Fried Apples ‘n Onions (inspired by Farmer Boy)

Deb from Kahakai Kitchen is the host for this round of Cook the Books.  She selected Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.   This book, one of eight in Wilder’s “Little House” series, depicts the childhood of her husband, Almanzo Wilder, in New York state.    


When I was nine or ten, I was introduced to Wilder’s entire “Little House” series through my grandmother and my mother.  My mom had read them all in her youth and my sister and I scavenged some copies from our grandmother’s attic, books that my mom, aunt and older cousins had read.  (We got remaining copies for our birthdays.)  I remember devouring them all but I think that Farmer Boy might have been the last book in the group that I read.   I also remember that it wasn’t my favorite.   Perhaps it was because it was not about Laura and her immediate family or because it was about a boy…I don’t know why I was prejudiced against the young Almanzo.

Original dust cover.

So, I was please to have the opportunity to re-read this book many, many, many years later.

And, I was amazed (amazed, I tell you) as to the amount of food in the book.  It seems like Almanzo’s memories and recollections (from which his wife based this novel) always revolved around food.  Here’s just a sprinkling culinary references from Farmer Boy.


  • Homemade bread with butter
  • Lots of apple references—turnovers, pies, apple butter
  • Fresh milk and cream,”Big yellow cheeses, ” homemade ice cream, egg-nog, buttermilk,
  • Maple syrup and maple sugar
  • Cakes and cookies and pies (lots of pies)
  • Baked beans with salt-pork
  • Potatoes and gravy, fried potatoes, charred baked potatoes
  • Mashed turnips, stewed pumpkin, candied carrots, creamed carrots
  • Plum preserves, strawberry jam, grape jelly, crab-apple jelly
  • Watermelon pickles, cucumber pickles, green-tomato pickles
  • Dried corn and dried apples
  • Oatmeal and buckwheat cakes and pancakes and doughnuts
  • “Birds-nest pudding” (another apple dish)
  • “Rye ‘n’ injun dough”
  • Chicken pie, roast beef, whole roasted piglet, and “fat roast goose”

Of course the Wilder family put up lots of preserves and pickles, dried corn and apples, and butchered their own meat.  Nothing was left to waste—apple cores were used to make vinegar and the hides of the butchered animals were utilized for shoes.

How would the Wilder family have used my apple scraps?

I decided to try my hand at one of the Farmer Boy’s favorite meals:

Almanzo said that what he liked most in the world was fried apples ’n’ onions. When, at last, they went in to dinner, there on the table was a big dish of them! Mother knew what he liked best, and she had cooked it for him.

Almanzo ate four large helpings of apples ’n’ onions fried together.

Fried Apples ‘n Onions

By Debra

This recipe is inspired from Farmer Boy’s favorite meal.


  • 4 T. butter
  • 3 apples, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 large sweet white onion, sliced thin
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • drizzle of pure maple syrup


  1. Melt butter in a medium cast iron skillet.
  2. Add onions. Cook over medium-high heat until onions are slightly caramelized (15-20 minutes).
  3. Add apples, salt and nutmeg. Cook another 15-20 minutes or until apples are soft.
  4. Drizzle with maple syrup before serving.

Prep Time: 10 mins.

Cook time: 30-40 mins.

I used Golden Delicious apples for this recipe just because they were on hand.

This was a very delectable dish, in between a savory side and a dessert.  In fact, The Hubs had two servings for dinner.   I am now thinking of a onion-apple pie and  a Thanksgiving dish with a bit of bacon.  Wouldn’t that be crazy delicious?

Thanks for leading us down memory lane with this selection, Deb.


Please join  Cook the Books for the next reading selection,  The Patriarch by Martin Walker.   Claudia (Honey from Rock) is hosting for October/November round.  Claudia states, “I have been enjoying his books for a few years now, and wanted to share at least one with Cook the Books, for all the fabulous food and wine included.”   “Fabulous food and wine” is enough enticement for me to check out this book.  

Check out the Cook the Books site soon for Claudia’s announcement post.  (Deadline for posts will be November 30.)

I am also linking up with Simona’s Novel Food #31….

and September’s Foodie Reads.


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