Better than the blurred photos of the beach, better than the perfect rose pressed in the perfect book are the reminders of summer that you can eat.
Most particularly, pickled cherries.
There are other things which keep me in the kitchen when everyone else is on the tennis courts, but first and foremost is the need to renew the supply of picked cherries.
Simple to make (as long as you invest in a cherry pitter), they are a fantasy of summer to join your winter dinners. Pop them into your mouth while you munch on pate; serve them with cold, sliced duck for an after-theater snack; put out a large bowl with pot au feu.
Or do what a friend does. Lock yourself in a room and eat the whole jar.
Makes about 7 pint jars
(From the "Auberge of the Flowering Hearth," by Roy Andries de Groot) 3 cups white wine vinegar 1 lb. brown sugar 4 pounds cherries Stick cinnamon Whole cloves
Pit the cherries and divide them evenly between sterilized Mason jars. Bring the vinegar and brown sugar to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
Place 1/2-stick cinnamon and 6 whole cloves in each jar and divide the liquid equally among them. Close loosely and let sit for two days. On the second day, drain off the liquid into a saucepan, heat to boiling and again distribute the liquid among the jars. Cover loosely and let sit two more days.
On the fifth day repeat the procedure but this time close the jars tightly to form a seal. Let sit at least 15 days before eating.
After the cherries, it's time for peach chutney. Aside from the obvious -- as a side dish for curries -- the chutney is a tart side addition to a tray of cheeses and its liquid is a wonderful basting sauce for baked ham or roast loin of pork.
Makes 2 quarts
(From "The Picnic Gourmet," by Joan Hemingway and Connie Maricich) 1/2 cup chopped onion 1/2 pound raisins 1 clove garlic 4 pounds peaches, peeled, pitted and cut in small pieces 2/3 cup fresh ginger root (or chopped candied or powdered ginger to taste) 2 tablespoons chili powder 2 tablespoon mustard seed 1 tablespoon salt 1 quart cider vinegar 1 1/2 pounds brown sugar
Put onion, raisins and garlic through a food chopper, using the medium blade, or chop by hand. Mix with peaches, all the spices, vinegar and sugar in a large kettle.
Bring mixture to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for one hour or longer until the mixture turns a rich brown color and becomes fairly thick. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Pour melted paraffin over the top to seal, as in jam-making.