A quiet Saturday in Dobrzyn: walkies, shoppies, mammals and noms

January 4, 2014 • 2:33 pm

UPDATE: Note that Malgorzata has kindly added the recipe for the cake in a comment. Note that the measurements are, in European style, in weight rather than volume, but any cookbook will give the volumetric equivalents (note: 1 lb. = 454 grams).


The weather has been fairly mild here, though I hear it’s dreadful in Chicago. It’s sunny and cold, just right for a walk along the Vistula followed by a bit of shopping. The sun is low and weak, but at least it shows its face.


Off to the butcher’s to buy sausages and an oxtail for Emma the d*g. As usual, the selection of encased meats was stupendous:


Emma got her oxtail and ran off to nom it:

Emma gets an oxtail

Emma was a stray, and had apparently lived for three years as such before showing up here, filthy and starved. I have no idea how she survived the Polish winters. For the first several years after Andrzej and Malgorzata took her in, she was a bit wild and had to live outside for fear she would hurt Hili’s predecessor, the beloved tabby Pia. Finally, Emma calmed down and was allowed to move inside to be with her beloved “husband,” Darwin the d*g.

Here is the cozy two-room doghouse that Andrzej built for Emma during her outdoor years, complete with an inner chamber and warm blankets, as well as a thatched roof and her name over the door.

Emma's doghouse

After we went to the supermarket (yes, there’s a small one here), we repaired to the smaller, locally-owned food shop, which Malgorzata and Andrzej patronize because it’s in danger of being forced out of business by the newer supermarket. There were many mirrors and I couldn’t resist a self portrait.

Self portrait

And, of course, at home awaits the comfort of Hili, soft of fur and prompt of purr.


What better way to read than ensconced with a cat? I’m reading Against Moral Responsibility, by Bruce N. Waller, which I believe was recommended by a reader.

The title attracted me because while I believe in responsibility, as an incompatibilist I don’t believe in moral responsibility. In fact, fourteen months ago Dan Dennett and I argued this issue for several hours in the car on the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston. I notice that Dan gave Waller’s book a mixed review, and that review and others’ discussion of it is here.  I’ve only begun the book and so can’t judge it yet.

Hili would be on my lap but it’s hard to read that way when supine.

Reading with Hili

This evening Hili got up to a bit of mischief. The freshly washed and folded laundry had been dragged from the closet onto the floor, and I was told that Hili does this frequently. When I was photographing the crime, the feline miscreant returned to her depredations and continued them:

Laundry 1

Laundry 2

No cream for you!

After a dinner of spaghetti bolognese and salad, we had a brief computer-and-cat break, and then it was on to dessert. This was a stupendous German recipe that Malgorzata said was a “Karlsbad cake.” I helped make it, too!

It starts with a pound of butter creamed with icing sugar, and then six egg yolks are beaten in, one by one, by hand. Then you add a mixture of flour, baking powder, and finely grated almonds.  After that you fold in the six egg whites along with chunks of dark chocolate. After the cake is baked, the top is topped with cherry jam (we lacked the specified apricot jam) and finely shaved milk chocolate.

Here, ladies and gentlemen, is a work of culinary art:


Oy, was it good! And there’s plenty left for tomorrow.


77 thoughts on “A quiet Saturday in Dobrzyn: walkies, shoppies, mammals and noms

      1. The wonderful Julia Child RIP [the goddess of butter use] has a similar recipe from “Mastering The Art Of French Cooking” & HERE is the Oprah [sorry] variation. Julia/Oprah don’t use an acidic fruit topping in opposition to the cake, but rather an icing on the same theme as the cake itself. That seems to be the only difference.

        The Polish recipe reminds me, in a way, of a Black Forest Gateau without the layers of cream filling, but with the the acid/alcohol tones of cherry liquor inside & sour cherries both inside & on top. I wonder if there’s a Polish version incorporating Wisniak [a liquor I think] or similar?

      2. I googled karlsbader kuchen & now my mouth is watering at all the pictures of all the variations!

        You can google it and if you don’t know German, get Google to translate…it’ll be good enough for you to see what it is.

  1. Ha ha! Hili didn’t care that her crimes were witnessed and she seems a little proud of them! 🙂

    The photobombing Santa is a little disturbing.

      1. Oops, hit submit before my brain finished – stupid fingers who don’t pay attention to their brain overlord!

        I meant to say the spelling of dog without the asterisk in the previous post.

