Sweet Corn Bisque – a Bowl Full of Summer

Cheery sweet corn bisque is the essence of summer – all that golden sunshine collected in a bowl.

pot and bowls of sweet corn bisque

I’m a garden eater.

I love munching on fresh garden peas, and popping sun-ripe cherry tomatoes in my mouth as I stroll the rows in my garden. I love pulling a young sweet carrot, wiping the dirt on my jeans, and crunching it as I walk. I love nibbling on fresh basil leaves and dill fronds, and stuffing lettuce leaves into my cheeks to chew. I even love snapping off young beans or zucchini to gnaw on.

the late summer garden

the late summer garden – corn is ripe, apple trees are loaded, weeds are in their glory

But my absolute favourite garden treat comes in late summer, when the corn is finally ripe. I wait and watch for those silks to turn brown. I feel the cobs, looking for heft and solidity. As soon as I find a cob that’s filling out nicely, I break it from the stalk and peel back the husk. I pull off the silk and greedily bite into the crisp, milky kernels. The sweet juices of the corn sometimes squirt as I chomp, and I am not delicate as I work my way around the cob like a hungry beaver. There are sticky bits of corn on my face, but I am grinning with pleasure.

If you’ve never eaten a raw cob of corn fresh from the garden, you need to try it some day.

It’s the taste of summer.

corn is ready to pick ripe ears of sweet corn

And if you can’t get to a garden, a bowl of this sweet corn bisque is the next best thing.

single bowl of sweet corn bisque

It’s simple and pure – just fresh corn and a few other ingredients. You cook the cobs along with the soup to get even more intense corn flavour. The bisque is velvety smooth and creamy, with little pops of corn kernels to please your tongue and give each spoonful some texture.

Before I had a garden, I used to buy a sack or two of fresh corn every fall. I’d cook up a big vat of this soup (in my enamel canning pot) and freeze it in containers to pull out on grey winter days when we needed a reminder of the summer’s glory.

Having frozen blocks of this soup in the freezer is better than a stash of gold bullion in the bank.

* * * * *

sweet corn bisque, bowl

Sweet Corn Bisque

  • 5 large ears of fresh, sweet corn, husked
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups (1 litre) water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • chopped green onions, chives, or cilantro/coriander leaves for garnish, optional

Cut the kernels from the raw cobs of corn with a sharp knife. It works well to place a cutting board in a rimmed cookie sheet to catch the kernels. (Don’t worry if you don’t get all the kernels – you’ll scrape the cobs later.) Set aside.

cutting the corn kernels from the cob

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for about two minutes, until translucent. Add the turmeric and coriander and cook for one more minute.

Add the bay leaf and water, then add the corn kernels and the cobs. Break the cobs in half if needed to fit into the pot. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Use tongs to remove the cobs from the soup. Set them on the cutting board to cool slightly. Scoop one cup of the cooked corn kernels from the soup and set them aside. Remove the bay leaf.

Scrape the cobs to get all the last bits of corn and the sweet hearts from each kernel. Return all the scrapings to the soup, and discard the cobs.

In a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches until it is smooth and creamy, or use an immersion blender in the pot.

Return the blended soup to the pot, and add the reserved corn kernels, salt, and white pepper.

Serve hot or cold.

Serves 4 to 6.

*This soup freezes well.

Guten Appetit!


You might also like:


Creamy Roasted Root Vegetable Soup

Russian Borscht

Garlic Lentil Soup

a whole lot of cobs

Posted in Soups & Stews, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Evans Cherry Pie to Make Billy Boy Happy

This classic sour cherry pie will make your mouth pucker and your guests beg for more! With a gluten-free crust option, too.

Evans cherry pie

Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Can she bake a cherry pie, charming Billy?
Yes, she can bake a cherry pie, she’s the apple of my eye,
But she’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother.

That famous nursery rhyme/song has been my earworm all day, so I just had to go and bake a cherry pie today. (Yes, I know my lyrics are different, but that’s how I remember them from childhood :) )

Apparently baking a cherry pie is one of the criteria necessary for becoming a wife – good thing my husband didn’t know that when he met me, or we might never have tied the knot! So, better late than never, I’ve learned to make a cherry pie. It’s darn good, if I do say so myself (and I’m no longer even a young thing who cannot leave her mother!)

Evans cherry pie plate with piece

The Evans cherry trees are loaded with their ruby jewels – glistening, juicy, sour cherries. It’s late in the season, so they are especially sweet (well . . . for sour cherries).

