Thursday, June 21, 2007

It's Cherry Season!

The G'parents were visiting from California over the Father's Day weekend, and we decided to go pick cherries. This was the first time picking fruit from trees (other than the backyard variety) for my city in-laws, but this brought back fond childhood memories for me. I would hang-out at the top of the ladder, picking & eating all my tummy could hold as a youth in my uncle's orchards. My mother would fill the bathtub with our bounty waiting to be canned, frozen, or dried.

I was only able to get two lame photos before my battery died, which I'll include just because they remind me of the experience. This is when we first arrived, eventually Cliff grabbed a bucket and filled it up, as did Art and myself. Some of the trees were so heavy with fruit the branches hung low enough for the girls to pick, which produced some red faces, hands, and shirts. None of us could resist snacking on the cherries! As one of the few fruits with true seasonality, the cherry's fleeting presence makes it all the more sweet to eat. So don't let cherry season pass you by.

I had to run to Williams-Sonoma to get a cherry pitter to help with the task. It's a handy (& necessary) tool that cost $12 -- well worth it, and it also works on olives. One by one I extracted the pit from 20 pounds of cherries! (they only cost $22)

I froze 10 bags with 3 cups of cherries each, and still had some fresh cherries to use in recipes and just eat plain.

For breakfast, I made 'Mocha Chip Muffins' from Vegan with a Vengeance (p. 51) and simply added about a half cup chopped cherries.

I raised the "chocolate bar" by using Zen Soy chocolate pudding and chocolate Silk.

These muffins were enjoyed by all, and I really love the combo of sweet juicy cherries and semi-sweet chocolate.

I wish you could smell this aroma, which was even more fragrant than the orchard from which they came. I wanted to make something that featured cherries, used few ingredients, and was easy to make. This is the beginning of my
Cherry Pie Filling'
4 c. fresh pitted Cherries
1/2 C. Water
1/2 C. Sugar
2 Tbsp. Arrowroot Powder

In a saucepan, bring the cherries and water to boil. In a separate bowl, mix the sugar and arrowroot powder, add that to boiling cherries until thickened. Cool in the fridge.

I put one tablespoon of the cherry filling in puff pastry squares, folded them over, sealed with water and a fork pinch, & then baked for about 12 minutes.

G'pa enjoyed his Father's Day dessert with a scoop of So Delicious vanilla.

The girls painted t-shirts for dad & g'pa, who wore them to the antique car show downtown.

This weekend, Art's CA band, The Scumbagz, will be in town playing a fundraiser for Boise Community Radio and the ACLU of Idaho. Several other local bands will also be performing and Art will be DJing as well. I plan to prepare some food for the band (one is vegetarian and the others are open minded) and I hope they like it. I'd love to hear your "band munchies" suggestions! and, I have some left-over, frozen cherry filling -- Any ideas? I hope you have a fabulous weekend, and I think I'll have some time to blog hop to your place while the band records in Art's home studio. Until then, keep cooking & sharing vegan food! Happy Summer Solstice! (The first day of summer & longest day of the year)


laura jesser said...

Wow, what fun! I have never picked fruit from trees either... The muffins look so tempting with those chunks of cherries in them--I'm glad you all managed to find some worthwhile ways to enjoy those lovely fruits!! I bet the cherry filling would be good over a cheezecake or something like that... Have fun cooking for the band--I love doing things like that too! :)

Vegan_Noodle said...

Yay, cherries! I can't believe you got twenty lbs of cherries for only $22! They are always somewhat of a splurge, because they are never cheap down here in Texas. But there's a bag in my fridge right now and I try to savor every one. Picking them sounds like it would be a neat experience. Nice post!

luchoblog said...

ohhh que rico!!!!! amo esa receta!!! lucho luna

KleoPatra said...

Vicki, i love this post!! The kids and those shirts... so precious in the wagon behind Art. The shirts are adorable time 1,000, too.

i used to go blueberry picking in Michigan w/my family much as you recall so fondly with the cherry picking when you were a kid. You really brought up some fine, fun memories for me and i was picturing little Vicki havin' a ball eatin' all the cherries she could as a youngster. It was a sweet vision to be sure.

The pie filling smell must have been intoxicating, i can only imagine. Those muffins also had to have been divine. There are fewer better combos than cherries and semisweet chocolate, at least in my view. (Not a fan of those icky maraschinos covered in chocolate...!) Way to make that recipe even better with the chopped cherries.

i just bought a couple of pounds for my parents and myself. i'm for sure NOT cherried out just yet.

