25 July 2011

Make this this week. Bring me a piece.

Mine usually aren't quite this pretty, but I bet they taste better....                                                                                                   (I didn't take a picture of my cherry pie from this weekend, and yes, I'm regretting it)

I have recently written about my literary love affair with cherries.  Oh, lady macbeth, how do you make me delightfully somber.

But, let's be honest, we don't pit all the cherries for fun.  Really, we don't.  We pit them for a reason, and here it is mostly for cherry pie.  And I've recently discovered that a cherry can take fruit salad from blah to luxury in a hot second, or we've put them in a salsa, or in a fruit compote to top pavlova or white chocolate almond torte.  Okay, so there are a ton of ways to eat cherries, but Pie remains our favorite (prepared) way. 

We only get cherries for about six weeks each year, and the first two-three of those, they are prohibitively expensive (not that I don't always buy a pound, but I cannot buy six pounds like I did this week...).  We all love cherries.  Love them.  We like to just eat them by the handful.  Want to get frustrated?  Try to teach a two year old not to swallow his gum.  Want to get more frustrated?  Try to teach him not to swallow cherry pits.

Eas especially, but all of my kids sit and eat and eat and eat cherries as much as I'll let them.  I've gone to hiding them when I'm going to use them for a pie.  This kid-love-of-cherries is apparently a universal thing, because the other day the kids had friends over and the four of them (my two big kids - Collins was napping - and the other two big kids) demolished a whole pound of them in about twenty minutes.  And I'm glad for them to do so.  Cherries are like Christmas; they only come for about a month, so you better live it up while you can.

Anyway, back to pie.

[We aren't cake people.  This is a realization that I've really just owned in the last six months or so.  Paul prefers fruit pies or cheesecakes, I like the same, and lo and behold, so does our daughter.  Eason, now, doesn't quite differentiate among sugared things yet, but goody for him, the world is as yet not disappointing.] 

We are pie folks.  Peach pie, chocolate chess pie, strawberry pie, lemon merengue, key lime, buttermilk, and on and on.  I'm a bad mother to invite to a bakesale, because my desserts aren't transportable very well.  I have a few cakes that I like, but they are much fewer and further between  (and they're all fall-apart-gooey....making them less like a cake and more like a..well....pie).

Of all the pies though, Cherry Pie is the crown jewel.  It's rare.  It's expensive, in money, yes, but even more so in labor.  It's hot, endearing it to me.  Paul loves a cold pie; I'll eat them for sure, but a hot pie with vanilla ice cream is just, frankly, unbeatable.

The other day I made a Cherry Pie.  And my friend made homemade vanilla ice cream.  And the heavens opened up and the hallelujah chorus reigned down.  Maybe not quite, but it was the perfect end to a yummy meal.

So, this is what I do.  My mother taught me this; it could have been given to her by any number of great cooks in her life, but we'll credit Betsy Ann, who can make a pie, boy howdy. 

  • 2 lbs fresh cherries, pitted.  (Good luck.  Put on some jazz or sit in front of an episode of 30 rock.  Or put the kids to work, though, I'll warn you, mine have figured out that this is fairly tedious.)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp real almond extract
  • Pie crust in pie plate.  
  • (optional - additional pie crust to top it)

Throw all of that into a medium saucepan.  (not the pie crusts, silly. Just the first four ingredients).
Stir well with a wooden spoon. (I'm repeating directions as given to me.  I don't mess with this formula, but use metal spoons to your heart's content.  I'm not the spoon police.) 
Heat over medium heat until boiling.
Boil one minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.
Pour into pie crust.  Let cool a bit.  Top with optional pie crust that you have carefully cut and weaved into a lattice pattern.   Or leave open.  Really it doesn't matter.

Bake at 375 for 25-35 minutes until crust is browned.

Serve with very cold real homemade whipped cream or very cold real vanilla ice cream.  (homemade or breyers vanilla bean or yarnells homemade vanilla which is as fake and perfectly yummy as vanilla ice cream from the store gets).

One pie will provide 8 generous dessert servings.  And you want generous.  You do.  Really.
Make this this week.  The cherries are not long for this world.  If I recall correctly, and I don't always, cherries leave around the time we all start sharpening pencils.

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