Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Eating Omily: Drunk on Summer

We're halfway through the week, and my back is covered in adhesive allergies!  I'm being tested for sensitivities to common household substances in the ongoing fight to get my eczema back into remission.  Fun fun!  Well, you know what really is fun fun?  Eating!  Omily!  What have I been chowing down on between last Wednesday and today?  I've been holding out on you guys.  While I sat typing away, and moving photos around last Wednesday, on the desk next to me was the beginning of something magical...a quart jar of drunken cherries.  Yes, as good as they sound.  No...better.  Cherry season is depressingly short, and those dark, sweet bing cherries are beyond a shadow of a doubt my favorite fruit, so preserve them I must.  Freezing cherries though, leaves you with a mushy, oxidized shadow of the fruit's formal glory, so this year I tried a different route, and am just thrilled with the results.  Especially over chocolate icecream.  I got this recipe from, Put 'em Up: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for he Creative Cook from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling by Sherri Brooks Vinton.
Start with a pound of sweet cherries.  If you can find 'black gold bings', I'm convinced they are the best cherries under the sun.  Take the stems off, but don't pit them.  Just cut a slit straight down to the pit in each cherry, and put them in a quart jar.  One pound will basically fill the jar.
 Now, add one and a half cups of not-your-best bourbon.  Ahem.  I think someone named JIM would really enjoy this particular booze um, while balancing on a BEAM.  Between the bourbon and the cherries, the jar will already be close to full.
 Put half a cup of brown sugar, and half a cup of water in a small saucepan, and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Once it's boiling, turn off the heat, and carefully pour the syrup into the jar.  It'll crackle a bit when the hot syrup hits the bourbon, but no worries.  You may or may not be able to fit every last drop of syrup into the jar.  Don't knock yourself out, ok?  Screw the lid onto the jar nice and tight, and shake it up really good.  Now, don't bother to resist.  Take the lid back off and dip a (clean) finger in for a taste.  Nom.  Resist the urge to drink the whole quart of the stuff and die of alcohol poisoning before its even had a chance to work its magic.  You've got to let it sit for a week, longer is better, so the flavor of the cherries (and the cherry pits!) can mingle with the flavors of the bourbon.  You'll see the liquid get darker, and the cherries get lighter, every day.  Don't hesitate to keep giving it shakes occasionally, to be sure all the cherries are getting equally intoxicated.

Then drizzle cherries and syrup over chocolate icecream, and die happy.  The soaking actually softens the pits enough that you can crap them open (I'm not advocating doing this with your teeth) and eat the soft meat inside.  Don't worry about the cyanide.  You can also mix the syrup with chocolate liqueur for a decadent dessert cocktail, or more bourbon or vermouth for a sweeter take on an Old Fashioned, or Manhattan.

On my Wednesday trip to the Farmer's Market, I also spotted a few more of my Summer favorites: sweet corn!  At a dollar an ear, I passed it by this time, but it'll get down to two, three, even four ears for a dollar as the season goes on, and that's when I stock up so I can eat it with lots of butter, add it to grain pilafs, and dry it for rich, hearty corn chowders after the weather turns.

 That Friday I stopped by my favourite meat vendor, affectionately referred to as my Pork People, and picked up a kielbasa.  Hands down my  favourite member of the sausage family, and, seriously?  You haven't lived till you've tasted Flying Pigs Farm's kielbasa.

I also stopped by the Green Market Education Tent, and was very impressed by the huge map of the tristate area with a dot in place for every farm represented at the market.  If you want to get extra local, you can identify who's just a hop, skip, and a jump away, and who's in central Pennsylvania, or way up in the Finger Lakes.
On Monday I piked up my share and got another "It's Summer!" Surprise: string beans!  The days of peas and strawberries are well and truly behind us now.  There were two Summer squash in my share already, too!  I'm not sure I'm ready for the squash onslaught...I still have shredded squash in my freezer from last year!   Better break out that zucchini bread recipe.  I think I'll also try roasting Summer squash this year, to tame that...squashy flavor, and bring out the smooth butteryness it gets from being thoroughly cooked.

That's all for this week.  We've been busy clearing out our freezer and pantry of Winter stores, in preparation for the canning craziness that is to come.  I'm already spotting kirby cukes here and there, but they aren't cheap enough for pickling yet.  I'm really excited to make tart cherry, and blueberry preserves this year, and I'll be freezing plenty of blueberries, too.  The grocery down the street stocks a brand that's grown and packaged in New Jersey for just $2.50 a pint!  Yesssss...I'll be buying mostly raspberries and blackberries at the Farmer's Market, and peaches, of course.  Yay canning peaches!

The best place to enjoy the weather is where you can enjoy the fruits of the weather, literally!  Get out to the Farmer's Market!


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