It's all my husbands fault, really. Well maybe its mine too, since 35 years ago, I impressed the heck out of him, (he, who became my
husband) and his entire family, with my culinary skills by baking the perfect cherry pie. What a joke! It was dumb luck, but I
wasn't going to tell HIM that! My mother, bless her heart, has been noted as saying "I baked a pie once". She taught everything
I know. So as tradition dictated, I have always disliked cooking. But I managed to raise my family without needing recipes because
the instructions were on the box.
So anyway, back to the cherries. About 10 years ago, my husband, remembering my awesome cherry pie, decided we needed cherry
trees in our yard. I didn't think of having cherries trees of our very own meant me having to do something that involves cooking. I
thought the trees were pretty and the blossoms in the spring were beautiful. Ah, but soon after the blossoms, cherries appeared.
(Surprise, surprise) I was just fine with feeding our feathered friends with them. But it was not to be, I was soon presented
with a bucket of cherries. (like I wanted them) I moaned and groaned enough that I got him to pit them at least. I stuck them
into the freezer in plastic bags, and promptly forgot about them. Forgetting about them worked out fine until he retired. Then
because of his puppy-dog eyes and his nostalgic memories, I actually canned 7 pints. It wasn't bad, so I thought I'd try
baking a pie. I dusted off a cook book I got as a wedding gift, and found a recipe. I started with ready made pie shells (of course) I
found in the dairy section of the grocery store, and making the filling didn't seem to like it would be too much trouble to make.
I tried to carefully followed the directions, which were not all that clear. I had to improvise on how many cherries to use.
This cookbook told me to use 2 cans of cherries (which I would have liked to do, actually, but I had all these damned cherries).
Since I was doing the deed anyway I thought I'd be nice to him by making another awesome cherry pie. I drained the cherries, added corn starch
and sugar, and I piled them high on the bottom pastry dough. I laid the top dough on top and pricked the top with a fork and started in making a
pretty fluted edge.
As soon as I put the top crust on the pie I noticed it starting leaking some liquid. I didn't think much of it, I thought that
the corn starch would thicken when it cooked and would be fine. I bonged it in the oven, and put a tray on the lower rack to
catch any more drips that might try to escape.
Now, I have to tell you about our kitchen table. Its a large antique, rustic table made of 5 oak boards for the top.
When it was made, 200 years ago, the boards probably butted up against each other. In 2012, the boards have shrunk, leaving 1/4
gaps between them. And guess what happens to stuff you spill on top of the table.... You guess it!! The stuff winds up on the
floor too! So, when I cleaned up the big mess on the table, I also had to clean the floor. Since the spill had a lots of sugar
in it, it was sticky and I had got get down on my knees and scrub it up about 4 times.
But, I got it cleaned up and all was well for the next 1/2 hour.
When there was 15 minutes of baking time left I noticed that the drip pan was full on one side of burnt gunk, but the pie did
indeed look awesome. Thinking that it was surely done dripping by then, I removed the tray and started in in scraping and
cleaning it. It was almost clean when I smelled a burning smell coming from the oven. The damn thing was dripping again, this
time all over the bottom of the oven. I quickly stuck the pan back in over the mess in the oven. Before I knew it, smoke was
billowing out the oven! I ran upstairs to get a box fan to clear kitchen of smoke. I opened the door to outside, plugged the
fan in and turned it on only to have a fan blade break off and go round and round in the box hitting the sides violently and
falling over. I unplugged the fan and began fanning the smoke with a pan lid. By then the house was filled with smoke
and burnt sugar fumes. I spent the next 3 hours scraping burnt sirup from the oven, and the pan and fumigating the house.
The house still smelled like burnt sugar the next day. And the pie? It looked wonderful. When I took out the first piece it began
leaking syrup again. I ended up upending the thing over the sink holding a hand against the pie shell and pouring out most of
the liquid. I don't think it was done cooking, as the cherries are still quite firm and round.
I hope my husband likes the pie I baked, cause it might be his last one.
I'm thinking of being like George Washington and cutting down those damn cherry trees.