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Cherry pie is a group effort, and worth it

June 26th, 2008 · 4 Comments · Food selection, local food

When your busy neighbor’s cherry tree is flush with the brilliant sour fruits, the best solution is to pick them (with permission, of course) and share in the bounty. That’s what I did the other evening, and I’m glad I did.

I was eager to get at those cherries, because I’ve lost out in the past to hungry birds. (The early bird gets the cherries, too, and one robin was there to keep me on my toes.) With a stepladder and basket, I attacked. The tree is tall enough that there are plenty of cherries I can’t reach, but I got a lot by pulling limber branches down to my level.

I still didn’t have enough for a pie, but another neighbor stopped by on his way to the city pool and lent a hand. He’s tall and got hold of more branches, and we both picked. I didn’t have time to deal with them that evening, so I put them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for pie-baking the next day.

Using a friend’s paperclip technique (see the related cooking tip), I pitted the cherries, made a basic crust with Joy of Cooking directions, and followed Joy’s filling suggestion, too, although I added a 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract.

Once the pie was in the oven, I issued invitations to the tree-owning people and the fellow picker and family. An hour or so later, the pie suitably cooled just like in the cartoons (I can’t remember ever before baking a pie when the weather was suitable for window-sill pie-cooling), the neighbors arrived.

We savored. We swooned. We didn’t even need ice cream. Two of us had seconds.

One friend took home the pastry crisps made with the leftover dough. (Do you do that, too? Roll it out, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and bake?) To my surprise, there was enough pie left for one big or two small slices. I called the couple across the street. How could they say no?

I delivered and laughed as Gordon sighed. Cherry is his favorite, and this pie ranked up there with his grandmother’s. What else could I do that would give my friends as much pleasure?

The funny thing is, cherry pie isn’t my favorite, though I do love fruit pies in general. Still, there’s something about those beautiful fruits that demand my attention. Maybe it’s some innate attraction to pure, unadulterated food on the vine, or stem, or stalk—food that you can pop in your mouth and relish, even if it’s sour like these cherries.

To my amazement, that tree still has cherries. Maybe this year is so good for fruits, thank goodness, that the bird competition isn’t as fierce. I may have to go back for more and think of something else to do with them.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Janet Majure

    p.s. Too tired to give the pitting tip tonight. I’ll post it tomorrow!

  • Jennifer

    Pie is, I believe, the most perfect dessert ever. There are many wonderful things to be said for a slice of chocolate cake, or beautifully caramelized crème brûlée, or rice pudding or mousse or all the other sweet treats that end our (hopefully) delicious meals. But pie, mmmmm, pie. And fruit pie, with perfect summer fruit. It’s ecstasy. For me at least. ;)

  • Janet Majure

    Can’t argue with you, Jennifer, although I recall a peaches cardinal that made me think I’d gone to heaven.

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