The Quilter’s Kitchen
Jennifer Chiaverini, author of the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series, follows her holiday-themed New York Times bestsellers, The Christmas Quilt and The New Year’s Quilt, with a flavorful offering for the season. For the Elm Creek Quilters, friends and business partners who run a quilting retreat in Pennsylvania, sharing recipes and dishes is a natural extension of the fellowship of their craft.
Yet even the fondest of traditions can benefit from innovation, so Master Quilter Sylvia Bergstrom Compson endeavors to “clear out the old and make way for the new” in Elm Creek Manor’s kitchen, which hasn’t been renovated for decades. At her side is Chef Anna, one of the newest members of the circle of quilters, who has accepted the position on the condition of the kitchen upgrade. She’s hoping to elevate her own status, too, from colleague to trusted friend.
“We need to find a way to make this kitchen serve up the spirit of Elm Creek Quilts just as it serves delicious meals,” Anna muses to Sylvia as they begin the project. “I want to honor all the traditions of the Bergstrom family as well as all the people, Elm Creek Quilters and campers alike, who make Elm Creek Quilt Camp such a unique place.”
The historic manor, dating to the mid-nineteenth century, houses a trove of all that its inhabitants have held most dear. As Sylvia and Anna explore the long-neglected corners of the kitchen’s cabinets, the details of events longs since transpired spring to life. An old gingham table cloth, Great-Aunt Lydia’s handmade aprons, a cornucopia made by Sylvia’s sister when she was a child, their mother’s favorite serving dish – each unearthed treasure prompts memories of times past, when celebrations throughout the year were steeped in good food and good company. These include not only Christmas, New Year’s, and Thanksgiving, but days special to those who have lived at Elm Creek over the years – the annual harvest dances that brought the community together before the Second World War, the family picnics, the happily shared potlucks. Anna learns, too, of a holiday that has more recently captured the Elm Creek Quilters’ collective heart – National Quilting Day, celebrated on the third Saturday in March since 1991.
As each celebration is considered, Anna contemplates the recipes she would serve: some traditional Elm Creek fare, such as the German Christmas cookie recipes handed down by the Bergstrom family or Bratwurst with Apples and Onions; others her own unique creations, Quilt Block cookies, Bee Tea, Tomato Mushroom Ragout (for Gnocchi), Gorgonzola Basil Dip. The actual recipes, which will make up the official “Elm Creek Cookbook” that Anna hopes to prepare in order to seal her place among the Elm Creek Quilters, are included—one hundred in all--created by renowned cookbook writer Sally Sampson especially for THE QUILTER’S KITCHEN.
Fans will be delighted to sample the famous Bergstrom Apple Strudel, which played a central role in Chiaverini’s first holiday tale, The Christmas Quilt. Here too are intimations of a special quilt, fashioned from the linens and aprons found in the old kitchen, which will celebrate the storied history of Elm Creek as only such a handicraft can.
A much-anticipated addition to the Elm Creek Quilts collection, THE QUILTER’S KITCHEN is a captivating tale of family, friendship, and holiday traditions.