If we are what we eat, my stellar eating habits over the last two months would produce some sort of cherry-Sauza-Cool Ranch Doritos hybrid. But mostly cherries.
We took advantage of cherries being so plentiful and affordable this summer. Was it like that everywhere else? I swear that this was the first summer they virtually begged us to buy them.
With the end of cherry season approaching, I hoarded a few pounds for the freezer and then spotted a terrific idea in Food & Wine for the very last pound of cherries I had on hand: pickling in balsamic vinegar.
The balsamic vinegar takes on the sweet cherry flavor and made a tasty vinaigrette to drizzle over grilled pork tenderloin. And the sweet & sour cherries are perfect for snacking, eating in a salad, over toasted baguette slices topped with goat cheese (my favorite!), and piled on top of brined & grilled pork chops.
The original recipe (for Pickled Figs) noted that the figs would be good on the shelf for 6 months. Cherries are more delicate than the slightly under-ripe figs recommended and I wanted them to retain as much of their texture as possible. I was certain that they wouldn’t survive a 15-minute canning bath so I chose to skip the “official” canning procedures and stored them in the fridge instead.
Stretch out the cherry season with these balsamic pickled cherries.
4-5 1/2-pint canning jars with lids and rings
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/4 pounds cherries, stems and pits removed
In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, water and balsamic vinegar until the sugar has dissolved.
Bring to a boil and then add the cherries, simmering over low heat for 10 minutes.
Spoon the cherries equally between the jars (I ended up with 4 full jars of cherries and a 5th jar that was just over half full of cherry-balsamic vinegar).
Turn up the heat to high and cook the balsamic mixture for another 5 minutes.
Ladle the syrup over the cherries, leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top.
Screw the lids and rings on top and try to wait a few days before opening the first jar.
The cherries will keep a couple of months in the fridge.
If you wish to store the cherries at room temperature, you'll need to follow appropriate canning procedures: sterilizing the jar components first and then boiling the closed jars for 15 minutes in a hot water bath.
Once a week, we do a clean out the fridge night. It’s never the most popular night of the week and it can be quite boring.8 soggy sweet potato tots, 3/4 a serving of pasta that’s never as good on night 3 as it was on night 1, and half a dry chicken breast… It usually involves wrapping less desirable tidbits from the last 3-4 nights in a tortilla.
Honestly, it’s not my favorite.
So rather than having pulled pork sandwiches with the last 1/2 cup of cherry barbecue sauce, we reimagined the sandwich as pizza and added goat cheese. Because goat cheese is pretty much the universal “you complete me” ingredient.
The sweet barbecue sauce and tangy goat cheese make for a very unboring leftover night – and no one in this house ever complains about pizza night!
That right there, that’s one of the biggest, sweetest victories to ever come out of our garden: yellow tomatoes.
Squirrels and birds love yellow tomatoes. Like swarm-the-plant-like-locusts-and-leave-nothing-but-bare-stems love yellow tomatoes. For the most part, they’ve ignored the rest of the garden but the potted heirloom tomatoes? Total buffet. The very second that a would-be yellow or black tomato gets bigger than a golf ball?
They didn’t stand a chance.
In a last ditch effort to save them, we triple wrapped the pots with a bird block netting and have gotten a dozen yellow tomatoes in just the last two of weeks. Not a totally perfect solution – the first weekend we didn’t wrap them quite tightly enough and a squirrel actually crawled INSIDE. I have never wanted to be the owner of a pellet gun so badly in my life than I was at the moment I looked out the window and saw that little guy standing inside the barrier, holding and eating my tomato. But for the most part, it has worked pretty well.
We diced up a few of those sweet-victory yellow tomatoes along with some fresh cherries, red onion, and what was quite possibly the world’s second hottest jalapeno for a colorful, sweet & spicy, summery salsa to give some leftover-from-the-freezer pulled pork a makeover.
It made more salsa than 2 adults and a toddler with a bad attitude could eat on tacos so we used the leftovers on prosciutto-wrapped tilapia (talk about an easy meal – you just wrap & broil!). And then the leftover leftovers were eaten with chips. Continue Reading…
“UUUGHHH. I hope you’re not making brownies again.”
I’ve know the man for 8+ years and I’m pretty sure those two words have never been uttered in the same sentence. Who says something like that?
Other than someone who has seen a new pan of brownies on the counter every week for the last month+. Brownies with cherries that I roasted in port, brownies with cherries that I roasted in a stout, brownies with just plain roasted cherries, and brownies with just plain fresh cherries…
Maybe he had a point.
So I put that bag of cherries in the cart (along with 3 others) and pushed along, mumbling something about how I had plans to make a couple of savory recipes in the upcoming week.
I was totally lying, though. I had fully intended to make brownies again. But instead, I made barbecue sauce. More accurately, I semi-made barbecue sauce.
A couple of weeks ago, I shoved a bottle of barbecue sauce into the back corner of the fridge. It was harsh and vinegary. We didn’t care for it enough to use it again on its own but I couldn’t bring myself to throw a nearly full bottle away. Instead, we “fixed” it. I made a sweet cherry reduction and stirred that into the sauce, the concoction really benefiting from the addition of sweet cherries. More mellow, a little sweeter, and with nice cherry flavor, the sauce paired fantastically with a simple pulled pork for a unique twist on the sandwich. Continue Reading…