Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hungarian Cold Cherry Soup

Here is one of my favorite things to eat. It's a cold Hungarian summer soup, and is not difficult to make. The hardest part is finding cherries.The recipe calls for two pounds of cherries. It can be just a little more or a little less; generally one bag from the grocery store is enough for this.I like to pit the cherries. That's not actually required; the soup can be made with whole cherries, which leaves a little more flavor inside of the cherries rather than in the entire soup-- but then you have to eat it very cautiously, which isn't so nice. Incidentally, cherry pits have cyanide in them. So do apple seeds. So do millipedes. (One or two won't kill you, and it won't leach out into the soup. Cherry pits, that is.)Dump the cherries into a pot and add a slice of lemon (or a couple teaspoons of lemon juice) and two tablespoons of sugar. Simmer it for ten minutes or until the cherries are softened. Don't let it boil, and don't cook the cherries down-- that's too far.In a separate bowl, mix together two teaspoons of cornstarch and three tablespoons of sour cream. Make sure it's nice and smooth, with no starchy lumps. This is a thickener for the soup, but certainly not enough to make it taste like sour cream or anything like that. Take the pot off the burner and stir in the sour cream mixture. Don't worry if it looks all nasty like this.Put the pot back on low heat and stir it until the spots dissolve and it's a nice even pink color. Don't let it boil. The consistency will thicken ever so slightly, but this isn't going to be noticeable until you eat it, so don't worry if nothing seems to happen. After it's done, put it in the refrigerator to cool. This is a cold soup. It wouldn't taste so nice, hot.This soup is served with whipped cream. The soup itself isn't very sweet except for the flavor of the cherries, which means it's delicious, because who needs tons of sugar, anyway? It's such a lovely mauve color. Also, this picture doesn't fully capture how pretty it actually looks.

In Hungarian, this soup can be called cseresznyeleves (cheh-rehs-nyeh leh-vesh), or meggyleves (medy' leh-vesh) if sour cherries are used. Cold apple soup is good, too, and is made along the same general principle, but I'll write a post about that one, later. Enjoy!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hat Alteration and Re-Trimming

Last week at a thrift store, I found a perfectly miserable hat.It is made of a sort of stiff netting, with concentric rings of a straw-like material. The brim is bent out of shape, the crown has a dent, and it is surmounted by a fluffy pink feather boa. Once upon a time, it must've looked somewhat nice, though the feathers seem a little... much.Here's the hat sans feather boa.

Fortunately, I had a stiff wire hoop leftover from my lampshade hat (which is currently stalled in production while I think about how to finish it). It's just the right size to fit within the brim, and hold it straight. I had to paint it first, though; why is it that paint sticks with indelible cheerfulness to everything I don't want it to, and peels off everything else? I ended up having to cover it with masking tape and repaint it. Hopefully it won't be terribly visible. I also reshaped the crown with part of a frosted flakes box and duct tape, and covered it with some black crushed velour salvaged from an old dress.

The trim was a puzzlement. I decided to see what I could do with some of my leftovers, instead of spending on more things. A satiny ribbon from another old dress looked sharp when wound twice around the crown, and I looped and lumped some wired gauzy ribbon into pretty much the only bow I know how to make. The center of the bow needed to be covered up, but I didn't have any big decorative brooches that would match-- so I made a sort of flower by rolling and gathering strips of velour to match the rest of the crown.That's the front view. It's very light to wear, but it obviously fails to keep the sun off the wearer's face. Oh well.