The house named Fallingwater is famous as one of Frank Lloyd Wright's timeless works, one of the most architecturally significant private homes in the United States.
Its fame spread as its owner, department store magnate Edgar Kaufmann and family, hosted many guests and dinner parties at the estate, 50 miles south of Pittsburgh. But one person key to the splendid times at Fallingwater hadn't gotten much attention until recently, with the publication of "The Fallingwater Cookbook."
Elsie Henderson was the Kaufmann family's cook, and these are her recipes, from homey Thanksgiving dishes like Sweet Potato Souffle and Blueberry Lattice Pie, to fancier fare like Lobster Bisque and Roasted Belgian Hare. Hired by Edgar Kaufmann in 1947, Henderson was the last cook at Fallingwater before it was donated to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in 1963.
Author Suzanne Martinson befriended Henderson while working as food writer and editor for the Pittsburgh Press and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. On Saturday, Martinson will give a talk -- about the book, the famed house and the people who inhabited it -- at Graycliff, the Wright-designed lakefront house 20 minutes south of Buffalo.
(Martinson's talk is set for 9:15 a.m. at Graycliff, 6472 Old Lakeshore Road, Derby. Admission to the talk is free, but reservations are required; call 927-9217 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Henderson grew up in Pittsburgh. After answering a newspaper advertisement, she found herself cooking for the Kaufmanns -- Edgar, his wife, Lilane, and son, Edgar Jr. -- at Fallingwater, their summer home.
"The Fallingwater Cookbook" shares glimpses of life inside the rich family's circle. Henderson ended up rubbing elbows with notable figures including H.J. Heinz II of the Heinz Co., his senator son, violinist Isaac Stern and the home's architect himself.
The recipes include mansion-worthy preparations like Henderson's Flowerpot Rolls, which were cinnamon rolls baked individually in ceramic flower pots, each one served with a rosebud inserted into the cinnamon stick baked into its center.
Yet most of the Fallingwater dishes fall into the realm of comfort food -- Corn Chowder, Ham Loaf, Sweet Drop Dumplings made with Bisquick -- that would taste right at home under any roof.
The Fallingwater Cookbook
By Suzanne Martinson with Jane Citron and Robert Sendall
University of Pittsburgh Press
$30; 208 pages