16 January 2010

The Fallingwater Cookbook


This should come as a huge shock to you, my faithful readers, but for Christmas (and other gift giving opportunities) I often get cookbooks. Truth be told, I don’t really need any sort of special occasion to get cookbooks, but I digress…

This Christmas, my friend Ann, went to my wish list and came up with a couple of real winners. The Fallingwater Cookbook is one of the most interesting books I have come across in recent memory. At Lucindaville, I did a large post on Fallingwater, inspired by this cookbook. I hate to repeat myself, but…

Fallingwater is often considered the greatest house of the twentieth century, but it never appealed to me very much. Wright was never known for his fabulous kitchens, in fact on the majority of his house plans the kitchen is described as simply, “work space.” So I was very interested to read about someone who spent years cooking in one of Wright’s work spaces.

Elsie Henderson began working at Fallingwater in 1947 and stayed until it was given to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in 1963. For several years she worked off and on for the Conservancy and when Edgar Kaufmann jr. died in 1989, she returned to receive 125 guests for his funeral.

While the kitchen stayed basically as Wright had envisioned it, Henderson made one considerable improvement. The original coal-burning Aga stove was replaced with a newer stove to allow for more refined baking.

When Henderson wrote out the recipe for this chili, she used the French word for sugar, sucre. For seven decades she read recipes and translated many from French, so she would often switch between French and English when listing ingredients. At the age of 94, Henderson decided to study the French language more fully and enrolled in classes at the University of Pittsburgh.

Lamb and Rosemary Chili

1 pound ground lamb
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 cups home-canned or commercial tomato sauce
1 teaspoon sucre (sugar)
1 large can (about 19 ounces) white kidney, or cannelloni, beans

In a large frying pan, cook and stir the ground lamb, onions, and rosemary until the meat is brown and the onion is tender. Season with the salt, white pepper, and chili powder. Add the tomato sauce, sugar, and white beans.

Heat to boiling, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until desired consistency.

If you love food, you’ll love this book. If you love food and architecture, you will absolutely love this book.

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