Evans cherry pie, cherries on tree

It takes just minutes to pick a pail full, and not much longer to pit them using this slick and easy trick.

ladder and pail of Evans cherries by tree

And Evans Cherry Pie is especially, unforgettably, tantalizingly, delicious if you give it a good splash of sour cherry brandy made from last year’s cherry crop. (But if you don’t have any, don’t despair – Billy Boy and his friends will still love the pie without it.)

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: You can substitute another fruit liqueur for the cherry brandy, like Creme de Cassis (black currant liqueur), raspberry liqueur, or even just use apple juice.

For the lard or shortening called for in the pie crust recipes, you can use part butter.

whole cherry pie

Evans Cherry Pie

  • 1 quantity of pie dough for a double crust pie (use your favourite pastry recipe or see the regular and gluten-free recipes below)
  • 4 cups (675gms) pitted sour cherries, fresh or frozen (see how to pit Evans cherries)
  • 1 ¼ cups (250gms) natural evaporated cane sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 7 tablespoons (50gms) tapioca starch or 5 tablespoons (50gms) minute tapioca
  • ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • ¼ cup cherry brandy (homemade or purchased), other fruit liqueur, or apple juice

Roll out half of the pastry and line a 9 or 9½ inch  (23-24 cm) pie plate with it. Set the pastry-lined dish in the refrigerator to chill while rolling the top crust and making the filling.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Roll out pastry for the top crust (between two sheets of parchment paper if making gluten-free pastry – see below) and cut out six or seven small holes (cherry-sized) using a bottle cap or small round cutter. Remove the dough from the holes with the tip of a butter knife.

cutting holes in the top crust

Place the pitted cherries and any accumulated juices in a bowl. Add the sugar, salt, and tapioca starch. Toss gently with a silicone spatula until evenly distributed.

Sprinkle with the almond extract and the cherry brandy, liqueur, or apple juice. Toss again gently to combine.

cherry pie top crust with holes

Tip the cherry filling into the chilled pastry crust. Carefully lift the top crust on top and press the edges together to seal them. With a sharp knife, trim off the excess crust all around the edge of the pie dish. Flute the rim of pastry with your fingers to make a pretty scalloped edge.

cherry pie filled and fluted

Set the pie onto a baking dish (to catch any filling that bubbles out). I like to use a pizza pan with a raised lip.

Bake the cherry pie for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking for 45 to 50 minutes, until the pastry is golden and you can see the filling bubbling slightly through the holes in the pastry.

Let cool completely before cutting into 6 to 8 wedges.

Evans cherry pie with Mickey Mouse

this pie overflowed its edges, but Mickey and Minnie love it anyway

Regular Pastry for Pie Crust

from the inside cover of the 1980 Fanny Farmer Cookbook

for a 9-inch two-crust pie:

  • 2½ cups (350gms) flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup lard or shortening
  • 6 to 7 tablespoons ice cold water

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter or two knives until pea-sized clumps remain. Add five tablespoons of the water, stirring with a fork. Add 1 or 2 more tablespoons until the mixture can just be pressed together into a rough ball. Knead the pastry lightly a couple times to make sure all the flour is worked in. Don’t work the dough too much. You want to be able to see some clumps of shortening remaining, so the pastry will be flaky. Cut the ball in two, making one half slightly larger (for the bottom crust). Form each ball into a disk, then wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.

(At this point the pastry balls can also be refrigerated overnight or for several days before being used. Remove them from the refrigerator 15 minutes before rolling.)

Dust the work surface lightly with flour and roll out the dough to a round that is about an inch (2.5cm) larger than the pie dish all the way around. Lift the pastry from the work surface by draping it over the rolling pin, then sliding it into the pie plate, and easing the sides down all the way around the dish with your fingers.

Roll out the smaller ball to about ½ inch (1.3 cm) bigger than the pie plate all the way around, cutting holes as mentioned above, and place on top of the filled bottom crust. Trim off the excess dough, press the two layers of pastry together all the way around the pie, and flute the edges of the pie crust.

Gluten Free Pastry for Pie Crust

gluten free bottom crust ready to fill

this gluten free crust drapes beautifully

Kitchen Frau Note: While you are measuring out the dry ingredients for this crust, set out several bowls and make 2 or 3 batches at the same time, place each one in a heavy duty zip top bag, label it ‘Pie Crust Mix’ and write on it which wet ingredients to add (lard, egg, vinegar, and water), and keep it in the freezer. You’ll be able to whip up a pie crust much more quickly when the urge strikes, plus the flour mix will already be nice and cold for mixing.

