Monday, June 18, 2012

Cherry Mania

By now I am sure you have all had it with my cherry posts.  If not, read on!  Now that I have my true loyal readers I will let you know what I've been up to with my twelve pounds of cherries.  First I made the crisp.  Then for Father's Day, except we celebrated Saturday, I made Patrick ribs.  I never make ribs but I made them and not only did I make them but I made cherry BBQ sauce.  Well I cheated and didn't make the sauce from scratch but I bought my favorite no high fructose corn syrup sauce and added pureed cherries into it.  Basted the ribs over and over again.  They were pretty good.  Then Sunday I made jam.  I like to make my own jam whenever possible.  A few reasons for this is high fructose corn syrup.  As most of you know, HFCS is in everything now.  It is very hard to find jams, preserves and jellies made with sugar.  Even the sugar free kind is made with aspartame, even worse!!  I find some good jams at Cost Plus World Market and also at this barn that sells fresher produce and during the summer local produce.  If given the chance though I like to make my own.  Not only do I make sure it is cane sugar in my jam but I dictate how much, which is usually less than other people use.  So I made some jam.  I didn't can it though because I was just going to use it for my pop tarts.  Which I made today!

I love pop tarts, but hate how horrible the store bought kind are for your health as you might remember, I blogged about it a couple years back.  I even gave you a recipe for them that I got off of Smitten Kitchen's blog.  I made some chocolate ones.  Well this time I made cherry pop tarts.  Not only did I make cherry pop tarts that were so so so so good but they are soy, dairy and egg free!  (I am amazing!)  ;)  If you have been following me I was on a very restrictive diet for the baby and am now able to eat anything.  However, I still am trying to avoid most dairy and like to substitute to make things healthier even more than I did before.  Today I decided to play around with an already fabulous recipe and try to change it.  Here is my new recipe.

Soy, Dairy and Egg Free Pop Tarts

Jam Filling:
3/4 cup jam
1 tablespoon cornstarch plus 1 tablespoon cold water mixed (TIP: cornstarch and flour mix better with cold water as opposed to hot.)

Put both jam and cornstarch water mixture into pot over medium heat.  Bring to boil and let simmer for a few minutes stirring until thickened.  Turn off heat and let cool.

The jam with the cornstarch before mixing.


2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup Earth's Balance soy free butter substitute (Butter if you don't care about being soy/dairy free)
1 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with three tablespoons water
2 tablespoons dairy free milk (I used vanilla almond milk)

In a small bowl mix the ground flax seed meal with the 3 tbsp water and let sit.
In a mixing bowl combine flour, sugar and salt.  Add butter substitute or butter cut into small pats.  Mush with hands until dough is crumbly but sticks together when squeezed.  Now add the flax seed meal and milk.  Mix together with a wooden spoon.  If your kitchen is warm place the dough in plastic wrap into the fridge to cool it off.

When ready roll out dough and cut into desired shapes.  I used a small Ikea bowl to make the shape I wanted.  You could do circles or rectangles too.  Place one cut shape onto your lightly greased baking sheet.  Because I was doing egg free, using my finger I dabbed a bit of water all around on the edge of the dough.  Place a dollop or two of jam in the middle.  Place another piece of dough on top and seal the edges together.  Using a fork, poke some holes onto the top to let the steam rise out while baking.  You can crease your edges or not.

Place in fridge and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Once preheated take the pop tarts out and bake for 20 -25 minutes.  Take out and PLEASE wait to bite into one.  It will be soooooo tempting to just take a big bite, but then your mouth will be on fire and you will end up either burning your esophagus, because you swallowed so fast, or spitting out a perfectly good piece of pop tart.  So wait, and then you can enjoy the entire tart.

London, Lucca and I were on our way out the door but had to wait for these babies to get out of the oven.  I grabbed a quick picture of the pop tart finished, super duper hot and on a paper plate in my car.  It's not the most elegant picture of the finished product but if only you could taste through picture you wouldn't care.  :)

London and I enjoyed these and we agreed they tasted like personal cherry pies.  So yummy.  And remember if you only want to bake a few you can freeze the rest, pre-made but not baked, in between wax paper and in a plastic bag.  Then when you want one or two you can take them out of the freezer and place into the oven to bake.  Or bake them all, place them on a plate and watch them disappear faster than it takes you to wash all the dishes and clean the counters off.  Freeze them, they'll last longer.  :)

(Off the topic of pop tarts, tonight for dinner I made pork chops.  I used a red wine as the liquid and some cut up cherries and it came out divine.  One of the many uses for cherries.)

I think I am done blogging about cherries.  What will my next topic be about?  Stay tuned!


Friday, June 15, 2012

Cherry Rhubarb Crisp

First of all we had to take a trip to Target to buy a cherry pitter.  I saw ways I could do it without this handy device but I figured I would spend the $12. on a pitter that got good reviews, OXO brand, since I have so many cherries to pit.  This is the coolest device!  I love a good kitchen gadget and this one works like a charm.  London and I had fun pitting some cherries just to eat this afternoon.  She thought the pitter was "awesome".

For my first cherry recipe I followed a recipe I found on  I followed it almost exactly except I added vanilla to both the crumble topping and the cherry rhubarb filling.  I can tell you this, the topping is excellent but the filling was too tart for my liking.  (I ate my serving anyways, all of it.)  If I were to make this combination again I would add sugar to the filling.  But I think in a few days I will try a crisp again but only cherry.

