Posted on April 8, 2016
This is a part of the story of The Bennett Adobe, now Hacienda Guadalupana, an old adobe in the flats of Montecito.
Scoping out Montecito:
I spotted this home on my return to Santa Monica from Isla Vista after visiting with my son in his college environs. It’s on the corner of a narrow, non-sidewalked street in Montecito. It’s a street near the beach but east of the train tracks, abutting the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner tracks that span a portion of the California Mission Trail (the San Diego to San Luis Obispo portion of the trail that marks the historic attempted Spanish colonization of what was originally Mexico and is now California). The flats of Montecito are like this . . . lots of curving, narrow streets without any sidewalks and scarce auto traffic.
Since childhood I have always been strongly drawn for unknown reasons to the history of the California Missions and can remember making countless mock-ups and making countless visits. Something about the missions captured my imagination and curiosity as a young child, and now as an older person I’m equally curious but probably for entirely different reasons . . . namely, imagining how Fransiscan spirituality coexisted with what it took to build and defend the missions, and confirm Spanish historic claims to the territory: the forced labor of unpaid Native Americans. Just saying. And did you know, part of Spain’s motivation to settle Las Californias, was to stay the Russian colonization efforts further north (and forestall intrusion into their territory) in what is now Bodega Bay! Yes, Russian fur trapping colonists set up at what is now Fort Ross, on their way down from Alaska. True!!
But back to Montecito:
A bucolic paradise of rolling hills, mountains, coastline, and citrus, olive tree and grape vine groves, Montecito is also an architectural wonderland set apart for its Spanish Colonial Revival homes and estates, but also boasting lovely examples of Moorish, Mission Revival, Cottage-Style and historic adobe architecture. Montecito is unmistakably tony now as well, with a town center/mart that is home to some very chic brands. The air can be somewhat rarified in Montecito, and yet I still find it warm, personable and casual.
Now Back to the House:
At first glimpse, from the 101 south where I was sitting, sitting, sitting (in traffic), I thought the home was a mission outpost, or some other mission related building, because it had a very old look and appeared to be under construction for restoration. And I could see a sort of “title” on the wooden gate that was part of the adobe/brick wall that surrounded the property. I was so curious that I exited the freeway, turned around, and parked in some gravel off the side of the road in front of the property.
The first thing I noticed was the beautiful enclosing wall and it’s deep orange wooden gate with the inscription “Hacienda Guadalupana” in a distinctive architectural font. To the right of the gate was a carefully trained, old and lush vine of pale pink “climber” roses and on either side of the gate was a terracota pot of rosemary.
The gate was arch-shaped but the door was rectangular, making a peek window so that you could see past the wall into the front yard and toward the front of the home. Everything looked immaculate, peaceful and well thought out. A most inviting space to be sure. So inviting I did a little discreet peeping.
Inside the wall but on the periphery of the property were meandering low boxwood hedges that gave definition to the red brick walkways and grass, and around the perimeter of the home featured shallow flower beds with orange succulents, and interspersed with terracotta planters of agaves, ficus, and other native plants.
The front of the house had a lovely mural-type tile depicting a grand Spanish building or church, which was placed directly underneath a lantern, and the side of the house had a Virgin Mary tile and underneath, an external ceramic tile that read “La Casa de la Abuela,” . . . meaning Grandmother’s house.
Beyond the boxwood hedges, and between a very short barrier wall and the edge of the property on the northern side were citrus trees.
I walked around the side of the wall and saw a lovely inscription that read, “R.E. Bennett Adobe,” “Dios Nos Lo Dio, 1947” the latter part which means, “God Gave Us, 1947,” and at the end of that archway was a perfectly placed large pot of red impatiens.
Finally, although I have not (yet?) seen inside the house, I did find this photograph of the interior courtyard. What lovely tilework!
Who Owns or Owned this House?
When I returned home I went on a hunt for information, any information, on this beautiful home and I found several articles in local newspapers and magazines about the Bennett Adobe, owned by Robert and Winni Bennett. This information and the photographs were gathered from these articles as well as the family’s website dedicated to Winni’s memory, as she recently passed away last December. I am still not clear and have not heard back from the family as to the present ownership, but I assume it has been kept in the family.
Winni ventured north to Santa Barbara to inquire about attending the Normal School Court, which eventually became The University of California at Santa Barbara. With plans to become an airlines stewardess, she met and began dating Robert E. Bennett, born in Mexico and a radioman stationed at the Campbell Ranch in Santa Barbara. Apparently when he heard of her plans to become an airline stewardess he proposed marriage, she accepted, and they married in 1946.
Winnie and Bob raised 6 children in the home, which they built by hand, often using materials they drove up from Mexico.
In 1965 Bob retired and decided to move the family to Mexico. As her family reports, characteristically for the age, the wife did what the husband decided, even though Winni did not want to leave Montecito. After 8 months of giving her best efforts, one day, she gathered all 6 kids into the car and returned to Santa Barbara, without Bob.
Amazingly, Winni managed to pay the family’s expenses, including paying off the mortgage, by making a home for 6 mentally challenged women, and retired after 15 years.
