Wednesday: Dobrzyn

Someone asked yesterday about some of the handmade furniture they saw where I’m staying. It was made for Andrzej and Malgorzata by Jerzy Kenar, a Polish sculptor who lived in Sweden when they did. Coincidentally, Kenar now lives in Chicago and produces highly-regarded sculpture rather than furniture; you can see some of his work here. Here’s Kenar’s biography from Wikipedia:

Born on January 19, 1948 in the town of Iwonicz-Zdrój, he left Poland permanently in 1973 for Sweden. In 1979, he emigrated to the United States, where he opened the Wooden Gallery in Chicago in 1980. The gallery is currently a cultural hub for Chicago’s Polonia, hosting many exhibits, shows and meetings with many famous figures. His career soared in the mid-1990s with his commissions to decorate Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, which houses a number of his pieces, and the city’s Harold Washington Library. He has done work for a number of churches in the Chicago area, such as the interior design for St. Constance in Jefferson Park, wooden artwork for St. Kevin in South Deering, as well as the Millennium Doors for one of Chicago’s ‘Polish Cathedrals’, Holy Trinity Church. He is also a generous patron of Chicago’s art scene.

Here’s the bed in the master bedroom.


And here is a picture of Pia, Hili’s predecessor, on the bed roughly a decade ago. She was described in this photo as “looking like a cranky loaf of bread.”


Here is the dining table in what was my room. I have now moved out of my room to make space for another visitor, and have been installed in spacious digs upstairs. There I will get to commune with Hili’s bête noire—literally—the black tomcat Fitness.


A detail of the table:

Table detail

Lunch this afternoon: assorted sausages and salads, as well as a special Polish smoked cheese, krolenski wedzony (literally, “smoked royal”), the cheese with the holes in it.


After her own noms, Hili mounted the coffee, tea and sugar canisters, a favorite perch since she was a kitten:

Hili on canister

This morning the Queen crawled onto me and fell asleep on her back before I had a chance to brush my hair. Of course it’s a sin to disturb a sleeping cat, so, being unable to cut off my sleeve like Mohammad did with Muezza, Hili and I remained in that position.

Jerry and Hili

(The one good thing about Islam is that it’s the only religion I know of whose prophet reputedly loved cats—and had one.)

Dinner was a scrumptious wild-and-domestic Polish/Swedish mushroom-and-leek soup made by Malgorzata. It was thick with fungus: the best mushroom soup I’ve ever had:


There are surprises in store involving Hili as editor, but I’ll leave those for another day.


  1. alexandra moffat
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    would Madam Malgorzata be willing to share the mushroom/leek soup recipe? Or maybe she should write a cookbook, which would sell like wildfire, judging from the photos…..

    • Malgorzata Koraszewska
      Posted January 8, 2014 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      Danish mushroom and leek soup

      400 grams mushrooms (wild mushrooms are best but mushrooms from the shop are quite acceptable)
      2 not too big leeks (discard the dark green parts)
      1 onion
      2 stock cubes (of course, one can also boil bouillon but I’m too lazy for that)
      100 grams cheese spread
      100 grams smoked ham cut in squares
      1/10 liter of cream
      salt, pepper

      Slice leeks and onion and fry them in margarine. Slice mushrooms and fry them (the crispier the better). Transfer leeks and mushrooms to a cooking pot, add stock cubes and ¾ liter boiling water. Boil for 20 minutes. Add cheese spread and when it is dissolved, add cream. Boil again briefly. Add salt, pepper, and ham. Serve with a toast and hard cheese.

      • merilee
        Posted January 8, 2014 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, Malgorzata! I was just going to ask.
        What kind of stock – chicken, beef or veggie?

        • Malgorzata Koraszewska
          Posted January 8, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

          We have here Knorr chicken stock with the taste of smoked bacon and this is the best. Otherwise use chicken stock.

          • JBlilie
            Posted January 8, 2014 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

            Thanks, Knorr is my favorite chicken stock! Not sure if we can get the bacon flavored version …

          • merilee
            Posted January 8, 2014 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

            I might use my homemade chicken stock and fry the mushrooms in bacon grease. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it;-)

            • JBlilie
              Posted January 8, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink


      • JBlilie
        Posted January 8, 2014 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        Thanks very much for all your wonderful recipes! Definitely making this one!

