“Congratulations! It’s a cake!” said the daughter as we finished the last tier and shoehorned it into the refrigerator. She whipped cream in freezer-cold bowls while I brushed each layer with a brandied syrup and filled and iced them with very vanilla-y whipped cream; the daughter-in-law (well, in a little over 24 hours she will be) loves vanilla. We had all tiers iced, mixers cleaned up, everything washed up and wiped down within two hours. The daughter is an excellent assistant, having seen me through countless cakes, wedding and otherwise. Amazingly, this has been one of the most seamless wedding cakes ever, perhaps because I’ve had literally nothing else to divide my attention. Typically at work, I’m multitasking like a fiend, one eye continually on the clock, neck craned over each task at hand, no time for even the smallest of talk.
Dowels are all in place, and we have boxes to use to transport the tiers to her parent’s home tomorrow. We have all our tools packed, including clean aprons. The daughter will help me stack them and finish the final piping. At the very last, we’ll snip some flowers in beautiful blues from the gardens. I went on a reconnaissance mission the other evening when we were out there for dinner. I’m going to surround the bottom tier with tender wands of rosemary (“for remembrance”) and crown the top with a perfect hydrangea (you’d think it has been planted so as to bloom just in time to sit on a cake) and two golden squash blossoms. The in-between tiers will be dotted with smaller blue and yellow blossoms. I hope the bride likes it.
Once we were done washing up, we needed to throw together lunch for the bride who was due home from a Jazzercize class with some bridesmaids (the daughter kindly skipped it in order to help me with the cake), a groomsman who had just flown in from Ohio, and the son who is due back from a golf tournament any moment. I was determined to set out a simple lunch because eating decently has been one of the casualties of the week for all of us, and may have contributed to a minor melt-down last evening.
Lunch was quite literally determined by what we’d needed to pull from the refrigerator to make room for cake, as well as what was sitting around that should be used up before the honeymoon in Hawaii. I’d made a quick pasta dinner for myself and the daughter last night, there was most of a head of romaine, some burstingly ripe orange tomatoes that my sister had picked up from a produce stand on her way here yesterday, one avocado, and a solitary lemon. Oh, and about a third of a long baguette (hence “panzanella”) and a can of tuna packed in olive oil (I’d made First Night in Florence Spaghetti one night, and had picked up extra cans of tuna).
First I discovered a gorgeous aquamarine glass bowl that I suspect had arrived as a wedding present, as it still had a tag attached. I filled it with pieces of romaine, added the remains of last night’s pasta, diced a couple of those incredible tomatoes and the avocado, cubed the baguette, scattered the tuna and its olive oil, and squeezed the lemon over it. Sea salt, pepper, and some red pepper flakes were all the seasoning I added, then drizzled (okay, I was generous – I poured) olive oil over it all, and gave it a toss. It managed to sit just long enough for the juices to soak into the bread before it was dive-bombed.
This just in: the golfers are on hole 9 of 18, so I’m not expecting them back much before it’s time to get ready for the rehearsal dinner tonight. Happily, a salad like this holds very well, so that hopefully a little sustenance may stave off small catastrophes.