Like you, I have a suitcase in rip-stop fabric, with four spinny wheels to save my back and handy zippered mesh pockets. A marvel of product design, it’s light as helium to hoist up into the overhead compartment, and it does everything but print out my boarding pass 24 hours ahead of my flight. The only thing to distinguish it on the carousel from endless iterations is the tacky red yarn I’ve tied on the handle. But my heart belongs to the three-piece Samsonite luggage “suite” in hot pink that my glamorous grandmother gave me a piece at a time when I was in high school.
What expectations I had for that luggage! I took it on my first plane trip, to Washington D.C., when I was a senior. I’d won an essay contest and was instructed that for the dinner before the awards ceremony I should bring a “cocktail dress” – a term that as the progeny of teetotalers thrilled me to a polka dot. Never mind that I was not yet legally old enough to drink: Life is a costume party, and I had the costume. I carefully folded my beaded, blush-colored Empire-style crepe dress (it broke a daring two inches above the knee) into my big Samsonite case, securing it with nylon straps. The suitcase had a lock whose combination was the month and day of my birth, just like a diary.
Along with it was a boxy matching rectangular train case to carry on, with ruched silk pockets and a built-in mirror. There was plenty of room for your hair rollers and your Bonne Belle White White, so you could still highlight your cheekbones — in a vain attempt to look like Twiggy — in case you were parted from your big bag. (Today it’s my cholesterol medicine and orthotics that I can’t do without.)
Fast forward a few years to after college and a year and a half into my first job, when I chucked everything, even my Samsonite, for a Eurailpass, an International Youth Hostel card, and a neon orange backpack. I’d been advised to sew a maple leaf insignia to the backpack to identify myself as a Canadian, better tolerated overseas than an ugly American. But I could not bring my patriotic self to do so. When my mother took me to the Des Moines airport to depart for Europe (where I knew not a soul), she warned with implacable mom logic, “Don’t talk to strangers.”
It was advice I later repeated to my then-college student daughter Kate, as she and soulmate Darcy embarked on a cross-country road trip ala Thelma and Louise. I know, what was I thinking? But I couldn’t have stopped them if I wanted to, and it was oddly comforting that she took with her my biggest Samsonite bag — scuffed and faded but still living up to its Biblical muscleman-inspired name. I thought of it as a maternal talisman against harm. Turned out they not only talked to strangers but also relied upon their kindness, like Blanche DuBois. Driving Kate’s boyfriend’s Mazda, a manual, they couldn’t get it into gear climbing one of Frisco’s fabled hills. So a Samaritan towed them, and just as they crested the hill, his car got hit by another. (Thank you, kind sir. I hope your karma has improved.)
My Samsonite triplets have long been orphaned. The middle one may be languishing in a landfill, the train case bought for a buck at Goodwill and converted into a planter, the big one pressed into service as a coffee table. They served me well, helping me learn that as John Steinbeck wrote, when we travel best, we do not take a trip. The trip takes us.
This essay originally appeared in DBQ magazine.
What a pleasure it is to be reminded of the grace and warmth of Lady Bird Johnson—the centennial of her birth, December 22, 1912, is being celebrated with events throughout the year. Not only did she soften the edges of her husband, LBJ (the big galoot!), but her hospitality and kindness is also credited for steadying the nation after JFK was assassinated and LBJ took office. Her passion was wildlife and conservation in general, and flowers in particular, which is why the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center was founded in Austin, Texas, with gardens you can tour. In honor of the centennial, A Bouquet for Mrs. J, new eight-foot tall metal sculptures of Lady Bird’s beloved bluebonnets and other flowers, dot the grounds.
The camera loved the First Lady; her vitality shines in this and other images in this post, all from the Lady Bird Johnson Centennial Website.
Born Claudia Taylor, the future First Lady was deemed “purty as a lady bird” by a nursemaid. The nickname stuck. Today she is remembered chiefly as the steel magnolia behind LBJ and for her First Lady’s Committee for a More Beautiful Capital, which she expanded into the entire nation, with special attention to roadsides. Less known is that she was a very successful businesswoman, who in her early 30s bought a failing radio station with an inheritance from mother, revived it, and spun it into television and cable television business.
She once said, “Some may wonder why I chose wildflowers when there are hunger and unemployment and the big bomb in the world. Well, I, for one, think we will survive, and I hope that along the way we can keep alive our experience with the flowering earth. For the bounty of nature is also one of the deep needs of man.”
