March 27, 2013

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.

IMG_0435 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.

IMG_0427The 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.

IMG_0467The 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.

IMG_0456We’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.

IMG_0468Seder 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.

IMG_0471I’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.

IMG_0477Today is the fourth anniversary of this blog. I consider you all friends and feel so gloriously grateful. Thank you for visiting.

*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.


7 Responses to “springtime rituals”

  1. Beth (OMG! Yummy)

    Chag Sameach and Mazel Tov on four years Cathy! Fantastic. I thought of you Monday night at the seder I attended – along with the usual fare, they started doing a sipping seder – so there was a drink mixed to go with each element on the seder plate. We just shared a couple small tastes around the table but it was so much fun. A lot of gathering of ingredients but once you have them – you’re set for a while.

    Re Oma and Bella – I am anxiously awaiting a chance to see it here on the West Coast. I know it will remind me of my grandma, whose thick, cuddly hands I can see shaping challah just as clear as if she were still here.

    Keep on writing – I can’t wait for the marvelous end results!

  2. Carol Sacks

    Happy anniversary, dear Cathy. So many instructive posts, and so many that transported, whether to another city, country or garden.

    Can’t wait to see the vegetable garden come alive. I know it will rival the beauty of the garden that makes your home so inviting.

  3. Barbara | Creative Culinary

    Plans are to move within 2 weeks from the home and gardens I have lived in and loved for over 20 years. I’ve gone through the stages of grief and now with my attention focused so much on my daughter’s health, maybe I’m OK that I won’t have so much yard work in the coming weeks.

    Still, I will miss it. We are a month behind here in the Mile High city so leaves are just pushing through the dirt and that anticipation and pure joy of seeing a yard filled with bulbs and perennials is one of my greatest pleasures.

    Luckily I’ll be staying with friends while I plan my next move and am blessed that she loves to garden as well and is excited for my hands to be in the mix. So am I. Still, much of my gardening time this season will be lived vicariously so I’ll be watching your new garden with some envy but more than that with huge delight.

  4. gwen

    Congratulations on 4 years, Cathy! I hope there will be many more as I am a newcomer to your blog and enjoy it so much! Thanks for taking the time to share.

  5. Katie C.

    Happy bloggoversary! You are right. Mother Nature sure has been a stinker lately.

    When I first started dating my guy, he was having no success at growing tomatoes on a fourth floor balcony. His brother finally told him that it was because he had no birds or bees to pollenate the plants. After that, he used a paint brush to gently spread the pollen around and voila, tomatoes! It became our standing joke that he had to go out and have plant sex 😉 pretty silly!

  6. Deb

    Your post sparkles with the rebirth that is spring. Even in the darkest of winter we remain hopeful. The story of Oma and Bella is an effervescent ending to your lovely post!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.