Recently we decided to tackle Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie as part of our literature curriculum and he loved the book. Okay, who doesn't love her books!
He was fascinated by all the homesteading skills Pa preformed in the book, like building a cabin, digging a well, and protecting the home from the prairie fire. But one of the things that really stuck out to him was the fact the white sugar was for company.
In our modern day and age, white sugar is such a common item in most kitchens, but back in Laura's time, refined sugar was a very special pantry item. This got us thinking about what ingredients Ma would have used in order to make something special for Laura and Mary, like cookies. What resulted was a Little House inspired recipe. I say inspired because, well, you will see.....
1 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Of course Ma would most likely NOT have had white flour, again, this would have been a very special item, but for our purposes, we used what we had. In the book, the Ingalls did not have chickens, so the likelihood of eggs being available were slim to none. And would Ma have had vanilla extract?!?! These were all questions we pondered as we whipped up our cookies. What makes them Little House inspired is the use of brown sugar. Of course Ma would not have used this much white sugar in any recipe. Heck, I doubt she would have used this much brown sugar in any recipe! But, what resulted in our kitchen was a Brown Sugar Cookie.
We started by combining all our dry ingredients (because we are commando/gorilla bakers) and then we tossed in all the wet ingredients. Of course we had to mix it by hand because Ma would NOT have had a hand mixer. We then chilled our dough..... Again, Ma would not have done this, nor would she have had plastic wrap. While we did things Ma wouldn't have, it did give us an opportunity to discuss and examine how life has changed since Laura's childhood,
After our dough chilled for about an hour, we decided to get busy baking up our cookies. We made balls out of the dough and used the bottom of a flat glass to press the balls flat. Ma could have used the palm of her hand. We placed our cookies on a lightly greased pan and baked them at 350°F for 8-10 minutes. Ma would have used lard to grease her pans but alas, she was not so lucky as to have an oven that held a steady temp.
What resulted from our little kitchen experiment was a lovely brown sugar cookie AND a better understanding of how our lives and Laura's compared. It provided a wonderful hands on experience for our homeschooling AND a lovely treat for the country kids. Okay, I will admit to downing more than my fair share of these too!