The Countdown to LauraPalooza 2015 has begun. Before we pack our bags and head to South Dakota for a weekend of education, celebration and fun, some of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy & Research Association board members are taking a look back—or forward—at some of the good times you can expect.
LauraPalooza 2012 gave me a chance to do something I hadn’t done since I was a little girl—geek-out to Laura Ingalls Wilder with my mom.
Mom and I come to the Little House series from different perspectives. She casually watched the TV series in her younger years, but didn’t read the books until I was a child. We started the series together when I picked out Little House in the Big Woods at my first grade book fair. I chose it because: a) the book was about a little girl named Laura, b) it was written by a woman named Laura, and c) my name is Laura, which is probably the best name. Ever.
At the time, neither of us probably knew we were embarking on a lifetime of conversations, stories and memories. That’s what the stories became: a shared adventure.
Our LauraPalooza 2012 adventure began months before we made the trek from Nebraska to Minnesota. Mom and I like playing in the kitchen—she’s more consistent with her success than I am—so we volunteered to present at Camp Laura. And for our culinary masterpiece, we decided we’d teach the kiddos how to make sour-dough biscuits.
We figured we’d be in good shape on this front. Mom is great at baking, I’m not bad, and we had a secret weapon, The Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker.
Unfortunately, it was winter in Nebraska. And according to the cookbook, and everything else we could find online, now was not the time to make a fresh batch of sour-dough starter. There’s a whole science behind sour-dough, which you can read more about in the book. But basically there’s a link with humidity. If you’ve ever been to Nebraska, then you know our summers are pleasantly (terribly) hot and humid. Our winters are (horribly) cold and dry. So we decided to wait.
Here’s the problem with waiting. The longer you wait to do something, the harder it is to actually get around to accomplishing the task. Ma Ingalls certainly wouldn’t have approved of procrastination.
Before long, summer—and LauraPalooza—was upon us, and we still didn’t have starter, and we were caving a bit under the pressure. With the deadline fast approaching, Mom and I each took a different approach for finding a solution. Mom bought a case of mason jars and followed Barbara Walker’s recipe. I called every bakery in town to see if they’d sell me starter. While Mom fed the fermenting sour-dough, I found a company in San Francisco to ship pre-made starter. (I know. Ma Ingalls would be ashamed of me.)
The week before LauraPalooza we gave each starter a try. And wouldn’t you know, the one that worked best, worked perfectly in fact, was the one my mom nurtured in her kitchen and not the one I ordered online.
To compensate for my shame in failing the sour-dough starter, I made visual aids. I practiced reading a passage from By the Shores of Silver Lake. I took lots of photos and wrote blog posts.
But ultimately, Mom and Barbara Walker came through on the biscuits. And if the Camp Laura kids had half as much fun as I did learning to make sour-dough biscuits, then they had a blast.
To top it all off, we had a chance to meet the wonderful author of the cookbook that saved our presentation, who happened to be one of the Legacy Award recipients.
Yep, that’s me joking around with the Barbara M. Walker. And she was totally awesome.
My mom and I made lots of memories at LauraPalooza 2012, and I couldn’t have asked for a better companion for the adventure.
Laura Chapman is a board member of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. To learn more about LauraPalooza 2015 click here. We’ll see you in Brookings!