Singing Along With Summer Fruit


Can She Bake A Cherry Pie?

Cherry Pie, Art by Lisabelle

My new grandson, Oliver, is now just over a month old, and is fascinated by singing. Yesterday, I played with him for hours, singing him old nursery rhymes, including several cherry songs. I was rewarded with some of his first smiles, which his mom calls his newest trick. When I got back home, my young housemates had picked 6 quarts of cherries and wanted to make something with them. I sang them my favorite cherry songs, including one that goes “Can she bake a cherry pie, darling Billie?” and we decided to make a summery cherry pie ourselves.

I usually make cherry pie using tart pie cherries, but we had a mix of sweet and tart cherries to play with, so we decided to experiment. Our cherry pitter was having issues, so we ended up having to stone 6 cups of cherries by hand, no small task. To pass the time, we sang together and I realized that many children today grow up without hearing the old time songs that my generation learned at school and camp, if not at home.

Pass It All On, Please

My singing group, Time & Tide, plays a lot of traditional music at farmers’ markets and wooden boat shows, and we notice that it’s usually only the oldest folks who sing along with us. Singing and food preparation seem to go together–happy cooks often sing in the kitchen–and I hope that you may be similarly inspired to mingle the two, especially if young people are involved. It fills me with hope that many kids of my acquaintance seem to enjoy both cooking and singing, so let’s all pass along the traditions we most enjoy in both arenas (and others, of course).

Our pie was simple but exceedingly tasty, not least because we added some slightly overripe raspberries to the mix. Here’s what we did:

A Toothsome Crust for Fruit Pies

1-1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons freshly grated zest of an organic lime or lemon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, cold
1/3 cup ice water (more or less)

Sift together the dry ingredients, cut in butter and work with hands or a fork until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add water a little at a time until mixture forms a loose ball. Cover and chill for an hour, then divide in half and roll each half out to fit a 9-inch pie dish (we rolled ours between sheets of waxed paper).

Cherry-Raspberry Pie Filling

Double crust (see above)
4 cups tart or mixed pie cherries, stoned
2 cups very ripe raspberries
3 heaping tablespoons quick cooking tapioca
1 scant cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange bottom crust in a 9 inch pie dish. In a bowl, mix cherries an raspberries with tapioca, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract. Let sit for 15 minutes, then spoon into bottom crust and dot with butter. Cover with top crust and cut 3 small slits to release steam OR cut top crust into strips and weave a lattice top. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 45 minutes or until pie is golden brown an bubbling. Let cool at least 20 minutes before serving. Serves at least one.

Set Jam With Citrus

We also made raspberry jam, for which I prefer to use a good percentage of somewhat under-ripe berries, since they contain more natural pectin. I often use lemon rinds to boost setting power in jam, but right now, we have lots of lovely organic limes, which are also rich in pectin. (Some years, even commercial pectins are made with limes instead of the more usual lemons.) Riper fruit may need more citrus juice added, and may take a few days to set up fully. If it never sets firmly, don’t worry; soft set jam makes awesome sauce for ice cream or ripe fruit, and is terrific in a simple vinaigrette.

Raspberry Lime Jam

3 cups mashed raspberries
2 cups sugar
1 large organic lime, juiced, rind grated, quartered

In a large pan, bring fruit to a brisk boil over medium high heat and cook for 1 minute. Stir in sugar, lime rind, the lime juice and quartered squozen lime, and any seeds and boil for 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove lime quarters and any visible seeds before ladling jam into jars (the seeds often dissolve completely). Makes about 2 pints.

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