Maple-sugar-on-snow?

By Northern standards, the weather we’ve had this last week is Not Much.  By Dallas standards?  Well, life as we know it stopped this week.

On Monday night, a giant ice storm hit.  And the temperature hasn’t made it past 25 since.  Last night, the forecasters said there was a 30% chance of a light dusting of snow.  This is what my backyard looks like right now:

As one friend put it: “light dusting my@#*!”  At any rate,  I didn’t get much sleep last night, and late this morning, I decided that I might as well take a nap.  I mean, what else is there to do?  The house is clean.  I’ve been catching up on the DVR and reading.  Sleep was a way to kill some time (have I mentioned that I haven’t left the house since Monday?).

I had one of those absolutely incredible naps, in which you completely pass out.  And along with it was an incredibly vivid dream.  I came into the living room.  My roomie was on the couch.  I said “Why don’t we make some maple-sugar-on-snow candy?”  And she said “Sure!” And then we went out on the patio and poured maple syrup on the snow.

The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Classic StoriesThen I woke up and started seriously thinking about recreating the scene from Little House in the Big Woods.  I knew we had maple syrup in the house, but I wondered if they didn’t do something else to the syrup before pouring it on the snow.  Conveniently, last May, I had bought a copy of The Little House Cookbook at the museum in Mansfield.  I had never had a chance to really look at it, so after lunch, I plucked it from the cookbook shelf and looked up “maple-sugar-on-snow.”  Sure enough, there was a recipe!  But it was for molasses.  Not the same!  And involved boiling molasses and brown sugar, which didn’t sound very yummy to me at all.

So I put the dream aside, but I kept reading the book.  I have some other literary cookbooks, but this has got to be one of the best.  Walker brilliantly sets the context for what cooking during Laura’s lifetime was like–plenty of information about the technology changes, food preservation issues, and all that.  And a wee bit of wondering if the intense focus on food in the Little House book isn’t perhaps a direct result of the hunger Laura so frequently faced as a child.

I haven’t finished the book yet, and at this point, there aren’t any recipes I really want to try.  But for a fan of the books, this is a must read.

Are there any foods from Little House that you’ve dreamed about?  Any things you’ve always wanted to try?  Any experiments worth sharing?

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9 thoughts on “Maple-sugar-on-snow?

  1. Oh, Melissa – I love that book! I received it as a Christmas present when I was a kid – 10? 11?, I think. I read it cover-to-cover in one afternoon. I was so anxious to find out how to make Cottage Cheese Balls with Onions. I thought that sounded so good when Ma suggested it to Mary!
    It really is such a great read, with so much more than just recipes. I think I’m going to have to grab my copy when I get home tonight and take a wander down Memory Lane! Thanks for posting about your dream about maple sugar candy and what it led to.

  2. I loved the cottage cheese balls! Also the birds’ nest pudding. I was sadly disappointed in biscuits with salt pork and gravy, but I console myself by thinking that Ma probably did it better.

  3. The ideal time for sugar-on-snow, is in March when you’re collecting sap and boiling it. Just before it reaches the boiling point of becoming syrup is the best time to take a small cup and pour it on the snow.

    If, however, you live in a place that doesn’t have snow in March, or maple trees at any time, the link above makes for a pretty good substitute. 🙂

  4. I bought the cookbook when I was in Mansfield 20 years ago. Bird’s Nest Pudding has become a family staple! We made the snow candy years ago, and during a camping trip we roasted pig’s tails!

  5. I always wanted to test whether one could really put a cup of popcorn into a cup of milk without spillage……..But I never have in, what, fifty years? This curiosity is from Farmer Boy, not the cookbook, but I am pretty sure it is mentioned there too….Also from Farmer Boy, wondered about those doughnuts that would turn themselves over. But am still at the just wondering stage!

  6. Back in the day, my now-grown daughter was president of the (two-person) Laura Ingalls Wilder fan club, so besides getting to be Ma, I had to offer refreshments. Who wouldn’t love a book filled with Laura stories and Garth Williams illustrations, but I’m afraid beet pickles, fried parsnips, lettuce leaves with vinegar and sugar weren’t going to cut it. Even the corn bread defeated me, with its calling for pork rind or drippings. And I agree maple syrup is better than boiling molasses.

    So for actual food, I went to the Old Sturbridge Village Cookbook: Authentic early American recipes for the modern kitchen, edited by Caroline Sloat. I particularly recommend the Jumbles cookies.

  7. Pingback: Secrets Revealed « KidLit History

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