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When you think of February, you naturally think of Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day. It may also make you think of the colors of red and pink. The color red may make you think of cherries and the wonderful recipes that use cherries. Since February is National Cherry Month, those thoughts are very fitting.
Not only are cherries delicious, but they are also a very healthy snack or baking ingredient. Cherries contain no fat or cholesterol, but are a great source of Vitamin C, fiber, potassium and antioxidants. A great pre-bedtime snack, cherries contain melatonin, which can be used as a sleep aid to help with insomnia. Anthocyanin and bioflavonoids are also contained in cherries and have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving qualities.
There are two major types of cherries: sweet and tart. Sweet cherries are usually the ones used for snacking and the tart cherries are used for cooking and baking. There are over a thousand different varieties of cherries grown around the world. Today we are going to look at a few of the popular cherries found in our area.
First is the Bing cherry, a sweet cherry with a dark red color. Bing cherries are mainly eaten raw and are sold fresh after harvest.
Next is the Lambert cherry: a large, sweet cherry with a deep red color, it is not as sweet as the Bing, and is used both for snacking and for baking.
The sweetest and most expensive is the Rainier cherry. Because of their price and quality, Rainier cherries are usually eaten raw, not baked or processed in any way. These cherries have a red and yellow coloration.
Most maraschino cherries are made from the Royal Ann variety. This cherry is usually yellow on the outside and white on the inside. The cherries are soaked in a brine to remove their color and flavor. They are then pitted and soaked in a sweetener for about a month. Lastly they are dipped in coloring to give the cherry whatever color is desired, most of the time a brilliant red. These cherries are usually canned for use in salads and mixed drinks.
The Montmorency and Morello are the two most common types of tart cherries. Since they are not as pleasant to eat as raw snacks, they are used for baking instead. Many pie fillings are made using Montmorency cherries. cherrieshealthbenefits.com.

The following recipes are all taken from choosecherries.com:
Cherry-Nectarine Salsa
1-1/2 cups frozen tart cherries
5 teaspoons sugar
2/3 cup coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped
green onion
2 teaspoons finely chopped
jalapeño chilies
2 teaspoons fresh limejuice
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
Chili-Spiced Tortilla Chips (see
recipe, below; optional)
Coarsely chop frozen cherries. Combine chopped cherries and sugar in medium bowl; let stand for 15 minutes. Add nectarines, onion and jalapeño chilies. Stir together lime juice, vinegar and garlic salt. Add to cherry mixture and toss until coated. If desired, let stand for 10 minutes for flavors to blend. Serve with tortilla chips or over grilled fish or pork tenderloin. Makes 6 (1/4-cup) servings.
*Note: If nectarines are out of season, substitute 2/3 cup thawed, coarsely chopped frozen peach slices for the chopped nectarines.
Chili-Spiced Tortilla Chips:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly coat baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Cut 6-1/2-inch flour tortillas each into 8 wedges. Place on prepared baking sheet; lightly spray tortilla wedges with cooking spray. Lightly sprinkle with garlic salt and chili powder. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Transfer chips to wire rack and let cool before serving.

Thyme Roasted Sweet
Potatoes with Cherries
Cooking spray
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4” cubes (approx.
8 cups)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup dried tart cherries
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat cookie sheet with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, toss pecans with maple syrup. Set aside. In a large bowl, thoroughly toss potatoes, thyme, salt, and pepper. If desired, add red pepper flakes. Roast for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are soft but still firm. Place pecans on a piece of tin foil and roast during the final 5 minutes while the potatoes are cooking. Remove from oven. Place sweet potatoes, pecans, and cherries in a large serving bowl and toss. Let stand for a few minutes to allow cherries to warm. Sprinkle top with blue cheese, and serve. Makes 16 one-half cup servings.

Carrots with Character
1 pound carrots, peeled and
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons margarine
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Cook carrots in water in a covered saucepan 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain well. Add dried cherries, maple syrup, butter, nutmeg and ginger to cooked carrots in a 2-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is hot and bubbly. Makes 6 (1/2 cup) portions.
*Note: A 1-lb. package of whole baby carrots can be substituted for the sliced carrots.

