Monday, March 24, 2008

Springtime in Berkeley

So what do people who do not subscribe to a particular organized religion but believe in our connection through nature and think that regardless of who this Jesus person was that he had some really good ideas do on Easter? They go for a hike. And in our neighborhood, they admire the bright green hills (which will soon turn to gold) and breathe the sweet smells of eucalyptus, damp earth, fresh grass, and blooming flowers.

We hiked the Selbey to the Big Springs Trail in Tilden Park, which we live on the edge of, but not before I got out my camera to appreciate what was right in and near my own yard.

My magnolia tree (makes a big mess but very pretty, and the petals make good fairy beds and boats).

Baby figs!! This is a black mission, and we also have a brown turkey. This seems a little early to be getting fruit, but there's lots of it, so perhaps we're for our first big crop. We started both trees from bare root a few years ago and have only harvested a handful of fruit from each so far. 

 Our persimmon tree. It's beautiful as it emerges from dormancy, but it's best time is in the fall, when the leaves turns a bright yellow. We also started this from bare root. No fruit yet; it just looks good.

Our neighbor's flowering cherry.

Flowering something or others across the street from us. 

Around the corner from us is an empty lot that grows over a hundred calla lilies this time each year. I sneak down with my scissors for an armful every couple of weeks.

And here's our maple tree, the star on our block. We can take no credit for it though: it came with the house. 

We've been out of town the past two weekends for three-day trips, and so I just wasn't up for my monster Easter brunch this year. Instead, we had a quiet Easter dinner with just the MIL over. 

We started with a few appetizers. On the left are Trader Joe's crabcakes. Have you tried them? I usually turn up my nose at all TJ's frozen  prepared whatnots, but these are really tasty. 

For dinner we had barbecued rack of lamb with homemade mint jelly (we used up all I had, so I'll make some more of this soon), lemon roasted potatoes, buttered baby peas, and green salad with Meyer lemon vinaigrette. Aside from the fact that this is the MIL's favorite dinner, she loves to see her mother's spring china, which has now become my spring china (sort of funny that someone who didn't register for any china for her wedding has ended up with so much of the stuff).

For dessert I made a Swiss Easter Rice Tart from last week's New York Times food section. The filling is more or less a rice pudding, into which you stir ground almonds, lemon zest, and eggs. My family liked it, but I have to admit that it wasn't really my style of dessert: sweet and sort of bland. Swiss, right? A Meyer lemon tart with a big citrus zing is more typical of something I would have made. I guess subtlety is just not my thing when it comes to desserts.

I hope everyone had a happy Easter no matter how they celebrated it and a good weekend if they did not celebrate it. Happy Spring.


Libby said...

Boy has spring ever sprung in Berkeley!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I love the photos. And, once again, you're making me hungry.

KatieGirlBlue said...

I believe that Odysseus was actually in Berkeley when he happened upon the Lotus Eaters. Such sublime beauty, such abundant nature. You lucky duck.

We hiked yesterday, too, to a climbing area in Canyonlands. A good way to contemplate rebirth.

I like TJ's crabcakes, too. They give me a taste of home without having to track down fresh crabs in Utah.

jilly said...

Oh how pretty! Love all of the blossoms!

How do you do the lemon roasted potatoes?

gwendomama said...

we had a very secular egg hunt and ate lots of food.


also? had great success with grape juice + vinegar egg dye, resulting in a lovely blue-purple streaked egg.

E said...

i think i would have preferred a lemon tart too- that sounds so perfect- fresh, tart, sweet and springy!

Anne-Toireasa said...

1)I am SO jealous of your ability to look out of your home and see all of those beautiful trees and plants.
2)Acknowledging connection through nature is a beautiful way to go about appreciating life :).
3)I'm kind of a food snob, but I totally agree with you on the TJs crabcakes!

Happy Spring!!!!

Anonymous said...

Happy Easter!

PS - Love your furniture!

tulipmom said...

Gorgeous scenery everywhere you look! And your table looks beautiful too.

Jen Yu said...

oh yeah - rub it in with more flowers around the cake... wow - everything is blooming in bezerkeley and before you know it all of the plants will be having sex. sheesh. our pines don't have their pollen orgy until june. i'm jealous of the fig tree(s). my friend has two in their yard (in so cal) and they hate figs. where is the justice in that, may i ask?! i kinda wish i had visited you for dinner yesterday ;) looks great!

J said...

Great pictures, so spring-y! It makes me want to move to California!

Anonymous said...

Can you send some of your lovely spring weather this way?

ElleBee said...

Everything looks so beautiful! I am truly jealous that you have fig trees in your yard. The hoops I have to jump through to get fresh figs in the Windy City are absolutely ridiculous (and not exactly bargains). Think of me as you enjoy your missions and turkeys. ;)

Belle in Bloom said...

Everything from the trees to the meal looks beautiful. Fantastic!

Angelina said...

Well I think you did exactly the kind of thing that Jesus guy would have done if he hadn't been so busy rising from a tomb- walk in nature and feel the connectedness and then eat damn good food. We did nothing. I know we had a nice snuggly morning with our kid and he had a very simple easter basket.

I would also have preferred a lemon tart. I always prefer a lemon tart.