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“My therapist shared a theory she had come across, and I liked it. It held that before making your next journey in this life, your soul sits at a large, circular conference table and chooses the souls who are going to be a part of your life. As for which particular people would be chosen, I figured they would be individuals from previous lives with whom there was still unfinished business.”
Melissa Gilbert, Prairie Tale: A Memoir
“It is easier to be cynical, closed off, and angry. It is much harder to be open, loving, kind, and generous of spirit.”
Melissa Gilbert, My Prairie Cookbook: Memories and Frontier Food from My Little House to Yours
“One of the wonderful things about human beings is that we can and often do change, not always gracefully and not often willingly, but occasionally just like that, in a snap, we change. Sometimes slowly, sometimes for no reason at all or maybe an hundred and fifty.”
Melissa Gilbert
“Now this is prairie food. I’ve actually eaten biscuits and gravy from an authentic chuck wagon. I’d eat biscuits and gravy anytime, anywhere. Though if I did eat biscuits and gravy as often as I’d like, my rear end would be as wide as the prairie itself. I’ve included a recipe for from-scratch biscuits here, but true confession: I love the recipe from the Bisquick box. Serve this with fried eggs, if you like. Serves 8 to 10 in a normal home, but 4 to 6 with my dudes 12 ounces (340 g) hot bulk sausage 12 ounces (340 g) mild bulk sausage ¼ cup (30 g) all-purpose flour 2 quarts (2 L) milk Salt and freshly ground black pepper Stovetop Biscuits (recipe opposite) • Put both kinds of sausage in a large pot and cook over medium heat until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the fat, and then add the flour to the sausage. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the sausage is well coated with the flour. Add the milk and cook, stirring, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it reaches the desired thickness. • Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over the biscuits.”
Melissa Gilbert, My Prairie Cookbook: Memories and Frontier Food from My Little House to Yours
“Makes 12 biscuits 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour 4 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt ¼ cup (50 g) cold lard or vegetable shortening, cut into bits, plus more for the skillet 1 cup (240 ml) milk • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the lard and rub it in with your fingers until the mixture is mealy. Add the milk and mix until a smooth dough forms. Divide the dough in half, and form each half into 6 balls. Flatten each ball to be about ¼ inch (6 mm) thick. • Melt a tablespoon or two of lard in a medium castiron skillet over medium-low heat. Add 6 dough pieces and fry on both sides until browned, about 6 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and repeat with the remaining dough pieces.”
Melissa Gilbert, My Prairie Cookbook: Memories and Frontier Food from My Little House to Yours
“This soup, which is great for really cold winter days, would have been a very easy one to prepare out on the prairie. In the winter, I will make a big pot of this soup in the late morning and just leave it on the stove until late afternoon. That way, anyone can grab a mugful at any time. Serves 4 to 6 2 bunches (about 10) spring onions, trimmed ¼ cup (60 ml) sunflower or vegetable oil 1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped 3 russet potatoes (about 1½ pounds/680 g), peeled and quartered 1 quart (960 ml) chicken broth Salt and freshly ground black pepper • Cut the spring onions in half crosswise, dividing the white and green parts. Coarsely chop the white parts and set aside. Finely chop the green parts and set them aside separately. • Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the yellow onion and chopped white parts of the spring onions and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and broth and season to taste with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are soft, 30 to 35 minutes. • Allow the soup to cool slightly. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or a food processor until very smooth. Return the pureed soup to the pot and cook over medium heat until hot. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Garnish individual servings with the reserved spring onion greens.”
Melissa Gilbert, My Prairie Cookbook: Memories and Frontier Food from My Little House to Yours
“I really love being able to make a big pot of hearty soup for dinner. It’s a time-saver and the cleanup is always easier. This corn chowder is one of my family’s favorites. The East and West Coasts have their seafood chowders, but we prairie folk raise a lot of corn. No prairie cookbook would be complete without a corn chowder recipe. Serves 4 8 ears fresh corn, shucked 8 slices bacon, chopped ¼ cup (½ stick/55 g) unsalted butter 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 2 ribs celery, finely chopped 1 yellow onion, finely chopped 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme 1 fresh or dried bay leaf 6 cups (1.4 L) milk 3 new potatoes (about 1½ pounds/680 g), peeled and cut into ½-inch (12-mm) cubes Salt and freshly ground black pepper ¼ cup (7 g) thinly sliced fresh basil or 4 sprigs thyme, for serving • Working over a large shallow bowl, slice the corn kernels off the cobs, scraping the cobs with the knife to extract the flavorful juices. Halve 5 of the bare corncobs crosswise, discarding the rest. Set the corn and cobs aside. • Cook the bacon in a large pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 12 minutes. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the bacon for garnish, leaving the remaining bacon in the pot. Add the butter, garlic, celery, onion, thyme, and bay leaf. Cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 6 minutes. Add the reserved corn kernels and cobs, the milk, and potatoes. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes. • Skim any foam from the surface of the soup. Discard the cobs and bay leaf. Transfer 1½ cups (360 ml) of the soup to a blender and puree. Stir the puree back into the chowder to thicken it. Season with salt and pepper and serve garnished with the basil or thyme and the reserved bacon.”
Melissa Gilbert, My Prairie Cookbook: Memories and Frontier Food from My Little House to Yours
“I adore macaroni and cheese. Whenever I see it on a menu at a restaurant, I have to order it. I’ve had (and consequently made) fried mac and cheese balls, lobster mac and cheese, truffle mac and cheese, quattro formaggi mac and cheese, and Kraft mac and cheese. Now, don’t get me wrong—all of the fancy macaroni and cheese dishes have been delectable and enjoyable, but at home, I like a simple, delicious mac and cheese. So here’s my recipe. This dish is best when served during a game or movie night with family and friends. Serves 8 to 10 8 ounces (225 g) elbow macaroni 1½ cups Velveeta cheese (about 7 ounces/190g), cut into ½-inch cubes 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour 1½ teaspoons kosher salt 1½ teaspoons dry mustard ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper ⅔ cup (165 ml) sour cream 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 1½ cups (360 ml) half-and-half 1½ cups (360 ml) heavy cream ⅓ cup (55 g) grated onion 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces/230g) • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking dish. Bring a 4-quart (3.8-L) saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook it halfway through, about 3 minutes. Drain the pasta and transfer it to the baking dish. Stir in the cubed Velveeta. • Combine the flour, salt, mustard, black pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne in a large mixing bowl. Add the sour cream and eggs and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the half-and-half, cream, onion, Worcestershire sauce, and a sprinkle of black pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the pasta mixture in the prepared baking dish and stir to combine. Sprinkle the Cheddar cheese evenly over the surface. Bake until the pasta mixture is set around the edges but still a bit loose in the center, about 30 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.”
Melissa Gilbert, My Prairie Cookbook: Memories and Frontier Food from My Little House to Yours


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