Playlist & Cherry Cobbler

Alice_Cooper_School's_out_45Do you have a playlist in your head? Does it change with every crop of new hits? Or maybe, just maybe it’s a musical memoir covering the many phases of your life. If you are like me, the songs change with mood and season. Fall conjures up Carly Simon and Simon and Garfunkel. The holidays bring a handful of carols. Cooking, walking around the lake or wandering though the hardware store, each can prompt its own sets of tunes.

Right about now, I can’t get Alice Cooper out of my head. Mind you, I’m not a fan of Alice Cooper. His theatrical, horror-laced approach to music doesn’t work for me. When it comes to guillotines, electric chairs and blood, I’ll take a pass. So why Alice Cooper ? Why not some other raucous band? Okay, maybe Pink Floyd’s Wall has tumbled around my head a time or two recently but I’ll leave the wall building talk to others. Besides it is all very secondary to Alice Cooper bellowing, “Schools Out for Summer.” That song lives in my head every June. There’s no use trying to avoid it, whether I like it or not, “Schools Out” will always be part of my playlist.

It doesn’t last long. The last bell rang on Friday and school buses are off the road. The longest day was yesterday and summer has officially started. The Pointer Sisters, Martha & The Vandellas and The Supremes are due to take over any minute. (Truth be told, I love these girls year round. The Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited” works when I find the perfect sweater or the first asparagus is at the farm stand. The Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Street” rolls around my brain whenever I get good news and “You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes works when I’m feeling impatient.)

However, summer is made to boogie so Motown and anything danceable tends to take over my internal broadcast system. Bright sky and sunshine is all I need for an entire medley to resound in my brain. But hey, not just Motown and not just in my head. When the music demands it, I’m more than happy to roll down the car windows, slide back the moonroof and turn up the radio. You see, I just assume you want me to share my joyful music.

Of course, “I’m so Excited” doesn’t work with absolutely everything. Some victory celebrations demand Vangelis or maybe Queen. It may be a generational thing or a former runner’s thing. Anyway, Chariots of Fire is definitely on my list of favorite films. The title song has boomed across the starting line of countless fun runs and 10Ks. It’s a keeper on my playlist.

Let’s face it, life is not all fun runs and dancing in the street. When work frustrates me, “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” seems like a reasonable response. For more contemplative times, there is nothing like Billie Holiday or Joni Mitchell. Joni hooked me during my freshman year in college; melancholy has to be her middle name.

While Joni will always have a special place in my heart, it is Sarah McLachlan I hear when I visit my mother. Mom’s memories have grown dim, confused and disjointed. It doesn’t matter because “I Will Remember You”. Of course, Mom has her own playlist. Perhaps this phenomenon is inherited. Mom frequently hums along with hers. Ol’ Blue Eyes and Sting are her long time favorites. It’s hard to tell but she may have added a few new top picks; the tunes she hums are rarely recognizable.

But that’s okay; let the music play and bon appétit!

Cherry Cobbler
Neil Diamond’s “Cherry Cherry” is not on my playlist but cherries are in season … so here goes! Enjoy.
Serves 8

Butter for the pan
About 2 pounds (about 8 cups pitted and halved) cherries
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1-2 tablespoons kirsch or Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pinches cloves
1/2 teaspoon plus a pinch kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small bits
1/2-34 sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 2-quart baking dish.

Prepare the filling: working over a bowl to reserve the juice, pit the cherries. Add the brown sugar, cornstarch, lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and pinch each cloves and salt and stir to combine and set aside.

Make the biscuit dough: put the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda and the remaining salt, cinnamon and cloves in food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and process again until the mixture resembles fine meal. Transfer to a bowl, add the sour cream and stir until the dough comes together.

Assemble the cobble and bake: transfer the cherry mixture to the prepared baking dish, drop spoonfuls of biscuit dough onto the fruit and transfer the cobble to the oven.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the top is golden. Serve warm with ice cream.

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One Year Ago – Heirloom Tomatoes with Balsamic Reduction
Two Years Ago – Strawberry Shortcakes with Cardamom Cream
Three Years Ago – Strawberries with Yogurt Cream
Four Years Ago – Chocolate-Chocolate Sorbet
Five Years Ago – Caesar Salad with Parmesan Croutons
Six Years Ago – The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich in the History of my Kitchen
Seven Years Ago – Asian Slaw
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What’s on your playlist? Feel free to share.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

School’s Out & Strawberries with Yogurt Cream

at_the_beach_Johnny_Susie_BrendaOh what a relief it was when the school bell rang its last shrill note of the year. The last book report had been delivered; the last test had been taken. The last song had been sung, last game of four-square game won or lost and the last sneaker retrieved or left behind forever. Even the studious little nerds like me were happy to dash out the doors.

