Monday, 29 July 2013

Cherry~Berry Pie

To posts in one week this week this week. I must have too much time on my hands..hahaha I wish! Here I am writing in the hours I should be sleeping, though being here in this space is where I want to spend my 'me' at the moment. I'm excitedly coming up with new recipes with the abundance of local seasonal produce that is literally falling at my feet these days. I have always been a forager, and as a child I was always taken out on fruit picking sessions, armed with saved ice-cram tubs and returning with deep-purple-stained fingers and a belly full of berries. When out walking or cycling, I tend to always be looking up at the trees and bushes, wondering if some edibles are about to be born. Now, I am blessed with time where my 'work' is to be with my baby girl. Nothing does she love more than to go out for walks with me. Either in her pram or on my back, she gazes up at the trees as I always have. I think she just loves the movement and flickering of colour and light, but I wonder, does she look for the potential behind those buds and leaves too? A girl after her mothers heart, she has started to gnaw on chunks of raw fruits and veg, cucumber and watermelon being her firm favourites. In my first trimester of pregnancy, I used to buy a big watermelon every other day and eat my way through it all, as well as copious amounts of cold cucumbers. Anything cold and watery I would devour. My mum says that she had cucumber cravings with me too, so maybe it runs in the family?!

So walk we do. Everyday, we head off out the door on a new adventure. From my house, there is a park and paths leading  to streams and woods. We can go out on the same route, day after day and discover something new. I love this adventure of discovering the hidden treasures within a stones throw from your home. We often forget that there is beauty and winsomeness all around us, looking instead to try and find it far far from where we actually are. The grass is always greener effect. Having this time where we go out and explore our immediate surroundings, day after day has bought me a sense of pleasure that I have never before given myself the 'luxury' of doing. This little girl is certainly showing me that the simple things in life are the best. I adore her even more for her teachings, children are amazing!

So we have been walking through this same park most days for the last 4 months. I have passed through it so many times in my life before this time, but never before 'just because'. Before now, it was a shortcut to the city and I would usually be in hurry going through it. When Fern was first born and Spring arrived, I remember seeing the beautiful pink blossoms adorning these trees, and thinking how beautiful they were and representing in her arrival. Big, old, grand trees covered in delicate baby-pink flowers for a few days, before the winds came and blew them all away. We visited these cherry trees most days as summer approached, every day seeing the tiny buds turn into small, light cherries on long stalks. For some reason, we stopped going there for a week or to, then on our return last week, the trees were loaded with big, ripe, red cherries! I was jumping up and down, filling what limited vessels I had on me with the juicy jewels, oh how juicy they were! After picking as many as I could reach, I headed home and devoured my first bag of cherries with my man, feeling so very indulgent on eating a whole bag of cherries freshly picked from my wise old tree friend.

Lets just say, we have been visiting this big humble tree every day since, and I have jumped, shaken, picked and plucked our bag full of cherries every day for the past two weeks. I have never eaten so many cherries, and something I love about seasonal produce is that gorging on something when nature gives you it is half the fun, only to self-realise that your are ready to go without for another year when the season is over. I don't think I could ever eat store-bought imported cherries ever again after realising how amazing fresh cherries do taste! I can't think of many ways to enjoy cherries better than straight from the tree, raw, warm, sun-kissed and naked. This is how we have been enjoying our daily harvest most days. Though after eating our way through so many, it was time to come up with some creative ways of using these gifts of nature. When life gives you cherries, make cherry pie I say!

This recipe has been made many times now in our house. It is so simple, and we eat a big slice each on the day it is made, then slice the rest and put in in the freezer so we can take a slice out when ever we feel like it. I have done it three ways, one keeping the filling plain and using the cherries hole on top, one making a half-half filling of blended cherries to create a swirl effect and one where I blended the cherries through the whole filling to make a dark red pie. All tasted amazing and are as simple as each other. If you slice and decorate the top with the fresh cherries, be sure to eat it all on the day of making or freeze on the same day so that they don't go off.

Marbled Cherry pie, splattered with cherry juice (a culinary artists accident turned beautiful touch!)

Cherry~Berry pie

Makes 1 9" pie

1/2 c hazlenuts
1 c almonds
1/2 c buckheaties (or puffed amaranth or rice if unavailable)
1/2 c soaked dates, about 12

1 can coconut cream (full fat) refrigerated overnight
2 c cashews, pre-soaked
2 limes
50g coconut sugar, powdered
4 tbsp coconut oil

A good handful fresh cherries and/or berries

To make the crust, place the hazelnuts and almonds in a food processor and process until fine and crumbly. Whilst running, drop the pre-soaked dates into the processor. Check the mixture, it should stick together when pressed own with your fingers. Add the sprouted and dehydrated buckwheaties or puffed amaranth/rice, and pulse a few times to combine. Press the mixture into a loose-bottomed pie-tin (line the bottom with clingfilm) and use your thumb and finger to create a lip about 1/4cm thick. Set aside while you make the filling.

If you need to powder the coconut sugar, do this first in a dry blender jug, until it is lighter in colour and very fine like icing sugar. Open the can of coconut cream, and using a spoon, scoop of the top solid cream layer, avoiding the watery part underneath. Keep this part for making smoothies, or cooking grains or porridges. Add the cream to the blender along with the drained cashews. Juice the limes and add it to the mix, then blend until smooth and creamy. Add 4 tbsp coconut oil to ensure that the mixture sets in the fridge and blend once more.

If you want a cream-coloured pie decorated with whole fruits, then simply pour the mixture into the pie crust and decorate with the cherries/berries in any way you desire. Be creative! If you would like a pink coloured pie, add up to 1 cup of de-stoned cherries and/or berries to the cream and blend until smooth and bright pink (add 1 more tbsp coconut oil as the mixture will be runnier). Pour into the crust and set in the fridge or freezer. For a marbled pie, pour half of the cream into the crust before adding some cherry/berry action to the other half. Blend well, then carefully pour a spiral of the coloured mixture on top of the cream coloured mix. Jiggle a few times to make the top flat, the using a chop-stick, create swirls by pulling the colour back and forth through the pie, making a dance of colours inside the pie. It's your artists palate! Let go and see what happens! You can still decorate the top with extra fruits, before lending the pie to the fridge ( or freezer for faster, firmer setting) before serving up under a special shady tree of your own, marveling in the abundance that is Summer!

Coconut cream filling topped with cherries, red currants and black currents

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