I imagine the farmhouse full of early morning hustle and bustle. Up at the crack of dawn, out in the barn with a pitchfork, boots with crusted mud from the day before*. If I were that farmer, I imagine saying hello to the snorts of pigs and the loud squawking of ducks and chickens. My eyes take in the status of my crops—I lean over to inspect some garden greens. A dog mirrors my steps, somehow only an inch from my right stride. Dew covers the whole picture, and I am there to watch the farm wake.
But I am pulled. I would want to be in two places at once: outside with the therapeutic hum of farm chores and inside the equally bustling kitchen—laced apron pulled tight and hair tossed nonchalantly on top of my head. Oven on, hands deep in a bowl with dough and the scent of percolated coffee floating aimlessly. It is warm, the inside of the windows dripping with condensation as the inside heat is trapped and staring at the outside early morning chill. I like to be warm.
If I had a farm kitchen**, it would be stocked with jars of preserves, buckets of onions and potatoes from my garden, hanging heads of braided, dried garlic and rows of dried fruits and beans. A large freezer out back would be teaming with our own heritage birds, a few rabbits and bags of homemade chicken stock. A pantry would whisper inspiration, handing me ideas for what to toss into the stockpot or fold into this morning’s dough.
Having found a cherished bag of last summer’s sweet cherries hiding in my freezer***: this particular morning I will make cherry streusel coffee cake.
Cherry Streusel Coffee Cake Recipe
adopted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook; inspired by my underused bundt pan
1 stick butter
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (make your own)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup frozen cherries, thawed and drained
1 cup streusel
Oven to 350, butter your bundt pan. Beat butter and sugar together, then add eggs and vanilla. Beat 2 min. In separate bowl combine flour, soda, salt, baking powder. Alternate: adding flour/sour cream/flour/sour cream/flour. Scrape bowl as needed, stir just to combine. Add half dough to pan. (I make a little trough for the cherries). Add cherries, top with dough, then top with streusel. Bake 40-45 min.Let cool 10 minutes, then invert. Spoon glaze on top of streusel. Keeps well at room temp for four days.
Make Streusel: 1/4 cup butter, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 heaping tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup brown sugar, heaping 1/2 cup flour. Combine until crumbly.
Make Milk Glaze: combine 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 T milk (I like to use half & half).
*I have great news: I will be attending Farm School at Quillisascut late this Spring. I will necessarily get up at the crack of dawn and do farm chores—and learn about life on the farm. It will be hard work, but I am a glutton for farm-induced-punishment. I look forward to experiencing the rhythm and knowledge of farm life (not to mention making cheese); of course I will be sharing countless photos, stories and lessons.
**Though I only have an ‘urban’ farm kitchen, it isn’t impossible to adopt the seasonal, efficient, thoughtful ways of a true farm kitchen. In fact, the above is a pretty accurate description of my own pantry/kitchen. It is a way of approaching food: grow as much of your own as possible. Take the bounty of fruits and vegetables from each month, each season and ‘put it up’. Cherries are a good example: I buy boxes of them from a farmer and barter even more from neighbors-with-cherry-trees. I dry trays upon trays of them in my dehydrator—so all year I can tuck them into salads, sauces and sweets. I can cherry chutney, make cherry jam and pickled cherries. I pit and freeze cherries—so in the middle of a cold spring I can warm my kitchen and partner’s heart with warm-from-the-oven cherry coffee cake.
***Though cherries are only one of countless fruits I put up and play with (they are very easy to love), they are now a special focus. I have a [paid] relationship with the Northwest Cherry Growers (part of Washington State Fruit Commission). I have worked with a number of commissions, been a Blog Ambassador for various food companies (corn, raisin, fig, wine, olive oil etc.) and will always let you know/be straight with you about those relationships. I am thrilled to be supporting so many hard working fruit growers (2,500 growers across ID, MT, OR, WA, UT); this means I will occasionally give ‘extra’ cherry love on Talk of Tomatoes. Note: my opinions, recipes, food philosophies and penchant for farm kitchens are my own.