Within minutes of that bell, my mother had us piled into the back our big blue station wagon and headed for New Hampshire. Finally, summer had begun. The first days of summer were always filled with promise. With ten weeks of vacation stretched out before us, there was no concern about rainy days. Or the endless rounds of Monopoly and jigsaw puzzles that went with them. We didn’t worry about sunburns or poison ivy. (But we should have.) We didn’t give a thought to the inevitable boredom that attacks children and teens during the dog days of August.

In all likelihood, we were too happy with our newfound freedom to foster a single worry. However if some small doubt or care wiggled its way into our thoughts, it surely was for something important. When we were little, it was probably high hopes of passing the raft test on the first try. As we got older, we might have wondered if we looked spectacular in our new bikinis. Or at least okay. We may have given a passing thought to the dance our neighborhood threw every summer to raise money for the hospital. It was the highlight of our summer social calendar. Would we be able to book Aerosmith again? Would we end up wall flowers or dance the night away? Perhaps we dithered about getting up on one waterski and our far-from-powerful tennis serve.

Meanwhile, my mother’s brain would be buzzing. Multitasking as only a mother can, she’d have eyes on the road and one ear tuned to our excited chatter. All the while she was hatching her plans to keep us busy. Today we were free without a care in the world. As soon as she could manage it, Mom would have us signed up for swimming lessons, tennis round robins and sunfish races.

Except for swimming which she rightfully deemed a critical life skill, Mom did not really care if we improved our athletic prowess. It didn’t matter if we had little interest in tennis or sailing. Or if we were any good at either. She was on a mission but it had nothing to do with preparing champion athletes. Her goal was to keep us busy. Busy did not include sleeping until noon or watching hour after hour of television. Mom would have signed us up for sword swallowing classes, trapeze lessons and a high stakes poker tournament if they got us up and out of bed in the morning.

If someone was in need, she was more than ready to offer us up for babysitting, odd jobs and good deeds. Mom offered our lackluster skills to anyone foolish enough to hire us. Pay or reward was immaterial. She also volunteered our time to sell raffle tickets and wash cars. Any- and everything to keep us busy for a couple of hours and away from the wanton dangers of boredom and sloth.

Eventually, we turned fifteen, or maybe it was sixteen. Along with a legion of other teenagers, we found summer jobs. For minimum wage or less, we made beds, waited table, washed dishes, sold t-shirts and bagged groceries. My mother could breathe a sigh of relief and rest easy. For at least a few hours every week, we were out of her hair while some unlucky taskmaster had the unenviable chore of keeping us busy

Wishing you a busy (or not) summer and bon appétit!

Strawberries & Yogurt Cream
Strawberries are just coming into season in New Hampshire. Set them off with smooth and extra creamy yogurt. Sweet and a bit tangy, it is the perfect early summer treat. Enjoy!
Serves 6-8Strawberries_Yogurt_Cream

1 quart nonfat plain yogurt
1/4 – 1/2 cup (to taste) brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1– 1 1/2 cups (to taste) half & half
Grated zest of 1 orange
About 1 quart strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
Juice of 1/2 – 1 orange
1-2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (optional)
More brown sugar to taste

Make the Yogurt Cream: Put the yogurt in a colander or sieve lined with a clean dishtowel or coffee filter and drain for several hours or overnight. You should end up with about 2 cups of yogurt cheese.

Put the yogurt cheese, brown sugar, salt, vanilla in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add about 1/2 cup half & half and the orange zest and whisk again to combine. Slowly add more half & half and continue whisking until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the parfaits. The yogurt cream can be prepared up to 3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Prepare the strawberries: put the strawberries in a bowl and gently toss with orange juice, Grand Marnier and brown sugar. Let sit at room temperature for 10-20 minutes.

To serve: spoon the strawberries into small dessert glasses or bowls and top with a generous dollop of Yogurt Cream.

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One Year Ago – Chocolate-Chocolate Sorbet
Two Years Ago – Caesar Salad with Parmesan Croutons
Three Years Ago – The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich in the History of my Kitchen
Four Years Ago – Asian Slaw
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How do you spend your summer vacation? Filled with activities or lolling about? Maybe a bit of both! Feel free to share. Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook as well as a day in the life photoblog! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2013