Pioneer Cooking: Lettuce Leaves with Vinegar and Sugar

Over the summer me and the other intern, Molly, decided that it would be fun to try out some of the original pioneer recipes from, The Little House Cookbook. Hopefully our attempts of making pioneer food will make you want to try some of the recipes yourself!


We decided to start with an easy recipe- Lettuce Leaves with Vinegar and Sugar. This recipe can be found on page 112 of The Little House Cookbook. Laura writes about this recipe in her book, Little Town on the Prairie:

“The day was ending with perfect satisfaction. They were all there together. All the work, except the super dishes, was done until tomorrow. They were all enjoying good bread and butter, fried potatoes, cottage cheese, and lettuce leaves with vinegar and sugar.” (34)

The ingredients needed for this recipe are simple and fairly self-explanatory: lettuce, vinegar, and sugar. Now lettuce is vague term, as today there are many types of lettuce. We know that Ma would not have used iceberg lettuce as it was not invented until the early 1900’s. Instead the lettuce she used would have been leafy, like something she would have grown on the homestead. If you have garden lettuce use that, but if you don’t happen to have a prairie garden on hand you can use romaine lettuce like we did. As for sugar and vinegar, use whatever kind you have at your house. Today the closet vinegar would be apple cider vinegar as pioneers often  made their own using peels and cores of apples. To make your own vinegar like Ma, there is a recipe in The Little House Cookbook on page 131. However, if you do not have the time or emotional investment to make homemade vinegar you can just get some from the store. As for the kind of sugar they would have used, it would have either been white or brown sugar, whatever kind they had at the time. The recipe does not specify which kind to use, so you can use either kind. In our case, we used brown sugar.

Once you have all the ingredients you can begin making your Lettuce Leaves with Vinegar and Sugar.

  1.  Rinse the lettuce leaves and pat them dry with towels.20370344_1508600559162727_955177754_n
  2.  Put your vinegar in a cruet or a bowl if you’re not fancy enough to have a cruet.
  3.  Put your sugar in a bowl.
  4.  Take a leaf of lettuce and sprinkle vinegar on top.20371022_1508600412496075_33814977_n
  5.  Take some sugar and sprinkle it on top of your lettuce and vinegar.
  6.  Roll up your lettuce leaf and eat it like “a celery stalk.”lettuce and vinegar

If you turned your nose up at this recipe because of the seemingly odd combination of ingredients, you will be pleasantly surprised. Molly and I were shocked as to how good it tasted together. We were not sure what to expect, but it is definitely a good way to make a lettuce snack more exciting and is very easy to make!20292168_1508600312496085_1055735604_n


Come Celebrate with us!

This year, as many fans know, has been a yearlong celebration of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 150th Birthday. On July 14-16,th the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society will be hosting a birthday party for Laura! We will be holding demonstrations, speeches, crafts, autographs, pictures, and more! One aspect of the weekend that some fans may be most interested in, is the appearances of Dean Butler, who played Almanzo Wilder on the hit TV series, “Little House on the Prairie,” and Alison Arngrim who played the mean girl, Nellie Olsen. Despite their “Little House” careers ending over thirty years ago, Butler and Arngrim are still very active in their respective fields today.

After “Little House on the Prairie” Dean Butler did a series called, The New Gidget, Into the Woods on Broadway, toured internationally with West Side Story, and did a feature called Desert Hearts. Butler only pursued acting until the late 90s when he decided to take a different path of producing.

Today Butler is producing a TV show called Feherty which airs on the Golf Channel, part of the NBC sports complex. This show is hosted by David Feherty, a former professional golfer, and is an entertainment talk show centered around golf personalities. In an interview with Paulette Cohn on Butler discussed how he really enjoys working for the show and has “had a great time with [it].” He also talked about how Michael Landon was a great example for producing. He said that, “there is nothing I do as a producer that I don’t ask myself, on some level: What would Michael do?” Butler’s experience on the TV show Little House on the Prairie still helps and guides him in the work he does today. [1]

Alison Arngrim has been busy since “Little House on the Prairie” went off air, she has started her own one woman comedy show, written a memoir, and now is starring in a You Tube series. Her latest web series is called “Life Interrupted” which has a cast filled with childhood stars. Some of the stars include Erin Murphy from Bewitched, Dawn Wells from Gilligan’s Island, and Michael Learned from The Waltons.

Arngrim enjoys the cast because she believes that it brings a wide variety of viewers who feel nostalgic towards their favorite childhood shows, according to a recent interview with Fox News. Both Butler and Arngrim said that they enjoy keeping in touch with their Little House castmates, and in a way the cast looks out for one another. Arngrim also said that she lives ten minutes away from Rachel Lindsay Greenbush who played baby Carrie on the TV show.[2]

Join us July 14-16th and celebrate Laura’s birthday! Alison Arngrim will also be doing her comedy show, “Confessions from the Prairie” with a reception afterwards. The pictures and autographs with Dean Butler and Alison Arngrim cost a small fee. The tickets for Alison’s show and reception are on sale now on our website.

Check out our schedule of events:

For more information call 800-880-3383 or email us at


[1] Cohn, Paulette. “Dean Butler Reminisces on ‘Little House’ Days and Michael Landon (Interview).” July 20, 2015. Accessed May 24, 2017.


[2] Nolasco, Stephanie. “‘Nasty Nellie’ Alison Arngrim talks ‘Little House on the Prairie’ days, reveals what she’s up to now.” Fox News. March 23, 2017. Accessed May 24, 2017.