My hands are stained red -- a deep colour, tinged with purple, that reminds me of bruises. I have been pitting cherries. Somewhere along the line, I decided that it was a wonderful, fantastic idea for me to bake a cherry cake at 9:30 PM on a Friday evening. I even know why I decided this: because I had half a bag of cherries that weren't getting any fresher, and really, I didn't need to eat a whole bag of cherries on my own. I knew that wasn't a good idea.
But see, I forgot right until the very moment where I was standing there with my cutting board and bowl of batter and a sieve full of dripping wet cherries, that at home my mother has a cherry pitter. It's a lovely little thing that used to remind me of some medieval torture device. (Seriously. I found it fascinating, especially when I didn't know what it was for -- with the possible exception of causing pain -- because it was just a bizarre little kitchen device in with the sugar sifter and the measuring cups.) I'd always used this when pitting cherries previously (which, admittedly, was not very often) and had no idea what to do without it.
The Joy of Cooking recommended using hairpins for pitting cherries (which, even when I had long hair, I did not own, and even if I did I would be hard pressed to find a way in which they would be useful for the pitting of cherries) or, failing that, the end of a ballpoint pen. Somehow, the idea of skewering slightly overripe fruit with the end of a pen -- the thought of all that mixing ink and juice -- was not exactly what I'd call appealing.
And so I found my own solution: a chopstick.
Let me tell you, pitting cherries with a chopstick is not a very efficient nor a very clean way to go about things; but it is, if one is in a certain sort of mood, rather amusing. A cherry, when poked with a chopstick, makes quite a sickening sound. It is a wet, squelching sound, rather unlike anything I've heard fruit make before, and sometimes when the chopstick pokes through the cherry skin there is an audible pop. These pops are often accompanied by a spray of cherry juice that, in my experience, can fly at least three feet across the kitchen. (I believe I've found all the spots, though I wouldn't be surprised to find splotches behind the toaster or on the fridge or perhaps over by the front door.) If you are ever doing foley for a cheap horror movie, the cherry/chopstick combination is your ticket.
I also happened to use a particularly ridiculous cherry cake recipe. Look, here it is
. On first glance, it seems fine, easy even. This is why I chose it. However, once choosing this recipe (and messing it up once all on my own), I discovered its fatal flaw: the instructions contain substances not listed on the ingredients list, and vice versa. The instructions tell me to add lemon; how much? What kind? In what state? No idea. And what the hell am I supposed to do with those walnuts? Which one is it, baking soda or baking powder? So, I just made it up. I threw in some lemon juice, a random amount. I did not use walnuts. I like baking powder better than baking soda, so went with that, and excluded the vanilla entirely as I used the last of my supply on a batch of particularly sub par oatmeal cookies.
And, as I typed, the oven timer just went. I bet it will be a disaster, but, if nothing else, I am amused.