Lady Bird was also a champion of using native plants: “I have always been a natural tourist. Lyndon used to say I kept ‘one foot in the middle of the big road.’ Wherever I go in America, I like it when the land speaks its own language in its own regional accent.”
This pretty scarf, $69.95, is a tribute to Lady Bird. Virginia artist Joan Griffin created it in hand painted silk with a bouquet that includes the Indian paintbrushes, black-eyed Susans and bluebonnets the late First Lady Loved. No two are exactly alike, and each scarf measures 30” square and may be gently washed by hand.
Here are some upcoming events:
November 15, 2012 – First Ladies Symposium and Evening Program. Laura Bush and Barbara Bush discuss their experiences following two panel discussions that feature historians and staff of present and former first ladies at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library & Museum.
December 2012 – The U.S. Postal Service begins to sell a souvenir sheet of a new Lady Bird Johnson stamp and the five Beautify America stamps she unveiled in the 1960s.
December 16, 2012 – Come join the Texas Hill Country community for the 43rd Annual LBJ Tree Lighting at the LBJ State Park, which will bring in the holiday season and celebrate Mrs. Johnson’s life and legacy.
December 22, 2012 – In celebration of Lady Bird Johnson’s 100th birthday, the LBJ Library will open newly redesigned exhibits on Saturday, December 22. On that day, visitors are invited to tour the new exhibits and enjoy birthday cake, music, and discounts at The Store at LBJ.
Two weeks ago, the Trad Home staff was percolating with anticipation for our annual Classic Woman Awards ceremony in New York City. Between outfit consultations in the break room and the editors’ last-minute frets about the audio/video preparations, the excitement was tangible. As the lucky attendees were selected weeks ago, I expected Wednesday to be just like every other Wednesday: nine to five with my feet on the ground at our office in good ol’ Des Moines, Iowa. Days before the ceremony, Ann Maine popped her head into my cubicle shortly before five and casually asked me if I wanted to go to “the awards luncheon.” I didn’t register what she was asking at first, and I barely got out a “yes” before she dashed away to beat another deadline. I get to go! I get to go! Cheering internally, I called my mom and headed straight to the mall for some new shoes.
At 4 AM on Wednesday, I shot out of bed at the first jingles of my alarm. Armed with 4-inch taupe patent leather pumps (taupe is totally in this season, so decrees Jessica Simpson) and a pair of backup flats, eight of us boarded the small place and jetted east as the sun was coming up. I had been to New York before, but it had always seemed like such a destination, one that required my dog-eared Zagat Guide, booking a hotel, and sneaking some money out of my savings account to blow on Canal Street. This time was going to be much different, arriving and departing on the same day with the sophisticated purpose of being there “for work.” It was like being dropped into the plot of The Hills, but without Fashion Week (which was the week before). After arriving in Teterboro, New Jersey, it took a full hour to get into the city. Along the way, I drank in all the sights that reminded me I wasn’t in Des Moines anymore, like a union protest in the form of two big inflatable rats perched in front of a CitiBank and Mayor Bloomberg giving a speech just outside Central Park.
Finally arriving at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Columbus Circle, the flats were exchanged for pumps and the fun began. The hotel itself was fabulous, especially the 36th floor ballroom where our event was to be held. The space was enormous and overlooked Central Park. Thirty-five tables were set up before a small stage bedecked with stunning floral arrangements. Each table glittered with crystal stemware, fine china, silk flowers, and crisp boxes of Elizabeth Arden face cream (score!). All sorts of fascinating people were there: bloggers, models, publicists, editors, and designers I recognized from our magazine, not to mention the five incredible Classic Women who were receiving their awards. Most of the guests I could only assume were important because of the height of their shoes, their thick glasses and asymmetrical haircuts, but they were fabulous just the same.
