Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cherries, Part I - July 10th, 2011

The First Ripe Cherries

If you've been following for awhile, you know that Nick and I have a cherry tree in our yard. We've been nurturing it now for five years and this summer brings us our biggest harvest to date. Normally I hoard these things like a jealous squirrel. They are a precious commodity as I never, ever see sour cherries for sale at any Co-op or Market around here. This year we appear to have enough for me to play around with a bit, maybe even, (gasp!), share some with some very, very lucky friends. Or maybe not. I haven't really decided yet.  We'll have to see how nicely my friends treat me over the next few weeks.

Cherries Macerating with Last Year's Blueberries

Sour cherries are made for baking, which is great if you have a functioning oven. I currently do not. I found this out while baking a Cherry-Blueberry Cobbler Supreme, a recipe I found in my Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book. My oven took about an hour to warm up to 350 F and after 40 minutes of baking time I found my cobbler to be just shy of done and my kitchen to smell faintly of natural gas. Time to shut the oven off!

Cherry-Blueberry Cobbler Supreme, Grilled to Perfection

What to do, Dinner Clubbers, what to do? I was not willing to let those cherries go to waste, or for that matter the blueberries. The cobbler needed about another five to 10 minutes of cooking. I decided, in an unprecedented move, I was going to grill it. We have a gas grill that can maintain a constant temperature which I can monitor on the thermometer mounted on the side. Sounds just like my oven, in slightly different format.


It worked. Ten minutes on the grill, with the lid closed at 350 F did the trick. I was concerned that my ceramic baking dish might shatter when placed over direct flames, so I turned off all but the back burner and kept the dish towards the front of the grill. Had I planned on grilling from the start, I would have put this in a metal baking dish to be safe. I was willing to take the risk this time because cherries were involved.

So, all's well that ends well. But we still won't have a functioning oven or stove top for the next ten days. The gas company sent someone over right quick when I told them about smelling gas. All that person did, however, was shut off the gas flow to the range and put a big red DO NOT USE sign up on my oven door where I usually keep a cute dish towel. When I called back to actually schedule service, the first available appointment was a week and a half out. Apparently there is some sort of crazy wave of air conditioner break down happening across the city that takes precedence. I was frustrated at first. I mean, I can't boil water for goodness sake. But Nick and I have decided to approach this as a Dinner Club challenge. We've decided we are going to get creative and put out some seriously delicious meals all without the use of our kitchen range. For the next ten days. Starting tonight. Stay tuned.
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