Recently I interviewed Laura Giannarelli on my podcast. She’s the narrator for the “Little House” books and several related books for the National Library Service for the blind and others that have trouble reading. One of the questions I had asked was if she’d cooked anything out of The Little House Cookbook and I’ve just gotten a great response. Our interview inspired her to get out the cookbook and retry one of her favorites from the book. The next day she sent me some photos and I asked her to write up her experience. The photos are also courtesy of Laura. – SSU
Cooking from The Little House Cookbook
by Laura Giannarelli
Following my delightful conversation with Sarah Uthoff on March 30, 2020 about my job narrating audio books for the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled and my narrations of the “Little House” series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder (and other Laura titles), I was inspired to dig out my copy of The Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker.
During the interview, in response to one of Sarah’s questions, I was reminded that I had once made the Apples ‘n’ Onions recipe from the cookbook, which I also narrated for NLS. I remembered it as having been quite tasty. In the current stay-at-home world in which we are living as we combat the Covid-19 virus, I decided to take the plunge and make it again one morning this past week.
Here’s what my experience was. First, I gathered all of the ingredients asked for in the recipe:
- 1/2 pound bacon or salt pork, sliced
- 6 yellow onions (2 pounds)
- 6 tart apples (2 pounds)
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
Now, I was cooking just for my husband and myself, so I cut down the proportions considerably – I used two large apples, about half a package of bacon and a little more than half an onion. I knew I wanted to serve it with fried potatoes, as suggested in the cookbook, so I got those out, too.
So, first thing I did was cut up the potatoes – small vari-colored new potatoes I had on hand – and started frying them in a little olive oil, so they’d get brown and nicely crusty by the time the meal was ready to serve. I’ll point out that The Little House Cookbook also contains a recipe for fried potatoes, but I just followed my usual method.
Next, I put the bacon on to fry. (As the bacon fried, I would siphon off a bit of bacon grease to add to the potatoes for flavor.)
As the potatoes and bacon both continues to cook, I prepared the apples using an apple corer as suggested by the recipe and slicing them into rounds. I left the skins on as the recipe suggests. And I sliced up the onions thinly.
Once the bacon was finished, I set it aside wrapped in paper towels to capture the grease. I then put the onions into a bit of the bacon grease to start softening in the same large skillet I had used to fry the bacon. (I did pour off the majority of the bacon grease, so as not to have the dish be too greasy and unhealthy, but I would add a bit of grease if the pan looked like it needed more!)
Then, as per the recipe, I arranged the cored apple slices on top of the onions, and then sprinkled them with brown sugar. I then put a lid on the pan and let the apples and onions cook/soften for another 5 or so minutes. I would take the lid off and insert a knife into one of the apple slices to see if it was tenderizing/softening.
Once it seemed done to me, I decided to serve it up on my big platter just for fun. I put the bacon on one end of the dish, the crispy fried potatoes on the other side and the apples ‘n’ onions in the middle. All in all, it’s a pretty simple dish to make, and you can vary the proportions as you choose. (You can find the whole recipe online as Barbara Walker describes it, if you Google “Apples ‘n’ Onions, Little House Cookbook”.)
I must say it made a delightful brunch to brighten up another morning spent at home self-isolating with my husband Clay and our dog, Markie. Very pleasant with the different textures and flavors – the pungent taste of the crispy bacon, the crusty potatoes with their fluffy insides and the sweet and savory mix of the apples and onions. I’m sure I’ll be making it again, even after the pandemic has been brought under control. In larger proportions, it’d be a great dish to share at a brunch party. Maybe with pancakes or a big bowl of scrambled eggs…
Next up…I’m seriously thinking of tackling the blueberry pudding recipe from the same cookbook. Nothing to lose, time on my hands these days and a husband who loves blueberries.
— Laura Giannarelli
April 6th, 2020