Each guest was assigned a table to sit at, and I was placed between designer Skip Sroka (I die for his own leather-paneled library) and Matchbook blogger Katie Armour. We munched on our pear salads while our host, Deborah Norville of Inside Edition, welcomed us. “If you think one person can’t make a difference,” she reminded us, “then you’ve never slept with a mosquito in the room.” One by one, each of our classic women shared their story and accepted their award: Evelyn Castellar of Projecto Honduras, a clinic in the cloud forest of Honduras; Linda Davidson of Our Military Kids, devoted to funding extracurriculars for children of deployed soldiers; Nancy Chance of the Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County, connecting business, clubs and agencies to stop poverty in their community; Pascha Peay of Imagine Me Ministries, helping young girls succeed in high-crime areas; and Shannon Thompson of Shakti Rising, a program that helps empower women who are recovering from trauma. Hearing these women speak about their experiences filled me with gratitude that while we live in a fast-paced age of me! me! me!, there are still people out there with enormous hearts and enough energy to help those who are still struggling. By the time I got to my miso salmon on a bed of garlic jasmine rice, I was wiping eyeliner off my cheeks with a 500-thread-count linen napkin. Wrapping up the ceremony was the announcement of a sixth recipient, reserved for a classic woman in the publishing industry. The award went to Carlotta Jacobson of Cosmetic Executive Women, a nonprofit professional organization with over 5,000 executives in the beauty and related industries. Carlotta and the rest of the CEW Board of Directors created CancerAndCareers.org, an invaluable resource for men and women working to succeed in a career after being diagnosed with cancer.
My favorite part about the lineup of recipients was the expanse of issues that these women addressed. It really spotlighted the notion that we can (and must!) all help each other in any small ways that we can. Pascha Peay (Pascha Lee after her wedding the weekend before to a devastatingly handsome man in a dapper suit) summed up the collective sentiment very eloquently: “We’re all at risk. At risk of breaking a nail, of losing our homes, or of losing our minds.” The luncheon ended with lots of hugs and cheek kisses, group photos, and business card exchanges. The audio-video feed went smoothly to the great relief of a few organizers, the food was delectable, and I kept my shoes on! The ceremony was an incredible success, and I could feel secondhand the relief of the editors when it was all over. The jet’s schedule afforded us a couple of hours on Fifth Avenue in the afternoon, then the whip was cracked and it was back to Des Moines to start sifting through nominations for our Classic Woman Awards 2013!
Baker Kathleen King got her start selling all-natural baked goods off of a card table at her family’s farm. Her scrumptious treats, now a foodie favorite sold from her bakery, Tate’s Bake Shop in the Hamptons, still retain that handcrafted, homemade quality. The Ava Gardner of the cookie world, they’re earthy and exceptionally seductive at the same time. “I baked the kind of cookies I loved to eat: crunchy, chocolaty and tinged with caramel. I called them ‘farm cookies,’” Kathleen recalls, adding that baking was her way of connecting with people.
Nothing much has changed since the author-baker was a kid. Her new book, Tate’s Bake Shop: Baking For Friends, comes out Tuesday, September 25.
The book includes recipes for more than 125 of her fave desserts, including the apple crisp she leaves on the doorsteps of neighbors or the thumbprint cookies baking in the oven when friends arrive. In addition to supplying gluten- and nut-free (but not flavor free) recipes for friends with special gustatory needs, the book is full of tips on making baking easier. Did you know you can freeze butter for up to six months? That freezing prepped ingredients is a good way to save time on days when you’re too frazzled to whomp up a dessert in one go? My southern relatives, who were always bemoaning their “weepy” fruit pies, would have been glad to know that sprinkling cookie crumbs (graham cracker crumbs will do) in the bottom of the pie shell will soak up extra juices. Still, Kathleen’s mantra is don’t fuss, don’t stress, don’t try to make it “perfect.” “If you bake a delicious chocolate cake for a friend who loves chocolate, believe me, you won’t be critized for your frosting skills,” she insists.
Here’s Kathleen’s recipe for Star-Shaped Blueberry Shortcakes:
Makes 10 to 11 shortcakes
This shortcake/scone can be made round and served warm with butter, as you would any scone, but I decided to do it in a star shape because it is more fun as a Fourth of July dessert, served with fresh raspberries and whipped cream. These are delicious and very festive!
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus 1 teaspoon for sprinkling
1 tablespoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt Grated zest of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold salted butter cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup heavy cream, plus 2 teaspoons for brushing
1 cup fresh blueberries
1. Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, the 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, work in the butter until the mixture is crumbly with some pea-sized pieces of butter. Add the 1 cup of heavy cream and stir just the dry ingredients are moistened and combined. Do not overmix.
3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 1-inch-thick rectangle. Spread the blueberries evenly on top of dough. Gently work the dough into a ball, being careful not to crush the berries, and roll the dough out again into a 1-inch-thick rectangle.
