Category: traditional with a twist

Mini cherry Pimm’s pies.

Mini cherry pies with Pimm's liqueur.

I told you. I have had a lot of cherries. I received an amazingly large shipment of beautiful Northwest cherries from Rainier Fruit Co, and while I used most of them for canning and preserving, there were a decent amount that got too soft or weren’t right for that purpose. And that’s okay- it happens! They were excellent for eating fresh right out of the bag. But I needed to bake.

You know how that is. When you just have to bake something, even if it is 90º?

Well, yeah. That happens to me, anyway. So I decided to bake up some mini cherry pies… with a twist: I added some Pimm’s No. 1 Cup to them.

Pimm's cherry pies.

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Green tea + Jasmine cherry preserves, for our independence.

Ahhh, Independence Day. A day where Americans can reflect on what our forefathers went through to create this nation, and to remember how far we’ve come. But mostly just shoot off fireworks and get hammered. Totes legit. Go ‘Murica.

Anyway, because I’m certifiably insane I usually like to make red, white & blue themed desserts for this weekend. Like a sweet cherry cream pie, or strawberry shortcake cupcakes, or blueberry hand pies. This year I wasn’t feeling it- it’s actually too hot to have that oven on. So I did something totally different. I made cherry preserves. Because I have a lot of cherries, in case you didn’t know.

Shout out to The Washington State Stone Fruit Commission and Rainier Fruit Co. once again for their gorgeous fruit. I love being a Canbassador!

Rainier Fruit Co. cherries! I put 'em into some green tea + jasmine cherry preserves!

But, because I’m a wackjob, these are not just ANY cherry preserves…

They’re cherry preserves made with green tea + jasmine!

Green tea + jasmine cherry preserves.

I had this tea series my dad got me for Christmas, the Boston Tea Company‘s Boston Harbour Series. And seeing that and putting that together with Independence Day, plus all these cherries I have… it gave me an idea. Why not go back to my old standby for making preserves: infusing them with tea!?

The Boston Tea Party was pivotal in the formation of the United States, after all. It should get some credit!

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Cherries in the snow- uh, syrup.

Cherries in a light almond-y syrup. #sweetpreservation

Remember that Revlon lipstick, Cherries in the Snow? I believe they still make it. I remember as a kid my mom wore it, and I loved the name. What a great name for a lipstick. It was one of their best sellers for many, many years by the time I came along. Anyway… I always think of that lipstick when I see cherries, so it was more than a great name, it was great marketing!

This post isn’t really about Revlon or makeup or anything related to it at all, actually. It is, however, about cherries. Sweet, perfect cherries from the Rainier Fruit Company. And of course, part 1 (part 1… yes, there will be more) of what I did with them!

Rainier Company cherries! #sweetpreservation

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Raspberry cinnamon basil jam.

Did you know how many types of basil there are? In my short life experience with growing it, I’ve grown Thai basil, Genovese basil, sweet basil, amethyst basil, Greek basil & cinnamon basil. And there are plenty more varieties. This year, we kept it to 3 kinds; sweet basil, purple ruffles basil (which has deep purple ruffled leaves & has an almost anise smell to it) and cinnamon basil. And it’s not just basil I love experimenting with. We have two types of dill, two types of oregano, three types of sage…

I love having them around, especially to sneak into jams and preserves. They’re always unexpected, and leave the taster saying, “Wait.. what is that flavor?!”

Small-batch raspberry cinnamon basil jam.

Two years ago I did it with blueberries and regular basil. The year before that? I popped some cilantro into raspberry jam with jalapeños. Last year I made my dad an experimental small jar of mixed berry jam with cinnamon basil, and it was such a hit I decided to try it again. This time, I’m doing a plain raspberry jam… with a sneaky little bit of cinnamon basil strewn in.

Cinnamon basil -which is also known as Mexican spice basil- smells like a strange combo of basil & cinnamon; moreso cinnamon. It’s a very unique smell & flavor. It actually contains the same chemical (methyl cinnamate) that gives cinnamon it’s flavor. When popped into a jam, it really helps the jam straddle that line between sweet & savory.