Cherry and Turkey Rolled Sandwich Bites
1 cup dried tart cherries
1/2 cup garlic-and-herbs cheese
(2) 10-inch flour tortillas
1-1/2 ounces fresh spinach
4 ounces shaved or very thinly
sliced turkey breast luncheon
3 ounces very thinly sliced
Monterey Jack or Swiss
Place cherries in a small bowl. Pour in enough boiling water to cover the fruit. Let stand for 5 minutes. Drain well; cool slightly. Spread garlic-and-herbs cheese spread evenly on each of the tortillas, making sure to spread cheese to the edges. Sprinkle each with cherries. Place spinach leaves in a single layer on the cherry-and-cream cheese layer, then layer turkey breast and Monterey Jack cheese on top. Roll up each tortilla, jellyroll style, into a tight roll. Make sure edges are sealed. Wrap each roll tightly in plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 2 hours. To serve, cut each roll into 1-1/4-inch slices. Makes 4 servings.

Roast Chicken Soup with Wild Rice and Dried Cherries
Cheryl Forberg
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh
thyme or 3/4 teaspoon dried
4 cups fat free chicken broth
8 ounces shredded roast chicken
breast (skinless)
1 cup cooked wild rice
1/2 cup dried tart cherries, finely
2 tablespoons chopped fresh
Heat olive oil in 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot and celery and sauté for about 4 minutes until soft and translucent.
Add thyme and chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil. Add chicken, wild rice, and cherries; when mixture returns to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for about 3 minutes, or just until all ingredients are heated through.
Remove from heat and stir in parsley. Serve hot. Serves 4.

Cherry Glazed Chicken
1 broiler-fryer chicken, cut up
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste (used
1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8
teaspoon pepper)
1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
16-ounce can unsweetened tart
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 granulated sugar
1 teaspoon prepared yellow
Rinse chicken; pat dry with paper towels. Pour milk into a shallow container. Combine flour, thyme, salt and pepper. Dip chicken first in milk, then in flour mixture; coat evenly. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add chicken; brown on all sides. Put chicken in a 13x9x2 inch baking dish. Bake, covered with aluminum foil, in a preheated 350 degree oven 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, drain cherries, reserving 1/2 cup juice. Combine cherry juice, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a small saucepan; mix well. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. Add mustard; mix well. Cook 5 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened. Stir in cherries. After chicken has cooked 30 minutes, remove from oven and uncover. Spoon hot cherry mixture over chicken. Bake, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes, or until chicken is tender. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

Red Rustic Tart
3 large apples such as Jonathan
or Macintosh, peeled, thinly
sliced (4 cups)
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
1-1/4 teaspoons cinnamon,
1 cup dried tart cherries
1 refrigerated rolled pastry for a
9-inch pie (1/2 of a 15 ounce
1 tablespoon butter
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine apples, 4 tablespoons of the sugar and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a large bowl; toss well. Stir in cherries. Let stand 10 minutes; tossing once.
Line a 15x10-inch jellyroll pan with foil; coat foil with cooking spray. Unroll pastry onto pan. Mound apple mixture over center of pastry leaving a 3-inch border around edges. Fold up edges of pastry over apple mixture leaving a 4-inch opening in center. Gently fold and press pastry onto apple mixture. Cut butter into small pieces and arrange over apple mixture.
Combine remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; sprinkle over tart. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and apples are tender. Let stand 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.

Cherry-Banana-Raisin Bread Pudding
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups low-fat milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups raisin bread cut into
3/4-inch squares (8 ounces)
2/3 cup dried tart cherries
1 large very ripe banana,
quartered lengthwise and cut
into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
Creamy Topping (optional):
1/2 cup light sour cream
4 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir together beaten eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium bowl using a wire whisk. Place two-thirds of the bread pieces in an 8x8x2-inch baking pan or dish. Top with cherries, banana slices and remaining bread pieces. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread mixture. Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven for 65 to 70 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool slightly.
Meanwhile, for topping, stir together sour cream, brown sugar, orange peel and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon. Serve bread pudding topped with sour cream mixture.
Makes 6 servings.

Champion Cherry Bars
1 cup margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
12-ounce package vanilla milk
2 cups dried tart cherries
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
(Added nonstick spray coating)
Combine margarine, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder; gradually add to mixture. Stir in vanilla milk chips, dried cherries and pecans. Spread dough evenly in greased 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven 20 minutes, or until light golden brown. Do not over bake. Cool in pan, then cut into bars. Store in airtight container. These bars freeze well. Makes 4 dozen bars.
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