Georgia O’Keeffe’s house and landscape have occupied our imagination almost as much as her paintings.
O’Keeffe left New York to take up residence first on Ghost Ranch and then in Albiquiu, New Mexico. I had a vivid image of what her surroundings looked like mostly through the black and white photographs of her in these settings.
What I found when I went there is that some images were remarkably accurate and others didn’t tell the whole story.
I thought, for example, that her house was miles out in the desert in complete isolation. But, in fact, she lived in a small town not unlike the one I live in, with a school, a bunch of houses, and a general store.
She lived on the edge of the town, so that her views, at least in one direction were not obstructed.
This view, for example, could be seen from her bedroom.
The road has been up-graded and is much used today. When she lived there it probably didn’t have much traffic. Here is a painting she did of this road in winter.
The surrounding landscape is remarkably like her paintings.
Even parts of her house are represented in her work.
Before heading to her house I checked out the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, and was happy to find her paintbox and brushes.
O’Keeffe used mostly Blocx paint, but also had Winsor and Newton and Grumbacher.
Around her house there were the proverbial bits of nature.
The famous elk horn under which she was photographed.
O’Keeffe’s stone and shell collection.
And rustic door to her court yard.
What was more surprising was the interior of her house. It was completely modern with mid-century modernist furniture.
We weren’t allowed to photograph it, but this skeleton of a chair was in the courtyard.
For photographs of the interior check out this site: https://artistshomes.org/site/georgia-o%E2%80%99keeffe-home-studio
If you go:
Order your tickets at the O’Keeffe Museum
The magic of Nick and Andrew’s house carries on inside.
Books of Interest:
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In the hills of Washington County, New York, my friends Nick Loscalzo and Andrew Ciccarelli have made their own little Bloomsbury house and garden. Nick, a painter, and Andrew, a master gardener and portrait photographer, have created a place to rival Charleston, the Bloombury home of Quinten Bell and Virginia Nicholson.
Books of Interest:
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Or order from your local independent books seller. Mine is Battenkill Books. Find the independent bookstore closest to you at IndieBound.org
My friend Andrew loves to bake cakes. He is completely comfortable baking a cake without a recipe. So, when I called him and told him that I wanted to make a cake called “Vert-Vert” with green fondant fromMonet’s Table: The Cooking Journals of Claude Monet , he couldn’t have been more enthusiastic. The cake called for, among other things: pistachios, kirsch, 2 1/4 cups of butter, about 8 eggs, and spinach for coloring. We headed for Hannafords and about $50. later had our ingredients.
“Vert-Vert”, detail of photo by Jean-Bernard Naudin from “Monet’s Table: The Cooking Journals of Claude Monet”.
The cake was to be cooked in a single pan, sliced into three layers and filled with pistachio cream – thus the need for 2 1/4 cups of butter. Andrew, who is not known for his patience, decided he would “soften” the butter in the microwave. A few seconds later we had enough melted butter to cover all the artichokes in Castroville, California. If we were going to proceed we would have to go back to the store for another pound of butter. But first, the cake had finished baking and was ready to be pulled from the oven.
Andrew Ciccarelli with my painting of him.
The half pan of batter had baked into a half pan of cake. It didn’t rise. Instead it buckled and lifted from the pan like a ribbon. It also had a rubbery consistency. It was obvious that three layers could not be cut from this frisbee sized hockey puck. Absolute, utter disaster!
One bite confirmed what our eyes already told us – this cake sucked. And there was no way that the green coloring seeping from the spinach was going to make the icing assume the luminous green glow that it had in the book. Khaki green fondant was not what I had in mind.
On top of that, we had already invited a friend we ran into at the grocery store to come over and sample the cake. Andrew and I agreed that the hockey puck, iced or not, was not going to be served.
Undeterred, Andrew emptied my cabinets and in under an hour produced a perfectly tasty chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache icing.
Later that year, when I had a chance to speak at the New England Culinary Institute about ” Monet and his Gardens in Giverny”, I challenged their students to produce the cake. I was happy to see, that while edible, it seemed nearly as squat and unspectacular as our version.
This is what happens when you are seduced by the color of a cake and have no feeling for its ingredients. Clearly, something was lost in translation.
Monet’s Table: The Cooking Journals of Claude Monet
Text by Claire Joyes, Photographs by Jean-Bernard Naudin
If You Want to Try Your Luck:
Recipes of Claude Monet
If You Go:
Claude Monet Foundation
84 Rue Claude Monet, 27620 Giverny, FRANCE
P.O. Box 1041, Castroville, California 95012. Tel (831) 633-2465 • Fax (831) 633-0485 email@example.com
New England Culinary Institute
56 College Street Montpelier, VT 05602 – firstname.lastname@example.org – 877-223-6324
NECI has several great restaurants on campus.
Andrew is a master gardener and great cake baker living in Granville, New York.
Since Andrew makes up his recipes as he goes along and doesn’t write them down, I asked him to recommend a recipe for a cake that he loved.
Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake with Ganache Glaze
Recipe by Kate Neumann
- Vegetable oil spray
- 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 3/4 cup canola oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup strong-brewed coffee
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
- 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray. In a small saucepan, melt 2 ounces of the chopped chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Scrape the chocolate into a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the oil and sugar until smooth, then whisk in the egg.
- In a small bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add half of the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture along with 1/2 cup of the coffee and 1/2 cup of the buttermilk; whisk until smooth. Add the remaining dry ingredients, coffee and buttermilk and whisk until smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let the cake cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn it out and let cool completely.
- In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. In a heatproof bowl, combine the remaining 3 ounces of chopped chocolate with the corn syrup and butter. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand until melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Let the ganache glaze cool until thick but still pourable, about 5 minutes.
- Pour the ganache over the cooled cake. Let the cake stand until the glaze is set, at least 30 minutes, before serving.
Make Ahead The glazed cake can be stored in an airtight container for 3 days.
Andrew with yet another great cake. Note the fleur de lis on his shirt!