This crust is based on my  earlier pastry recipe, and while it has more ingredients, I feel it is a bit easier to work with than that first recipe.

  • 1 cup (100gms) oat flour (you can whiz rolled oats in a blender to make flour)
  • ¾ cup (100gms) sorghum flour
  • ½ cup (70gms) sweet rice flour
  • ½ cup (60gms) tapioca flour/starch
  • ¼ cup (40gms) potato starch (not flour)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (helps the dough to brown)
  • 1 tablespoon (10gms) psyllium husk powder
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup (170gms) cold lard or shortening (you can use part butter)
  • 1 large egg or chia egg (1 tablespoon ground chia seeds soaked 5 minutes in 3 tablespoons water)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons cold water

Combine all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, or in a regular bowl. Dice the lard or shortening add it to the dry ingredients. Whiz for two to three seconds in the food processor, or if using a bowl, cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter or two knives until pea-sized clumps remain.

Add the egg and vinegar plus 2 tablespoons water. Whiz just until the dough starts to come together if you squeeze a handful, or if using a bowl, stir with a fork. If needed, add up to one more tablespoon water until the mixture can just be pressed together into a rough ball.

Dump the dough onto the counter if using a food processor, or leave it in the bowl. Knead the pastry lightly a couple times to make sure all the flour is worked in. Don’t work the dough too much. You want to be able to see some clumps of shortening remaining, so the pastry will be flaky.

Cut the ball in two, making one half slightly larger (for the bottom crust). Form each ball into a disk, then wrap the disk tightly in plastic wrap and place into the freezer for 30 minutes, or refrigerate for an hour. At this point the balls of dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Roll out the dough for each crust between two sheets of parchment paper, working the rolling pin from the center of the pastry circle outwards. Lift the top sheet of parchment up occasionally and re-position it if it wrinkles. A trick that helps keep the paper from sliding all over the counter is to position the top sheet of parchment on top of the bottom sheet so the corners line up, then let one of the corners hang over the edge of the counter. Stand with your body against the parchment sheet and pin the overhanging corner between your body and the counter to hold it steady while you roll the from the center of the circle of pastry and outwards away from you. Keep rotating the paper a quarter turn, and pin down the next corner, each time rolling with the rolling pin away from you.

trick for rolling gluten free pastry

lean against the counter as you roll the gluten free pastry, wedging the parchment paper between your hip and the counter

Peel off the top sheet of parchment and invert the pastry circle into the pie dish, then carefully peel off the bottom sheet. Ease the pastry carefully down the sides of the dish by lifting up the edges and pressing it gently down into place with your fingers. Chill the bottom shell in the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes before filling.

Repeat the procedure for the top crust, cutting small holes into it as mentioned above in the pie recipe, and inverting the crust onto the filling, then removing the remaining parchment paper. Trim off the excess and flute the edges of the pie crust.

Guten Appetit!

You might also like:

How to Pit Evans Cherries

Brandied Evans Cherries

Gingered Pear Tarts and Gluten Free Pastry Recipe

Confetti Crepes with Hazelnut Pear Filling


three photos evans cherry pie

Posted in Canadian Food Experience Project, Fruit, Pies & Tarts | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mini Lemon Coconut Pavlovas – White Delight for Dîner en Blanc

Elegant in white, these fluffy Lemon Coconut Pavlovas make a delectable statement – a fitting finale for fun or fancy dinners.

lemon coconut pavlovas

We attended Dîner en Blanc again last week. A magical and fun evening. The secret location this year was right in the heart of downtown Edmonton in Churchill Square – a total change from last year’s lovely location.

This one was a little more crowded, but had a city vibe to it that provided energy and exuberance (though I must admit, I loved last year’s park setting better, in spite of the rain showers).


the twirling of the napkins

the twirling of the napkins signifies the dinner has officially started

There were a few top hats to be seen:

tophats diner en blanc, Edmonton, Alberta clowning around The event also happened a month later in the year, so it got dark earlier. The magical moment of sparklers became a hopping field of dancing fireflies in the the deepening dusk.

light up the sparklers sparklers dancing The meal was delicious, we pre-ordered the charcuterie platter, but lots of people packed their own elegant picnics. We decided next year we’ll do that, too.

