Yesterday, seated on my staircase amidst power tools and insulation, I tasted the first asparagus of the season, with two eggs over easy, parmesan cheese crunchies, and a couple thick slices of wood-oven baked bread on a chipped dinner plate. It was divine.

I welcome spring with insurmountable enthusiasm and a big sigh of relief.  This winter was cold and unsteady.

News of the natural disaster in a country that I love dearly is quite frightening. Luckily my friends are safe, but the situation is devastating. I think often of the generous people I met during my time in Japan, and now hope that everyone is doing his or her best in the face of such trying a situation.

My little house has no heating yet and the tile floors are synonymous with ice cubes. Just as spring began to sprout, and the day after Japan’s tsunami, four days of non-stop rains bombarded my region in the south of France and my very old leaky-roofed house. A part from staining some walls and ceiling, no harm was done.

The first part of our renovation began over a month ago, with the destruction of a very old dividing wall. Bastien and I have since learned about plumbing at midnight, electricity with no flashlight, building flat walls over bendy ones, and small house planning. We have just about made it through the toughest part, but cooking without a kitchen has led to the following casualties: 1 handmade terracotta olive oil bottle, 3 dinner plates, 1 Pyrex dish, 1 flower-pot, 1 watering-pot, and a few glasses. To my delight, the baby fig tree in the flower-pot survived without a scratch.

Though we try very hard not to break things, it happens. Initially startled and disappointed by each crash of ceramic and glass, I can only think of these things as trinkets when compared to what so many people are going through.

Keep those chins high and dry.

Tip for cooking asparagus:

If you haven’t got a special asparagus saucepan, and want a no-hassle solution to evenly cooking it, use a large open frying pan. Fill halfway with water and bring to a boil. Pose the asparagus stalks partially in the water with the tops resting on the side of the frying pan, as if they are in a hot tub. Cook for a minute or two before pushing the stalks the rest of the way into the water and finish boiling for another couple of minutes. Avoid over-cooking, taking them out of the water while they still have that fresh green color.



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