Have you ever had a home-made cherry pie? Think for a moment before you answer that question. Maybe you've used a can of cherry pie filling to make your pie. Or, maybe you bought some fresh cherries at the farmer's market. True, those are home-made pies. But, have you grown your own cherries, picked them, pitted them, and filled a home-made pie crust with them? I have - once. My Mother did this once too. We learn from our mistakes and try not to repeat them.
Years ago, near the Hollow, a wonderful neighbor let Mom pick some cherries from her tree. Being Mom's little helper, I ate more cherries than I picked. Eventually though Mom picked enough for a pie. Daddy's favorite dessert was pie of any kind. No matter how often Mom made one, he would say it had been years since she made a pie for him. Now I cannot tell you what this pie tasted like because I was pretty young at the time and most of my memories are about picking the cherries. I do know that Mom never tried making a fresh cherry pie again.
Now, I have no doubt in my Mother's love for me. But she did believe in letting me make my own mistakes so I could learn from them. When I was a teenager and full of all the knowledge I needed, my Grandmother's recently planted cherry tree finally bore fruit. We were having special dinner for some friends, and I was determined to make a home-made pie. I was above even using a store bought pie crust. I picked and pitted the cherries. Mom's only advice to me was that fresh fruit tends to 'cook over' in the stove and that I should line the oven with foil so I didn't make a mess. I made the pie-crust. I noticed Mom making another as I was cooking the cherries. She said that she might as well make another crust since we had the table messed up anyway. I could say that Mom had 'the sight' and knew what was about to happen. In truth, I was using her old recipe from years ago, so she was reliving her cherry pie effort. I ended up with enough pie filling for two pies, so her extra crust came in handy. When both pies boiled over in the stove, I was very glad that I had lined it with foil.
The pies were not so pretty, but they were good. However, they were very tart, so ice cream was definitely needed. I do have to say that everyone enjoyed them. Mom and I even laughed over our joint efforts at pie making. You definitely have to listen to Mom's advise. Whenever you can, opt for the refrigerated pie crust you can buy in stores now. It just makes life easier. And, finally, there is no shame in buying pie-filling. Just because you didn't grow the cherries, doesn't mean you didn't bake some love into the pie.
Pastry for 1-Crust Pie for a 9-inch pie pan
4 cups pitted, fresh sour red cherries
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
5 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons butter
Combine cherries, sugar, flour, salt and pour into pie shell, heaping slightly at the center. Sprinkle with almond extract, and dot with butter. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake for about 45 minutes longer. Remove to cooling rack and cool completely. After pie is cool, top with hard sauce.
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup butter
1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
a dash of salt
1 teaspoon cream or evaporated milk
Cream butter and almond extract together, gradually adding sugar & salt. Beat in cream. Sauce will harden as it cools.