And in anticipation of that, I’ve come up with a  dessert I think would be fitting for such a wonderful event: mini pavlovas bursting with lemon and coconut flavors. Fluffy, fun, but sophisticated. Serve them at any dinner party and your guests will be wowed. The meringues are crispy on the outside, yet chewy and marshmallowy on the inside. The lemon is zingingly tart, and the coconut so mellow and tropical. Ooooh, yum.

Raymond’s mom makes a wonderful lemon coconut custard pie, so I’ve always known that the lemon and coconut pairing is a match made in heaven. In these mini pavlovas it comes down to earth so we mortals can enjoy a little taste.

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: This recipe looks like it has a lot of steps and a is a long process, but it’s much simpler than it looks. The beauty of this recipe is that the meringues can be made several days, or weeks, in advance. (Why not double the recipe and have some on hand to make a batch of this lovely Prairie Eton Mess?) The Lemon Curd and Coconut Whip can also be made up to three days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. Then you can assemble the pavlovas just before dinner or right at dessert time. I love that kind of entertaining.


mini lemon coconut pavlova Lemon Coconut Pavlovas

For the Coconut Meringues:

  • 2 large egg whites (save the yolks)
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup (100gms) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch or potato starch
  • ½ teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fine shredded unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a large cookie sheet. Draw 4 four-inch (10cm) circles on the parchment paper, leaving at least 2 inches of space between them. Flip the paper over (so the meringues won’t bleed colour from the lines) and place on the cookie sheet.

Beat the egg whites with the salt until they form soft peaks. Add the sugar gradually, about one tablespoon at a time, beating until the meringue is thick and glossy. Add the cornstarch, vinegar, and finely shredded coconut. Beat until they are well mixed in.

whipped egg whites for lemon coconut pavlovas forming meringues for baking

Divide the meringue between the four circles and with the back of a spoon, shape each one into a nest slightly smaller than the circle, with the center indented. The meringues will puff up as they bake.

Place the cookie sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 175°F.

Bake the meringues for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave them to cool inside the oven, without opening the door, for an additional 30 minutes.

When completely cool, use immediately, or store them in an airtight container for up to several weeks.

* * *

For the Lemon Coconut Curd:

  • ¼ cup (60gms) organic, virgin coconut oil
  • ¼ cup (50gms) sugar
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) lemon juice
  • 2 egg yolks (from the meringues)
  • 1 large egg

Melt the coconut oil in a medium sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the ingredients in the order given. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture just starts to form bubbles.

Let cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then transfer the curd to a heatproof bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap placed directly on the curd. Let cool, then refrigerate until chilled.

* * *

For the Coconut Whip Topping:

  • 1 cup (240ml) coconut cream from the top of a 398ml/14oz can of premium full-fat coconut milk that’s been chilled so the cream rises to the top
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons white rum or 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup finely shredded coconut
  • long-thread shredded coconut to garnish

Make sure to chill the can of coconut milk so the cream rises to the top. Open the can, then with a spoon, carefully scoop out the solid cream from the top. (Save the watery coconut milk from the bottom for adding to smoothies, sauces or soups – it can be frozen.)

Whip the coconut cream with the sugar and rum or lemon juice until it is smooth and fluffy. Whip in the finely shredded coconut.


* * *

To assemble the Mini Pavlovas:

Spread about ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) lemon curd into the indent in the center of the meringue. Top with about ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) coconut whip and garnish with a shower of long-thread shredded coconut.

Makes 4.

Guten Appetit!

You might also like:

Dîner en Blanc and Honey Vanilla Ice Cream

Prairie-Edition Eton Mess (Saskatoon and Rhubarb)

Stawberry Meringue Pie

Easy Homemade Marshmallows

Posted in Desserts, Puddings & Such | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Juniper Berry and Raisin Stuffed Pork Chops over the Campfire

Juniper berries add a woodsy note to sweet raisins in these stuffed pork chops. They can be grilled, pan-fried, or cooked over a campfire for smoky flavor.

pork chops stuffed with juniper berries and raisins

For me it’s not really summer until I get to spend a few days at the cabin. Here, where we’re far from malls and crowds and traffic, where there’s no television, computer, or cell phone reception, and where nature feels bigger and bolder and more real than any other place I know . . . here I feel recharged.

view of the lake

We hike up the mountain (really just a hill) to get a good view of the lake.

single file on the trail

hiking single file

almost at the top

climbing the steep hill

it’s a steep climb, but the view is worth it all

resting at the top of the hill

made it to the top

the dogs enjoy the hike

Pippa and Sugar enjoy the hike, too

hiking down the hill

coming down is harder than it looks

hiking back down path in the tall grass

We love to fish, catching fresh trout that take just a blink of time from the lake to the frying pan.

heading out fishing the fishermen return success frying up the day's catch

We play cards, take daily saunas, and use potatoes as entertainment.

potato gun antics

shooting potatoes out into the lake with the homemade potato gun

There’s lots of natural beauty to look at.

mushroom amongst bunchberries ridkety log bridge on the path leaves are turning red alpine plants growing amongst the rocks

In this little paradise, on Francois Lake in northern BC, time slows down and our normal problems disappear for a while. For instance:

Rush hour means ‘the fish are jumping, rush out to the lake’.’

