berries.


I was the same way! Is that why I liked western settler stories so much? My young self had a subconscious yen for molasses and corn cakes?

I also think I desired the American Girl food accessory sets more than I wanted clothes for my doll.

Betsy Murgatroyd

The best cookbooks were these old plastic spiral bound fundraiser ones that my grandmother had in a cupboard. The Catholic Daughters would publish one every year or so and they would have these amazing older dishes from various ethnic backgrounds. Most were Germanic in origin. I wish I had those now.

the leests

I've had such a yen lately for maple sugar and this just made it worse


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As a little girl, I loved the LHOP books and TV series so much, my mother actually made "Laura lunches" for me (for school), for well over two years: a thick slice of homemade bread, a small hunk of "yellow cheese" (cheddar I'm sure), a red apple and a thermos of milk. I only agreed to a cookie every once in a while because I knew Laura rarely had a cookie in her lunch pail (yes, I had a pail too. No clue where my mother managed to find that). My mother even commissioned my grandmother to make me a new flannel nightgown and sleep bonnet every Christmas for three or four years, during the height of my love for everything LHOP. I'll never forget those blissful years...and now as an adult, I can cook real prairie meals! I love the Internet...and this post is fantastic! -- Laura + Almanzo 4ever --


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