June 7, 2019

Old-Fashioned, Self-Turning Doughnuts with Recipe

In Laura Ingalls Wilder's book, Farmer Boy, it's obvious Almanzo loves his mother's doughnuts. He even fills his pockets with them before heading outside to work.

Mother Wilder liked her doughnuts to turn over by themselves so she twisted them. Mother kept a fresh supply in the doughnut jar for snacking. 
Homemade doughnuts do not stay fresh for long. You’ll want to enjoy these the same day—or even the same hour—you make them. (They also freeze great!) Old-fashioned doughnuts aren't as sweet as the doughnuts from most bakeries.

Mother made self-turning doughnuts. If you want to make the round doughnuts (or doughnut holes) you can still use this recipe, just use a doughnut cutter or a glass paired with a bottle cap to cut the dough--or biscuit cutters.

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.

Self-Turning Old-Fashioned Doughnuts Recipe

Helpful/Needed Equipment:
oven mitts
large pot
slotted spoon
kitchen thermometer (instant or candy)
paper towels
32-48 ounces shortening (or vegetable oil)
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg
½ cup buttermilk* (see below for a buttermilk substitute)
1 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
½ cup sugar
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
What to Do:
1. Scoop the shortening into a large pot or deep fryer over medium heat. Slowly adjust the temperature, if needed, to keep the temperature between 365° and 375° F (185° and 191° C) while cooking. It takes time for the shortening to melt and to reach this temperature. Do not use high heat. Monitor the temperature.
2. Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a bowl. Set aside.
3. In large bowl, beat the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and sugar together.
4. Quickly stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of flour if mixture is too sticky to handle.
5. Sprinkle flour on a large, clean work surface. Place the dough on the flour. Knead the dough a couple of times.
6. Check the temperature of the oil. Adjust the heat to keep the oil between 365° and 375°.
7. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper or lightly sprinkle it with flour. This will be where you set the doughnuts before frying them. The parchment paper or sprinkled flour will prevent them from sticking to the cookie sheet.
8. With a well-floured hands (or a floured rolling pin), flatten the dough until it is between ¼ and ½ inch thick. With a floured knife, cut dough strips that are about 6 inches long and 1 inch wide.
Roll the dough about 1/4 inch thick. Then cut strips that are 1x6 inches long. 
9. Take a strip of dough and roll it into a 10-inch rope. Holding it in the middle, twist the ends together to create a sort of braid.
Twist each "dough rope."
Pinch the ends together and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat this for the rest of the doughnuts. You can also make doughnut holes with scraps of dough.
Place dough ropes on a floured surface or parchment paper while the oil and wait for the oil to warm.
10. Combine the ½ cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon together and set aside.
11. Carefully slide one doughnut off a large spoon and into the melted shortening. After about two minutes, it should be brown on both sides.
• The doughnut may not turn over by itself if it isn’t twisted enough. If it is browned on the bottom, you can flip the doughnut using a large spoon.
• If it takes longer than three minutes to cook, your shortening is not hot enough.
12. Use tongs or the slotted spoon to remove the doughnut from the melted shortening. Dip it in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Then place it on a plate covered in paper towels.
13. Continue cooking doughnuts. You can cook a couple at a time but do not overcrowd the pot.
14. Ideally serve the doughnuts freshly made.
You may like trying some plain doughnuts, too. 
Old-fashioned twisted doughnuts inspired by
 Laura Ingalls Wilder's
Farmer Boy book.

* You can purchase buttermilk, but I always make my own. To make buttermilk for this recipe, place 1 ½ teaspoons of white vinegar in a measuring cup. Add milk to fill to the ½ cup line. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes before adding the buttermilk to the recipe.

I hope you enjoy this self-turning doughnut recipe inspired by Farmer Boy. It's just one of 75 activities included in my upcoming book to be published in 2020 with Chicago Review Press.

 Happy Trails! ~ Annette

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

May 29, 2019

Apples 'n' Onions Recipe

Royal and Almanzo both loved their mother's cooking. While working in the ice-house they talked about their favorite foods. Almanzo's favorite was apples 'n' onions.
This apples 'n' onions recipe can be adapted to for your preferences. If you aren't a fan of onions, just add a few pieces. Try it as a snack or serve it as a side dish with pork.

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.

Apples 'n' Onions Recipe 

1 small onion, peeled and sliced into thin rings
3 apples, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch wedges
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)

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.

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.