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The Fallingwater Cookbook

The Fallingwater Cookbook: Elsie Henderson's Recipes and Memories

Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    The Fallingwater Cookbook
    Book Description:

    Hailed as the most architecturally significant private residence in the United States, Fallingwater was a welcome retreat for Edgar J. Kaufmann, his wife Liliane, their son, Edgar jr., and their many guests.The Fallingwater Cookbookcaptures the experience of fine and casual dining at this famed home. Suzanne Martinson, former food editor and writer for thePittsburgh Pressand thePittsburgh Post-Gazette,relates recipes from Elsie Henderson, the longtime and last cook for the Kaufmann family at Fallingwater, along with Henderson's memories and anecdotes of life in the renowned house on the waterfall. Henderson's encounters with the Kaufmanns, John Heinz, Senator Ted Kennedy, and Frank Lloyd Wright, among others, are recounted with humor, affection, and surprising detail.The book is rounded out with additional recipes from chef Robert Sendall, who began producing special events at Fallingwater in the early 1990s, Jane Citron, with whom Sendall taught cooking classes, and Mary Ann Moreau, former chef of the Fallingwater Café. Artfully composed photographs of food, architecture, landscape, family, and guests complete the collection, which, like Fallingwater, will be treasured for years to come.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7937-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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    (pp. 1-8)

    Elsie Redmon (later Elsie Lee, then Elsie Henderson) was born at home in Pittsburgh on September 7, 1913. She is the youngest of thirteen children- eleven boys and two girls. Her father died when she was two. Her mother, Ada Redmon, cleaned houses and taught Elsie to bake with her own little utensils. Other than a cooking class at the Red Cross and French language lessons (the better to understand classic cuisine) at the downtown YWCA, Elsie has had no formal culinary training.

    Elsie grew up on Pittsburgh’s Mount Washington, which overlooks downtown’s Golden Triangle, where the Monongahela and Allegheny...

  2. BUILDING FALLINGWATER The Breakfast Recipes
    (pp. 9-14)

    Frank Lloyd Wright imagined a country house that had more than just a view of a waterfall. He wanted the cascading stream to be part of it. His breathtaking design revitalized the architect’s career and forever changed our ideas on merging place and space.

    Completed with its service wing in 1939, the house was Fallingwater. Long before the American Institute of Architects named Wright’s masterpiece the Building of the Century, it was the ultimate weekend getaway for a Pittsburg department store family. The home was a fortuitous meeting of minds-a genius like Wright and daring patrons like Edgar and Liliane...

    (pp. 15-26)

    There was no set time for breakfast at Fallingwater, although it was always served before 10 o’clock, and the Kaufmanns always walked afterward. The food was set out on the dining table for guests to enjoy whenever they awakened. When they appeared, they were asked how they like their eggs prepared, and the eggs would be made to order. Usually, there were home-baked breads, and visitors had a choice of coffee or tea, or a glass of rich whole milk from the farm’s Jersey cows. The visitors might choose a sectioned grapefruit, fresh-squeezed orange juice, home-canned tomato juice, or select...

    (pp. 27-38)

    For wealthy people in the 1950s, “home cooking” meant a cook who lived in. Well-traveled people like the Kaufmanns knew that the best food was made with fresh ingredients prepared from scratch. Elsie found an appreciative family at Fallingwater.

    When Liliane Kaufmann married her first cousin, she and Edgar formed a formidable couple, if not always a contented one. If Liliane had an eye for beautiful clothes, furnishings, and art, her husband shared that, plus an eye for women. “He was the biggest playboy in Pittsburgh,” Elsie says, then amends, “Make that the Western world.” The Kaufmanns had separate bedrooms,...

    (pp. 39-67)

    Lunch at Fallingwater was served precisely at one o’clock. It was presented in the French style, with soup first, then the main course, followed by salad. The dessert was served at the table, too. Depending on the menu, the plates for each course were either chilled or heated.

