May 9, 2019

Soda Crackers Recipe

The Ingalls family left their railroad shanty behind and moved to the surveyors' house just in time for winter. Ma celebrated with canned peaches and soda crackers! Make your own soda crackers as you read By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder with this recipe.

The flavor and texture of the soda crackers surprised me. They were soft and full of flavor. My oldest daughter and I found them irresistible. We couldn't stop snacking! I tested the soda cracker recipe for my upcoming book, Laura's Prairie Companion, but we'll definitely make these again.
Please note: If you are reading this blog post in an email, you may not be able to see all images or click on links unless you go to the blog by clicking the title of today's blog post. 

Soda Cracker Recipe

Note: Be prepared to chill the soda cracker dough overnight in the refrigerator.

Ingredients: 
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant or bread yeast
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon shortening
salt (sea salt or pretzel salt work best)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
What to do:
1. Stir ½ cup flour (not all of it), yeast, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir well. Mix in the warm (not hot) water and shortening until combined.
2. Now mix in ¼ cup flour to make a drier dough you can knead.
3. Lightly flour a work surface. Knead the dough for 3-5 minutes.
4. Oil the inside of a medium or large bowl. Place the dough ball in the bowl and then flip the dough over so all sides of the dough ball are coated with oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
5. Remove the soda cracker dough from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 425° F. Lightly grease a large cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.
6. Deflate the dough by gently punching it once. Then place it on a floured work surface. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
7. On the floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a very thin rectangle. It should be about 1/16” thin.
8. Fold the dough like you are folding a piece of paper to put it in the envelope. Take one end and fold about 2/3 of the way across. Then take the other end and place it on top of the other end, creating three layers of dough. 
9. Pick up the dough and add another dusting of flour below it. Roll the dough out again, making sure it is 1/16” thick. If it doesn’t want to roll and stretch, let it rest for 5 minutes. You want this to be as thin as possible.
10. Transfer the dough to the prepared cookie sheet.
11. Use a fork to create lots of pinpricks all over the dough.
12. Cut the dough into squares. A pizza cutter or sharp knife will work well.
13. Separate the dough squares slightly. The soda crackers should be close together but not touching.
14. Lightly sprinkle the soda cracker dough with salt.
15. Bake the crackers for 10-15 minutes. They should be lightly browned.
16. After removing the crackers from the oven, brush melted butter on them. When completely cooled, snack on these soda crackers. Store any leftover soda crackers in an airtight container if they're not devoured instantly.
Will you try this recipe? I hope so! Let me know what you think! 

Happy Trails!
Annette Whipple is a nonfiction children's author. Learn more about her books and presentations at www.AnnetteWhipple.com.

March 31, 2019

Manuscript Process

Some of you have been asking, so I thought I'd share an update on my companion guide to the Little House books. The manuscript is due May 1. That is soon! At this point it's tentatively called Laura's Prairie Companion. It'll be out spring 2020 with Chicago Review Press.
Please note: If you are reading this blog post in an email, you may not be able to see all images or click on links unless you go to the blog by clicking the title of today's blog post.

Getting Started

Over the course of the past five and a half years, I've read each of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books at least three times. I created charts for each of the books and took notes within those charts. I also read widely about Laura Ingalls Wilder and even took a research trip to the Almanzo Wilder Homestead in New York. (It's only about eight hours from me, so it was the easiest home site to visit.)
(A side note: I found this book (monograph) fascinating. Nancy Cleaveland's research is meticulous. If you're curious about the truth behind Laura Ingalls Wilder's own education and teaching experience, you'll want to read this. My favorite part was the teachers' exam. I suspect many certified teachers today would only pass it with some serious studying (including me though my certification has expired). You can get this book through the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society.)

February 7, 2019

Happy Birthday, Laura Ingalls Wilder

It's been 152 years since America's beloved Laura Ingalls Wilder was born. She was born on February 7, 1867 in Pepin, Wisconsin. 

