Life in Dobrzyn (continued)

Life in the small town of Dobrzyn, and on the cherry farm, is not filled with novelty, which is fine with me. Good friends, good food, work, walkies, a fluffy and friendly cat, and, of course, cherry pie—these are more than ample to fill the days and induce profound relaxation. And so I present some familiar scenes from the past three days.

Malgorzata and I picked one full basket of cherries for the next pie (there have been three in addition to the plum tart). There are frozen cherries, too, but somehow it’s more satisfying to go to the tree and pick your own right before piemaking.

cherries in basket

Malgorzata pits the cherries while I crack walnuts (grown on the property) for the crust. I took this photo with a tripod and self-timer:

Making pie

Malgorzata’s patented cherry pie with walnut crust. It’s the best! I have two pieces for day: one for second breakfast and one for fifth breakfast:


Second breakfast:

Pie slice

After third breakfast of sausages, salad, cheese, sliced tomatoes, and blackcurrant juice (I haven’t seen this in the U.S., but it’s delicious), it’s time for walkies to the river. Cyrus always goes along, and even Hili deigns to join us on occasion.

Andrzej and Hili

Andrzej photographing the Princess for a future Hili dialogue:

Andrzej photo hili

Cyrus chases his ball while Hili looks on with contempt. “What an obsequious display!”, she thinks.


But the beasts are very solicitous of each other (or rather, the d*g is solicitous of the cat), with Cyrus always checking on Hili’s whereabouts:

Hili and Cyrus

Can you spot the cat? The wide Vistula is in the background.

hili spot

Dinner three nights ago: squash (from Elzbieta’s garden) stuffed with tomatoes, bacon, the scooped-out squash, and other goodies, topped with feta cheese. Salad is on the side, all washed down with Zubr (“bison”), my favorite Polish beer.


Dinner two nights ago: pork tenderloin cooked with ginger-infused honey, soy sauce and hoisin sauce, served with salad, yellow string beans, and potatoes roasted in the Swedish style (washed down, of course, with Zubr; you can see a bottle behind the saucepan):


After dinner last night we went out to visit Leon and his staff, Elzbieta and Andrzej, at the site of their new home. Leon was much more wary in the “wild” than he was when I visited him in his apartment last year. He isn’t quite used to running free of his harness, but he seems to like it. Here he is with Elzbieta.

Leon and Elzbieta

Leon is the most serious cat I know: he always looks either grumpy or deeply concerned:


This time he wouldn’t let me pick him up, but he did allow me to give him his favorite cat treats:


We returned home bearing gifts, including some pickles freshly preserved by Elzbieta (the cucumbers came from their garden):


Elzbieta’s partner also gave me a prized flask of his homemade cherry cordial, which is vodka infused with cherries and a bit of sugar (left in photo below). I drank a flask of this last year. We also have a visitor in Dobrzyn: Darek, a teacher from southern Poland right across the border from the Czech Republic. He reads this site, and already knew about Leon and Hili when he arrived. Darek brought me some gingerbread from his town (it’s called “Kopernik” because Copernicus’s family was from there), as well as “Tatra Melky,” which looks to be a confection made of caramel-covered puffed rice. I also got a bottle of Becherovka, a local Czech herbal liqueur. As Wikipedia notes about the drink:

Today, only two people know the secret of the entire production process and may enter the Drogikamr room—where, once a week, they mix the herbs and spices used in the drink. Some of the herbs are imported from abroad, and some grow around Karlovy Vary.


Goodnight! Tomorrow I head for Poznan to lecture, and will have some photos from the big city (I’m also promised local noms.)

H&C sleepng


  1. Posted August 6, 2016 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    If you have time and the inclination, when yu return to Dobrzyn, would you post a pic or two of Dobrzyn on Google Earth?
    Your words and photos are entertaining and comforting.

  2. ritebrother
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Great post, Jerry! I feel like I’m there…and I love the food descriptions. My family has mostly Ukrainian roots and a lot of the food is similar.

  3. Posted August 6, 2016 at 9:08 am | Permalink


  4. Richard Bond
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    In the UK, 60+ years ago when I was young, blackcurrent juice was my favourite drink. The commonest version was a concentrated brand called Ribena, decried these days for too much sugar.

    • bric
      Posted August 6, 2016 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      Now there’s a sugar-free version. Ribena has been entertaining us for years with bizarre ads

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted August 7, 2016 at 9:52 am | Permalink

        Now there’s a sugar-free version.

        Not sugar-free. “No added sugar.” (They’ve obviously got someone with some chemistry knowledge in their advertising department.)

        • Posted August 8, 2016 at 11:50 am | Permalink

          A fruit drink with *no* sugar would be pretty weird, to say the least.

  5. George
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    You can get blackcurrant syrup at Polish delis in Chicago. I assume you can use the syrup to make juice.

    I love pierniki. A fond memory of my youth.

    Does Malgorzata want to start a mail order pie business? If not, I think Jerry should make room in his luggage to bring some back.

  6. Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Great pictures. Heaven is for real, in Dobrzyn.

  7. LG
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    All of the food looks delicious

  8. Pliny the in Between
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    One out of 13000+ w/o a comment? I celebrate when 1 in 10 gets a one line comment😉. One of these days I’ll realize that John Donne was wrong – at least as far as one particular person’s sense of humor is concerned.

  9. Posted August 6, 2016 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    You are sooooo spoiled… what uber-hospitable friends you have!