4. Using a 3-inch star cookie or biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut out the shortcakes, cut- ting them as close together as possible to avoid excess scraps. Arrange the shortcakes about 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Gently press the scraps together, roll out again, and cut more stars. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the shortcakes with the remaining 2 teaspoons cream and sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon sugar.
5. Bake until the shortcakes are golden brown and feel somewhat firm when the tops are pressed with a fingertip, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm, or let cool to room temperature.
The book is available from amazon.com for about $16. If you’re not in the mood to bake, you can order online from her bake shop (tatesbakeshop.com). We can vouch for the chocolate chip sampler! (The day it arrived in our office was not a good day to be our pants.)
People can tell you how fabulous The Newport Flower Show is, but you have to be there to understand how beautifully all of its elements come together: the setting of oceanside mansions, the people in fabulous costumes strolling the manicured grounds; the verve of the floral displays; the expertise of the nation’s top gardeners, the allure of Newport’s beautiful and ubiquitous blue hydrangeas, the sartorial splendor of behatted ladies and gents in the sounds-weird-but-looks-dashing get-up of blazer, dress shirt, bermudas, and loafers with no socks; wonderful oceanside boutiques; and tempting morsels and libations. I’ve already marked my calendar for June 22-24 next year, when the theme will be Jade:Eastern Obsessions. http://www.newportmansions.org/events/newport-flower-show
Here are a few scenes I snapped:
We hear a lot about America’s regionalism disappearing. But on a recent trip to the South I was happy to discover that Southern style — from food to fashion and from architecture to yes ma’am-ing courtesy — is still very much in evidence. Especially when you get off of the dreary interstate and onto the two-lanes, or what the wonderful writer William Least Heat Moon called Blue Highways in his book by that name. As an aficionado of Fried Green Tomatoes, I tried them at four different restaurants, upscale to downscale. There were chi-chi ones with goat cheese and thick ones drenched in too much bacon fat, even for me, at a barbecue joint.
The best by far were at a cafe in Irondale, Alabama, near Birmingham, on which Fannie Flagg’s novel and the subsequent movie, “Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistlestop Cafe,” were based. (The author’s Aunt Bess bought the cafe in the thirties, and Fannie grew up eating there). The cafe serves about 800 slices of freid green tomatoes every day. Fannie also contributed to Grit Lit (Southern cookbooks) with her Original Whistlestop Cafe Cookbook, which shares family stories as well as recipes for dishes like Southern Cream Gravy and Kentucky Bourbon Chocolate Pie. We bought one and I can’t wait to try the recipes out.
Here’s how you make ‘em:
1 Medium green tomato (per person)
Slice tomatoes about 1/4 inch thick, season with salt and pepper and then coat both sides with cornmeal.
In a large skillet, heat enough bacon drippings to coat the bottom of the pan.
Fry tomatoes until lightly browned on both sides.
Here are websites for the cafe and Fannie’s books on Amazon:
Categories: Food, Home, Recipes, travel | Tags: Alabama, Alabama tourism, American regionalism, Fannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe, Grit Lit, Irondale, Soutern Cooking, The Original Whistestop Cafe Cookbook
My fellow garden editors tell me that the Newport Flower Show has the Wow Factor in spades (couldn’t resist — I’ll try to make that the only garden pun in this post). So I am really pleased to go to the show that ushers summer into Rhode Island this year June 22-24, staged on and in the grounds, reception rooms, oceanfront terrace and emerald lawns of the opulent Rosecliff Mansion. Rosecliff is one of several mansions Newport is known for. This year the theme is Salsa—A Celebration of Latin Cultures. A fusion of hot colors, passionate designers, exotic plants, cultural adventures and dancing under the stars is promised; I’ll settle for tangos and tapas at the opening night party.
The Rosecliff Mansion
The Rosecliff mansion has particular cache because it was designed by Stanford White, the architect famous not only for breathtaking Beaux Arts buildings designed for the ridiculously rich (Rosecliff is modeled after Trianon, the garden retreat of French kings at Versailles), but also for being murdered by the millionaire husband of an actress he dallied with, Evelyn Nesbit.
(you can see why Stanford White was smitten)
Dubbed “The Murder of the Century,” White’s murder was immortalized in E.L. Doctorow’s wildly original novel Ragtime (which later became a musical) and which I devoured in a weekend when it came out in 1975.
