Fourth of July for me means two things. Sugar snap peas and tart cherries. Which is why I always resist traveling on this particular holiday. I swear the snap peas time it so their sugar content is the absolute sweetest four days into July. And after all they’ve been through, it’s just not right to let the peas down by not being available to pick them. Only recently have I been able to honor this commitment.

tart cherries
And so it was that I spent my fourth ever Independence Day at home, gorging on peas and cherries. To each their own, right? My holiday was particularly lovely this year because I had Earl to keep me company. He’s as about as quiet and reserved as I am. We’re a good match that way.

At four o’clock, I cracked a bottle of French rose and retired to the shade of the patio with Earl, a book, and a basket of peas. I should mention that Earl was looking particularly festive, sporting his new red-starred-spangled neck buff. My friend Julie surprised Earl with this chic gift when she came to dinner a few weeks ago.

star spangled earl
I wiled away the late afternoon, indulged in my book, but still managing to keep my glass full and slip Earl an occasional pea pod. Before I knew it, afternoon turned into evening and I realized I had no plans for what to have for dinner. Until I remembered the dish of roasted tart cherries in the fridge.

I had made them the other night, on a whim, when I had the oven on for something else. Fresh cherries, honey, vanilla, and a splash of wine, simply roasted until they are soft and bubbly. This is actually a riff on one of my favorite ways to eat spring rhubarb – a recipe courtesy of The Canal House. So with rhubarb on the way out and tart cherries moving in, I thought I’d swap them in. Ka-boom! An explosion as good as any fireworks display.
roasted cherries
The preparation is ridiculously simple and it’s one of those where the complexity of each flavor really shines through. The roasted fruit is perfect eaten plain by the spoonful right out of the pan (my usual approach), and great spooned over ice cream or plain yogurt – which made for a refreshing, low-key Independence Day dinner.
This was my first Fourth of July with Earl, but I suspected many months ago that he might not appreciate fireworks. My hunch was undeniably confirmed. But we settled in together and made the best of it. Luckily we discovered his buff can provide ear protection as well.
earl hates ka-boooms!

Roasted Tart Cherries

1/2 pound tart cherries, pitted
2-3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons wine (rose is a lovely match, but white or red works too)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 small vanilla bean, split
1-2 teaspoons cornstarch or tapioca flour (optional)

Mix together in a small oven proof roasting pan. Bake in a 350º F oven for 30 – 50 minutes until fruit is soft and bubbly. Depending on how juicy your cherries are, and considering if you want a thinner or thicker consistency, you may want to add cornstarch or tapioca to thicken it up. This can be done before it goes in the oven, or at any point during baking. Serve warm, chilled or at room temperature, depending on your mood and the weather. This makes enough for two nice servings. Double, triple, or quadruple as needed!


11 Responses to “ka-boom!”

  1. 1 Anne-Marie July 5, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Sweet Earl! 4th of July is hard for so many pets. Earl is lucky to have his stylish bandana to block the noise. Thanks for another lovely recipe! Can’t wait to try it!

  2. 2 Ann July 5, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Our neighbors were firing rockets over the field of barley, so our fourth of July dinner was rather disconcerting.No cherries for us this year but the pea pods were bursting. I think I’ll try roasting blackberries when they come round. Thanks Jill.

  3. 4 Gina July 5, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Earl! You look so fabulous in your buff! Your fourth of July sounds perfectly wonderful, Jill. We spent it in a refreshing backyard pool in your old St. Paul neighborhood.

    • 5 Ella Thayer July 5, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      Lovely to hear from you as usual, Jill, and to visualize you and Earl. So, where was Mark during the festivities? I was at Lake Elmo Nature Reserve with my sister and her family; it was way too hot and way too crowded, so next year we’re going to her house in River Falls. Peas and cherries is an interesting combination, not on my radar screen before.

      • 6 GarlicPig July 7, 2012 at 8:51 am

        Well I don’t go so far as to mix the peas and cherries together! Mark went home to his old stomping grounds (White Bear Lake) to play with his childhood buddies. The Nature Reserve sounds nice – too bad it was so crowded.

    • 7 GarlicPig July 7, 2012 at 8:52 am

      Sounds lovely. I could get my head around a nice shady backyard pool. I’m so glad you’re back home though :-)

  4. 8 Julie Buckles July 5, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    Earl should be THE model for Buff for Dogs. Thanks for the tart cherry recipe. Roasted anything sounds great. Roasted cherries divine. Sounds like you had the perfect GarlicPig 4th.

  5. 9 Cari Templeton July 6, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Earl was styling in his buff!!! Tell him that the Templetons are big buff fans and always wear them skiing. No fireworks for us on the 4th because we were camping in Sequoia National Park. Got our oohs and aahs a few days earlier on the 30th at Lake Isabella when totally unplanned we could see the local fireworks display from our campsite. Our dogs missed the trip and were happily at home with the pet sitter in our quiet, no fireworks neighborhood.

    • 10 GarlicPig July 7, 2012 at 8:48 am

      Do you really have a firework’s free neighborhood? Maybe next year Earl and I will need to go west! Your Fourth sounds lovely.

      • 11 Cari Templeton July 7, 2012 at 5:29 pm

        I’ll double check with neighbors to see if anything changed this year, but usually we are too far off the beaten path to have any fireworks going on.

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