  2. “I simply can’t resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course.” -Mark Twain

  3. What makes you think that the weather is so terrible in Chicago? We had almost two days without snow. It has started to snow again. And the temperature is 30F (-1C) – although it supposed to get down to -17F (-28C) Sunday evening.

    OK – this sucks.

      1. Here in Oz we are at the other end of the extreme.
        At my place just south of the QLD border, it was 38C.
        Some places in QLD got up to 45C.
        Last year throughout Oz was the hottest on record and this year is pipped to be even hotter.

        1. In 2009, I visited Sydney & Cairns in November. Sydney was having crazy early hot weather at 35C. Everyone kept telling me that it normally isn’t that hot.

          Of course Cairns was hot and humid being just before the rainy season.

        2. During the summer we could give you a run for your money, here in S Calif. 40°C is a regular event in Jul-Sept. But it’s winter now and it only got up to 19°C today where I am. Tonight it should plunge all the way to 7°C. I’m feeling warmth deprived.

          1. I didn’t realise it got that hot in California.
            From watching Seinfeld I got an idea of how hot it gets in Florida.
            One of my favourite episodes is when Jerry and Elaine went to Jerrys parents place there.
            It had so many great themes: the astronaut pen, the heat and Elaine screaming ‘Stella, Stella’ after taking too many muscle relaxants.

        3. Heh…all y’all describing pleasant springtime temperatures as if they were from the very pits of Hell….

          If it’s real heat you’re looking for, try the Valley of the Sun. We’ll go weeks at a time where the average daytime high is 45°C, with at least a few of those days in the upper 40s, and overnight low temperatures in the mid 30s. Even 50°C is not unheard of, though only in hotter microclimates an only once officially at the airport.

          Those are all shade figures, of course. It gets a bit warmer once you step into the Sun….



  4. Jerry, you would make a LOT of readers very happy if you passed on some of the recipes that you experience over there. That cake – yea, I would give that one a try!

    1. My favourite chocolate is dark with chilli, but then again I put chilli in everything.
      Orange is very nice too.

      1. sub on both chili and orange with dark chocolate. This summer in Whistler I had to-die-for dark chocolate cookies with fresh rosemary!! Deadly deelish.

    2. For the dessert course of my xmas dinner, service for 10 people, I made chocolate creme brulees. Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate. I wanted to pair it with something sharp and bright and chose orange, in the form of a generous amount of orange zest. I couldn’t resist a splash of nice bourbon. Man, best I ever made.

        1. Acutally pretty easy to make so, treat yourself!

          The only tricky thing is determining when they are ready to pull out of the oven. Deciphering the results of “the jiggle test” are tricky. Best thing is to make one or two extras for testing doneness.

            1. That would be hilarious!

              Dessert time at your next dinner party. Go out to the garage, haul in the dolly with the tanks and hose, don welding mask, and torch dessert.

        1. Not much sugar at all, promise! Well, there is the melted sugar “cap” on top, but even that’s only about 1/2 tsp of turbinado sugar.

          The rest is right out of a healthy living bible. Copious amounts of egg yolks and HEAVY cream.

  5. Oh what nice pics of surroundings, animals, humans and noms alike. Looking forward to more. (Even like this pic of Emma the d*g.) Every one of your close-up Hili portraits from this trip is a definite showstopper!

  6. “When I was photographing the crime, the feline miscreant returned to her depredations and continued them.”

    “No cream for you!”

    That’s most unfair. She’s not morally responsible. 🙂

  7. Glad you’re having such a good time. I just spent part of today reading Elizabeth George’s new book “Just One Evil Act” while being warmed by Chloe the cat. Chloe by the way, recently started using her plush cat bed after I covered it with an old dish towel on a whim.

    1. That’s probably because the dish towel (tea towel in Oz) has made the bed ‘different’, and from my experience with my two cats makes it worth using again.
      Generally they will use something new for a few days and then go back to ‘anywhere in the house’, including the laundry tub, the dirty laundry basket (must be a bit smelly for them) or the shower recess. 🙂

      1. Yikes! You’ve exposed a creeping Americanization of my vocabulary! They’re usually tea towels here in Canada too.

  8. I have recently learnt how much more enjoyable travelling overseas is when you stay with people rather than in a hotel.
    One of my neighbours is Thai so I have been doing a few trips over there recently.
    The last one was for my neighbours nieces wedding. It was very interesting to see how they did it, although I was told it was more of a Chinese wedding as one of the couples parents is Chinese.
    It was still very different to any I’ve been to. The couple had their wedding photos taken the week before in western style clothes.
    At the start of the reception they were wearing traditional Chinese clothes and had photos with the guests. Then they wore the western clothes again and more photos with the guests.
    They didn’t actually get married that day either. The following week they went to the local registry office and signed the papers there.
    The food was a mix of Chinese and Thai with lots of beer and Thai whiskey (beer for me).

