Monday, January 26, 2009

A bowl of cherries

"If you want to be happy for a few hours, get drunk. If you want to be happy for a weekend, get married. If you want to be happy for a week, butcher a pig. If you want to be happy for all your life long, become a gardener." (Old Chinese proverb)

I thought a Chinese proverb was appropriate for today, the first day of the lunar new year celebration. Ed, Sam and I went to a Tet party on Saturday. I'll blog about that on Dear Sam and Sophie soon.

Anyway, in reference to that proverb, this is going to be about being happy for a few hours! It's about my homemade/handmade Christmas gift for my parents and for my sister and brother-in-law. You might remember that last year I made them the very time-consuming Jesse Trees, which I finished just hours before leaving for my sister's house. This year, even though I started their gifts back in the summer, I was once again crafting all day the day before we left.

What I started last summer was this: it's called Cherry Bounce and is a Schlumpf family tradition. (We have a lot of traditions that involve alcohol!) You start with a bunch of tart cherries from Door County, Wisconsin (that's the pointy part of Wisconsin that sticks up into Lake Michigan for you non-Midwesterners). Sorry, but you can't use bing cherries. Ed and I got the cherries when we were up in Door County camping in late summer.

Recipes vary, but they all call for a cherries, sugar and liquor. I used a quart of vodka. You mix it up then put it in a jar, and every so often you "bounce" it around to keep it mixed. By Christmas you have a nice cherry liquor. Then you're supposed to either drink it all or drain it off and fill the jar with white wine. Again, bounce every few days or weeks, and by Easter you have cherry wine. After you drink that, you have some very potent cherries.

My parents made some Bounce back in the 1970s and they still have the orange and yellow Sun Tea jar with the wrinkled cherries in it. At parties my Dad will offer the cherries to adventurous souls. I decided it was time for a new batch for them. And I knew my sister would love some too. But then I got this great idea to make some matching cherry cordial glasses.

I got these at the Crate and Barrel Outlet, then picked up some glass paint from the craft store. Then, inspired by this cherry martini glass on etsy (OK, more than inspired--I copied the design), I started painting. The red took two coats, and those stripes took forever. On top of it, in addition to making four for my parents and four for Amy and Andy, I made four for myself (Ed and I have some three- or four-year-old Bounce from the first time we went camping in Door County). Then the glasses have to be heated in the oven and cooled overnight for the paint to set. I thought it would be a two-hour project, but it pretty much took all day. Thank God Ed was entertaining Sam most of the day.

Then I went cherry-crazy, wrapping the gifts in cherry-printed fabric, adding a cherry spreading knife and a bow from cherry ribbon. I was bummed that I didn't have time to knit these little cherries to match. (Why do I love knit food so much?) Still, the gifts were a hit. Some people thinks it tastes a bit like cough syrup, but I think this batch was actually pretty good. Maybe it was that $5 vodka I used.


Anonymous said...

The cherry liquor is delicious, but we haven't drunk it all yet. Oops! We'd better drain the rest of it off and add the wine for Easter. We're already a month after Christmas! It was a wonderful present. Love, Amy

f. pea said...

Hee hee! And I thought it would be a post about gardening! Your glasses are fabulous - what an awesome family gift.

Rebecca said...

Fun tradition! A New Orleans recipe I have is for cherries steeped in bourbon forever. It's a Madri Gras thing I believe. And my Mom said when they lived in Germany in the 60s their German landlady had a Rum Tuft that was all sorts of fruit in rum to make liquor. :)

Anna said...

I am about to go bottle the cherry liquor and I found your post. I love the idea of using the cherries further by adding wine. I guess my giant jar of mystery will have to stick around a bit longer :D