Happy birthday, Laura Ingalls Wilder! 

Laura's books engage readers with part of America's past. Children and adults alike appreciate the way she fictionalized her life to make readers love the Ingalls family-despite their flaws.
Learn more about illustrator, Renee Graef
 at https://renee-graef.squarespace.com/.
Read more about Laura Ingalls Wilder life here.

Want to celebrate? You'll want to read these posts about planning a Laura Ingalls Wilder celebration.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, age twenty-seven.
Photo courtesy South Dakota State Historical Society. 
Used with permission.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Party Planning
Laura Ingalls Wilder Themes
Laura Ingalls Wilder Activities
Laura Ingalls Wilder Food

~ Annette Whipple

January 31, 2019

The Long Winter Discussion Questions

The polar vortex is causing bitter cold temperatures throughout much of the United States. It reminds a lot of people of Laura Ingalls Wilder's book called The Long Winter. 
So my next author newsletter will include a discussion guide to The Long Winter. If you've never read it or want to read it again, this is a great opportunity!

In addition to the the discussion questions, you might learn a couple of things you didn't know about the book. If you are interested, please sign up for the newsletter HERE. The guide will be in next week's newsletter!

Look for my companion guide to Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books coming spring 2020 from Chicago Review Press.

Happy Trails!

Annette Whipple is a nonfiction children's author. Learn more about her books and presentations at www.AnnetteWhipple.com.

January 8, 2019

Almanzo's Milk and Popcorn Challenge

I suspect every kid (and grown-up) who has read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy wonders if you can really take a full cup of popcorn and put it into a full cup of milk without spilling a drop.
Last week I popped some fresh popcorn for a snack. When my son grabbed a cup of milk to go with his popcorn, I remembered Almanzo's milk and popcorn challenge.

First we filled a glass to the brim with milk. Then we filled an identical glass with popcorn.
Then my son transferred the popcorn to the glass of milk.
We actually pressed the popcorn down into the glass. Almanzo was right! Not a drop spilled!

Not only that, but my son agrees with Almanzo: Popcorn and milk go great together! 
(Excuse the blurry picture. It was the only one where you could see how he liked it. I think he'd had about two spoonfuls at that point.) 

 Happy Trails! ~ Annette

 Annette Whipple is a nonfiction children's author. Learn more about her books and presentations at www.AnnetteWhipple.com.

December 24, 2018

Mr. Edwards Meets Santa Claus

The creek was rising. Everyone knew Santa wouldn't be able to get to Laura and Mary for Christmas. Santa Claus asked Mr. Edwards to deliver gifts to the girls. Mr. Edwards carried his clothes on top of his head through that cold creek and arrived at their home shivering.

In their stockings, Laura and Mary each found a tin cup, a stick of red and white peppermint candy, and a heart-shaped cake.


"But Ma asked if they were sure the stockings were empty. They put their arms down inside them, to make sure. And in the very toe of each stocking was a shining bright, new penny!" 
Laura and Mary are thrilled to receive simple treasures for Christmas.

"There never had been such a Christmas."
The girls' excitement over the simple gifts found in Little House on the Prairie may be hard to comprehend in this day, but they were thankful for their simple Christmas treasures.

October 31, 2018

Laura Ingalls Wilder Traveling Panel Exhibit

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home and Museum and the Missouri Humanities Council provide schools (and libraries) with a free Laura Ingalls Wilder panel exhibit. It's an incredible opportunity to remind people of all ages of the life and importance of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

If you follow me on Facebook (at Little House Companion or my author page) then you might remember I shared about the Laura Ingalls Wilder traveling panels earlier in October. I was thrilled they would be fairly close to me in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area.

Please note: If you are reading this blog post in an email, you may not be able to see all images or click on links unless you go to the blog by clicking the title of today's blog post. 
I finally took a morning to visit the Milanof-Schock Library in Mount Joy, PA. The exhibit was small, but full of information! The display wove American history and Laura Ingall Wilder's life perfectly.