Spring 2024 Newsletter

A cheeky update about spring because I got too busy to do monthly updates.


6/15/20245 min read

Market Square Wroclaw Poland
Market Square Wroclaw Poland

I can ignore the fact I’ve been invisible since January or February. I did intend this to be a blog where I’d post semi-regularly of goings-on in my life, food I’m cooking or eating, books I’m reading, perhaps something I’ve listened to or watched that I enjoyed, but, life, y’know?

I’ve suddenly found myself with a full time job and a lot less idle time than I had when freelancing. This is both a blessing and a curse. Full time work that’s local? Yes, please. The trade off, unfortunately, is less time for creative pursuits (because I have a marriage, my physical + mental health, and a small-on-purpose social life to maintain). The upside is that I see what I want to make time for in my life. I’m prioritizing exercise and smaller creative pursuits in the free time I do find.

I’ve enrolled in a 30-week garden design class and it’s fun. I mean, there’ve only been two class but my judgment still stands (for now). I’m liking the opportunity to flex different creative muscles and learn something new. After the class finishes there’s a permaculture design course on offer that I’d also like to take. Eventually I’d like to blend traditional garden design ideals with the ethics of permaculture to create something functional and beautiful.

But anyway, I’ll write more about that later. Let’s carry on.


The vegetable stand has come alive again: Polish-grown strawberries and cherries are making an appearance, and giant heirloom tomatoes, all purple and fat are there, too. I’ve brought home the star of spring, though: young asparagus. I only like the young, very thin asparagus because I like the delicate sweetness versus older, thicker asparagus which has a bitter flavor I don’t find appetizing. I blanched and grilled it, and served it with a side of chimichurri and a very, very garlicky aioli. It went really well with grilled eggplant, endive, and oyster mushrooms, and a herby orzo pasta for a light, veggie dinner.

The fruit will of course get put into pies, perhaps a jam or preserve or two. My favorite is raspberry jam, and I’m partial to strawberry jam that’s been made with basil to give some subtle herby notes to it. I don’t use a ton of sugar when making any of these, so they go straight in the refrigerator. I like either with a slice of honey wheat bread and a thin layer of smooth peanut butter, and a cup of tea.

I have a few not-recipe recipes worth sharing that I put together. These tend to be my husband’s favorite meals because I just throw stuff together and it tastes amazing. Usually when I try too hard is when I fuck it up. So I’ve stopped trying so hard. I wish my brain would allow this in other areas of my life, but alas.


I finally got my balcony garden in. Every year I learn something new, and every year the garden produces more. Last year it was figuring out why my spinach gave us a few tiny leaves, and then grew straight up, leading me to find out that spinach likes cooler weather and will bolt when it’s hot (in fact it’s already bolted). Our building is dark, the balcony faces due west, and the sun reflects off the glass making the balcony a little outdoor oven, so that was something I had to consider, too.

I’m trying to incorporate some permaculture ethics into my little space, so I did some reading and remediated the soil I used last year. I bought new bags of soil, organic compost, and chicken manure. Turns out chicken manure doesn’t smell until you get it wet, and then it really smells. I mixed it all together and spread it in my starter tray and had really good results almost immediately, which I then watched obsessively. I’ve planted climbing sweet peas with my lettuces to provide shade so they don’t bolt or wilt, and my tomatoes and beans, three plants each, are in the same trough-style planter with a lettuce plant in between them so it can benefit from the shade and nitrogen.

This is also the first year I’ve planted flowers, and I’m looking forward to the blooms! I forgot about multi-season interest, because I didn’t plant any daffodils or tulips, so all we have right now is green leaves. I do have two petunias that are doing very well, but we’re waiting for sweet peas, dahlias, gladiolus, and a few others I can’t remember, honestly, because I’m too lazy to go check the seed packets. But there we go. It’s nice, it’s in, it brings unending amounts of joy and fascination.


This summer

We're not traveling back to New York this summer because we were there two years in a row, and frankly we were tired of spending the money every year to go. So this summer we're sticking around the continent and heading to Spain and then Lower Silesian area. Like the summer season that starts with Memorial Day, the summer season for Poles starts with Labor Day weekend (May 1 in the rest of the world) so there's already plenty to do. Beer festivals, European League of Football games, and food festivals, galore.

There'll be more delicious summer produce, pickles to make, fruit to jam, IPAs and gin + tonics to drink. Onwards! (But honestly, come August I'll definitely be over it and ready for fall and comfort foods, a.k.a., back to my normal self. No worries.)

Grilled asparagus zucchini endive
Grilled asparagus zucchini endive
Tomato, lettuce, and bean plants in a planter
Tomato, lettuce, and bean plants in a planter
Queen Elizabeth IQueen Elizabeth I

I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction lately and most of it about the royal history of Britain from the Norman Invasion to Elizabethan politics. One of the books I forgot I preordered was “Shakespeare’s Sisters: How Women Wrote the Renaissance” by Ramie Targoff. It just showed up on my reader one day and I had to think back to when and why I preordered it and remembered that I read a book review in the NYT. Anyway, it explores women writers during the English Renaissance, a period when they were legally the property of men, married off at the age of 15, couldn’t go to school, couldn’t own property, and were made to wear a lead muzzle if they were mouth. What a time to be alive.

There is, of course, Queen Elizabeth I, and her many writings, like her translations and transpositions of poetry and prayers, and her speeches. But there’s also some lesser known women, like Mary Sidney who translated psalms with her brother, Aemilia Lanyer’s poems, and Elizabeth Cary’s plays. It manages to be inspiring while enraging. These women were doing something they could have easily been locked away for, but they didn’t care because why the hell not? One of them even fought the courts and the king to get her family’s ancestral properties back — and won. They walked so Jane Austen could run, and for that I am grateful. I’m also grateful that there’s enough scholarly interest for someone to sit down and actually do the research and bring these women to light and life. Brilliant.