Summer has finally decided to show up... just as the leaves have started to change colour and the days have started getting shorter. Sigh! But I am not complaining, even when its +34, that's for sure. I am very much a summer person, unlike Kay and Aditi who both love winters. Me, on the other hand... well, lets just say, you can take the girl out of the tropics, but not the tropics out of the girl. I feel like that sunflower in the picture below, and I would certainly follow the sun everywhere if I could.
This sunflower, by the way, was planted by the birds, as Aditi told me. For a few seconds I was completely confused, until I realised that the plant had grown right beside the bird feeder, obviously from a dropped sunflower seed... and well, wow, the miracles of nature never fail to amaze me. Out of a tiny seed, a beautiful majestic flower grows.
So anyway, I decided to take full advantage of this beautiful Indian summer (he he) and make as many summery treats as I can. One of my favourite summer drinks is lemonade, and I always jazz it up by adding lots of things to it. I love strawberry lemonade, gingerade, mintade, you name it... this drink is such a versatile foil for all flavours. With all these flavours in mind, I decided that I would make cherry lemonade. As you may remember, I picked our neighbours Evans cherry tree clean a few weeks ago. So I happen to have bagfuls of nicely pitted and frozen cherries, just waiting to be made into pies and pastries and jams, sauces and preserves.
A quick note on how I froze these cherries. I used two methods. In the first one, I placed about 5 cupfuls of pitted cherries on a cookie sheet, and flash froze them. This meant that they were all individually frozen, and I was then able to slide them all into a freezer bag without crushing any. These are the cherries that I am planning to use for baking cakes, crumbles and buckles. The other cherries I froze using the sugar freezing method, that my MIL showed me. I popped freshly pitted cherries in 4 - 8 cup tupperware boxes, and then sprinkled over about a cup of sugar on them, shaking it well, then froze them. This method is easier, and these cherries will be used for pies and tarts and jams.
I used my flash frozen cherries for the lemonade, as I wanted to control how much sugar I added to them. I didn't follow a set recipe as such, and just followed a similar method to my strawberry lemonade. The result was brilliant. All of us commented on how both the cherry and the lemonade flavour shone through in this drink. It was a perfect drink for this hot summer day, refreshingly cold and tangy.
I cheekily added a shot of vodka to my glass in the evening, as the sun went down... and I sat out on the deck with my baby girl playing in the garden, and watched the sun setting over the trees, and marvelled anew at the beauty of this world and the vastness of the prairie skies [er, when its not snowing, of course :-)]
1 cup sour cherries, pitted, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)
Juice of 2 lemons
Around 1 litre water, still or sparkling
Mint leaves, to granish
Place the cherries in a saucepan over medium heat. They will start releasing a lot of juice. Stir ocasionally, and after about 5 minutes, start mashing the cherries up.
Stir in the sugar, and cook for a few more minutes until the sugar is all dissolved.
Take off the heat and leave to cool completely.
Strain the syrup through a cheesecloth into a bowl, squeezing well to extract all the cherry flavour. This syrup can be stored in the fridge for a few days.
Make the cherry lemonade by whisking together the lemon juice and the cherry syrup. Taste and add a little more sugar, if desired. Pour in the water, and mix well.
Serve chilled over ice, and garnished with a mint leaf.