Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ma makes Hominy

Illustration by Garth Williams from Little House in the Big Woods

This weekend I lifted my nose from the grindstone only long enough to read Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I found that there are passages I remember almost verbatim (They eat a bear; Mary wants a drumstick. The children make maple candy in the snow), and others that I had forgotten entirely. Among the latter, a detailed explanation of the making of hominy:

The first day, Ma cleaned and brushed the ashes out of the cookstove. Then she burned some clean bright hardwood, and saved its ashes. She put the hardwood ashes in a little cloth bag. . . .

Early the next day Ma put the shelled corn and the bag of ashes into the big iron kettle. She filled the kettle with water, and kept it boiling a long time. At last the kernels of corn began to swell, and they swelled and swelled until their skins split open and began to peel off. . . .

With her hands she rubbed and scrubbed the corn until the hulls came off and floated on top of the water. . . .She never splashed a drop of water on her pretty dress.

When all the corn was done, Ma put the white kernels in a big jar in the pantry. Then, at last, they had hulled corn and milk for supper.

Hominy hominy hominy!


Blogger zoe p. said...

one of the top 10 food books on my bookshelf. i remember skinning the pig, of course, and the maple candy, and playing in the attic with the ropes of onions and the pumpkins. but i don't know if i ever noticed the hominy episode.

mzn recently mentioned the little house cookbook, which my elementary school had a copy of, lucky me. i tried to make vanity cakes (from the plum creek party) but it didn't work. now that i look back, they were probably just donuts and very unsafe for children to make.

3:03 PM  
Blogger the chocolate doctor מרת שאקאלאד said...

I love the cookbook too! Never tried the vanity cakes, but I've always wanted to make the green pumpkin pie from The Long Winter, and of course, do that maple candy thing. I remembered the episodes about making candy in the snow, but I had forgotten this:

"They could eat all they wanted, for maple sugar never hurt anyone."

The children got to eat all the maple sugar they wanted? Sweet heavens, has such a thing ever happened before or since in human history?

I can't seem to find the mzn post.

12:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Laura Ingalls Wilder -- book and the t.v. series. Wonderful passage you posted. Thanks!


8:25 AM  
Blogger zoe p. said...

sorry to send you on a goose chase: i started digging for mzn's comment, i realized it was a comment not a post, and then i realized it was on my blog, not his and it's under a post entitled "class, affect and teen tv" which mentions laura's temper.

if you're still interested, the post is filed under 'books' (among other things) on my blog.

now i can't pass the bookshelf where my liw are housed without a glance upwards. it's all i can do NOT to set aside my dull as dirt (no bette now) dissertation reading and read the series start to finish. like that tennyson that calls to laura . . .

9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yes, I just love the Little House books. Fried salt pork and potatoes for breakfast always sounds so good to me. Thanks for your email, btw. I'll be back to check out your site again too. :)

6:43 AM  

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