Since one of the many guidelines for Pioneer Week involve low-tech entertainment, I thought I'd provide some ideas for keeping the kids busy that come straight out of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.
Making butter - Yep, I've discussed this ad nauseum before, but in the Little House books, Laura's mom would grate carrot into the milk while she was heating it to give it a yellow color. I suspect the milk was heated probably for home pasteurization. Raw milk foodies may disagree with me on this one.
Anyway, now's your chance to make butter again, this time with an authentic yellow tinge to it - just make sure you strain out the carrots and let the milk return to room temperature (about 65 degrees) before making the butter. [From Little House in the Big Woods.]
Making apple studded cloves - No, this isn't another reference to greening your sex life. This is the fall alternative to making clove studded oranges around Christmas time and the process is mostly the same.
Basically, take an apple and a jar of cloves. Using a toothpick, prescore the apple with holes for placing the cloves. You'll want to do this to save your fingers from being shredded by the clove heads. Now push the clove stems into the apple skin, making sure you completely cover the apple. For a more modern interpretation, you can make spirals, stripes or the visage of Sponge Bob.
Now take your studded apple and place it in a bowl with about 1/4 cup of your favorite dried ground spices such as cinnamon, ginger, orris root, allspice and nutmeg. Roll your apple around in the spices. Leave the apple in its bowl with the spices for a few weeks in a warm, dry area of the house. A couple times a day (maybe when you brush your teeth), roll the apple around again.
When it is completely dried out and shrivelled evenly, your apple is done. You may now tie a ribbon around it and hang it in your homestead. Apparently, these cloves scented orbs were used as natural moth repellents. [From Little House in the Big Woods.]
Making sugar snow - I know some of you are already getting snow, but the rest of us will just have to fake it using ice put in the blender or food processor.
Heat a cup of maple syrup up to 245 to 255 degrees F. As soon as the syrup reaches temperature, pour or drizzle it immediately, without stirring, over packed snow or shaved ice, making "circles, and curlicues, and squiggledy things" as Laura and Mary did.
Because the mixture cools so rapidly, the supersaturated solution does not have a chance to crystallize and forms a a thin glassy, taffy-like sheet over the snow/ice. Traditionally, sugar snow is served with sour pickles to cut the sweetness, and saltines or plain doughnuts. [From Little House in the Big Woods.]
Making dried apple sauce - Who knew you could make applesauce from dried apples? Well, I certainly didn't. Put about 8 ounces of dried apple slices in a saucepan and cover them with boiling water. Let them soak for about 15 minutes or until they are tender adding additional water if necessary.
Once the apples are tender, remove them from the water and mash them with a potato masher, adding sugar and cinnamon to taste. Simmer the applesauce over low heat for about 3 minutes. May be served warm or cold. Applesauce should be stored in the refrigerator. [From By the Shores of Silver Lake]
Making rag curls for little girls - Skip the curling iron or other torture devices and add a little curl to your girl's hair by using rag curls. The concept is relatively easy.
Taking strips of fabric one inch wide and about 8 - 12 inches long (depending on length of hair), roll sections of damp hair (starting at the ends) under towards the scalp. When you reach your scalp, tie the ends of the rag together. Let dry and remove. Voila! Curls. [From Little House in the Big Woods.]
Living like Little House on the Prairie
Hitch up your wagon for Pioneer Week
Getting outfitted for Pioneer Week
Frontier House (the movie discussion we never had)