It’s been an up and down week. Our little girl needed dental work under general anaesthetic, which went incredibly smoothly, but was anxiety inducing in the time leading up to the appointment. The weather has gone from gorgeous to understandably seasonal (read – muggy & hot), but it produced a gorgeous storm. And just as I was settling into strawberries, cherries appeared! I don’t think I’ve ever bought them this early. They are firmly a July harvest, in my mind.
May I rant a little?
Can I back up just a little, though? Something has been bugging me for a few days and I just want to rant for a moment. I will not name names, but I checked out a new restaurant this past week. Quaint little place with tasty food. Really great fries! I went primarily because their website boasted the use of locally made cheese, and gave the impression of being a supporter of the local food scene. What I discovered, however, was that they weren’t using local cheese. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt that they forgot to remove that claim from the website once they stopped using it. But looking closer, something bothered me about their tag line. “We buy all of our ingredients locally.” Well, I imagine most people, unless they live in a food desert, do. I can do that while shopping at WalMart. I asked for clarification. Did they mean that they merely buy locally, or that they buy local ingredients? I was disappointed to receive word from them that it’s the former. I will not say that they are employing deliberate manipulation of the word “local” to give a false appearance. It is, of course, wholly possible to shop locally for local ingredients. But why not say that?
Anyway, back to things that make me happy. Like cherries. And actual local food. Food Day Canada is only a month away, and there is an amazing food event happening practically in my back yard that I just heard about. It’s Around the Canadian Table, an evening of food, wine, conversation and music where guests will enjoy a delicious taste of the season. This excites me. It’s an evening of all things local. Chefs, food, wines, speakers and even the musical talent. It excites me because we have so much here to celebrate. It excites me for all of the reasons opposite to the marketing of the restaurant I visited. We have so much bounty here in Niagara, in food and talent. Why not celebrate it?
With that in mind, and looking at the 2.5 litres of cherries I bought yesterday from local fruit stands, I decided to try my hand at something that I’m calling “Boozy Cherries.” My mother in law bought me a bottle of Grey Goose Cherry Noir vodka. Boy, was I excited. Grey Goose makes fine vodkas, and cherry anything gets my motor humming. I tried it right way, and was thoroughly disappointed. It tasted like medicine. Nasty, artificially flavoured medicine. There was nothing smooth about it. But I kept it, occasionally adding it to this or that in an attempt to make it palatable. I really hope that this time is the charm.
I used a mixture of the typical dark red sweet cherries which are so abundant, and some Queen Anne cherries, which (right now anyway) are firmer and a bit less acidic. I don’t have a recipe so much as a method.
For each jar, I used nearly equal amounts (by weight) of pitted cherries and vodka (probably about 6-7 ounces of vodka went into 8 ounces of cherries). Bourbon, rum, whisky or another spirit can be used (watch the sweetness if you’re using a sweetened liqueur. In the larger jar pictured, for each 6 ounces or so of booze, I used 1 tablespoon of sugar and brought it up to almost a boil over medium heat. Do be careful. It can flame up on it’s own so easily. I then poured this over the cherries in a mason jar.
In the smaller jar, I doubled the sugar and added a splash of vanilla. Honestly, I prefer these, and would use the extra sugar every time. But I like things a bit sweeter. The vanilla is a nice touch, too. These two jars will mellow in the fridge for a week or so, and will need to be used within two weeks. I have cocktail plans for the boozy syrup.
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