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Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries
by Carol Ann Kates

     During the lean Depression years, Lew Brown and Ray Henderson wrote a song entitled "Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries". The lyrics had a simple message for hungry Americans. The pleasure of eating a bowl of cherries is short lived. Cherish it while it lasts.   

     We Coloradoans can enjoy the height of cherry season in our state from mid-June to mid-July. Orchards in the western part of the state produce sweet cherries-Bing, Rainier, and Lapin cherries. Bing cherries are large, dark purple in color, and have a tangy sweetness. Rainiers are a cross between a Bing and Royal Anne. Rainier cherries have golden skin with a pinkish-red blush and a delicate, sweet flavor. Lapins are late cherries that resemble Bings. 

     In eastern Colorado orchards produce sour cherries, which are better for baking and cooking. Although sour cherries are higher in nutrients than sweet cherries, they are not normally eaten fresh. They find their way to the table in pies, fresh or frozen juice, chunky jam, and can either be canned or frozen. Sour cherries come to market later than sweet and their season runs June through August. 

     Brown and Henderson had it right in my opinion. There is nothing more delicious than a bowl of fresh, sweet cherries. Low in fat and sodium free, one cup of cherries has 1 gram of protein, 19 grams of carbohydrates, and 1.1 grams of fat. They are also a good source of fiber and Vitamin C.

     Here's a dessert idea using sweet cherries that my family loves. When I'm making this dish, I'm reminded of Erma Bombeck's comment. "If life is a bowl of cherries, why am I always in the pits." Even though pitting cherries is a bit of work, I think this presentation is worth the effort.

 

Brandied Cherries Served in Martini Glasses
Serves 8

 

4 cups fresh sweet cherries, pitted
2 teaspoons brandy
1 teaspoon sugar
16 lady fingers
¼ cup crème fraiche 
8 martini glasses 
4 lady fingers, crumbled

In a large bowl, combine pitted cherries, brandy, and sugar. Mix gently. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate 2 to 4 hours.

Place 2 lady fingers in each martini glass. Spoon ½ cup cherries into each glass, top with a scoop of crème fraiche and garnish with crumbled lady fingers. Serve immediately and savor every bite. 

Shopping:  Select cherries that are firm, glossy, plump, and bright. Cherries have passed their prime if they are soft, dull, or shriveled. Avoid buying fruit that has brown bruised spots. Rainier cherries are best when they are firm and lack blemishes. Sour cherries should be firm, not hard, and have even color. Color is an indication of sweetness. Darker red cherries will be sweeter.

Storing: Cherries are perishable and should be refrigerated immediately upon arriving home from the market. His fruit is best when eaten within 1 to 2 days of purchase. Always wash cherries just before eating.  

Carol Ann Kates is the author of award-winning Secret Recipes from the Corner Market, selected as one of the top ten favorite cookbooks by the Denver Post.  For more information, visit http://www.secretrecipesfromthecornermarket.com/

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