During the show, the grounds will be vibrant with Oceanside Boutiques and a Gardener’s Marketplace. Here are some scenes from previous shows.
The show has tons of programming, including lectures and displays of winners in contests such as garden photography and retail window displays. I’m intrigued by contests tied to this year’s theme — for example, interpretive headpieces that capture the color and drama of Rio’s Carnaval in the form of fresh plant material. Speakers at the flower show include rock stars of the garden world, including Mario Fernadez of Belle Fleur, who has designed stunning arragements for the homes and soirees of Oprah, Gloria Estefan, and Will Smith, and whose arrangements graced the runway of Carolina Herrera’s bridal show. Donna Lane, diva of dahlias (watch out, dahlias with their gratifying dinner-plate sized blooms are as addictive as oxycodone) will be on hand, as will garden writer Derek Fell, talking about the hot new trend of vertical gardening.
The Garden at The Elms Mansion
(The Elms, along with Chepstow, are on a Tree Tour during the Flower Show.)
Going to the flower show also affords a chance to explore the rest of Newport, an island city fabled as a New England summer resort in the Gilded Age (I’m picturing behatted Edith Wharton heroines) and the epitome of classic Americana for its Summer White Houses during Ike and JFK’s administrations. Don’t forget your parasol! http://www.newportmansions.org/events/newport-flower-show
Categories: Architectural materials, Art, color, Design, Food, gardens, shopping, travel | Tags: Carolina Herrera, Derek Fell, Donna Lane, Elms Mansion, gardening, Mario Fernandez, Newport Flower Show, Oprah, Rhode island, Rosecliff Mansion, shopping
Many garden books come across my desk, and while I can easily resist how-tos on propagation, I don’t stand a chance when a book has a cover that draws me into its world; somehow it feels like glimpsing a scene, powerful and intact, if fleeting, from a train window. Such was the case with the luminous jacket of Stacy Bass’s new book, In The Garden (Melcher Media). Bass shoots at dawn when possible. “That sweet and gentle light,” she writes in the book’s introduction, “coupled often with a morning mist or fog, has proven so seductive that it’s hard to resist.”
I want to step away from my desk, into that garden, and under that arbor, with that dog at my heels. The garden on the cover is in Greenfield Hill, and consists of a series of outdoor “rooms.” The book, with photos by Bass and essays by Suzanne Gannon, tells how the 18 New England gardens featured were brought to life by gardeners inspired by a landscape, a single flower, or a garden seen on travels. The gardens range from orderly, with geometric parterres, to rambling, with wild grasses.
The Greenwich garden above, with its sprays of pretty pink peonies, was designed by horticulturalist and garden designer Phillip Watson.
The book’s photographer, Stacy Bass, says, “I love going to a new place, usually before the sun rises, and being taken by surprise about what will be before me as the sun comes up. Unless it is necessary for an assignment, I prefer not to look at scouting shots so that I can react, in real time, to what I see without any preconceived notions about what to shoot and from what angles.”
Here at another Greenwich garden, the roses — ballerina hybrid musk — are so dense and beautiful they keep the white picket fence from looking clichéd.
This garden at Greenfield Hill echoes the gardens of Europe with an array of classic features within — armillaries, benches, tuteurs, and spheres.
The owner of this formal garden in New Canaan once made her living in the theatre. A formal sunken garden (Act I, perhaps?) is ready to steal the scene just inside the gate.
In The Garden releases April 24; you can order it for $31.50 at amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/In-The-Garden-Stacy-Bass/dp/1595910735
Classical music, bubble bath, and really good desserts are best savored with one’s eyes closed, in my experience, and I know that the jolly co-authors of The Back In the Day Bakery Cookbook would agree with me, because in the intro to the recipe for Coconut Cream Pie, Cheryl Day reminisces about sitting with her dad at the counter of a coffee shop the first time she had the pie, she and her dad eating it with their eyes closed because it was sooo good.
