Sour Cherry Jam

We were home for the long weekend – in fact, this was the first weekend home and with no houseguests since mid May – so we seized the opportunity to take a quick afternoon trip to the u-pick farms.  We’d hoped to pick strawberries or raspberries, but found ourselves on the cusp of both seasons, and so only able to pick cherries.

Cherry Season at Spicer Orchards
Photo by The Hungry Masses

Now, I don’t know if I can conclusively say that cherries are my favorite fruit, but they’re certainly in the top 5, along with cantaloupe (or muskmelon), apples, clementines, and the first strawberries of summer. I love them in all forms – fresh from the tree, dried and stirred into oatmeal, even artificially bright red and dubiously a foodstuff.

Cherry Picking!

We hopped in the car and drove half an hour north to Spicer Orchards, where we paid the $1 deposit for our picking bucket and set to work. Shane climbed low branches to reach perfect cherries at the top of the low trees, while I wandered around collecting bright red berries in my gathered skirt.

Cherries!

We ended up with about 2 pounds of sour cherries (at $1.50/pound) and 3-4 pounds of sweet cherries (at around $2.50/pound) – definitely cheaper than the grocery store or the farmer’s market, not to mention more fun. The folks at Spicer make their own wine and cider and offer free tastings, so we tried a few samples and had a small lunch before heading home.

But what to do with all the cherries other than eat them? Excellent question. Sour cherry jam to the rescue!

Sour Cherries

Jammin'

Sour Cherry Jam

1.5 pounds of sour cherries yielded 1 pint and 3 half pints of jam. The recipe might have yielded more except that I made a ridiculous mistake in my math and so had to quickly pull and rinse the cherries when I realized I’d used at least twice as much sugar as was necessary. Granted, this wasn’t as bad as the time that I confused teaspoons and tablespoons when making bread in my parents’ bread machine – but it did result in using up the last of the sugar, thus preventing me from jamming up the rest of the cherries. Guess we’ll just have to wait for another day and another post!

Recipes:
Sour Cherry Jam from Food in Jars

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0424 A Perfect Spring Brunch

Shane left in the wee hours to drive to Indiana for Dark Lord Day, which, along with the drizzly spring weather, made it a perfect morning for brunch and baking – or, as I like to think of it, Fancy Lady Baking Brunch.

After last month’s relatively successful batch of Twinkies, we settled on pop-tarts for our next baking adventure, nudged on by the good fortune of a recipe in this month’s Bon Appetit.  As it worked out, I had very little to do with the preparation of the actual pop-tarts, as I was busy with the main brunch event: bacon-wrapped asparagus and soft-boiled eggs.

Susie and I washed and snapped the asparagus, fresh from the farmers’ market, and wrapped each little spear in lovely bacon from Sparrow Market.

Jamie’s recipe recommends baking for 10 minutes, but I’ve found that it takes a LOT longer to get crispy bacon. In this case, 25 minutes, with a break in the middle to switch the pans around. While the asparagus soldiers were in the oven, I boiled a dozen 5 minute eggs – long enough for the whites to be set but the yolks still lovely and molten.

In the meantime, Olivia, Shana, Shannon, and Maria were busy rolling out pastry and filling it with a panoply of jams.

For me, asparagus, bacon, soft-boiled eggs, and toast are all simple pleasures. Put them all together, and you’ve got something magic. Add some local greens, a homemade dressing, and a spoonful of thinly sliced potatoes baked with a fair amount of herbs and cheese, and you’ve got a fantastic spring brunch, made all the more amazing by what came out of the oven an hour later:

I’ll take one of everything, please.

Recipes:
Crispy Asparagus Soldiers with Soft-Boiled Eggs from Jamie at Home (oops, temperatures in Celsius)
Strawberry “Pop-Tarts” from Bon Appetit

Thanks to Maria for her photos!

Oh, and how great is it that we totally made these before Smitten Kitchen posted her version?