I am currently sitting on the floor of my kitchen, contemplating whether I want to get off my butt to get a glass of wine. I do that a lot - sit on the kitchen floor. I like to watch the oven while I am baking. Weird, I know, but I don't trust myself if I leave the room.
I am still in my clothes from the gym this morning. I have yet to shower, and my hair is up in a bandana. It has been one of those days. Life is going by in a blur. How is it already the middle (past the middle!) of October? How is my baby sister getting married in two days?! I don't know where the time goes, but I am thankful that this fall has taken its sweet time. The leaves started changing in August here this year, and they are still going strong - I'll take it. I know it won't last forever, but please - just last a few more weeks, okay? I still want to get a few more October recipes up here first.
I got the wine, just to let you know.
So, there is that big 'ol house - the one from a few of the pictures from the Apricot and Ginger Scone recipe I posted a few weeks back - it lives up the street from us (and to those readers that thought I lived there - thank you - I wish, but no). There is a path in the woods next to our house that leads to horse stables, and then to a quiet dirt road, and the dirt road leads to the house. I have been going for "walks" around the mansion lately - I really wanted to bump in to the person living there and persuade them in to letting me see the house - and I DID! There is one woman living all by herself in that ginormous house. Could you imagine?! I would be petrified. No way in heck could I live in a 15,000 square foot house ALONE (um, ghosts…). She is renting an apartment on the third floor, and has basically turned into the care taker/maid/grounds woman. Think Mrs. Fairfax from Jane Eyre (too specific? Go read Jane Eyre. Seriously.) She let me in to see the downstairs, and showed me what disarray that magnificent place is in. We went in the side door (or what I like to call, the left wing foyer - it gets the point across better than "side door") which has beautiful black and white marble tile floors, french doors and crown moulding. The ball room is off to the right, which still has amazing chevron wood flooring, a gigantic fireplace and fifteen foot ceilings.
I was then led to the study, which reminded me of Mr. Rochester's library (please read Jane Eyre…), I could be perfectly happy in this room for the rest of my life. Light a fire, give me a few cookbooks and some classic literature, a glass of scotch (perhaps I'm more of a Rochester than a Jane?) and a cozy arm chair and I am a happy woman. Alas, the room hasn't been touched in years. The rest of the downstairs was badly damaged by a burst pipe last winter, so the floor boards have all been pulled up, and the beautiful wall paper is peeling and molding. It is such a sad sight. A magnificent home that was once a prized jewel is now sitting practically empty and left to the mice.
She didn't show me the rest of the house, but I think I could "accidentally" bump in to her again and try my hardest to get upstairs. We did talk about dinner party possibilities in the ball room…I am sensing a Downton Abbey party in my future. It's funny how a few of the rooms in the house are perfectly preserved and easily used, while others are a complete construction zone.
Phil and I later explored the grounds of the house and found the abandoned tennis courts, the pool that has now become an actual habitat for turtles and frogs, as well as a rickety old tree house with a couple of swings. The kind of swings you would totally expect to see the ghosts of children from the 1920's playing on. Kinda cool, mostly creepy. We also found a path behind the house that leads down to some really beautiful pastures and farm land. Some of it is obviously still in use, while other parts have been neglected and over grown. It is a really peaceful path, one that is still used for horses, and which I'm sure was once used to get in to town back before we had real roads in place.
It's pretty amazing to imagine this home in all of its 1920's glory. Think about the parties that must have happened - the dancing and the guests that could have come to stay. If this house were taken care of properly, it would be right up there with the Rochesters and the Crawleys - the Gatsbys even!
I am not entirely sure why I went off on a tangent about this house, other than it inspires me. Just being near it, walking around the grounds - and certainly being inside it - makes my imagination dance. It inspires me to dream, to write, to cook even. It somehow evokes mystery, beauty, comfort and suspicion all in one. Perhaps because there is so much mystery to this grand estate that I can't pin point one feeling. Some places do that for me. They make me want to write children's stories about great adventures, a murder mystery beginning at a fantastic flappers party, or a story about love and life lived out - all historical fiction of course, if you weren't already sensing a pattern (…pushes glasses up bridge of nose…). Another bit of dorkiness - JK Rowling is making a new trilogy…I am so bloody excited!
So - to the cooking! This cake was the one I made at last weeks Harvest Gathering, and it is my favorite cake in the world. My friend Cullen, who was at the dinner, said that she has now declared this cake as her official birthday cake - and I think that is a really wise decision. You seriously can't go wrong with this cake. This is a cake of many colors, much like the house we were just talking about. It can be enjoyed with a glass of dessert wine (do people drink that? I think I would drink that…) after a dinner party, it can be breakfast with a cup of hot coffee (my personal favorite), it can even be lunch on the go (who doesn't want cake for lunch?). I swear this cake also gets better the longer you have it - it's one of those weird mysteries. It doesn't usually last longer than a couple of days at our house, but by that second day you can usually find me licking the tray it once sat on. Also - just as a little glimpse in to the life of Meg - when I made this cake a few days ago for this post I literally licked the entire bowl AND spatula AND paddle attachment clean. Phil was still at work, so I was shameless.
We weren't able to get any pictures of the house for this post, but you can bet it will make another appearance sometime in the near future. Perhaps we can even get pictures inside! That would be exciting. Maybe there will be a little historical fiction going on with it…who knows.
• Orange Blossom Glaze •
• 1 cup powdered sugar
• 1 tablespoon orange blossom water (alternatively 1 teaspoon orange extract or 1 tablespoon orange juice)
• 1/4 cup heavy cream
Whisk all ingredients in a bowl until combined and smooth. Set aside until ready to use.
• Cardamom Bundt Cake •
adapted from The Vanilla Bean Blog
• 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
• 3 cups sugar
• 6 eggs
• 1 tablespoon vanilla
• 2 tablespoons cardamom
• good pinch of salt
• 3 cups flour
• 8 ounces heavy whipping cream
Preheat oven to 275. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.
Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated, scraping down sides of the mixing bowl as needed.
Add vanilla, cardamom and salt and beat to combine.
Add flour, and mix on low speed until just combined.
Slowly add the heavy cream and mix until the batter is just combined.
Pour batter into the prepared bundt pan and use a spatula to even out the top.
Bake cake for 1 hour, then increase the heat to 350 and bake 15-20 minutes more, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let the cake cool for 15 minutes, then remove from the pan. While the cake is still warm, pierce all over with a long skewer or a fork. Drizzle glaze over cake. Dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy all day, every day.
listening to: The Call by Regina Spektor