After their son Daniel died in 1985, Winni and Bob began to form a friendship again and Bob returned to the Adobe often from his home in Chula Vista, CA to visit with their 5 grandchildren. Her children tended to her in her last few years and she passed away with the help of home hospice, in her home, on December 14, 2015.
The biographical information mentioned above was collected by David Bury and Maria (Bennett) Mikhailas
Posted on January 11, 2016
This week I’m taking you over to my friend and fellow blogger Elaine’s site to widen your horizons with vegetables via her “Pimp your Veg” series. I’m employing a method that imparts a lot of great texture and flavor to the humbles and sometimes blandest veg, the cabbage.
I’m bringing this dish, by way of Elaine, to Fiesta Friday #101 along with generous thanks to this week’s hosts Jhuls@thenotsocreativecook and my fellow meat and basset hound lover Mr. Fitz@cookingwithmrfitz
Let’s all say a very hearty thank you and congratulations to Angie@thenovicegardener for creating this wonderful community. May the next 100 be as awesome and delicious as the first 100 parties. Happy New Year y’all!
Posted on December 28, 2015
“This is the worst pie I’ve ever tasted.” -my Dad.
How’s that for an enticement? Do keep in mind that my Dad said this after eating a bite of my mother’s pumpkin pie which is always sublime, and keep in mind that my Dad is a little bit set in his ways. I’m thinking if he sees a white pie, he’s thinking cheesecake, and that’s not what he got here.
My husband, however, ate his whole piece and proclaimed it delicious. He is the best Santa’s elf ever! Always such a good sport, will try any crazy thing I cook up.
This pie is an heirloom Pennsylvania Dutch recipe, with German, Quaker and Mennonite roots. It is a very simple recipe and, I think, makes for a very delicious pie. It sort of reminds me of a ricotta cheesecake but with more texture and without the graham crust. You have to be prepared to taste a little bit of savory/sour, along with the sweet, and I think it’s best eaten on its own and not after a bite of pumpkin pie.
I made this pie for Christmas Eve dinner, and also to bring to Fiesta Friday #100. Stay tuned because I’ll be bringing more! Happy Anniversary to everybody who’s been a part of Fiesta Friday and as always I send my gratitude and thanks to Angie for making this all possible.
Pie Filling: Adapted from Shockingly Delicious
- 1.5 cartons cottage cheese (1 16-ounce regular size carton and half of another 16 oz carton)
- 4 tablespoons flour
- ¾-1 cup sugar
- 2 well beaten eggs
- Grated rind and juice of one lemon
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Unbaked pie crust (see recipe below)
- pinch nutmeg, either freshly grated or prepared ground
Posted on December 21, 2015
Posted on December 5, 2015
If you were wondering what I have been doing the past few months, the title of this post covers a lot of ground towards the answer. In addition to visiting a slew of mostly newly-opened, but also older, donut shops in Los Angeles, I’ve also moved jobs twice which has compromised my commitment to blogging.
Donuts have a special place in my heart, even though I am not a true sweet tooth, but more of a savory tooth. When I was a child, on Saturdays my mom used to drive a mile or so down Montana Avenue in Santa Monica to Carl’s Bakery, a small bakery that carried very basic donuts. My donut of choice was the glazed twist. Occasionally I would get a chocolate glazed, raised donut instead. We were not cake donut eaters, we stuck with the yeasted, raised donuts. So donuts signaled a departure from the normal daily breakfast which usually, at our house, involved either pancakes, french toast, waffles, date bread, biscuits, sometimes some bacon, and occasionally cold cereal with milk. Fruit may have been offered, but I don’t remember much beyond orange juice. Clearly, not bad, but still donuts were better!
As I got older I developed a fondness for Trader Joe’s bran muffins and into my later teens I was drinking smoothies and shakes for breakfast, with some fruit. I spent one summer trying very hard to slim down before college by drinking Herbalife shakes (my mom tried them too) until my father, after watching a late night exposé on the company that revealed in his opinion some nefarious practices and possibly quackery, purged our cupboards of all the shakes and supplements and that was the end of that adventure. But back to donuts.
These days our donut tradition is on Christmas Day. Nearly everything is closed, but Stan’s Donuts in Westwood, CA, home to the UCLA campus, is not. And so we go. Some years my beautiful (and . . . vegan!) neice Katy is in town and she accompanies us. Stan has been making donuts for forever, and he’s 86 and still shows up to work every day. What’s neat about Stan’s is he’s named various donuts after local icons, for example, the late Huell Howser donut is a VERY thickly peanut butter stuffed chocolate bar and the Bruin is glazed cake donut covered in blue and yellow sprinkles.
First let’s take a look at Stan’s and some other classic, iconic Los Angeles donut shops and their creations:
Now on to some newer donut emporiums:
The best new donut shop in LA in my opinion is Blue Star Donuts. They use brioche dough and fry in rice bran oil. Yum.
We met the “Duke of Donuts” on opening day at Sidecar Donuts in Santa Monica. He explained that his mission in life is to eat and report on donuts. I said, “what about biscuits,” and he said, ” . . . eh, peasant food.”
I’d love to hear from you and your donut opinions. Are you a cake donut gal? Raised? Apple fritter? What are some of your favorite donut shops where you live? Have you ever made donuts at home? Any tips or cautions?
Have a very happy holiday season, y’all!!