      • Posted January 8, 2014 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

        Thank you, Malgorzata!

    • kansaskitty
      Posted January 8, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      I was just going to ask for the recipe, too! Thanks for sharing the recipe, Malgorzata! It looks wonderful. I have very much enjoyed seeing Jerry’s photos of his sojourn in Poland. 🙂

  2. thompjs
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Coyne may not come back with the Queen sleeping with him now!

  3. JBlilie
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    What a fine idyll you’ve had! How much longer will it last? 🙂

    • Hempenstein
      Posted January 8, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      I think the idyll part is mainly mealtimes. Otherwise, he’s writing in earnest.

  4. JBlilie
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    With the weather, food, and friends in Dobrzyn, why ever come back to frozen Chicago?! 🙂

  5. gravityfly
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how true the story of Mohammad and “miaoezza” is.
    His exploits with under-age girls would give cat lovers a bad name…

  6. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Love the “cranky loaf of bread” description as it seemed very apt.

    • Merilee
      Posted January 8, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink


    • E.A. Blair
      Posted January 8, 2014 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      Except with cats, it’s supposed to be a meat loaf.

      • merilee
        Posted January 8, 2014 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        I have that Kliban meatloaf poster, too;-)) I often call it meatloafing when Fred lies on the bed next to my head and parallel to the edge.

  7. E.A. Blair
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    “…like Mohammad did with Muezza…”

    The first time I heard that story, it was about an emperor of China.

    Kenar’s work reminds me of the sculptures of the Icelander Ásmundur Sveinsson.

  8. cnocspeireag
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    You are right as ever, it is the only good thing about islam.

  9. Lurker111
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    I finally went back to the TimeTree, see here:

    and found that I and my Big Orange Kitty shared a common ancestor about 96 Mya. Assuming, as a rough estimate, that the human ancestors had a lifespan of 30 years and the kitty ancestors a lifespan of 3 years, this means that I and my kitty are 32-millionth cousins about 29 million times removed (keeping to two significant digits).

    • Lurker111
      Posted January 8, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      Argh. I’m an idiot. For generations, you don’t do lifespans. For humans, assume 15 years per generation, and for kitties, 1 year. Then we get 96-millionth cousins about 90 million times removed.

      A train leaves Philadelphia heading west at 45 mph …

  10. varney33
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    And why no photo of Fitness?
    [MyWay, Bro, & Orphan, all black toms (castrated–are they still toms?), wonder why his exclusion–so do I.]

  11. Posted January 8, 2014 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    “…thick with fungus…”

    That does sound good!

  12. abrotherhoodofman
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    Hey Jerry… while you’re relaxing in that chair…

    I’m sure you’ll appreciate what Seth Lloyd of MIT had to say about free will:

    Our sense that we have free will arises from our inability to predict our future decisions.”

    I’m not sure it can be said any simpler (or better!) than that.

  13. Posted January 8, 2014 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Hili must be very used to you and trust you, Dr. C. She looks very relaxed!

    • Posted January 8, 2014 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

      What I was going to write. A cat who zonks out on your person like that is one who’s swapped hearts with you. Those times are to be treasured and cultivated.


  14. Hempenstein
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    I like the bed a lot! And are the figures on the dining-table chairs removable, or is conking your head on them not much of an issue?

  15. Achrachno
    Posted January 8, 2014 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    So as best I can figure, Jerry flew from Chicago to Poland where he slept in a bed carved by a guy who lives in Chicago. Seems like there’s something a bit convoluted here.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:26 am | Permalink

      No way, it’s perfect symmetry. Probably god caused it. 🙂

  16. moarscienceplz
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    ’twas I who asked for the furniture pics. Thanks so much for them. Andrzej and Malgorzata have very good taste!

  17. lisa parker
    Posted January 9, 2014 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    For any of you interested, my baby brother designs and makes custom furniture. He is incredibly talented and innovative. If any of you care to see his work, here’s the link.

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