Tuesday Night Fun Cooking! cherry pie edition

This week is spring break for students at UW and in the Madison schools. Not me, alas. My teaching schedule continues as usual this week and I still have music to practice and a meeting and rehearsal tomorrow. What I really need is a whole week free of these kinds of obligations so I can catch up on all the things I've fallen behind on and recharge my creative batteries. 

I need that desperately, but I'm not going to get it. For this week, though, I've got the next best thing: live-in help! My parents, known to the kids as Oma and Opa, offered to come for the week to hang out with us and help out with Daniel and Anya. It's a life-saver, I tell you. Instead of hiring a sitter and farming the kids to various friends for play dates, they're having fun playing games and embarking on various crafty projects. Today it was even warm enough to go to the park for a while. 

Today is also Tuesday! We missed Tuesday Night Fun Cooking! last week because a school event in the evening meant we had only enough time to heat up some leftover pizza before dashing off, much less cooking something from scratch. I told the kids that even though Oma and Opa are here, they were not off the hook. This is a special edition, however, because the kids made a special dessert instead of the whole meal.

Today we made a cherry pie. Cherry pie happens to be my dad's very favorite and his birthday is just a few weeks away, so it seemed appropriate. Anya in particular was excited about this, since she is always acutely aware of upcoming holidays and birthdays (lord knows what she's got planned for April Fools Day tomorrow...)

Pie is a tricky thing. Whoever came up with that expression, "easy as pie" evidently never actually tried making one before, because there are 101 ways to screw it up, and I believe I have tried all of them. I have made a few good pies, though, in between lots and lots of mediocre ones. Last summer when my friend R gave me her pie crust recipe, I finally went from making decent pies to pretty good pies. We won't go so far as to say excellent, not yet, but I've at least got enough confidence to tell the kids how to do it.

What follows are a bunch of crappy phone pictures from my dirty kitchen of the kids making pie. It's not beautiful, but it's real.

Here's a reality of cooking with kids (#cookingwithkids). It takes forever. It took a full five minutes - and I am not exaggerating - for them to figure out how to measure 2.5 cups of flour, this after staring blankly at the list of ingredients for a good long time. This is how they will learn, by doing it themselves, but man it was frustrating.

Good grief there is a lot of crap on the counter.

We used Crisco AND butter in our pie crust!

Adding the liquid.
At least mixing everything in the food processor made everything go a bit faster. At least until we needed to mix by hand. Each kid had a turn. They didn't really get the hang of it, but after many dire warnings NOT TO OVERMIX lest the crust get tough, they were probably afraid to handle it at all.

The filling was blessedly easy. I bought Door Co. cherries at Brennan's, and they were already pitted and sweetened. We strained out the liquid and warmed it with thickener, but that was it as far as preparing the filling.


Rolling out the pie dough.
 Did I mention that Oma was supervising the process as well? She is usually not shy about giving helpful suggestions while I'm cooking (or doing anything, really), but she was remarkably restrained during the whole pie-making process. Until it was time to roll out the dough. Anya went first and she was hit with a barrage of instructions from both me and my mom: "Put flour on the rolling pin! Roll from the middle! Be gentle! Now put some muscle into it! You need more flour! It's too thin on the edge!" and so on.

Daniel fared similarly, but he, like his sister, took all these instructions in stride way way better than I ever would (or did, at his age).

Here is our pie ready to be baked. There is a little foil around the edge to keep it from getting too brown.

Alas, I do not have a picture of the finished pie to show you! Right after dinner we immediately ate about half of it, and I just hope the other half makes it to tomorrow. It really was good.

Old-Fashioned Pie Crust (makes enough for a double crust 9" pie)
Whisk together in a bowl, or combine for a few seconds in a food processor:

  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt

Cut in or process:

  • 8 T. (1 stick) cold butter, cut into little pieces
  • 1/2 cup shortening or lard

Whisk together in a bowl, then add to flour mixture a little at a time:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup ice cold water

Knead mixture by hand just long enough to make dough, but don't overdo it. Divide into two equal parts, wrap in plastic or wax paper. Chill several hours in fridge or put in the freezer for about 10 minutes before rolling out to put in the pie pan.


Anonymous said…
I knew that there were enough cooks in the kitchen so I sat on the couch in the living room. And kept quiet. And you don't know how many times I bit my tongue to keep quiet.

The pie was oh so good!


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