Choke Me – Artichokes & Chokecherries

The heat never stops me from baking.  So despite yesterday’s high temp, I made: 2 loaves of Zucchini Bread; another loaf of Blackberry/raspberry Bread; and another batch of Blackberry Cabernet Sorbet.  The breads freeze well, so I am getting a jump on the company we have coming to “the B&B” this weekend.  When the loaves are cool, slice and individually wrap (one or two slices each) and freeze.  You can thaw on counter, or pop in microwave for 30 seconds.

Also in the afternoon, I set out to identify some berry trees I’ve been curious about.  There are all kinds of trees and bushes with berries on the property, but I had a feeling that these particular berries were edible.  I thought they might be currants, but it turns out, according to my book The Berry Bible, by Janie Hibler, they are Chokecherry Trees, and they are edible.  They are tart like a cranberry, and although small, they have a stone in the middle like a cherry.  They will be ripe in August so my plan is to make Jam.  I searched the web for a recipe.

Zucchini Bread
yeilds 2 loaves       

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. ground cinnamon (I’ve been using Penzey’s Vietnamese Cinnamon – amazing stuff)

3 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2 cups white sugar
3 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325° F (165° C).  Grease and flour two loaf pans.

Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl and set aside.

Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake for 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and cool completely.

Chokecherry Jam

Use 1 cup of water for every four cups of Chokecherries.

Simmer over low heat until fruit is tender and the skin pops.  Use a woodedn spoon to press the chokecherry pulp through a sieve.  Discard the pits and skins.

Measure the pulp and add an equal amount of sugar.  Put mixture back on the stove and cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Remember to stir, cherries and sugar will get sticky and may burn to the sides of your pot.To achieve a nice, thick consistency, bring to a rolling boil and cook until mixture sheets, or reaches 220° F.

Pour into hot, sterile jam jars to approximately 3/4 full.  Seal and process in a boiling water bath (make sure the water level is higher than the jars) for about 15 minutes.  Remove.  Allow jam to slow cool for 24 hours.

Wild Mint Sun Tea
Simply break up a large bunch of mint (wild or purchased) into a mason jar, sprinkle in some sugar to taste, fill with water and allow to sit in the sun for a few hours (you could also boil water and pour over the leaves).  Strain and enjoy hot or cold.

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