The Little House Cookbook, Part 1: Apple Turnovers



Back in June, I lamented the fact that I was so busy, I couldn’t fulfill my summertime goal of cooking my way through The Little House Cookbook. No longer!


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.

And finally,

(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 โ€œcookingโ€ I had ever done was to layer roast beef and cheese in a dish, sprinkle it with salt, and microwave it (no, Iโ€™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 Almanzoโ€™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.



  1. The puppy! The cuteness! Come to me! :D)

    I just had some apple pie this week and became obsessed with it, you know when you wake up at 3AM and need a piece! I thought this was it and then I see your beautiful turnovers! I guess I have a new addiction!

  2. Did we ever cook anything out of that book? I feel like that’s something we would have done at some point.

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised if we did. Maybe a baking recipe? If I come across a likely candidate, I’ll run it by you ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Yes! I’m so excited you’re embarking on this project!

  4. This looks so delicious! Simple, classic combos like apples + cinnamon are often the best ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, it seems like a challenging first recipe to try out! You were meant to bake, Jessie ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I’m sure you’ll figure something out for the more esoteric ingredient recipes..and I’m sure whatever you end up doing will be delicious! Such a fun goal.These apple turnovers are a tasty way to kick it off!

  6. Well, you may know that I “can’t” follow a recipe, so cooking every recipe in a cookbook would be torture for me! ๐Ÿ˜‰ But the Little House Cookbook sounds really cool! And the turnovers also sound and look amazing! And I’m really looking forward to how the fried salt pork with gravy will turn out!

    1. Haha Andrea ๐Ÿ˜‰ So glad to see you blogging again!

  7. I always did love reading the descriptions of food in the Little House series. <3 These apple turnovers sound amazing, and I never would've thought that squash variation you mentioned–that sounds awesome too!

    P.S. My cat looks at me like that every time I hold anything that looks like it might be edible, hahaha.

    1. Those big puppy eyes get me every time ๐Ÿ™‚

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