Although summer is almost is over, my goal remains. Why not make it a long-term goal? Over the next however long (way to make a SMART goal, Jessie), I will make every single recipe in The Little House Cookbook. As written. This experience should be interesting as some recipes call for ingredients that I literally cannot procure. Like starlings, a type of small bird that must be hunted wild. I have a feeling that the end of this journey will involve some creative shenanigans.
You might be wondering why in Maddie‘s name would I want to cook through a book of old-timey pioneer recipes that use obscure ingredients and little seasoning?
(1) I like a challenge.
(2) Coincidentally, I also enjoy occasional kitchen torture.
(3) Just kidding. These recipes are actually really fun, and they have tons of history behind them. The 1800’s were an interesting time in America.
(4) I’ve made some of the recipes before. Verdict? Awesome.
(5) I’ve been a huge fan of the Little House books since I was a kid.
(6) As mentioned in this classic post, The Little House Cookbook is one of my five most influential cookbooks. In fact, I would go so far as to say it is my most influential cookbook of all time.
Quoted from the aforementioned post:
The very first real recipe I ever cooked was from The Little House Cookbook. Up until the age of nine or ten, the most “cooking” I had ever done was to layer roast beef and cheese in a dish, sprinkle it with salt, and microwave it (no, I’m NOT kidding). Then one day, I laid my eager little hands on this cookbook and took a leap forward in culinary prowess in the form of Almanzo’s apple turnovers, made from scratch. Sure, apple juice ran everywhere and the crust was thicker than a hand-knit sweater, but those turnovers were MINE.
(On a side note: How
narcissistic cool is it that I quoted from my own post within a new post? There’s something very meta about it.)
Of course, I had to begin with the classic apple turnover.
While mixing the filling ingredients, I encountered my first stumbling block. Having gained some kitchen experience in the last, oh, twenty years or so, I was tempted to add “embellishments” to the original recipe. Honey inched its way toward the apples, and lemon dangled precariously over the innocent bowl. It was a battle, dear reader.
Using these ingredients would have abandoned the pioneer spirit. Almanzo’s family surely would have had access to honey, yet molasses would have been used more often as a sweetener and that would have overwhelmed the apples. As for lemons? They were a rare treat.
Also, the apple turnover recipe calls for neither.
One enormous improvement over the turnovers my eager nine-year-old hands produced? I now know how to roll a thin pastry dough. This crust was flaky and delicious.
The filling was surprisingly flavorful despite consisting of only apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon, although it was a little dry. No fault of the recipe; rather, I suspect the dryness resulted from leaving the apple-sugar-cinnamon mixture in the fridge for two days before actually making the turnovers (oops).
Still, the results were amazing. Taking a bite of this turnover transported me back to the quaint taste of childhood, of apple picking and quiet afternoons in our New York kitchen.
Peter’s verdict? “Hey, that’s really good!” Said in a surprised voice, of course.
[Next up? Fried salt pork with gravy (really).]
Have a wonderful week, dear reader!
P.S. With fall approaching, I want to try this apple-squash turnover recipe. Unique!
P.P.S. A Maddle who thinks she’s gettin’ some turnover.
P.P.P.S. Nope. Sorry, pup.