While it still feels cold and blustery, and we’ve had odd days of significant snowfall, the light is changing to the light of Spring, all lemon yellow and bright, surprisingly strong on the back of the neck when clearing debris from a garden bed.
It’s Passover, soon to be Easter. There are daffodils blooming in the back garden, on the pathway where I planted them fourteen years ago. The orange Kaufmanniana ‘Early Harvest’ tulips in the upper garden bloom reliably early and that flash of color dazzles.
The front garden beds are filled with pink, yellow and purple hyacinths so a stop at the front stoop is intoxicating. It’s all going to happen now, one area of the yard at a time bursting into bloom. There are dozens of narcissus (the daffodil family) varieties so it’s possible to plant early, mid- and late season types and have flowers for the table for weeks on end.
The lemon trees move outside for a brief period every day to adjust to the temperature and soak up some rays. Temperatures must be reliably over 45°F for the trees to stay outside, but I’m happy to have them going out and in for a bit. They’re covered with blooms and smell like sunshine. I’m trying to pollinate a few of the flowers by hand, pinching the outside stamens gently so my fingertips are covered in pollen, then gently pinching the center pistel. I recommend adopting a lemon tree (Eureka or Meyer) or some other citrus you admire, Key Lime or Kaffir or kumquat or Mandarin. They’re easy keepers, thrive in summer heat, and live fairly happily indoors all winter in a warm and sunny room.
We’ve added another birdhouse and for some unknown reason I’ve been compelled to sing “Room to let, fifty cents.” It may have worked; I think I saw the house wren peeking in and checking out the new digs.
Seder dinner was absolutely lovely. My friend Jennifer hosted and cooked a holiday dinner that rocked. There were 11 adults and 5 children and Jennifer’s husband was a strong leader who kept us on task. I had fun making classic Ashkenazi style gefilte fish, slightly sweetened with added carrot. I used the KitchenAid grinding attachment and it was a snap. I used the same attachment to grind horseradish and then eased the strong flavor with a little sugar and a little white vinegar.
I must have been channeling my Lithuanian-born grandmother*. The aspic firmed and there were carrot slices to top each little quenelle. I think I can safely say it was universally enjoyed by those willing to partake. Gefilte fish is where the rubber hits the road with many a Seder attendee.
Also served: a stunning roasted salmon dish sprinkled with a dynamic pepper blend. There was brisket, smoked and sauced, tzimmes, two kugels, flourless cake and tishpishti and meringues. What a glorious time. I wish you all the same good cheer and loving company at your holiday meals.
I’m deep in recipe writing and testing and generally writing writing writing. It’s challenging on the beautiful days to resist the Siren call of the potager garden just down the road. The beds have been set and soon onions, shallots and garlic will go in the ground, lettuce and radish seeds sprinkled in rows. It seems I am more ready than the weather, which is refusing to cooperate.
*I hope you have watched the lovely documentary, Oma and Bella, the story of two German Holocaust survivors and their enduring, post-war friendship. They cook together throughout the movie and as I watched them work I saw in my mind’s eye my own grandmother’s freckled hands holding a small over-sharpened paring knife deftly peeling a potato.