You know this is not going to be one of those kale-is-really-delicious when served with a splat of wasabi and a Brussel sprout abused with fennel when you see that Cheryl, a former Soul Train dancer, refers to the pie, which has five eggs, two cups of half and half, and two cups of heavy cream as “refreshing and light.” Any other doubts you have will be erased upon learning that the foreword is by Paula Deen. All the same, the book — with recipes from the couple’s much-loved bakery in Savannah – also has some sophisticated savory recipes, like Bacon-Jam Empanadas and Roasted Cheddar Pecan Rounds and a number of rustic breads. It was written to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their bakery. Dancer Cheryl and funk musician Griff met in their early twenties and reconnected 15 years later, when they discovered a mutual delight in scratch baking. The book has anecdotes about each lavishly illustrated, droolworthy recipe, as well as good tips for the novice and accomplished baker alike. For example, when a recipe calls for unsweetened chocolate, they recommend using one with 99 percent cocoa content for a more intense flavor. Or when a recipe calls for bringing the eggs to room temperature, why you should not ignore it: Because when you add them to your creamed butter, the batter will resist mixing.
The recipe that caught my eye was for Hummingbird Cake, because it is pretty as a bride in June. Here is the recipe:
Hummingbird Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
hums of happiness
Serves 10 to 12
Spiced with cinnamon and studded with pecans, this cake is a true Southern classic. Bananas and pineapple give it a luscious texture, and its flavors mingle and grow more intense the day after baking.
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 5 large bananas)
One 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
1 ½ cups chopped pecans
1 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment and butter it as well. Lightly dust the pans with flour, tapping the pans on the counter to shake out the excess.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, mace, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), beat both sugars with the oil for 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then mix for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, bananas, and pineapple, mixing until just combined. On low speed, add the flour mixture in thirds, beating until combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Fold in ½ cup of the pecans.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. Tap the pans firmly on the countertop to remove any air bubbles from the batter. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes, then remove the layers from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.
To assemble the cake: Level the top of one of the layers with a serrated knife so it is flat. Place it cut side down on a serving plate. Using an offset spatula or a butter knife, spread the top of the layer with a dollop of frosting. Place the second cake layer on top, right side up, and frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting. Decorate the sides of the cake with the remaining 1 cup of pecans. The cake can be stored wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Serve at room temperature.
Excerpted from The Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook (Artisan Books). Copyright 2012. Photographs by Squire Fox.
I’m giving this book to my sister for her birthday, but it’s really more of a gift for me: I hope she makes me the Hummingbird Cake. And the Chocolate Heaven Cake. And the Salted Apple Caramel Pie.
You can order it from Amazon.com for about $16. It’ll do until I can get down to Savannah and try the Days’ ‘Nana Puddin’.
I always light up when I see Tria Giovan is scheduled to shoot one of our stories here at Traditional Home; her work shows a sensitivity to the subject matter that makes you look, and look again. So I was intrigued when I learned that the photographer/oceanophile (yes, I made that up) has a new book out, composed of the the moody, misty, and magical pictures she has been taking for years of the beaches of Sagaponack, near her home in Sag Harbor. To me, Tria’s photographs focus on a scene in a way that is painterly—paring it down to its essence. The photos are the visual equivalent of haiku, the most important element, perhaps, being what has left out. Speaking of, she has culled for the book 63 favorites of the 10,000 images she has captured of the beach for this book.
Tria, who was raised in the Caribbean, is a world traveler whose work has appeared in Vogue, Aperture, Esquire, Elle, and Harper’s, and her photographs also reside in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art and The New York Public Library, among other august places.
Photographer Tria Giovan
In an essay about Tria’s work that serves as the foreword to the book, Carl Safina, marine conservationist and president of The Blue Ocean Institute, had this to say: “Through a decade of seasons Giovan charted the permutations of tides, wind, sand, and sky. The 63 selected images featured in Sand Sea Sky: The Beaches of Sagaponack document a meteorological drama ranging from the threatening and explosive storm to the suffusing sunlight of midday and incandescent gloaming.” (Gloaming, don’t you love that word? I love it so much I have to say it again—gloaming.)
Safina went on to say of Tria’s images, “In their invitation to become motionless they acquire an affecting intimate immensity that echoes America’s enduring belief in the transcendent spiritual beauty of nature.”
I didn’t realize Tria was adept with the pen as well as the camera. Here’s her musing on why Sagaponack is her True North: “Avid collectors cannot often pinpoint the origins of their obsessions, except to say that there is some stirring association that fuels their passion. I have amassed these images as a collector might, still not completely sure what drives me, but committed to compile a faithful and extensive record of the myriad witnessed moments. These photographs are a meditation paying homage to a place where the spirit is enlivened, primordial forces resonate, and impermanence reigns.”
Well said—and well photographed.
Published by Daminai, Tria’s book is available at amazon.com for $26.50.