Caroline “Ma” Ingalls, the pioneer mother of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of The Little House on the Prairie books, is one of my whole foods inspirations. Have you gone back to read those books again as an adult? The first time I did, I was studying ecological design and building with natural materials, and I wanted to see how Pa built their homes. More recently, I went back to reread the sections in which Laura describes what the family ate, how they grew, harvested, hunted and gathered it, how they preserved their food throughout the winter and the recipes they used.
Farmer Boy, the book Laura wrote about her husband Almanzo’s childhood in upstate New York, is particularly full of food and recipe references. The following recipe is for “what [Almanzo] liked most in the world…fried apples’n’onions.” (ok, so thanks goes out to Ma Wilder for this one, but more from Ma Ingalls’ kitchen soon.) It is included, among many pioneer favorites, in The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories, a simple cookbook I highly recommend for all “Little House” fans and traditional food enthusiasts.
- 1/2 pound bacon or salt pork, sliced (or 2 tablespoons butter for us modern-day vegetarians)
- 6 yellow onions, sliced in large “C” pieces
- 6 tart apples, sliced, with skins on, in large half moon shaped pieces, or cored and sliced crosswise as circles
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)
- parmesan cheese, for grating
- Fry bacon or salt pork slices in a skillet until brown and crisp. Set them aside.
- Drain all but about 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet, and add the onion slices. Or, heat butter in skillet, and add onion slices. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes and then cover with layers of the apple slices. Sprinkle with the brown sugar (if using). Cover the skillet and cook until tender for a few more minutes. Move to the plate and serve with the bacon or pork (if using), or sprinkle with some parmesan cheese.
A very nice, simple dish. A fun recipe to make with kids when they are reading the Little House books.