Thursday, August 2, 2012

Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries

The Hub and I are getting a little preview of the next phase of life.  It is going to be different and take a little time to get used to being just 'us' since we have had at least one of our kids living with us for the past 37 years.  Thanks to Son3's surprise entrance into our family, our empty nest was delayed by 16 years.  The past 18 years have crept by and rushed by all at the same time.  Moments of colic seemed to last an eternity, elementary school seemed to pass at a normal pace, while the years between the first day of middle school and high school graduation were a blur that we remember mostly as going to and from one event to the next.

I am very proud of the young man he has become and am thrilled he gets to follow his dream of going to Juilliard . I am happy he is closer to realizing a career  he is passionate about, and sad because I know he cannot live here and be the professional he want to be. I guess life is filled with double edged swords.

Meantime, in these precious few days before he goes, he is spending less and less time around the house.  It is normal and we remember it from our older two sons but it is an adjustment.  One of the biggest changes for me is the art of cooking for 2.   I knew I would have to take something out of the freezer to defrost for supper.  All these years I have been packing frozen foods for 3 and one of the three was a teenaged male.  This summer I have been freezing in packages for a couple.  When I went to the freezer and pulled out a pack with 2 chicken breasts, I realized this is our life now...a ziplock bag with 2  pieces of chicken.  The upside of it being the two of us is that everything I cook can contain mushrooms, onions and squash.  I can have huge chunks of tomatoes and asparagus and Son3 unapproved desserts.  In fact, we can have anything we want!

Today I was looking through the fridge and noticed an entire clamshell of cherries that had gotten pushed far back.  They had maybe one day of life left in the so they needed to be eaten right now!  I had a serving of cherries with my lunch, but there was still a boatload of cherries remaining.  You know how sometimes things just seem to happen as if they were meant to, even though you are doing nothing to facilitate it.  Today had one of those serendipitous moments.  I was on the computer following link after link looking for a different way to cook the chicken breasts when I literally clicked on a site and the first recipe on it was Cherry Custard. ( Thank you Gina at  The minute I saw it I knew I was going to try it.

When I was reading Gina's description of the custard she mentioned that it was much like a clafoutis.
Last year I had made the traditional French version of one and though it tasted really good we were not fans of taking a bite of it, chewing and then having to spit out the seeds.  This version is pitted and contains no added fats. ( Though the butter in the original  recipe made the batter very rich, and brown, and crispy, and delicious.)

Cherry Custard

1 1/3 cups pitted cherries cut in half
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup unbleached flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup fat free milk ( Who was it that thought they had to rename skimmed milk?)
1 teaspoon vanilla
confectioners sugar for dusting

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 4 ramekins with Pam and dust with a small amount of flour.  Put 1/3 cup cherries in each ramekin.  Set aside

Whisk the eggs, flour, sugar and salt until smooth.  Add the milk and the extract and whisk until smooth.  This made 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of batter.  I put 1/4 cup in each ramekin and just eyeballed the remaining 2 tablespoons between the 4 cups.  Put them in an 8x8 square pan and put enough water in the bottom of the baking pan to come a little under halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  Bake for about 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Let them cool to a nice warm before serving, because the fruit will be hot and will burn you.

Before serving dust with a tiny bit of the powdered sugar.  I used maybe 1/8 teaspoon.  I had mine plain and it was very good.  The Hub had his with ice cream and I think it was much better than mine.  I am pretty sure I drooled a tad when I saw the ice cream begin to melt a little.

This was very good.  There are a couple of things I will do differently when I make this again.  When I made the original one the cherry pits filled the batter with this delicious cherry almond flavor.  Next time I will use half vanilla and half almond extract.  The second difference will be the type of cherries I use.  I only had Rainier cherries, which are my favorite for eating, and they were delicious.  I think for the aesthetics of the dish bing cherries would have been a better choice,  After all, we eat with our eyes first.  Just in case anyone wants/needs to know this dish was a mere 4 WW points.  I had to cover the leftover custards and put them in the fridge quickly before I could justify eating another one.

Since cherries are still in season I will  buy and freeze them in 1 1/3 cup packages.  I ordered a handheld cherry pitter from Crate and Barrel last year  and today is the first time I have used it.  Wow!  It made pitting the cherries a snap.  It might be my new favorite under $10 kitchen gadget, even if it has only 1 real use.  If you see me tomorrow, it will probably be at Publix buying cherries by the dozen.  Maybe Aldi's has them on sale this week!

Using the Bill Cosby logic there is fruit from the cherries, dairy from the milk and protein from the egg.  It is virtually a complete meal. Wonder how this would be rewarmed with some steaming coffee for breakfast?!?

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