Great times with the grandparents, that's what i like to hear. Family, love and family love... it's what it's all about, no?

i think i might invest in one of those cherry pitters one day, too...

Thanks for a super sweet post. Sorry about your camera batteries goin' out... been there! The photo on top is very nice with the contrast of the light green leaves and those super red, ruddy cherries. YUMMERZ!

Anonymous said...

what a great post! i wiah i have some cheries here, i never taste a fresh one.
what a great day you have!

Mikaela said...

Those cherries are *killing* me!

Band munchies, eh? How about roasted veggie wraps with a spread of fresh-herbed vegan cream cheese? Or, you could wrap the roasted veggie in filo dough. Some rocking guacamole and chips are always a winner :)

Happy summer to all of you, too!

Catherine said...

Hey Vicki, the cherry picking (and pitting) looks fabulous! I wonder whether cherry trees grow around my neck of the woods?? Hmm.

A word on "band food" -- when I travelled with Dan's band last weekend, (see photos on my blog, by the way!), their friend, Barb, brought over a huge box of food for everyone to snack on during sound check, interviews, and the show. Barb was smart -- everything she brought was hand-food, and quickly munchable (sandwiches, tons of fruit, carrots and hummus, some chips and crackers, some cookies and candies, etc.) and a big cooler full of pop and water. No one (myself included, since I helped with merch) had time to sit down and eat anything, so it was all grab-n-go -- she even opened all of the packages and containers and bags when she arrived! Way to go, Barb!

P.S. I'm back posting. Couldn't stay away. :)

Melody Polakow said...

omg... you only paid 22 bucks for all those cherries??? I am SOOO jealous!!

I find that asian foods go over well... cold/room temp sesame or peanut noodles.... mooshi.. that type of thing

vko said...

Oh, I love cherries. I want to pick cherries & pit them & freeze them too and have them on hand anytime I want them. How fun!

Will have to try to some cherry trees somewhere...

Kate said...

Aw man, cherry picking looks awesome! Great idea with the muffins.

VeggieGirl said...

I have the exact same cherry-pitter that's in one of your photos - such a great tool!! I hope you post more recipe ideas for the cherries!

Anonymous said...

Ok, that's it, I'm going to look right now to see if I can find a cherry orchard around here. I'm salivating at the thought of so many fresh cherries. I want to make no sugar added cherry preserves (with fruit juice).

Thanks for the info on Al Gore. I'm going to try to pick up that magazine the next time I head into town. I'm interested in reading the entire article.

Anonymous said...

luxurious! i love cherries, but it's not so easy to find them fresh any more... (back in WA, there were fruit stands everywhere...) if i had some left over cherry filling, i might use them for turnovers with puff pastry or mix them in soy ice cream... what a great post!

Theresa said...

mmm, Cherry pie is my favourite fruit pie!

Carrie™ said...

20 pounds of cherries!? I used to do the same with strawberries, but would usually control myself and stop at 15 pounds. Hahaha! This year, I'm so short of any free time really, I'm doing less. Isn't it so nice in the dead of winter to pull out some yummy fruit. Makes all the prep worth while.
Everyone had great ideas for band food. I'm sure they'd love some cherry turnovers as well.

maybepigscanfly said...

Cherry muffins!! How scrumptious looking! And a cool little gadget you got too.

Oh and I just adore those special shirts the Dad's are fashioning!


julie hasson said...

Oh yum, cherries!! Your pies and filling look so good.

I love the t-shirts the girls made. Art and his dad look so cute wearing them.

How did the band munchies go? What did you wind up making? I can't wait to hear.

urban vegan said...

You are so lucky to have access to such a cherry supply. Looks like you made great use of them.

Tanya Kristine said...

a cherry pitter. tht'as a GREAT idea.

how about wrapping the rest in phyllo dough? mmm...little cherry tarts.

gil said...

miam ! des cerises !
i like cherries, i remeber when i was kid, my mam cooked cakes for me the name in french "clafoutis" ...

hello from France Gil

theONLYtania said...

Hey Vicki, it looks like you had a nice visit with the grandparents. Everything with the cherries looks good! My Mom has been picking cherries at home and trying to make preserves, I'm going home tonight so I'll help her this weekend!
Those t-shirts are so cute :)

bazu said...

Oh my lord- my little fruit-loving soul is in heaven! SO MANY cherries... like Crystal, I'm going to look to see if there are any orchards around here (I doubt it). What an enjoyable activity for the whole family!

tippitappi said...

In Italy when we cook cherries we separate the juice from the pulp and make a heavenly syrup with it... the rest continues to cook to make the jam... fantastic!

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