Woke up this morning to coffee, homemade hamantaschen (after all that hoo-ha, I think my original recipe is still the best--and it rolls out! wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles!), and a call from K., wishing me a happy spring. With the weather back to pom-pom hat temperatures, I'd completely forgotten that the vernal equinox was arriving today. But icy winds (and, if you're in the midwest, snow) notwithstanding, it's spring! Three tulips started pushing up through the cold dirt in a pot out on the balcony a few days ago. Now, if they could retract, they would, but instead they're just hunkering down, looking like they'd like to find someone to blame for last week's deceptively balmy invitation.
In celebration, I went down the 2nd Place Garden, clutching 16 pounds of fresh potting soil and a couple of packets of seeds: a mesclun mix bought in Paris 3 years ago and some Easter-egg radishes from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden--so-called because the round little roots come in a bouquet of spring pastels, including rose, lilac, pale pink, and white. WIth my crumpled garden gloves on, still stiff with last year's dirt, I sprinkled tiny lettuce seeds and poked down pebbly, Advil-colored radish seeds. A week or so and they should start sprouting. I've promised K. a homegrown salad for her birthday dinner when she comes back on leave in May, dressed with last summer's hot pink chive-blossom vinegar.
Something else for the future backyard (because surely there will be one, one of these days): a wood-burning outdoor oven, made in a weekend, from cinderblock, firebrick, sand, and...kitty litter? Yep, you want to make a clay oven--sturdy, cheap, and perfect for baking anything from pizza and bread to pie and pork shoulder, you just get yourself to the supermarket and buy a few bags of the cheapest house-brand kitty litter. Mix it with water, and the little granules will melt into smooth greenish clay. Learning this, and many other useful details, made the hour+ ride on the local train up to the Bronx on Saturday worth it. It was Greenbridge's annual Grow Together, a day of gardening and community-building workshops, on every possible topic from the upcoming Farm Bill to making your own twig lampshades and kestrel houses. And now I know how to make an bread oven out of kitty litter! That's true urban homesteading.
Elsewhere in the news: Prairie Home Companion, the Movie. Another Robert Altman ensemble piece, and I'm just hoping it's playing in Eureka Springs this June. One question, though: Lindsay Lohan?
And as promised, Trader Joe's has opened on Union Square. It looks swell, but I can't tell you what the merch is like, because there was an endless line down the block on Sunday afternoon just to get in. I like attractively priced trail mix and frozen pot stickers just as much as the next girl, but I am not standing in line just to go to the grocery store. Come on, people! Amy's dedicated-foodie pal Heather, however, checked it out on Saturday, and said the prices seemed San-Francisco-style--they're not doing the Dean and Deluca gouge, shockingly enough.