Heavy traffic means ‘there is more than just our boat fishing this side of the bay.’

Working overtime means ‘you let the fire in the sauna go out, so now you have to add another log and sit by the campfire with another beer while we wait for it to heat up again.’

Roughing it means ‘deciding which magazine to read while you sit in the outhouse with the door open, looking out at the sun sparkling on the lake.’

Working your way to the top means ‘a long steep hike to the top of the mountain for a spectacular view of the lake with the sunlight gilding the tree-studded islands in the distance and the breeze blowing every last worry from your brain.’

Tough decisions means ‘should we sauna first and then eat, or eat first, have a glass of wine, and then sauna?’

view of Francois Lake from the cabin

I call this the G3 summit – daily coffee and lawn chair meetings to solve the world’s problems

When we’re at the cabin, even cooking for a hungry crowd becomes fun – it’s a duty shared and feels more like a social event than a chore. There are always a few of us to lend a hand, and a glass of mom’s homemade wine to sip on as we chop and chat and stir makes the dinner prep feel like party time. It seems like we’re never cooking for less than a dozen people so there’s lots of cooking to do, but the German saying Viele Hände, schnelles Ende, (many hands, a quick end) really fits – the work flies by. We eat well, and the food tastes even better when our appetites are sharpened by fresh air and outdoor activities.

mealtime outside at the cabin

we eat as many meals outside as we can

Eating outside with a view of the lake, the sound of the wind in the spruce trees, and the smell of fresh mountain air provides an ambience and atmosphere no fancy restaurant can beat.

Rosalinda picking juniper berries

my sister Rosalinda picking juniper berries up on the hilltop

Up at the top of the mountain behind the cabin, we picked our yearly supply of fresh juniper berries – they were milder and sweeter this year than they’ve ever been (must be all that sunshine this year) and you could actually chew on them and taste the wonderful sweetness, almost like actual berries. Juniper berries aren’t really berries, they just look like them. They are the seed cone of the low growing, prickly juniper bushes, and are usually quite piney and resinous tasting. They make a wonderful flavouring for gamey stews, meat dishes, and sauerkraut.

bush full of juniper berries

I used fresh juniper berries to flavour a sweet stuffing for pork chops, a bit of a riff on my herb-stuffed pork chops. When we cooked the stuffed chops over the fire, they took on a wonderful smokiness that complimented the resinous flavour of the juniper. Nature provides the best seasoning of all.

Kitchen Frau Notes: As noted in the recipe below, make sure to crush the seeds completely if using dried juniper berries.

stuffed pork chops ready to serve

Juniper and Raisin Stuffed Pork Chops

  • 4 thick-cut boneless pork loin chops, at least one inch (2.5cm) thick
  • 2 oz/50gms smoked sausage (ham sausage, kielbasa, pepperoni, etc), about a 3inch/8cm piece of regular sausage, or a 12 inch/30 cm piece of thin pepperoni
  • ½ cup (120ml) raisins
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 4 teaspoons oil, divided
  • ½ tablespoon juniper berries (about 20), usually dried, but if you have fresh ones – wonderful
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cut a pocket into each pork chop by inserting the tip of a sharp knife into the side of the chop and cutting a horizontal slit about 2 inches (5cm) wide. Work the knife back and forth to make the pocket wider than the opening, but don’t cut all the way through the chop. Try to leave about a ½ inch (1cm) strip of uncut meat all the way around the edge.

cut a pocket in the pork chops enlarge the pocket in the pork chops

Finely mince the sausage, raisins and garlic (or chop them in a mini food chopper, if you have one).

Crush the fresh juniper berries with the flat side of the blade of a large knife, then mince them finely, too. Fresh juniper berries (and the seeds inside) are soft, and easy to crush with a knife blade.

*If using dried juniper berries, make sure the seeds inside the berries are crushed, or they will be too hard to bite. You can place the dried berries inside a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin if you find they roll around too much, or use a mortar and pestle to crush them finely, again making sure the seeds are completely crushed.

