Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rye 'n' Injun Bread... Farmer Boy

The chapter on cutting ice from the big pond in Laura Ingalls Wilders' Farmer Boy always amazed this Southern girl... especially when I read the book the first time as a child...  How they stacked the ice in the ice house, packing in on all sides with sawdust so it would keep even through the hottest summer... and they had ice for ice cream and lemonade any time they needed it.

When Almanzo and his Father and brother Royal came home the evening after finishing up with the ice.. to have their Saturday night bath... Mother was putting Sunday dinner in the oven for the next day... She made chicken pie, baked beans, and Rye 'n' Injun Bread...

Here's the recipe for Rye 'n' Injun Bread from the Little House Cookbook... I gotta try this... SOON!!!! After my Saturday night bath! ;)

    1 1/2 c. corn meal
    1 1/2 c. rye flour
    2 tsp. baking soda
    1 stp salt
    2 eggs
    3/4 c. molasses
    1 c. buttermilk

In a large bowl, mix flours, baking soda and salt. In a seperate bowl, mix eggs, molasses and buttermilk. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until well mixed. Do not beat. Grease a 9x13" pan. Put mixture in pan. Fill another 9x13" pan with water and put on bottom rack of oven. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Bake at 200 degrees for 3-4 hours. Cut into 16 pieces. Serve hot or cold. Great with butter and/or honey. Makes 16 servings. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Helping Hands and Simple Fun... Another "Little House" Lesson

When I was growing up, my grandmothers, my Mama, and my aunts all gathered together to can... "many hands make light work." And it almost felt like a party, except for the hard work, but even stringing and breaking bushels of green beans or peeling peaches until the juice ran down and dripped off your elbows, became fun with all the talk and laughter around the table or sitting in the shade of my Nanny's apple tree. These times of hard work have become some of my most treasured memories.

Having family or neighbors to help with the "big work" was even more important in the "Little House" days...

From Little House in the Big Woods...

Uncle Henry came to help Pa butcher the hog. He brought Aunt Polly's sharpened knife.  They made a bonfire and heated a big kettle of  water over it.  The pig pen was nearby.  Laura plugged her ears with her fingers because she didn't want to hear the pig squeal as it was being killed. "After that, Butchering Time was great fun."
Uncle Henry and Pa were "jolly".  There was spare ribs for dinner. Pa promised the girls they could play with the bladder, which he blew up like a balloon. They played games like volley ball and kick ball with the blown-up bladder. He also gave the girls the pig's tail, which was roasted, sizzled, fried and sprinkled with salt. They ate all the meat off the bones, knowing there wouldn't be another pig's tail until next year.
The hog was scalded in hot water.  They laid it on a board.  Then it was scraped with knives until all the coarse bristles came off the skin.  Then the hog was hung in a tree.  The insides were taken out, and it was left hanging to cool.  Then it was taken down, and cut up.
From this hog came: hams, shoulders, side meat, spare-ribs, belly, heart, liver, tongue, and headcheese.  The dishpan that was full of bits and pieces would be made into sausage. The meat was laid on a board and sprinkled with salt. The hams and shoulders were pickled in brine, then smoked.
Pa said, "You can't beat hickory-cured ham."
Uncle Henry went back home after dinner.  Pa went into the Big Woods to do more work.  Laura and  Mary helped Ma with carrying wood and watching the fire. Ma put lard in big iron pots on the cookstove.  Ma skimmed out brown "cracklings"....she would use them to flavor "johnny-cake" later.
Ma made headcheese. She scraped and cleaned the head carefully.  She boiled it until all the meat  fell off the bones.  Then the meat was chopped into fine pieces and seasoned with pepper, salt and spices.  It was mixed with pot-liquor and cut into slices after it cooled.
The little pieces of lean and fat that  came off the larger pieces were made into sausage.  Sausage balls were put in a pan out in the shed to freeze.  These were good to eat all winter.
When Butchering Time was over there were:  sausages, headcheese, big jars of lard, a keg of white saltpork out in the shed, smoked ham and shoulders in the attic.
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