Friday, 4 October 2013

The 8th pint, a dead freezer, and cherry & almond crumble

I keep thinking that I've reached a point in my life where I no longer think about Blue being ill very much, and then something happens to make it all come rushing back like a steam train. 

I certainly don't think about it every day any more, and it's not the first thing (nay, the only thing) that I'll talk about any more. Chances are, if I met you for the first time in person, these days, it would take a good few conversations before it actually came out that he'd been ill at all. There was a time when it was literally all I could talk about.

Fortunately, even the 'steam train' moments are becoming less and less frequent, and usually triggered by something other than a panic that he's relapsed - which was what usually used to make me think about it when he first came off his chemo. The lovely nurse who cared for Blue on his first terrible night in hospital - when we really thought he was dying before our eyes - lives in the same village as us. I see her often these days - she has 2 adorable girls now herself, and I can actually talk to her in the street without crying. I have come a long way.

I gave blood earlier in the week. This always reminds me of the bad times, but more so than ever this time, when I realised that I'd donated my 8th pint - equivalent to all the blood transfusions that Blue had during his treatment. I came over a bit funny and had to have an extra long lie down, and a bag of crisps as well as a pack of fruit shortcake biscuits and 2 glasses of the rather lurid lemon squash they hand out before I felt strong enough to wander home.

Fortunately, tea was pretty much already organised - one of our freezers gave up the ghost at the weekend, leading to a frantic reassessment of what we could chuck and what we could redistribute amongst the 2 other smaller freezers that we have, already pretty full. Bear in mind that we didn't have the option of cooking and re-freezing anything: if it couldn't be eaten then or in the next couple of days, or rehoused, it would have to go. Out went the swede soup dated 2010 and various small pots of unidentifiable stuff that had been in there so long the hastily scrawled labels had worn off... It's always slightly embarrassing, being presented so starkly with one's hoarding tendencies, but I've decided to rise above it. On the plus side, we've eaten the lamb shanks, some of the more identifiable soup, and lots of rhubarb. Blood donation evening, there was more identifiable soup and a fish pie. When Blue was ill, I had to cook fresh for him every day, regardless of how tired I was. I'd never have been able to feed him fish pie from the freezer.

More importantly than my inability to throw food away, do you remember all those delicious cherries I scrumped, back in the summer? I was so utterly delighted with the possibilities they presented, that while I was deliberating what to make, they pretty much all got eaten just like that from under my nose.

I managed to salvage some after a marathon stoning session (stoning the cherries - what did you think I meant?) and stashed about 800g away in the freezer for another day.

Well, 'another day' arrived - they were in the freezer that packed up, along with the fish pie and the lamb shanks...

I absolutely couldn't bring myself to chuck them out, despite the fact that they were scrumped as opposed to produced as a labour of love by the Husband in the garden - for start, they'd only been squirreled away for a matter of weeks - unlike the swede soup - and the stoning had taken a good couple of hours of my life, and given me black finger nails for a few days. On the other hand, as scrumped produce, they came lower down the priority rehoming list...

No longer luscious purple but rather duller, with much of the juice leached out of the fruit, although saved in the bowl they had defrosted in, they still tasted good. I thought pie, but couldn't face pastry. And anyway, to make a pastry worthy of my cherries, I needed an egg yolk, and as my chickens have completely given up laying, preferring to moult drastically and unattractively all over the garden, and I was feeling too weak after the blood donation to walk up to the butchers and buy some, I had to think again. I could have made jam but I wanted something lovely for pudding. Crumble was the obvious choice. 

Comforting, homely, and in honour of Blue (who adores cherries and crumble) and all he went through in those dark days of leukaemia, and in recognition of the 8th pint, cherry and almond crumble it had to be. 

Cherry & Almond Crumble

800g frozen cherries, defrosted, along with any juice that has leaked out
1.5tbsp cornflour
50g caster sugar
good pinch of cinammon

100g plain flour
80g porridge oats
40g ground almonds
100g demerara sugar
75g unsalted butter

Put the cherries and juice in a pan.

In a small bowl/cup/ramekin, mix the cornflour with some of the cherry juice, then tip pack in to the pan, along with the sugar and cinammon. Heat gently, stirring, till the juice all thickens up, simmer for a little, then scrape the cherries into your crumble dish and leave to cool.

Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

Make the topping by rubbing together all the ingredients into a rough, crumbley scrummy mess. Try not to eat it as it is - hard as it is to imagine, it WILL taste better baked.

Spread the topping evenly over the cherries then pop in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or so till the fruit is hot and bubbling and the crumble is golden brown.

Cherries and crumble both qualify, I'm sending this to this month's Alphabakes challenge hosted by Ros at More than the Occasional Baker and Caroline at Caroline Makes


  1. Well done you for your blood donations. This crumble looks so good.

  2. right, dammit, I am only on pint number 4 so will get on and donate more. Lovely post Sallygal, you are a wonderful writer and bloody good inspiration for a whole myriad of reasons. love you and love your blog, Sambola x

  3. A cherry crumble does indeed sound (and look amazing)... There must be something afoot on planet freezer as we too had to empty one of ours the other day! :D A lovely post. Well done on the 8 pints as well! :)

  4. The crumble looks lush, absolutely lush. Love cherries, especially the sour variety. Big well done on the blood donations!

  5. 8 pints - that's more than an armful!

    Lovely crumble. I do like cherries but the stoning puts me off and I don't like giving anything to guests that may necessitate dental appointments!

    1. I understand that you can purchase a piece of equipment that assists with cherry stoning - I am doubtful!

  6. Congrats on the 8 pints. I am forever in debt to the donors who saved my life.

    The crumble looks fab, cherry and almond is such a gorgeous combination

  7. Congrats on the 8th pint - that's very admirable. Love the crumble too, thanks for entering AlphaBakes.


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