On Giants' Shoulders

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Homeschoolers Have You Tried This?

One of the things I particularly appreciate in a novel is when the author brings it to life by describing what the characters are eating. Agatha Christie does it, Madeleine L'Engle does it, C.S. Lewis does it, even Mary Higgins Clark does it. Among the authors you probably read to your children the one of the ones who does this most extensively is probably Laura Ingalls Wilder. Of course this is why there is a Little House on the Prairie cookbook.

Anyway one of my most enjoyable activities when the kids were younger was to cook up somthing that the characters in the story had been eating. So we had prairie type cornbread (quite different from the New England variety) salt pork with milk gravy, pound cake, and even sourdough. We didn't stop with the Little House books though. We had sardines and toast with Mr. Tumnus, and bacon and mushrooms with the hobbits.

Among other things it's a great way to introduce your children to new foods. It's also fun to learn cooking techniques. One example of this would be making popovers along with the Little Women, or trying to improve on the horrible cooking that the Little Women do without Marmee or Hannah there to help. The same would be true of Anne of Green Gables.

Of course where your food adventures take you will depend on your taste in books. Having never read Penderwicks, I don't know what those girls eat. The Swallows and Amazons have to do a lot of camping type food.

I'll admit that fiction has inticed me to try retsina(I hated it), make poached eggs without the little metal poacher, learn to make plum pudding with hard sauce, make Irish soda bread, use real parmesean cheese instead of the stuff in a can, make Poor Man's Stroganoff (among other things). I remember even when I was in high school eating bread and cheese along with Jane Eyre.

Of course fiction may also intice you to make nine patch quilts, or cloth dolls, or knit socks, or take up piano playing. I guess maybe one of the best things it does is to give your kids actual things to do rather than have them just watching tv or playing video games. I just think it's a great inspiration to get into the kitchen with your kids and start cooking.


At 10:41 AM, Blogger shenyuen said...

yup. that's how we were raised. I suppose that's why no one in my family thinks it odd that Crystal, without fail, will need to ask "what are they eating?" whenever we watch a movie/tv scene involving a meal. Her frustration with the producers when we tell her "we don't know cause they aern't showing or talking about it", is starting to spread to the rest of us. I can't sya, though, that "the outside world" gets her drift, but I know you would.

At 11:49 AM, Blogger The Bookworm said...

Oh yes, we've gone down that road! We puzzled for ages over "buttered eggs" in John Masefield's The Box of Delights. They turned out to be scrambled eggs cooked with lots of butter.

At 8:37 AM, Blogger Karen E. said...

I completely agree! We love to do this kind of thing, too. (The Penderwicks, by the way, make a lot of brownies.) :-)

We're part of a history club this year that is based on the American Girls, so we've had some fun food experiences with that. The kids actually enjoyed their hardtack last week.

I remember as a young child reading "Mrs. Piggle Wiggle" and being amazed at how very real was the aroma of brownies on a slushy, wintery day as a little girl came home from school. The joy of food in literature!

At 11:38 PM, Blogger Enbrethiliel said...


I still prefer to heat my milk in a saucepan rather than in a microwave because of the scene in Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time!


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