    Liliane didn’t make a big deal out of it, but when the butler was serving, she surreptitiously tested the platter with her forefinger to make sure it was hot.

    In the fifteen years Elsie Henderson cooked at Fallingwater, she prepared only one meal for architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who died in 1959...

    (pp. 68-74)

    Edgar J. Kaufmann jr. was devoted to the insistent murmur of the Bear Run waterfall and the home his family built there. It had been his idea to bring in Frank Lloyd Wright when the Kaufmanns began to build, and throughout his lifetime, he propelled his beloved Fallingwater to prominence in the world of twentieth-century architecture.

    Edgar jr. studied painting in Europe, including Vienna, Florence, and London, and became a noted art collector, historian, and teacher. Though he was once engaged to a distant cousin favored by his mother, she married someone else. The Kaufmanns hoped their son would one...

    (pp. 75-108)

    When the Kaufmanns entertained people for dinner at Fallingwater, after everyone had eaten there was often dancing to 78 rpm records on the built-in Capehart player. The gregarious Edgar Sr. would call into the kitchen and drag Elsie out to meet his guests. Sometimes he danced with her. His company looked askance. “They must have been thinking, ‘He dances with the hired help!’” Elsie says.

    After Fallingwater was built, the Kaufmanns stocked the upper part of Bear Run creek above the house with brown trout. The stream was posted for trespassers, and Edgar Sr. hired people to patrol its banks...

  8. BRINGING FALLINGWATER HOME Seasonal Menus for Elegant Entertaining
    (pp. 109-110)
    Jane Citron and Robert Sendall

    Today’s hosts seldom have household help (unless they hire a caterer) and they rarely employ a full-time, live-in cook like Elsie. That doesn’t preclude entertaining with verve and style. These menus, designed and tested by Jane Citron and Chef Robert Sendall, offer planning and buying tips and do-ahead preparations to execute beautiful parties that will leave guests with memories of great food, elegantly presented.

    Jane, who died of colon cancer as this book was coming together, and Bob, owner of All in Good Taste Productions, shared a cooking philosophy that mirrored my own: great food depends on top-quality, seasonal ingredients....

    (pp. 113-165)

    When Jane Citron and Bob Sendall created their menus, they adhered to the finest traditions of the nationwide Farm to Table movement. They planned them according to what was available in the season it would be served-in spring, for example, morel mushrooms abound-and used western Pennsylvania producers whenever possible. Cooking and eating close to home makes sense when quality is paramount-the fewer miles something has to be shipped, the fresher, and the better.

    Not everyone has the benefits that the Kaufmanns enjoyed-fresh herbs from Liliane’s terrace garden, vegetables and flowers from greenhouses on the Fallingwater property, neighbors who offered berries...

  10. A TASTE OF FALLINGWATER Recipes from the Café at Fallingwater
    (pp. 167-168)

    As architect Frank Lloyd Wright would have wanted it, Fallingwater remains faithful to its time and place. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has kept the house’s spectacular woodland setting as beautiful as the first day Wright glimpsed the Bear Run waterfall rush over the rocks.

    Visitors who experience what Lynda Waggoner, director of Fallingwater and vice president of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, calls the “ah-ha!” moment when they first see the house, know why the National Geographic Traveler magazine named it one of fifty “Places of a Lifetime.”

    Today, the Visitor Center welcomes guests in a beautiful pavilion in the woods...

    (pp. 169-174)

    Fallingwater hasn’t lost its lure. Visitors today range from schoolchildren to Elderhostel seniors to movie stars such as Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, and Dennis Miller. Actress Angelina Jolie took Brad Pitt to Fallingwater as a surprise for his birthday. Fallingwater was gowned in snow when they sipped champagne and dined on caviar that she had shipped to the site.

    Today’s visitors to Fallingwater will find one Kaufmann tradition still in place. There is always an array of breads to enjoy, as well as plenty of places to hike on the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy land. Former Café chef Mary Anne Moreau...