    1. Oh, she is older. She has been with us for 12 years now and when she came the vet judged her to be 3-3.5. So she is at least 15 years old.

  9. With all this talk of chocolate, I can’t believe nobody has tumbled to the best match for good chocolate… a nice Bordeaux, or Cabernet Sauvignon. Nothing better.

    1. I would disagree; to my palate, NO wine goes with chocolate. Chocolate coats the tongue and palate in a way that kills off the nuances of a good wine, and that means all wines, including port. Port is best drunk on its own after dinner, or perhaps with nuts or a salty cheese. The only dessert that I’ve found pairs well with wine is a ripe peach or mango with a good Sauternes.

      1. I don’t know. I’m personally quite fond of Tokaj or similar dessert wines with Babka…

        But maybe that’s just me.

          1. Comments like that, jstackpo, can get you stoned!

            Although, most likely it will be with brownies, not rocks.

      2. I find unless it is a desert wine like ice wine, you get the same horrible taste as you do when you drink orange juice after eating something sweet – the wine becomes bitter.

  10. For my birthday, yesterday, January 3rd, I anticipated my favorite cake, Carrot Cake with cream cheese icing, and we made it today. Well, the start. I’m not too bothered. It will be wonderful in due time.

    I learned from Julia Child to use jam to seal the “crumb layer” on a cake prior to icing it. I must admit, although I’m not a fan of apricots, apricot jam works exceedingly well as a crumb barrier.

    I don’t know about Hili, but Kink has been starting out on top of the covers, then worming his way under the blankets about 3 in the morning. He’s a real coldy bones.

  11. I like your account a lot, Mr Jerry, there is this spirit of Dobrzyń that makes everyone feel at home – cosy, comfortable and happy. Also nice selfie in the mirror of the famous shop 😉

  12. Karlsbad cinnamon cake

    300 grams butter
    300 grams icing sugar
    100 grams flour
    300 grams almonds
    100 grams dark chocolate
    6 eggs
    100 grams milk chocolate
    250 grams apricot or cherry jam
    2 heaped teaspoons of baking powder
    1 heaped tablespoon of cinnamon

    Roast almonds in a frying pan or in the oven. Let them cool, and grate them finely. Mix with the flour, baking powder and cinnamon.
    Cut the dark chocolate into small pieces.
    Separate egg yolks and egg whites.
    Cream the butter with the icing sugar and, when creamed, add egg yolks one at a time. Add almond/flour mixture in small portions, mixing all the time. Add dark chocolate pieces and mix well.
    Whip egg whites hard and add to the mixture (in five or six portions, otherwise the cake will not rise).
    Bake in a round form in 180 C (360 F) for an hour. When cake is cooled, spread the jam (heated until runny; you can do this by adding a bit of boiling water) on top and sprinkle with shavings of milk chocolate.

        1. Yes, those days I have to use my cherry jam because the apricot trees in my garden died a natural death (they were very old and frost and fungus disease took them). In previous years I had my own apricot jam as well so I could follow the recipe exactly. But it works very well with cherry jam.

          1. Wonderful! I must try that cake. Since I’m not much of a jam-maker, I’ll try cooking up some fresh cherry compote sans sucre. We’re having to watch our sugar these days.

            1. My parents have a cherry tree that birds planted so it’s wild and tall. It’s sour cherries but even those are really sweet without adding sugar when they make the jam. I think unsweetened jam is pretty good.

  13. Thanks for the wonderful photo essay Jerry!
    And thanks Malgorzata for the cake recipe!

    I’m glad to hear you are enjoying 10°C. Here (Minneapolis, Minnesota) it’s -31°C (-24°F) and the windchill is -46°C (yes, forty six, that’s no a typo; -50°F). And it feels every bit of that — I’ve been out in it already.

    Yes, Minnesotans are insane.

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