Ingredient: brown sugar

Brandied Cherries

My state of the art cherry pitter.

For years we had a big – I mean BIG – cherry tree, but eventually it fell to disease and we had to chop it down and plant another. That one didn’t reach maturity before we had to move, but by then I was hooked on having a freezer full of cherries. Now every year I wait like a cougar in a tree for the prices to drop: $6.99, $4.99, $3.99, then, finally last week, $2.99 a pound and I pounced!

Judy sneaking cherries

The California cherries are the first, then Washington state, then finally, fresh BC cherries from the Okanagan Valley, the inland, fruit and wine producing region of the province.  Sweet, dark and Juicy, this year they are very BIG – almost too big for my doubled barrel cherry pitter. Yes, I’m serious about my cherries.

I usually freeze them with a dusting of sugar (don’t judge me!) but this year I seemed to hear about brandied cherries at every turn. “Too much trouble,” I thought, but they did sound good – Christmas gifts, I rationalized – and I soon found myself in the liquor store, looking at Brandy.

“Use a brandy you would want to drink,” the recipe cautioned. But I knew I wouldn’t want to drink any of it. Then I saw the Sliivovica (pronounced Slivovi-ch-a) and was flooded with fond memories of travelling in Eastern Europe where every generous host brings out the Sliivovica. Not good tasting! But as a woman I could gracefully decline, and our Czech friend Peter could say he was driving, but my poor husband always had to drink a glass with the host – even at breakfast!

Those were the days.

So I bypassed the fancy French brandy and bought the bottle of the crystal clear Croatian Plum Brandy, the only brand of Sliivovica they sold. Peter had told us how as children, in plum season, they would collect prune plums on the way home from school and drop them in a barrel fermenting in the shed on the way into the house so their dad could make his own Sliivovica. We visited his house, family compound really, in a small Czech town where his Aunt and cousin’s family still live, and I could just picture it.

So I bought the bottle, and then was plagued with doubt as to whether it would work in my recipe. And, like most of my cooking attempts it had quickly become my recipe.

But oh my goodness! I tasted a bit of the liquor after boiling the cherries in it with the sugar, cinnamon stick and cloves and wow! It’s going to be amazing! Now if I can just wait the prescribed 4 – 6 weeks.

I might have to buy another bottle and make another batch. The cherries will be around for at least another week.

Let me know how yours turn out!

 

Print Recipe
Brandied Cherries
These preserved sweet cherries pack a wallop! Perfect on ice cream for desert.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 4 -6 weeks
Servings
1/2 pint jars
Ingredients
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 4 -6 weeks
Servings
1/2 pint jars
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Pit and stem cherries and place in a large glass bowl.
  2. Mix brandy and both sugars in a sauce pan and stir. Add cinnamon stick and cloves. Bring to a boil and simmer for a couple of minutes until sugar is thoroughly dissolved.
  3. Pour over cherries in bowl and stir with a non-reactive wooden or plastic spoon or spatula.
  4. While the cherries are cooling, sterilize 7 - 1/2 pint canning jars and lids. (I put jars in a baking pan, pour boiling water into and around the jars to the half way point, and place in a 250° F. oven for half an hour. I boil the lids in water in a pot for 10 minutes.)
  5. Fill jars with cherries and brandy, Put on the lids and place in the refrigerator for 4 - 6 weeks. These jars are not sealed and cannot be stored out of the refrigerator.
Recipe Notes

Those were the instructions. If you can wait! My tip - DON'T TASTE THE LIQUOR OR YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO WAIT.

I've never made them before, so I don't know what happens if you keep them in the fridge until Christmas - which is 5 months from cherry season. With all that sugar and alcohol I don't think they could go bad. Maybe soft? I'll try it and let you know.

Quick Fruit Surprise Muffins

Perfect for breakfast or tucked in a back-to-school lunch.

For me, September is all about keeping up with the ripening fruit from our garden. This year everything is ripening at once, so I’ve made peach jam, frozen figs to make leather later, pitted and frozen Italian prune plums and made Mostly Plum Jam from a mixture of other plums and the end of the blueberries.

It has even trickled into Starting Over, the story I’m almost finished writing, when Lily, trying to win over Marshall’s children, bakes them Fruit Surprise Muffins.

We’ve enjoyed these moist fruity muffins for years. I usually poke a frozen cherry in the center of each muffin, (that’s the surprise!) but since I’ve been working on plums this week, I made this batch with chopped plums. The original recipe calls for plums, but that has never stopped me from improvising!

Try them. I bet your family will love them.

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Print Recipe
Fruit Surprise Muffins
A delicious healthy muffin that keeps well.
Cuisine Sweet Treats
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
large muffins
Ingredients
Wet Ingredients
Dry Ingredients
Fruit
  • 1 cup stone fruit drained, chopped, fresh or frozen. cherrie or plums are good.
Cuisine Sweet Treats
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
large muffins
Ingredients
Wet Ingredients
Dry Ingredients
Fruit
  • 1 cup stone fruit drained, chopped, fresh or frozen. cherrie or plums are good.
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Soak oats in yogurt
  3. Add oil, sugar and egg. Beat well
  4. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add to moist ingredients all at once. Before stirring, pour fruit over dry ingredients. (Or add whole cherries at the end.) Stir to blend.
  5. Spoon into muffin cups. (I use paper liners.) (This is when I poke in the cherries.) Bake for 20 minutes.

Long Weekend Rhubarb Cake

It doesn’t feel like a summer long weekend to me without the rhubarb coffee cake my mother-in-law Betty always served at the cottage.

The Canadian and American July long weekends fall just a few days apart; July 1, Canada Day, the big 150 this year, and the Fourth of July. If your house is like ours, people are coming and going all weekend. We spent Canada Day at my sister-in-law’s lake house this year, and I brought the rhubarb cake as a tribute to Betty.

Sweet, not too rhubarb-y, it’s perfect anytime when you have a houseful.

Have a wonderful holiday!


Print Recipe
Rhubarb Coffee Cake
Everyone loves this sweet coffee cake.
Cuisine Sweet Treats
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
13 x 9 pan
Ingredients
Cuisine Sweet Treats
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
13 x 9 pan
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. - cream butter and sugar
  2. - beat in eggs and vanilla
  3. - sift together flour, salt and soda and add to creamed mixture alternating with buttermilk
  4. - toss rhubarb with 1 tsp flour and mix in by hand.
  5. - pour into buttered 13 x 9 pan
  6. - Mix butter, cinnamon & brown sugar and sprinkle on top of cake
  7. - bake for 45 minutes.

Santa’s Dark Secret

It’s never too early for chocolate!

It’s not Christmas yet – and I certainly don’t have my decorations up or my shopping done – but Santa’s Dark Secret cookies (the ones Louise makes for Blue in Home for Christmas – launching today! ) are good anytime, despite their name. 

HFC COVER MED outln

Home for Christmas is available today on

Amazon, B&N nook, kobo and the iTunes store

Judy

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Print Recipe
Santa's Dark Secret
Rich and delicious double chocolate cookies. Perfect for Santa.
Cuisine Sweet Treats
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Cuisine Sweet Treats
Servings
dozen
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cream butter in an electric mixer.
  2. Add sugars, mix, add eggs, mix well.
  3. Put flour in a bowl. Take out a tablespoonfull or so and add to the dried cherries, separating them in the flour.
  4. Mix together dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to creamed butter mixture.
  5. Add chocolate chips and cherries. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
  6. Drop from spoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake 7 minutes at 350°