Bucket Lists, Apple Cake and P. Allen Smith
Do you have a bucket list? I have had one in my head for some time but have never actually committed it to paper. That is about to change.
I spoke this week to the CEO class of our local high school about blogging-what a privilege to speak to these talented kids! They were so polite and engaged and asked great questions. I mentioned my “bucket list” and referenced things I had done that were on it. When one of the girls asked me what was on my list now, I realized I need to start dreaming and get some more things added. And then start making them happen.
Won’t that be fun?
A few weeks ago, (read more about our trip here.) Brad and I ventured to Moss Mountain Farm near Little Rock, Arkansas. P. Allen Smith is the son of an orchardist and is now one himself. I don’t know his whole story, of course, but from what we learned from our gracious tour guide, he serendipitously ended up with his own TV show on PBS and now this beautiful garden home.
Serendipity and tons of hard work, I bet!
I’m so glad he shared his beautiful home with the 25 or so of us on the tour that beautiful spring day. One winter, I watched many of his shows on Saturday morning while I quilted and they were working on the farm house. That was a fun way to spend a morning!
What a special place he has created! I loved every inch of it-from the restored barn where we ate our yummy lunch at long farmhouse tables, to the sheep in the meadow, the swan on the pond, the chicken condos, the sleeping porch, to the garden rooms. The fields of daffodils and pink tulips were just beautiful, too.
We were flying by the seat of our pants, as usual, and it all worked out but you should definitely plan ahead if you want to go. Like fools, I didn’t even look at the website until we were well on our way. That’s when I discovered they are only open on Thursday and Friday from March to October and only to a limited number of guests.
Lucky for us, we wanted to visit on a Friday and there were 2 cancellations on this opening weekend so we got in! I’m so glad we did.
There were people in our group from all over the United States, people who had planned and looked forward to their visit to the farm for months. (See how lucky we were to get in? Note to self-plan next time.) It was a beautiful, warm spring day…….and everyone was kind of giddy to be outside soaking in the beauty of nature. We visited like old friend!
Sidebar: Remember when we had our first spring in February? I’m looking forward to our second spring, aren’t you?
Brad and I were seated at lunch by two ladies who were raised on rice farms in Arkansas and we enjoyed learning all about that, and by a Kentuckian whose family was in the whiskey and gin-making business. Having no experience with that either, we were fascinated by her as well. Great conversations made our delicious chicken salad and buttermilk pie even tastier.
Allen Smith was home the day we visited so we got a chance to greet him. Gathering with us under this big tree, one of the 3 “sisters” on the property, he answered questions and even shared stories of showing hogs in 4-H when he was a kid. Even though he has been a guest at many events with famous people and world leaders, he still seemed like a farmer at heart, and I’d like to have him for dinner at our house sometimes.
Maybe I should add that to my bucket list!
You can tell a lot about someone by the people surrounding them, and I was really impressed by everyone who worked at the farm. They were all so friendly and hospitable and seemed to genuinely enjoy their jobs, which isn’t always the case at a tourist attraction! Our guide was feisty and interesting and the ladies who served the meal reminded me a lot of the Rose Hill Household Science club ladies, and there aren’t nicer people than them!
I really enjoyed meeting Smith’s sister in law, who makes the reservations and the day we were there, also made our dessert. We spent a little time with her at the end of our 4 hour tour, and it is easy to see that she is just a treasure. I wanted to be her friend!
Add to that, the tour guides in the house were Allen’s aunt and 2 of her friends. These 3 ladies were INTERESTED in everyone. When I chatted with Aunt Jamie, her love for her nephew was obvious, and she makes homemade cookies for the Thursday and Friday guests and insisted that I wrap one in a napkin to take with me for later.
Just like my aunts would do.
I won’t forget spending a beautiful spring day on this beautiful farm!
Three souvenirs came home with me, a cookbook, Seasonal Recipes from the Garden, a heart-shaped rock, and lots of photographs! One of the things on my BUCKET LIST is to prepare some version of all the recipes in the book.
I’m sharing one with you today that I made a couple of days ago and it WAS delicious and only lasted 24 hours!
Kent’s Killer Fresh Apple Cake via P. Allen Smith
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. dark brown sugar, packed
1 c. vegetable oil
2 eggs, well beaten
2 t. vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 c. chopped walnuts or pecans-which I left out
1 c. raisins or dried cranberries (I used dried cranberries.)
4 c. chopped, peeled tart apples (I used Fuji because that is what I had on hand.)
Preheat the oven to 325. Grease and flour a bundt pan and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugars and oil. Then stir in the eggs and vanilla. Sift the flour into a separate bowl, and add the baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add this to the wet mixture. Fold in the nuts, raisins and apples. The batter will be thick. (VERY)
Spoon batter into the prepared pan and bake for 75-90 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cake plate.
I drizzled powder sugar icing over the top and sides after the burnt sugar icing I tried to make flopped.
You won’t be sorry for making this yummy treat or writing down your bucket list!
I would love to know if you make this, but even more than that, I would love to hear one thing from your bucket list! Would you share, pretty please?