November in California
Sunday November 18th 2007, 6:12 pm
Filed under: Life,My Garden

nameless white evergreen flowers

Sitting here in our family room, these white flowers whose name I wish I knew suddenly required of me that I look up out the window and notice them. That I notice that it’s November and that they’re blooming and that there are things about living in northern California that I enjoy very much.

Red berries

So I picked up the camera, walked outside–something I, with my lupus, too seldom do–but it was 3:30, the late-fall San Francisco fog had rolled in, and the sky was darkening; the exposure seemed like it couldn’t be a risk. The flash went off repeatedly as I was snapping pictures. The leaves on the apple trees are a beautiful bright yellow. The lemons are turning color to match. I picked one, and as I sat here quietly typing away again on my email, its lovely scent was on my hands, so much so that I went back out and picked more and now a lemon cake is happening in my kitchen. I will cook down some frozen mixed berries with just a smidgen of sugar to pour as a sauce over the slices after it cools.

My mother and mother-in-law were newlyweds together, friends living across the street from each other in DC proper, before they bought houses and moved their growing families to the suburbs. They both owned the then-recently-released Betty Crocker cookbook, and Mom Hyde told my mom that the hot milk sponge cake was a great recipe to try.

When I was a teenager, I stumbled across that same cookbook, 1950 edition, at a sale being held as a school fundraiser. I recognized it, and since I was about to go off to college, it seemed a good idea and I bought it.

Mint condition. Original edition. Looked like it had never been opened. I have since been told it would have been worth a fair amount had I left it like that, but like our mothers before us had done, I put it to the good use it was meant for.

And when we moved here, I pulled out that same hot milk sponge cake recipe that I remember my mom making more often than any other cake, for a treat for my kids, except, I made a substitution. And later told my mother-in-law about it.

Why, she asked me, even if it was so good, why would I want to use fresh lemon juice for most of the milk? Wasn’t that, like, hideously expensive?

She’d forgotten we had that tree.Meyer lemon tree

Tart and not too sweet and the top with an intensely lemony melt-in-your-mouth texture like the filling of a fine pastry. Almost no fat nor guilt. You can have your cake here, and enjoy it, too.

8 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Wow, what a wonderful reason to take a stroll outside! I can just about taste that lemon cake here in KY…thanks for the aroma and the fun family story. 🙂

Comment by Joanne 11.18.07 @ 6:37 pm

Oh my, those are beautiful bushes! We’re enjoying the last color as the leaves fall daily.
To have a lemon tree would be wonderful; not possible in Tenn. 🙁
Thank you for sharing those great pictures.

Comment by Toni 11.18.07 @ 6:44 pm

I’m so goofy! I meant to add that my youngest dd’s favorite cake is a homemade Robert E. Lee Cake, very, very lemony.

Comment by Toni 11.18.07 @ 6:47 pm

That is a beautiful lemon tree. You certainly know how to make lemonade!

Comment by Amanda 11.18.07 @ 6:51 pm

Stop… I’m drooling.

Comment by Lene 11.19.07 @ 9:32 am

After rain and wind, we are reaching the stage of having trees with a lot of leafs missing. Still see lovely yellow and orange however. Md can be so nice this time of year. Lower humidity, hint of cold to come. We have the pellet stove ready to fire up. Lemon tree? Wow? Neat place!

Comment by Bev 11.19.07 @ 2:25 pm

I too learned to cook using the 1950 version of the Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook. Although not as lucky as you to find an original, in 1998 General Mills re-released this wonderful cookbook and I bought one for my very own! It brought back so many happy memories of when I was a child looking through this book to find just the right recipe. Buttermilk Biscuits (page 67 in my cookbook) were a regular item for Sunday morning breakfast.


Comment by Diane 11.25.07 @ 11:01 pm

Was it that long ago that they did? I just remember stumbling across it in the bookstore and my husband immediately deciding we had to have a copy for each of our kids.

Comment by AlisonH 11.26.07 @ 12:11 am

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>