Combine the minced sausage, raisins, garlic, juniper berries, and 2 teaspoons of the oil.

Stuff a quarter of this mixture into each of the pockets in the pork chops, spreading it out so it’s even.

stuff pork chops with raisins and juniper berries

Sprinkle the outsides of the pork chops with salt and pepper, then rub or brush them with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil.

Grill the stuffed pork chops on a grate over coals on a campfire, on a barbecue grill, or pan fry them in a skillet on each side until the meat is just cooked, but not dry. Pork can even still have a slight tinge of pink inside, and it will be nice and juicy.

Serves 4.

Guten Appetit!


You might also like these other posts about life at the Francois Lake cabin:

Campfire Baked Potatoes (with a trick to keep them from burning)

Bannock Biscuits

Rich Creamy Succotash – and a Trip to the Lake

Morel Mushrooms in White Wine Sauce


Posted in Barbecue & Grilling, Meats, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

How to Pit Evans Cherries

Here’s a nifty little trick for easily pitting the juicy, tart Evans cherries.

How to Pit Evans Cherries, the tree is loaded

Every year I play Russian Roulette with the picking of our Evans cherries.

I think they taste the sweetest and best if I wait until after a light frost, or at least until it gets quite chilly at nights. Somehow, the sugars seem to increase in the berries. But it also means I might wait too long and they get overripe, or that the birds or wasps get to them before I do. Last year we got quite a few wasp stings on our hands as we picked the cherries, annoying the wasps, dopey and half drunk on cherries, as they crawled amongst the fruits.

This year, due to the heat and drought conditions of our summer, our fruits and vegetables are all ripening several weeks earlier, and the first frost is still a long time away (I hope). So I am in a dilemma. Do I pick the cherries now, or wait a bit longer? Maybe they’ll get sweeter yet . . . but we’re leaving on holiday. Do I dare wait til after we come back?

Evans cherry trees in garden Close up of Evans cherries

I couldn’t resist, and picked a few to make a sour cherry pie (recipe coming soon), and thought I’d meanwhile share a slick and easy tip for pitting the delicate cherries. Evans cherries  are a type of northern-hardy sour cherry, developed right here in Alberta. They are so much softer and juicier than regular sweet cherries, that most cherry pitters just squish the fruit and make a mess of juice and cherry pulp.

The best little gadget (after trying many types of cherry pitters) is a simple plastic drinking straw. Yup.

* * * * *

These instructions are for a right-handed person. Just reverse the process if you are left handed.

white colander with Evans cherries

How to Pit Evans Cherries

Remove any stems from the cherries, and rinse the cherries in a colander under cold running water. Let them drain. Pick out any duds.

Set yourself up for pitting by placing a small bowl for the pits to your left. Place a bowl for the pitted cherries directly in front of you, and place the washed berries within easy reach behind them.

Have ready a plastic drinking straw.

Now pick up a cherry, and hold it over the bowl in front of you, between the thumb and forefinger of your left hand, with the stem end of the cherry facing to the right. With your right hand, poke the straw into the indent where the stem attached to the cherry.

Use a plastic straw to pit Evans cherries

poke into the stem end of the cherry with the straw

Push the straw horizontally through the cherry, pushing the pit out the bottom of the cherry as the straw goes through. With your left hand remove the cherry pit into the pit bowl, and with your right thumb, slide the cherry off the straw and into the cherry bowl below it.

push the pit through the Evans cherries with a straw

the pit gets pushed right out of the cherry with the straw

Then pick up another cherry and do it again . . . and again . . . and again.

Once you get the hang of it, you can do it all in one fluid motion, and it’s quite quick to pit a whole bowl of cherries (and life isn’t even close to being the pits – hee, hee).

pitted Evans cherries ready for pie

I like to set up the pitting operation in my lap, and watch television while I’m doing it. Since the cherries can sometimes squirt a bit of juice, I put an old towel on my lap first.

Now the cherries are ready to use immediately or to freeze in a single layer on parchment paper lined cookie sheets, then pop them into zip top plastic bags to freeze for future use.

Work can be fun, too!

Guten Appetit!


You might also like:

Evans Sour Cherries in Brandy

How to Clean Saskatoon Berries

Eton Mess with Saskatoons and Rhubarb

Rhubarb Streusel Cake


Posted in Canadian Food Experience Project, Fruit, Gardening, How-to-Basics | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments