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Even though the cherry tree was planted in my garden, it does not belong to me.
It belongs to earth, the earth we till asking the sun to be warm enough and the rain to be gentle enough to grow new fruit and vegetables each year.
The rain has fallen mercilessly turning the garden into a miniature lagoon. The grass has turned yellow and a few small canals have merged into a big one at the center of this imaginary Venice.I have gone out each morning from April to June – jumping over puddles and leaving behind the traces of those garden boots I love – to check the cherry tree. I have clapped my hands to send blackbirds away and I have asked the wind to stop.
Sometimes the delicate cherry-flower petals have flown far away reaching my kitchen window, as if they wanted to remind me of their fleeting impermanence. It is the same window where once in a while someone knocks to say hi or to bring me some vegetable from “down there”, where the orchard is, at the end of the garden. “Are you going down there? Will you please bring me some rosemary?” or “Have you been down there? Have you noticed if raspberries are ripe?”. And so on endlessly each season.
People come and go from my window and from my life… just like the cherry-tree petals and the vegetables from the orchard. Some of them come back and others don’t.
I have not yet lived for many years and, if I think of all the people I have met, they must be only a quarter of the ones I will meet in the future. Among those who are part of my life at the moment, some have (almost) always been there and I could not imagine myself without them.
They are constant, comfortable and reassuring certainties, like my Granny’s voice asking me on the phone what I have eaten today.
I like to surround myself of well-known things, so I can feel at home. Sometimes they are simple things, as the certainty to be comfortable in those worn-out shoes I have been dragging for years… or some unmistakable tastes I could never forget.
The intense taste of crisp cherries eaten on the street, at Fondamenta in Venice, wildly splitting stones in the canal, is a constant beginning of every summer of mine. I could recognize the taste of those cherries amongst thousands… and we grow many different varieties in this area.
There is a tree which spontaneously grew by the lagoon, on that strip of land separating the countryside from the sea, its roots deepening into brackish earth. Its cherries are salty, like sea water. The cherries of our tree, on the contrary, are the sweet finger-coloring ones whose intense red juice inexorably stains (for ever) any garment it accidentally falls onto.
There is something incredibly alchemic in this brilliant juice, as in the pomegranate juice I made last Autumn (link) – something very inspiring.
My old cat (21 years!) follows me “down there”, at the end of the garden, with its trembling and curved legs. She does not see nor hear but still she follows me, stumbling here and there, ending up in blind alleys she cannot escape from, so she can only miaow loudly and a bit angrily.
She is a constant, she has always been in my life. If I go back in time, I cannot remember a pre-Mila period (that’s her name). When I watch and embrace her, I try to avoid the thought that it could be “the last time”, exactly as I do when I greet my Grandparents. Everything changes and nothing lasts forever. Nothing belongs to us, except for those memories we cherish and comfort ourselves with – sometimes eating an ice-cream – as a therapy.
Let go, I tell myself. Let things go where they have to. Everything you loose will come back to you, in another form. Life is a circle, isn’t it?
I prepare for the days to come, for the heavy rain transforming the garden and for the windy days bringing new things to my window.
*note: The quantity of the results is indicative, it depends on the quality and dimension of the cherries you use. I used a wilde sweet quality of dark red cherries, very big and juicy.
Ingredients: (about 500 ml of syrup)
– 1 kg fresh organic cherries
– 2 glass of lemon juice
– 300 gr sugar
– Wash the cherries, remove the stems and cut them into pieces removing the stones.
– Place the cherries with two glass of lemon juice ( better if it is freshly squeezed) in a high-edged pot and bring to boil over slow heat.
– Let it that simmer for about 15 minutes stirring with a wooden spoon, then add the sugar. Let simmer again for 10 more minutes, stirring from time to time. Turn the heat off.
– Filter the syrup through a small-meshed colander to separate the syrup from the residual pieces of the cherries. You can use them for some other recipes (for example, I made a tart!)
– Let it cool and pour the syrup into a glass bottle. It will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.
– Otherwise, you can fill a glass jar with the hot syrup, put the lid on and close well. Put the jar under a blanket to let it cool down slowly and to vacuum-seal it. Do not take the blanket off until the cooling process is over.This is the way to store the syrup for a longer period.
- 350 ml greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp acacia honey (optional)
- 200 ml cherry syrup
- 50 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- 50 g almonds
- ¼ tsp pink salt
- In a glass bowl stir well the Greek yogurt with honey using a whisk to make the yogurt smooth and without lumps.
- Pour a spoon of yogurt into popsicle moulds, alternating it with a spoon of cherry syrup until they are filled up to the edge.
- Using a long thin stick, mix quickly yogurt and syrup directly in the moulds to create a white/red striped mixture.
- Freeze the popsicle moulds overnight.
- Chop roughly the almonds and toast them with the pink salt in a non-stick pan for two minutes.
- Crush the chocolate and melt it in a water bath or in the microwave adding a little coconut oil to keep it smooth. Set the chocolate aside to cool slightly.
- Remove the popsicles from the moulds and drizzle them with the chocolate, then sprinkle with the salted roasted almonds.
- Place them back into the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up then they are ready to serve! (they will keep in the freezer for a few weeks).