I have a longer post about my trip to Columbus, Ohio coming up but until then a station break about cherry season. It’s on! While I was away Davin went cherry picking just for me, bringing home a giant basket of fresh deliciousness. Picking that basket was preceded by a 13 km hike. What a guy.
Of course within a matter of days what initially felt like a windfall has dwindled in my minds eye. Need. More. Cherries. I stopped by one of our local farmers markets to grab a snack on the way home the other day. One of the farmers was selling baskets of cherries and even though I had that giant basket at home, I actually considered buying another. Or two. The only thing that held me back was the knowledge that our freezer is currently stuffed to the gills with frozen strawberries with not an inch of space left for anything more.
Note to self: Eat strawberries, stat.
In preparation for cherry season I have been dreaming about the things I will make when the time arrives. Now that it has, the pressure is on to use those precious cherries wisely. Last night I rolled out Cherry Season 2008 with a show stopping dish, Cherry Clafoutis aka Clafouti. If you’ve never had this French dessert it’s basically fresh fruit baked in an eggy, custard-like batter or pudding. I used this recipe as a starting point with a few revisions (I don’t think I have followed a recipe verbatim in my entire life). It was high on the egg side but very tasty. I substituted sugar with agave syrup and added a drop or two of amaretto extract because I didn’t have almond extract on hand. I thought about trying the recipe with almond milk but used the last of it in a smoothie made earlier that day. I did add little pats of butter and a sprinkling of maple sugar before broiling but to be honest I don’t think either was necessary and made the dish sweeter than I’d like.
All-in-all the clafoutis was REALLY good but I have my sights set on making one with a dough base. The base will add some additional weight to the dish and compliment the soft custard. If anyone has a recipe like that please share! I haven’t yet determined if I should cook the dough slightly before adding the custard or just plop it all in the dish. Either way I guess I’ll have a tasty time working it out.
If you haven’t made a dessert like this before and are intimidated, don’t be! Prep was done in a blender and took only a few minutes. From there the only stress was watching the oven to be sure it didn’t overcook on the bottom. And that’s what egg timers were made for.
You’ll love it!
Check out this wild front garden I came upon yesterday afternoon. On just a glance I can identify a couple of poppy varieties, calendula, bachelors buttons (aka cornflower), cosmos, and a host of attractive weeds.
I just can’t see myself dedicating the space to a wild garden of flowers, preferring to fill up that sunny front yard with vegetables, yet I very much appreciate the idea of it. I passed a lot of gorgeous gardens on this street, but this is the only one that stopped me in my tracks and begged for pictures. The irony being that this is probably the most hands off garden on the block, requiring a bit of deadheading now and again if you want to keep the blooms going throughout the summer but very little else. Any one of these plants individually might require some staking to keep those long, thin stems growing upward but as a dense mass the whole thing was held together around the edges by some sticks and string, the plants doing the work of holding each other up.
Flowers like this grow very easily, attracting lots of pollinators and continually producing blooms perfect for vases. I have developed a recent affinity for simple vases full of bachelor’s buttons (Centaurea cyanus). And with so many of each type of flower you’re not left hovering over the garden waiting to pounce on that single bud before a greedy passerby gets it.
Yeah, in hindsight a garden like this may have been a less traumatic choice for the street garden.
I have to admit that I made this dessert BEFORE realizing that it was red and white, the perfect Canada Day summer treat. Americans can add blueberries for July 4. I came up with the idea ages ago and then waited in anticipation for strawberry season to hit so I could try it out. I had originally intended to cook the strawberries first but we got lazy after a day of work and just wanted to eat the thing already, so fresh strawberries were substituted.
We added a very thin sprinkle of maple sugar to the strawberries and the almond milk came pre-sweetened but no other sweeteners were added. Most of you will find the taste as-is too bland and will want to sweeten it up a bit.
A note about Kanten Flakes (Agar): Kanten flakes are a sea vegetable that can be cooked into juices and other liquids to form a gel, just like gelatin but without the animal bones. Plus, agar is full of vitamins and other good stuff.
- 2 Cups almond milk
- 2 Tbsp Kanten flakes (or according to package directions)
- Pint of strawberries
- Dash of maple sugar
- Optional: agave syrup, maple syrup or some other sweetener can be added to the almond milk and/or the strawberries to taste
1. Mix 1 tbsp kanten flakes into 2 cups of almond milk. Bring to a boil and stir until the kanten flakes are dissolved.
2. Pour the warm mix into cups or dessert dishes and refrigerate until cool and firm.
3. Dice fresh strawberries and spoon on top of firmed almond milk. Sweeten with a dash of maple sugar and serve.
Makes approx. 4-5 small dessert cups.
Click the image to see full-size.
This is a panoramic of the roof garden taken just this week. There are a lot more plants out there then I was able to get into a composite. Unfortunately with the gazebo top on I could not shoot the photos from above, perched high up on a ladder like I did for the before image. As far as Project The Best and Most Ass Kicking the Roof Garden Has Ever Been, EVER 2008 is concerned I think things are well underway. One of my challenges for this year was to Eliminate All Messes. I’m not quite there yet but I have managed to reign it in by strategically placed furniture that acts as holding pens for the junk. I only just managed to get most of the transplant chaos alleviated so more attention to aesthetics will be coming up shortly.
I recently did an interview with REV Magazine that is now up on their site. I love what they wrote in the introduction about how I complain about the weather. Because I do, don’t I? Quite a lot actually. But I want you to know that I withheld this week and didn’t tell you about THE HAIL. In an act of progress that shows that I am rolling with the punches and conceding to less need for control I did not bring up the tiny balls of ice that plummeted to the ground threatening my basil in the last days of the month of June! And then the next day was hot and sweaty — a proper summer.
Okay, to confess I did complain about it in the forums.
Photo by Davin Risk
Sigh. This view of my roof garden from the door feels a million miles away today.
Remember summer? Yeah, me neither. If not for photographic evidence I would have to assume these so-called memories are in fact only beautiful delusions. I know many of you in the Southern Hemisphere are in the midst of it so you will have to excuse my mid-winter pity party. Over the last few days the temperature has plummeted to an unbearable, and therefore unacceptable bone-chilling cold. Unbearable I tell you!! I held out for two full days hunkering down indoors without stepping foot outside until today when I had no choice but to suck it up, put on as many layers as possible and face it. Even worse, our Taste of Summer life-sustaining preserves are rapidly depleting: the red pepper katsup is no more (good-bye delicious sauce!) and I just opened the final jar of Blackened Salsa Ranchera.
Not to be dramatic, but people are dying over here!
See you in 5 months July, wherein you can expect to find me complaining about the heat.