Choose Your City
Change City

Wendy McClure on her quest to find world of Laura Ingalls

In her new book, “The Wilder Life,” McClure details learning everything she can about America’s favorite 1880s pioneer family.

Everyone loves Laura Ingalls Wilder — her “Little House” books have sold more than 40 million copies since the first one was published in 1932. But author Wendy McClure took her admiration one step further. In her new book, “The Wilder Life,” McClure details learning everything she can about America’s favorite 1880s pioneer family, from butter-churning to viewing a one-room dugout the Ingallses once called home.

You’re a city girl, but obsessed with “Little House on the Prairie.” What have you learned about how to make your urban life a little more country?

It’s all in the kitchen. I collect mason jars for storing rice and other dry goods and just dig seeing them lined up on the shelves. Maybe this summer I’ll join a CSA, because there’s something very Little House about getting an abundance of vegetables and figuring out what to do with them. Of course, it’s a lot of work, too, and sometimes I remember why I live in a place where I can get Thai carryout.

Why do so many of us long for a simpler life?

When you think about it, our lives really are simple. We can buy anything we want with a few keyboard clicks and communicate with people all over the world and work from home. I think when we say we want a simple life, what we really mean is a life more free of distractions. You can’t help but wonder what kind of person you’d be if you weren’t on Facebook every night.


Wendy’s Bodega Applesauce Cake
(applesauce cake recipe adapted from “The Laura Ingalls Wilder Country Cookbook,” published by HarperCollins)

I just made Laura's applesauce cake for the first time recently. It can be made with basic pantry staples. The only special ingredient is applesauce, which you can find at any corner bodega.

1/2 cup butter (plus extra for greasing pan)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup applesauce

Optional: 1 cup raisins, chopped nuts, or dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour the pan(s). You can use a 9-inch tube or bundt cake pan to make a ring cake, but a glass casserole dish or even a couple of one-pound size foil loaf pans will work as well.

Cream the butter and sugar together, add egg.

In a separate bowl mix the flour, spices, and the optional ingredients (raisins, nuts, cranberries). Use another bowl to stir the baking soda into the applesauce. Add the flour mixture and the applesauce to the butter-mixture a bit at a time until combined.

Pour into pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes.

Remove cake from pan and cool on rack.

Follow Dorothy Robinson on Twitter @DorothyatMetro.

You Might Also Like