Nothing says summer like fresh tart cherry pie filling in a fresh, home-baked pie. Rose Levy Beranbaum once wrote, “There is something about sour cherries. Their tart flavor is as pure and joyful as the piercingly clear song of a cardinal.” I couldn’t agree more. When July rolls around, I need my fresh tart cherry fix. So, what’s a girl to do? Go picking for fresh tart cherries, of course!
As I mentioned in my last post, most of you know that I just adore cherries—especially sour or tart cherries. And, since last year was a cherry drought, I was ecstatic with early reports this past spring that 2013 was looking to be a banner year for tart cherry crops. Yay, for the farmers! And, I was eagerly anticipating going cherry picking and bringing home the loot!
Fortunately, one of the benefits of living here in Indiana, the sleepy Midwest, is the close proximity of beautiful orchards brimming over with fresh fruit for the pickin’s. As I mentioned in my previous post, last weekend The Big Lug and I went cherry picking—that is, cherry picking for tart (sour) “Meteor” cherries. We didn’t travel far to reach Stuckey Farm in Sheridan, Indiana. The drive is only 30 minutes away from our home.
The place has a charming and inviting exterior and is adorbs on the inside, all decked out in red and white. (I love the cherry red floors!) Stuckey Farm also grows juicy peaches and they sell fresh produce, frozen ready-to-bake pies (we bought a peach one just for fun) and enough jams and jellies to impress a King and Queen. And, the best part? They offer U-Pick for tart cherries! We are extremely lucky. Sigh.
My adoration for tart cherries runs deep. I cannot begin to tell you how exciting cherry picking is for me as a baker. Tart cherries make my heart sing and go pitter-pat. Their color is almost an unearthly gorgeous red hue when the sun catches them. Their illumination is pure delight to see in person. They just dazzle me.
While plucking the little red orbs and inserting them into our pails, in the hot summer July sun, the promise of what they will bring in the kitchen is akin to moonlight and a good martini. (Yes, I have been watching and listening to the film Moonstruck while working on this post. I truly am a hopeless romantic! What are you going to do with me?) All I can say is those who love and adore cherries must be very passionate people. True love runs deep.
Cherries have a way of evoking pleasant thoughts. Intoxicating pleasant thoughts. Oh my. I can eat them fresh, uncooked and unsweetened like there’s no tomorrow. Pit? What pit? Who cares. Pits are just a minor thing with me. More than any other berry or fruit, tart cherries make my skirt fly up!
Meanwhile, I am brimming over with excitement to share my favorite homemade tart cherry pie filling recipe with y’all, Mom’s Homemade Tart Cherry Pie Filling. It truly is like no other cherry pie filling and it is a vintage recipe. Having grown up in Michigan, we were spoiled with tart cherries each and every summer season. After all, Traverse City, Michigan is The Cherry Capital of the World! And, a good tart cherry pie was a part of every Michigan home baker’s repertoire—to include mom. What I love best about my mom’s recipe (which I have tweaked over the years), is that it is all-natural. One need not even add artificial red food coloring to bring about a pleasing red tart cherry hue. But, I digress. More on cherry pie filling soon! I promise.
Tart cherries. Their bouquet is intoxicating to me and I can only imagine that it must be how cats feel when they catch a whiff of catnip. Swoon! Going cherry picking was pure bliss. Well, almost. I gave you a little teaser in my last post. All I can say is take a good gander at all the photos in this post. See a significantly dark photo? No, it’s not chiaroscuro photography, with a high contrast between light and dark. It’s. Just. Dark. I won’t mention names, but one of us took a spill off our ladder when trying to capture a gorgeous shot in the cherry trees! Yes, our camera decided to capture that moment for us. Ha!
In closing, I hope you have enjoyed viewing all the purrrty photos of our little field trip—a first to be featured here on the blog!
And, yes. This post was supposed to go live on Friday as part of Wicked Good Kitchen’s new Feature Fridays. However, I pushed myself like mad last week working on paleo recipes for the cookbook I’m writing and I probably spent more time at Pinterest than I should have. (Who doesn’t? Ha!) But, Pinterest is a nice break from writing and one I need often to refresh my thoughts.
However, what happened was I got severely behind by making a day of picking cherries last weekend, then not getting my Blueberry-Raspberry Buckle baked on Sunday as originally planned because I was busy editing all the photos from our visit to Stuckey Farm as well as processing all those fresh cherries before they had a chance to go bad. (Honestly, it happens so fast!) Routinely, I underestimate how long certain tasks take me.
Then, early on Friday morning, when I went to assemble my post and enter it into WordPress, I noticed that I had not resized the photos to the correct size. Sigh. (When I was working on those photos I was overtired. Not myself. I used the correct number of pixels, but for the length vs. the width! My program remembers the setting from the previous image, so I kept using it. On all the vertical photos!) So, I figured I would join the Friday morning party of leaving all sorts of blog love to my favorite bloggers and then publish the post later in the afternoon. Easy peasy, right? No. Go. Sigh (again).
My sweet little Bombay girl kitty had to visit the vet. (If you’d like to see our gorgeous fur babies, visit our Pets page to meet them.) Ugh. The poor thing is suffering from “cherry eye”. I kid you not. That is exactly what the condition is called. Ironic, eh? It has been an intermittent problem that has worsened. It is most prominent in dogs but also with the Burmese cat. The Bombay is part Burmese and part black American Shorthair. Her third kitty eyelid prolapses (the gland pops out) and she itches it which causes irritation, redness and swelling. The veterinarian world terms the condition “cherry eye” because the gland in the soft tissue resembles the shape of a cherry pit. The poor baby needs to have it sutured down and our next step is to consult with a veterinarian ophthalmologist.
So, please bear with me. Between shopping for a new laptop (switching from PC to Mac this Friday, yay!) as well as learning all about my new camera and lens, on top of caring for my sweet baby with vet visits, I’ve been stretched a little thin. I have been in major “mama mode”, too, making sure my sweet girl knows she’s loved. Her little personality needs demands pampering, too. I wish you could all meet her in person. She’s the sweetest thang. Sassy as all get out with a mouth on her, too! She’s a spitfire and will tell you like it is. “Chin music” is her first language and she talks back often. And, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂
Thank you, my friends! You have been so supportive of me and my baby blog during my first year, and I cannot express enough my heartfelt and sincere gratitude. Y’all ROCK!