Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sour Cherries

My first encounter with sour cherries was about two years ago on a visit to my ailing grandmother.  During this visit, she told me about a sour cherry pie she'd made years before.  It was so beautiful, she said.  It looked so delicious.  I didn't get to have a single piece, she sighed.  Family who lives next door had come to say hi and, spying this beautiful pie, had asked for a taste.  My grandmother already had her own family to serve so by the time she'd finished serving her guests, there was none left for her.  Years later she still felt bitterness and regret over the loss of this coveted treat.  I'll make you one, Grandma, I said.  Though I've always loved Bing cherries and Maraschino cherries (I still ask for extras in my Shirley Temples!) I hardly knew what a sour cherry was, but figured that it wouldn't be hard to find.  I spied sweet Bing cherries in the grocery store week in and week out, considered and rejected canned cherries, and finally forgot.  My grandmother passed away last summer, before I could fulfill my promise.  Apparently regret is a family trait.

My next encounter with sour cherries was last summer, shortly before the death of my grandmother.  I was living with a family in France for six weeks while taking some classes abroad.  This family always had something going on - parties, laundry strewn all around (this is Europe after all), something simmering on the stove, more sons than I knew they had traipsing through with beautiful Parisian girlfriends.  I never knew what I would find when I emerged from my bedroom.  One morning I emerged to find trays and trays of cherries all over the house, except that they weren't the kind of cherries that I was used to.  They looked like maraschino cherries except fresh.  Aha, I thought, these must be sour cherries!  Later that day, my host family offered me some cherry cake.  Essentially, it was a layer of sour cherries covered in cake batter and underbaked.  The cake itself I did not like - it was soggy - but the sour cherries were a delight (despite the fact that they all still had their pits, which was an unpleasant surprise).

Last week, at the first farmer's market of the season I found, to my delight, sour cherries.  Baskets and baskets of sour cherries.  I bought a quart, with visions of cherry pie in my head.  By the time that I had gotten them home, my vision had changed to one of cobbler.  After all, what is cobbler but lazy pie and even more delicious?  Streusel > pie crust!  So I found an easily veganized recipe for cherry cobbler online got to work pitting.  And tasting of course.  They're about the same sourness of Warhead candies except farm more delicious.  I probably could have eaten at least half of them except that I had cobbler to make!  The batter was more of a cake batter than a streusel which is then topped with boiling simple syrup.  It started to remind me of the cake from France, which made me rather nervous.  After a good hour in the oven (I lowered them temp and increased the time because I used a different shape pan than the recipe called for), behold this beauty:
Here's to you, Grandma.  It's not exactly what I promised you but I had you in my heart and thoughts all the same.

Yeah, it's not as gorgeous as it could be since I was so enamored by it that I served myself some before remembering to photograph it but trust me, it was gorgeous.  And delicious!  I served it with some homemade vegan ice cream, which melted quickly on the hot cobbler and was all around delicious.  Even my husband, who is anti-cherry, anti-cobbler, and anti-anything out of the ordinary, loved this.  I suggest you go out and make it ASAP before I gobble up all the sour cherries out there!

1) Have you ever cooked with sour cherries before?  If so, give me more ideas on what to do with them!
2) How do you deal with regret?


  1. It is a beauty indeed! Wonderfully gooey and perfectly golden on top. I think your grandmother would have loved it! :)

    I used to be a cherry hater, until just a couple of weeks ago when I decided to give them another chance. They did not make me gag like they used to! YAY! I will be making some cherry danishes for the Gilmore Girls Geekery series in a few weeks - you know, from the episode when Lorelai and Luke are not talking to each other and it's danish day at the diner but Lorelai won't go in? By the way, I also watch Gilmore Girls on a neverending loop! :D

  2. I wrote a really long response to this. So long that I decided to post it on my own blog instead of harassing you with it here. :-) Look at that, you're so inspirational.

    Anyway, I will say this as it is a response to you personally as opposed to my musings on regret (though it does tie in): I never got to meet your grandmother, but I do know you were close. Keeping that in mind, I can't be completely sure but I don't think that your grandma would hold it against you. When she thought of you, I'm sure her first thoughts were never, "That girl never made my pie." Instead, I bet her thoughts were more about how much she loved you and was proud of you and all the good things she wanted for you. So even if you regret not being able to keep your promise, I can almost guarantee you have more regret over it than she'd think you deserve. I know that sounds cheesy, but I think it's true, and I hope it helps a little bit.

  3. Avoiding regret is a near-constant goal for me, for big things as well as little things. Once upon a time, I thought I would like to be one of those people who think "I do not regret anything in my life because without every single experience, pleasant or not, I would not be who I am today!" This is PART of my personality but alas, I have not mastered such a motto and mulling over that concept has actually led me to the conclusion that I would be arrogant, a bit ignorant, and quite unhumble if I really believed that about every single thing in my life.

    I think part of the way I deal with regret is out of my control - it is how my unconscious works. For the few big things I regret in my life, I can still feel unusually guilty about them, despite the number of years that have passed since the events/situations. I believe one of my ways of dealing with it is to never truly stop being bothered by what I have done.. or lack thereof.

    If it is something little I regret that I have the chance to repeat in the future, I try and make sure I go back and do what I was too scared or lazy to do before. =)

  4. STUNNING. Really, what an impeccably beautiful dish. I bet it was out of this world delicious. And no, I've never cooked with sour cherries, but now I REALLY want to!

    Sigh. Regret. Is there anything worse? I have to admit, I'm not very good at dealing with regret. If it is something I have done that I regret doing (being rude, insensitive, selfish, etc) then I just let it eat away at me. I feel awful and it really weights me down.

    If it is something that was totally out of my control then I'm usually fine. What's meant to be is meant to be!