24 November 2014

When I get together with girlfriends, all we do is have some homemade drinks, tell naughty stories and dirty jokes and giggle a lot.  You might have noticed, every month I get together on blogging space with Ilva and Simi and share some stories and swap a recipe.  Today we’ll spin some yarn about our favourite and secrete family recipes of preserves.
And here is where my memories took me.
I was 15 years old when for a first time I got in my hands the most hilarious book I’ve read – Emil From Lonneberga by Astrid Lindgren.  Page after page I really thought I am having a déjà vu.  It felt as if every single tale of the mischievous boy was the story of my life.  Well, I didn’t put my head in the soup bowl, but believe me, they were plenty of other stories where I can fight for the trophy with Emil for the most naughty and cheeky kid ever walking on this earth.  One would think that all children get born with genetically installed instructions how to drive their parents mad.
So here we are, back in time, one of those summer days when we, the kids played on the street (the streets back then were safe to play) and Mamma was doing her usual weekend chores around the house and the kitchen.  Summer time my sister and I didn’t really want to stay home helping, all we wanted was to be out and play.  Mamma was straining the fruit from the latest produce of homemade cherry liqueur.  Sometimes she would keep the cherries soaked and potent of good quality brandy where they've been soaking for good 3 or more months.  Sometimes we had too much from years before, so there was no need to keep the new ones.  That was what Mamma decided – throw the strained fruit.  She called me from the balcony and gave me a pot full of glossy, soggy and fragrant cherries, which smell of alcohol was just punching me straight in my nose.
“Take these cherries to the dunny and throw them in the hole”, she said.
Oh dear, do I have to, I was thinking – it is a long walk at the back of the house where the outhouse was.  By the time I go and do it, I will miss my turn at the wall ball game with my friends…
So I start walking down the stairs, checking over my shoulders if Mamma is watching and scouting with my eyes the backyard if I can spot a comfortable place to dump the annoying brandied cherries.  It didn't take long to see the bush of my grandma’s peonies and off I went right there, tipped over the pot, plonked the cherries down and yelled over my shoulder “All done, Mamma!” running as fast as I can to finish off my wall ball game.
Not long after my “dropping mission” I heard some screams and cries of despair.  We run back home to find my grandma devastated going in circles in the backyard.  She was picking up her wobbly and wiggly young hens, who were having problem walking or standing on their feet.  Few were already dropping on the ground.  My grandma was trying to keep them standing, but the moment they had no support from her hands, they just flip and flop on the grass.
Mamma came down the stairs like a dart and the moment she saw the chickens, she knew what happened.  She pierced me with her disapproving blue eyes.  I was in big trouble...  The poor things have found the brandied cherries behind the peony bush and had a big binge on them.  I got punished and for the rest of the weekend I was writing homework, helped with the chores and didn’t play on the street with the neighbour’s kids.
My grandma’s young hens got better – we gave them lots of water for the next few days.
As for the cherry liqueur, I never missed a chance to lick on the sly the bottle neck if some drop would try to escape – it was ever so delicious!
It was also a secret recipe.  The women from the neighbourhood were never given any slight hint of what goes in it.  I might now anger the spirits of Mamma and Aunty Olga, but here it is:
1 kilo of good quality cherries
1 litre of good quality brandy (I use Napoleon)
1 kilo of sugar
Half of dozen of cinnamon sticks
12 clovers
Pour and mix everything in one big jar and let it soak for at least 40 days.  The longer you leave it, the better.  It can stay up to 6 months; however, I’ve heard some Italian old ladies soaking the fruit for up to a year.  Goodness me, I can’t wait that long to have a sip!
Strain the liquid and bottle it in nice serving bottles.  The fruit is delicious for serving as it is or can be used in elaborate dessert recipes (usually with lots of chocolate in them).
Well, let’s sip some of this beautiful ruby liquid and drink for the precious times when the chooks got drunk and Mamma nearly dusted my fluffy bottom…

To your health and long life!


© 2014 - sophia terra~ziva.  all rights reserved


  1. I just looooved the story, hilarious !! sooooo funny. Amazing pictures as always, u r one talented woman :)

    1. Aaaah, Simi, I have to start watching what I say, because pretty soon my kids will be able to read and understand my stories and I simply don't know how I am going to convince them that they have to behave and be good kids just like I was... :)

  2. Sophia, SOOOOOPHIIIAAAAAAAA I can hear your mother scream just like Emil's father did, did you ever see the films, they are fantastic! Hilarious story but what a great recipe, I MUST remember it when the cherries are in season! And yes, the photos are wonderful, love the visual story as well!

    1. Ilva, I never saw the films, but the book I took across the ocean all the way to Australia... I wonder who played Krösa-Maja.
      Trust me, I got away that time; but when I painted and broke the windows, I had some "dusting" done on my fluffy and bouncy bottom. But that's another story... :)


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