Little Women has been one of my most favorite books since I was a teenager. Surprisingly, I didn’t read the whole book through until I was around 15 or 16, but the movie has always been one of my go-to comfort films. Probably because it was one of the very first period drama movies I watched and actually enjoyed. 🙂
When I was thinking about a recipe to try that reminded me of Little Women, I was inspired by the short passage from the book about the Christmas breakfast that the March sisters so willingly give up to others.
“Merry Christmas, little daughters! I’m glad you began at once, and hope you will keep on. But I want to say one word before we sit down. Not far away from here lies a poor woman with a little newborn baby. Six children are huddled into one bed to keep from freezing, for they have no fire. There is nothing to eat over there, and the oldest boy came to tell me they were suffering hunger and cold. My girls, will you give them your breakfast as a Christmas present?”
They were all unusually hungry, having waited nearly an hour, and for a minute no one spoke, only a minute, for Jo exclaimed impetuously, “I’m so glad you came before we began!”
“May I go and help carry the things to the poor little children?” asked Beth eagerly.
“I shall take the cream and the muffings,” added Amy, heroically giving up the article she most liked.
Meg was already covering the buckwheats, and piling the bread into one big plate.
“I thought you’d do it,” said Mrs. March, smiling as if satisfied. “You shall all go and help me, and when we come back we will have bread and milk for breakfast, and make it up at dinnertime.”
Little Women, Chapter 2
Louisa May Alcott set the story of Little Women during the Civil War in the New England states. The Northern states were better prepared for the what ended up being a very long war. Though the states were all diverse, there were special things about each area that marked where you came from.
In the way of food, the North had much more available to them and did not suffer the hunger that the South did near the end of the war. The North tended to use more of such food items as wheat, buckwheat, sugar, maple syrup, seafood, potatoes and pumpkins in their cooking while the South used much more corn, rice, sweet potatoes, pecans, citrus and molasses.
When I was deciding on a recipe to try, I was thinking of making muffins at first, but couldn’t come up with a Civil War period correct recipe. So, I decided on trying out Sally Lunn bread since bread and milk is what the March sisters ended up eating after they gave their breakfast away. Sally Lunn bread is originally from England and is a sweeter, lighter loaf than what might have been served every day in a New England household. I used this recipe and it came out perfectly and tasted absolutely delicious! It was really good toasted.
How about you? Have you tried make Sally Lunn bread before? If you are interested in another wonderful Civil War recipe, take a look at this one for Ginger Nuts, a favorite cookie of Louisa May Alcott.