  10. Posted August 6, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing all the awesome photos! The furry ones are adorable, and the food looks so delicious…

  11. Christopher
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    What, may I ask, makes the roasted potatoes “Swedish style”?

    and the pie. ooh, those bits around the edge where the cherry goo has leaked out a bit…I love that so much, I tend to burn my finger and tongue sneaking a little taste of that on any homemade fruit pie. It all looks lovely. Rustic, honest food. Makes my horrible bachelor chow look so unappealing!

    • Malgorzata
      Posted August 6, 2016 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      I just learned to make them in Sweden – never seen this way of roasting potatoes in Poland before. The Swedish name is “klyft potatis”, so, of course, I call them Swedish potatoes.

      • Christopher
        Posted August 6, 2016 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

        So, they’re just peeled, cut length-wise into wedges, are they coated with anything, an oil perhaps? seasoned with anything? And how are they different than the typical roasted potatoes in Poland?

        In my family, I guess roasted potatoes were limited to actually being roasted with a chunk of beef, with an onion and carrots. Now that I’m a vegetarian, I roast them alone and I’m finding that I really enjoy simple rustic foods better that way, although I’ve got a lot to learn. The last two generations in the US have really drifted away from proper cooking and more towards processed, reheated, microwaved foods several steps away from the garden, although certainly there is a movement to return to the past; a farm-to-table and slow-food movement. However, I have met several people who have never turned on their ovens and instead use them for storage!

        • Malgorzata
          Posted August 6, 2016 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

          Potatoes are cut in wedges, boiled in salty water for a minute or two, drained, put over onto a baking pan (preferably in one layer – they are more crispy then) and baked for an hour. I’ve never before heard about boiling the potatoes before roasting them but it really makes the difference.

          • Christopher
            Posted August 6, 2016 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

            Sounds great, I will give it a try very soon, thank you.

          • Posted August 6, 2016 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

            I saw a recipe on a cooking show called America’s Test Kitchen, and they demonstrated a great way of getting crispier baked or fried potatoes:

            Boil the potato wedges for a short while (like you did), drain them and shake them vigorously in the pot with the lid on. That kind of bruises the exterior of the wedges, and this makes for crispier taters, baked or fried!

            • Christopher
              Posted August 6, 2016 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

              As often as I watch that show, I’ve never tried anything they suggest. I guess I can say the same for the shows of Lydia, Jacques, Bayless, or Jinich…but then, it’s kinda like food porn. I watch and think, maybe, someday, I might like to try that.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted August 7, 2016 at 9:59 am | Permalink

            Potatoes are cut in wedges, boiled in salty water for a minute or two, drained,

            “parboiled” is how I’ve always heard this described. Boil the (large) pan of water ; dump in the pre-cut potatoes ; let it come back to the boil ; either drain the water off (use it for some other veg), or scoop the potatoes out.
            I’m trying to remember the chemistry – I think the heat ruptures starch grains in the potatoes, softening the texture of the potato without making it pasty.
            Not being much into food except as a user, I don’t pay much attention to it. But a somewhat insane British cook called Heston Blumenthal has done a number of interesting programmes on the chemistry of cooking over the years, and is a name that I keep half an ear open for.

  12. Posted August 6, 2016 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Evidently, Andrzej and Malgorzata are the best of the best! And you have a dream of a life, Jerry (‘cept for the airport indignities you must endure).

  13. bluemaas
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Some in the countryside have Other Worldly – wealthy and citified and so, so kind and generous relatives; of my youth, we were such country folk. One singular aunt and uncle, both now deceased, and their kiddos, the three of ‘em penthouse dwellers still a half a century out from all of our childhoods together, used to fling blowout – shebangs the likes of which not one of us country mice ‘d ever, ever miss out upon. I mean to state that AllWeAll, the Countrified Cousins, ‘d haul in however we could and from hither and yon just to .be. there. Say, for from Hawaii shrimp – noms the size o’small t – bones flown in along with the tables’ adornments of the sunshine – yellow Hibiscus brackenridgei.

    So: when, at every single one of these nearly annually pitched soirées, m’Uncle Roland ‘d rise, raise up (as a lifelong and unapologetic teetotaling child of a raging alcoholic father) his water goblet and beckon all present to please toast his sister, my mother Annabelle, because he steadfastly believed that he could not host a successful one of these bashes without her toting to them all her current Iowa season’s worth of homegrown and homemade dill and sweetened / bread & butter pickles, why, I knew from my weest beginnings that this man and my Aunt Ruby, even aside of their big – dollar dosh, had … … heart.

    Whoa, Ms Elzbieta, what smashing reminiscences I have just had flashed afore my forehead — with that darling pix of your pickling – handiworks !


    • Posted August 6, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      This was simply a lovely piece of nostalgic writing, Blue. It tastes like summer. Thank you.

      • bluemaas
        Posted August 13, 2016 at 9:29 am | Permalink

        Golly, Ms Smokedpaprika, you are quite welcome !


  14. Mark R.
    Posted August 7, 2016 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    I was relaxed while reading of your Life in Dobrzyn. But now I have to mow the lawn and lose my relaxed feeling.

    You’re lucky to have such a great and diverse cook in the kitchen.

  15. Glandu
    Posted August 8, 2016 at 3:14 am | Permalink

    Polish food is so…civilized. I love it. And I’m French, I’m supposed to despise every food that does not come from outside the hexagon. Still.

  16. Posted August 8, 2016 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    I was going to say “mmmm fresh pickles”, but I realized something sounds wrong about that.

%d bloggers like this: