Country Kitchen: Foods Inspired by Quiltmaking

Country Kitchen: Foods Inspired by Quiltmaking

By Mary Emma Allen

As I work on my quilt book, The Magic of Patchwork, for its updated printing, I'm reminded of the foods the quilters prepared in days ago. This was especially true as I read the section about quilting bees:

"One of the enjoyable aspects of quiltmaking in days ago was the quilting bee. The ladies met to put a quilt together after the top had been pieced or appliquéd. This was one of the social activities in pioneer times.

"They arrived at the hostessÂ’ home in the morning, bringing their needles and thread. They spent the day chatting and quilting. Often they exchanged quilt patterns and displayed samples of a quilt they were working on.

"Sometimes the ladies brought pies or cakes and the hostess prepared a meal. Frequently in the evening, the menfolk joined them at the hostessÂ’ home. There would be a supper, perhaps some games and dancing. This was a way new people in the area became acquainted and long time residents socialized."

Quilting With Grandma

I also remember quilting with my grandmother in the kitchen of her farmhouse. As Nanny and I sewed the pieces together in a 4-patch design, my aunt bustled around preparing meals and baking breads and cakes. From this aunt I developed an interest in cooking and learned to bake bread.

So my memories of those enjoyable quilting times at NannyÂ’s home encompass the sights and sounds of AuntieÂ’s many culinary accomplishments.

Foods for Quiltmakers

Quiltmakers in todayÂ’s society also are interested in foods and even publish group cookbooks with recipes they've all contributed. Some of these books are compiled as fund raisers to help quilting groups with projects and quilt shows.

A quilters cookbook I envision and have as one of my many future projects consists of recipes intermingled among tidbits of quilting history and lore.

Recipes For the Quilting Bee

What recipes would ladies have served at the old-time quilting bees? They might bring their lunch or contribute to something the hostess had prepared. Then in the evening, when the menfolk joined them for a social gathering, the food might be more festive.

I delved into AuntieÂ’s cooking notebook for recipes she had collected from family and friends:

CABBAGE AU GRATIN - Put 4 cups cooked cabbage, cut small, into greased casserole. Add 2/3 cup grated cheese to 2 cups white sauce and stir until blended. Pour over cabbage. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup buttered bread crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 25 - 30 minutes or until browned.

APPLESAUCE CAKE - Cream together 1/2 cup shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar; add 2 beaten eggs. Add 1 cup thick, unsweetened applesauce (homemade in days ago), then sifted dry ingredients - 2 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or cloves.

Beat until smooth and fold in 1 cup raisins. One half cup chopped walnut meats also can be used.

Bake in a wax paper lined 8-inch square pan or greased and floured pan in 350 degree F. oven for 45 to 60 minutes, until tests done. Serve plain or frosted or with whipped cream.

(C) 2002 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing her "Cooking Column" for newspapers and online publications for 30 years and has compiled a family cookbook. SheÂ’s currently compiling a cookbook/story book, "Tales From a Country Kitchen." Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

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