The cherry pitter in action.  The only sad part is that it pops out a tiny bit of cherry on the other end that had I put that cherry in my mouth would end up in my tummy instead of the pit jar.  : /

The pit jar, with tiny bits of good yummy cherry in it.

The pitted cherries

Chopped up cherries!

3 cups chopped cherries
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp flour
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter cut into small bits
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 375.  Prepare an 8 x 8 pan or similar sized pan.  In one bowl mix cherries, rhubarb, cornstarch and vanilla.  Set aside.  In a new bowl combine oats, flour, cinnamon and salt.  Add butter bits and mix by hand until crumbly.  Then add honey and vanilla.   Stir with a wooden spoon.  Pour cherry mixture into pan and then top with oat topping.  Place in oven for about 30 minutes.  Until the top is golden and the cherry rhubarb filling is bubbly red.  :)  Eat warm plain or with ice cream.  We ate it plain.

Finished crisp.  

Like I said before, for me it was tart but London ate it up and said it wasn't tart but perfect.  She can be sweet at times.  Oh and my baby boy is the best!  He is an avid reader at 13 months and will drop any tantrum if you offer him a book.  I'm serious.  So I wanted to bake.  I plopped him down in front of his book collection and kept checking back only to find him in the same position.  Love this baby!

Tomorrow I will make another cherry recipe.  I think it will be another sweet one but I am thinking on Monday we will try a savory cherry recipe.  Hmmmm, did I mention that a few weeks ago I won 10 pounds of organic pork?  Stay tuned!


Thursday, June 14, 2012

It's Raining Cherries!

I am so so lucky to live in Idaho.  (I never in a million years would have thought that statement would have come out of my mouth but it just did.)  When my parents moved to St. Croix in the USVI my Dad told me that in his mind he was going to give it 5 years.  If after that they didn't like it they would move.  At 5 years he liked it and didn't hate it so they decided to give it 5 more years.  After those 10 years he said he was stuck.  He loved it so much he never wanted to move away.  When Patrick and I moved to Idaho he gave me that advice, give it 5 years.  Well we are now on 6 and I would have to say that at year 5 something magical happened.  I realized that I had made friends, discovered places that I love to eat and frequent, we had two children that have friends, well the older one does at least, and I have decided I really like Idaho.  :/  (Still can't believe that is coming out of my mouth!  I'm freaking out a bit as I write this, really!)  Anyways aside from the freak out going on right now, I do, I really like it here.  Part of this is because I've moved to Eagle and into an awesome neighborhood.  We always lived in West Boise.  I liked it okay.  Actually I was pretty miserable.  I was begging Patrick to let us move, hoping he would want to move to an island that has a lot of mosquitos that leave me alone and bite the hell out of him.  At one point he was seriously considering it.  He even interviewed at some jobs and was offered one.  But life changed in a big way and we decided to stay put.  We moved to Eagle and magic happened.  I love it here.  A simple change in scenery and I was hooked.  Eagle is close enough to downtown Boise but far enough away to feel more country.  The downtown is quaint and the library only 10 minutes away by bike.  The neighborhood has lakes and ducks and geese, there is even a resident beaver that they are trying to get rid of but we've been lucky enough to spot it.  London can fish in the lakes, catch and release and we can bike to our hearts content, which is never enough for Lucca.  Even better is that Emmett, Idaho is only 25 minutes away.  What is in Emmett you may ask?  Orchards of course!

Tyler's Rocky Point Orchard in Emmett Idaho
Cherries, Apricots, Apples and Plums
(We will be going back for Apricots.)
Cherries are in season.  In fact the orchard just opened on Wednesday for u-pick cherries.  I couldn't pass up the opportunity to pay $1.05 per pound for cherries.  (At the store they range from $2.98 - $4.98 per pound.  I know because I bought some two weeks ago and almost fell to the floor when I saw the total.)  So I got London super excited and used the opportunity to re-teach pollination to her.  This helps her to also understand why we should be kind to bees seeing that they help our garden grow.  (Wasps are another story.)  Off we went, leaving the house at 9:30 am to beat the heat and pick some cherries!

A few hours and a picnic later, we were done.  We took our time, Lucca strapped to my back made the picking slow and we both had to stick to the lower branches which was actually just fine for us.  As is the case with most children, London ate more that she picked, well maybe it was a draw.  Either way she had a blast, I had a blast and Lucca enjoyed my back.  No he liked it.   We played peek a boo and stuff like that.

The Cherries were pulling the branches down so far that some were touching the ground.  Easy picking for a 5 year old.

London picking, she either put it in the cup "for Daddy" or ate it.  Not sure which but both are probable.

Trying to get a portrait of Lucca on my back by myself is hard.  London was too busy eating, I mean picking, to help.  (Where did her helping spirit go?!)

At this moment in my extra fridge in the garage, which we were just about to unplug since we've gone through all our organic beef, is twelve, 12!, pounds of cherries.  I guess we picked enough.  I'm not sure yet if we picked enough but I will soon find out.  Tomorrow I am going to buy a cherry pitter and get to work.  What is in the works?  Well you will have to tune in to find out.  I promise I will post more.  I have some things planned and guess what they involve?  You guessed it!  Cherries!!

The cherries in my fridge right now.  (Or course this is not all 12 pounds but a close up so you could be jealous of me being able to grab a handful and eat them if I wanted to, which I do and will when I am done with this blog.  Now.)