Bedford Scouts Bring a Cookbook to Life

December 23, 2022
Girl Scout Troup next to a tree at the Orchard House
Bedford Girl Scout Troop 67453 created decorations for the 2022 tree at the Orchard House. Courtesy photo/Stephanie Keep

~ Submitted by Stephanie Keep 

What do cheese and jam turnovers, spice-trade deviled eggs, and cavalla butter cookies with Mr. Bhaer’s chocolate drops have in common, besides sounding delicious? They are all recipes in The Little Women Cookbook by Wini Moranville. 

This delightful book was assigned to Orchard House for this year’s “Family Trees: A Celebration of Children’s Literature” exhibit at the Concord Museum. This lovely annual tradition, now in its 18th year, is comprised of 40 trees scattered around the museum, each decorated with exquisite handmade ornaments. Each tree’s decorations have a theme taken from an assigned book, which can be anything from the book The Case of the Stinky Stench to the book Monument Maker: Daniel Chester French and the Lincoln Memorial. 

Every tree is “adopted” by a community group, such as a school, museum, service organization, or club. Orchard House, home of famed author Louisa May Alcott, has been a regular participant but missed last year. My mom, Anne, works for Orchard House and we have become quite involved with them as a family. 

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After learning that they missed the 2021 exhibit, I could not resist volunteering my daughter Amy’s fourth grade Bedford Girl Scout Troop 67453 to create the decorations for the 2022 tree. 

Sign next to tree
This is the sign people see when visiting the tree decorated by Bedford Girl Scout Troop 67453
at the Orchard House. Courtesy photo/Stephanie Keep

To kick things off, Jan Turnquist, the Executive Director of Orchard House, gave the girls and their families a private tour of Orchard House, where they learned about the remarkable Alcott family and their dedication to advocacy, charity, and hard work. 

The girls also had a screening of the film (1990s version with Winona Ryder as Jo March) which they enjoyed…aside from all the kissing. The girls then looked for ways to merge themes and details from the real Alcotts as well as their Little Women doppelgangers with images and motifs in the Little Women Cookbook to develop their plan for the tree.

And so, for several weeks this fall, my kitchen was full of industrious girls creating delicious treats from the cookbook out of clay, writing recipe names onto the pieces of a paper chain, placing quotes on wooden ornaments, decorating a model of the Orchard House for winter, and painting beautiful portraits of the main characters. 

The decorations on this tree were inspired, in part, by Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
Courtesy photo/Stephanie Keep

We added all of these new decorations with some clothespin characters that the Orchard House staff made years back, and the result was a gorgeous, colorful, and joyful tree covered from tip to trunk in handmade works of art celebrating the Alcotts, Little Women, and the Little Women Cookbook

After the exhibit opening, Ms. Turnquist insisted that we gather the girls together at the museum so she could thank each one individually with notes and Orchard House ornaments. Everyone is hopeful that this is the beginning of an enduring partnership between Troop 67453 and Orchard House.

The troop’s tree is on display right by the front door and gift shop and you can visit it (and leave us a note in our secret message box!) until Jan. 1. 

The Concord Museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays through Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during weekends.

The Orchard House is open from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

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Jan Turnquist
December 23, 2022 10:31 pm

Thank you for all the hard work and a wonderful article, Stephanie!

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