Cherry Picking and 18 Years of Innocence
July 19, 2011 § 1 Comment
Words escape me when I want to describe the feeling of elation I felt picking cherries the other day. On the grounds of an exceptional nursery (Windrush Nursery for pre-school aged children), I was picking morello cherries in order to make cherry brandy and dried sour cherries.
In an age when most of our food comes from a supermarket, it was an amazing experience to go back to basics and forage for food, like our hunter-gatherer fore bearers. This seems to have satisfied a primeval gene of mine. Happy in the knowledge that I can feed my family when all else is lost! Let’s get real here, I am not harking back to time when I would have had to walk for miles and do back breaking work, in order to put food on the table. Also, there is not much sustenance in cherry brandy, even though it’s jolly nice to drink!
Making dried sour cherries is a laborious and messy process. First you pick the cherries and stone them. Then, in a slow oven (luckily, I have a Rayburn to do this) you dry them. This takes hours and hours, but at the end of it all, you have something that can be referred to as ‘free food’ (as my good friend Clare did not change me for picking them, she wouldn’t even dream of it). Once you have the dried cherries, use them in porridge or making granola or best of all in making Sour Cherry and Almond White Chocolate Chunks (see recipe at the end).
Both my children attended Windrush Nursery, which I cannot praise enough. Clare and her team provide a safe environment for children that is like a home from home, but in reality it is much better. The children learn through creative play and this is all done in a nurturing, caring and intelligent way. Clare is as welcoming to the parents who drop off their kids, as she and her team are to the care and attention they give to the children. Of course, I am totally biased, but I feel lucky that my kids spent the early stages of their lives in such a place. It seems that the kids who go there are a pretty creative bunch. Who knows how many children contributed to the creation of the ‘work of art’ that hangs in the kitchen wall? It’s aptly named ’18 Years of Innocence’!
In case this is beginning to sound like an advert for Windrush Nursey, I do have to admit to a little secret. The funny thing is that I cannot keep away, I still attend the annual Sports Day, even though my kids left 4 years ago and still take advantage of Clare’s hospitality!
Recipe for Sour Cherry and Almond White Chocolate Chunks
(taken from Waitrose Food Illustrated)
Melt 250g broken white chocolate in a bowl. Add a pinch of cinnamon, 75g roasted marcona almonds and 75g dried sour cherries. Stir well and pour into a small baking tin, lined with baking parchment. Chill until set. Turn out of the tray, breaking it into rough chunks. Yummy with coffee or just when you feel like having a bit of chocolate. Who needs an excuse!