On my recent cookbook binge, I came across a recipe for homemade soda. I shook my head and kept shuffling through the pages. I wasn't much of a soda drinker really. First off, I don't do corn syrup which cinches it for most sodas. Second, who really needs all those extra empty calories. I'll save mine for a nice piece of berry cobbler, thank you very much.
As I moved past the drink section into appetizers, I kept thinking about the homemade soda though. Truth be told, I had recently indulged in an agave soda at a local sustainable eatery. It had been, well, delicious.
Perhaps a homemade soda might not be so ridiculous, I mused, flipping the pages of the entrees. It was a cherry soda after all and, well, it is cherry season. Indeed, it could be lovely. A few borage flowers from my garden floating amongst the ice. Some bing cherries from the farmers' market bobbing to the surface. Yes, lovely indeed.
I smiled, bookmarking the dessert section, and hurried back to my soda recipe. I scanned it carefully:
Cherry-Vanilla Cream Soda
from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split length-wise
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup cherry juice
1 quart soda water (e.g., club soda)
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup water and the sugar. Add the vanilla bean. Boil over medium heat for 2 minutes or until the mixture has reduced to a thin syrup.
Remove the vanilla bean. Rinse in hot water. Set aside to air-dry and reserve for another use.
Allow the syrup to cool. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts and the cherry juice.
Pour 2 tablespoons of the syrup over ice cubes in a tall glass and fill with club soda. Stir to combine.
Not too hard. I had most of the ingredients but would have to pick up some cherry juice.
A couple nights later, in a dimly lit kitchen, I stirred together my concoction. Sweet, I noted, as I spooned it into some glass jars. It keeps for a week in the fridge.
That weekend, I served it at a barbecue. Memorable. Original. Unique. Not Coke or Pepsi. I received many compliments but none so sweet as my bite into the last cherry, soaked in cherry-vanilla cream goodness.