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Chive blossom vinegar with lemon.

Chive blossoms!

I’ve been making chive blossom vinegar for a few years now. It all started because my chive plant was turning into a chive bush; no joke. It was humongous. And it began blooming so much that my entire yard was covered in the blossoms that eventually dried and fell off the plant. The blooms carry seeds, obviously, and where they land, new chives can grow. I didn’t want a yard full of chives, needless to say, so I began cutting the chives with blooms off and sticking them in jars of water, like fresh flowers. Which was fine. But my kitchen always smelling like a baked potato when the temperature was high wasn’t ideal (even though they are pretty).

So I did some research and discovered all the things you can make/do with them! Turns out they’re 100% edible. They make a great garnish for soups and salads, and they also make a mean infused vinegar.

Chive blossom vinegar with lemon.

That chive plant was taken from me in a hurricane. The pot it was in blew over and the plant never recovered. However, I since replaced it and my new one is just as big as the other one was, so I’m still getting blossoms up the wazoo. So now I’m finding new ways of making that old standby: chive blossom vinegar.

This one is inspired by a post I found on the internet at My Humble Kitchen. The lemon slice makes it smell ah-may-zing, and I’m sure will add a brightness to the flavor.

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Peanut butter birthday pie.

For three people in my life, I have a rule. Only three people. The rule is: on your birthday, you get to pick one baked good- anything you want- and I will make it for you and you get the entire thing to yourself. You won’t be asked to share it. You can do with it whatever you want. Eat it all by yourself while watching TV, share it, bring some to work, smear it on your face and run around town naked, etc.

Okay maybe not so much that last one… Anyway

Oh look, sneaky highly edited preview wedding shot!

Sneaky wedding preview shot!

So, only THREE people get this privilege- there were four, but my Nana passed away almost 4 years ago. Today actually would’ve been her 97th birthday, and she would get whatever she wanted. But that happened regardless of what day it was, let’s be honest. Anyway, there are three people in the entire world who have this privilege and two of them (my parents) get it for an extra day each: Mother’s Day/Father’s Day as well as their birthdays. The third person is Jason.

But sometimes… even if they pick something on their own, I see a recipe that just screams their name. So they get two things.

Peanut butter pie topped with pretzels, crumbled chocolate cookies & peanut butter chips.

Jay has picked a variety of things over the years, sometimes cupcakes. Sometimes cookies. Sometimes pie. This year, he chose cheddar dill scones (I know, random). Which was fine by me. However I also had another trick up my sleeve: peanut butter pie. And since its not quite his birthday yet- it’s actually this Saturday, the 23rd- I could make more than one thing easily.

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Ready for rhubarb: baked & pickled.

Bowl of rhubarb (click through for two rhubarb recipes)

Rhubarb comes and goes very quickly. It’s fleeting, rhubarb season. You simply cannot just walk into a store here and get rhubarb any time you want during the growing season. It sells out of the markets & supermarkets almost immediately. My mother absolutely LOVES rhubarb, and the season usually coincides with Mother’s Day, so I try and get some to make her something special. When I find it, I try to grab it. But if its not the greatest quality, or if its on the pricey side, I skip it. The stalk I bought for these two recipes was pretty huge, and I paid a little over $2.00 for it. It went into these pickles and also the next recipe which you’ll see in a few days (so keep that in mind).

So yes, in this post, it’s a two-for-one. One rhubarb cake recipe, and one pickled rhubarb recipe. First, the cake!

Rhubarb cake.

Rhubarb is really, really pretty. There are two main kinds; the bright pinkish red kind (this one) and the light pink and green kind. And then there are a bunch in between, of course, but those are the two main color types you’ll find in your store/market. Both colors are fine for any purpose, so long as you be sure to cut off all the leaves, if they come with them still attached. Rhubarb leaves are poisonous! This is especially important to remember if you buy your stalks from a farmer or a farmer’s market, or get them from someone who grows it. I know the brighter pink ones are more “attractive” aesthetically, but the pinkish/green ones can be very pretty too. I like to use a mix if I can find both.

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