Archive for December, 2011

Black Cherry Brandy, a holiday favorite!

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

I make black cherry brandy every holiday season.  It’s best after about 6 weeks of soaking, so I like to start it about mid-November.  It’s great, and even non-drinkers like to use the soaked fruit in cakes and pies, so it makes a nice gift for everybody!

2 pkgs of frozen sweet black cherries, dump the cherries in a large pot, cover them with water, add some sugar to taste, juice from one large, or two small lemons (about 1/4 cup) and bring to a boil.  Boil gently about 5 minutes.  Let this cool thoroughly.  Pour it into a large mason jar, and add alcohol (* either everclear or vodka) to taste.  Some like it strong, some like it weak.  It doesn’t really matter.

Seal it up and let it sit for about 6 weeks.  Shake it once-in-awhile to stir up the alcohol and the fruit that will both float to the top.  Around week 2 open the jar and taste – you’ll probably add either sugar or alcohol as the fruit will soak up a lot.  If it’s too strong add bottled water to taste.  Do this again at week 4 and on week 6 it’s ready!!

You can strain out the fruit if you wish and use them in something else, but I like to leave it in for people to drink around it, and then see them eat the fruit with their fingers – as they definitely will, and maybe try to steal their neighbor’s cherries as well!

Notes:

*to taste:  remember this is to be real brandy.  It isn’t very nice if it tastes like cough syrup, or bitter either – use your own best judgement – this is hard to mess up, as it can be corrected later by adding stuff.

*don’t leave out the lemon juice, or the brandy will definitely be very FLAT!

*alcohol:  Everclear is pure alcohol for making drinks, and not intended to use to drink alone.  It has no particular flavor, but it is STRONG.  We keep it around just to make our own brandy for the holidays.

Vodka is also the next choice as it is also strong, but it does have some taste.

Whiskey has even more taste, and could be nasty in the brandy.  Not advised.

And so on.

*Spices are nice to add to this – use your creativity.  A little vanilla maybe, or some cinnamon?

*My cousin, Dan Lee, calls this hooch from his college days.  Rather vulgar in my opinion, but I guess the method is the same.

Chicken Soup

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Jerry has been fighting off a bad cold, and I’ve had a virus.  It’s time for CHICKEN SOUP!

Roast fowl soup:

Any roasted bird makes great soup!  I often have leftover turkeys during the holiday season, as Jerry is famous for his smoked turkey, and when asked, that is often the request for holiday dinners.   You can do the same with any chicken or duck, though.

1 leftover roasted fowl:  Save all bones, skin, neck, tail, and pieces of giblets.  Toss in any pieces of the bird leftover.  I ask my guests not to throw away any of this, as I save it all to make the soup stock.  Sounds gross?  Hang on.  It will all be boiled for 1 hour afterward.

Cover the leftover fowl carcass with water in a large pot, including the inedible parts such as the bones and skin and boil it slowly for an hour.  Reason – nutrients and flavor are all there.  Let it cool, then store it in the frig overnight.  Sometime that week when you get the time scrape off the fat that congealed on top.  (I feed this to the dogs, nothing at all goes wasted.)

Slightly warm the congealed stock on the stove top until it is tepid.  This shows you how rich the stock is – it will look like congealed jello.  Wash your hands thoroughly then set the pot in the kitchen sink.  Begin to separate the meat scraps from the rest.  Fish out all the bones, ligaments, and skin and save it for the dogs also.  The bones will be so soft that you can nearly eat them yourself, as they have been cooked twice – once roasted, and then boiled.

The rest is easy – add chicken base dry bouillon to taste, your own favorite spices and herbs to taste, and bring the stock to a gentle boil.  Add frozen, fresh, or canned veggies – whatever you like – bring to a boil again.  Turn it down to simmer and add your favorite kind of pasta or perhaps rice.  I love to use homemade egg noodles bought locally.

The soup is ready to eat whenever the pasta is done.  This soup is so nutritious and easy, and cheap!  When it is chilled it turns into jello because of the amount of aspic in it.  The seasoning is mostly from when it was roasted the first time, and so you don’t really have to season it much except add a little fresh ground pepper, or if you like it a little spicy, a few hot peppers really make it good for your cold.

This will help your immune system kill any ugly cold or virus dead in it’s tracks!!