We were walking through the garden and saw the bright red spots gleaming from the cherry tree that stands beside the strawberry patch. What a thrill! We all grabbed a branch and bent it low to pluck the cherries one by one. The kids had a hard time not eating them so what we were left with was enough for pie!
I never did harvest cherries before that would amount more than just a gentle graze. That grazing that we farmers do when our fruit is fresh. We eat and then spit out the pit. I know they make handy devices that will pit your cherries for you, but we did it the old fashioned way. By hand. It is the slower living that makes it so much more an experience.
I first tried my fingers and the cherry split in half and it seemed a bit smashed. I wanted them to stay pretty and whole for my pie! I soon discovered that I could wedge a drinking straw into the place where the stem once was and I could drive the pit clear through, thus leaving my cherry in one piece. Owen and I just sat at the table, listening to the birds singing with the gentle breeze blowing in through the window over the kitchen sink. We sat there just pitting cherries and it took us both back to a different era. I love those moments where life seems timeless.
I slowly cooked the cherries over the stove with a little (maybe a cup) of water, so they would not stick to the bottom. I added about a cup of raw sugar and let them come to a boil. Then I added about a 1/2 cup of water with 2 heaping tablespoons of corn starch to thicken the mixture. It bubbled together and the red color started to permeate the brew. Oh, it smelled heavenly!
Molly was off making a homemade graham cracker crust. She took about 2 packages of graham crackers and put them into a gallon plastic ziplock bag and ran over them slowly with an old wooden rolling pin until they were like a fine crumbled flour. She slowly melted a stick and a half of butter over the stove and mixed it into the crumbles along with 2 tablespoons of sugar. She pressed it up the sides of a glass pie pan. It looks so pretty!
While Molly was making the crust, Megan was making the filling. We left two sticks of cream cheese out all day to soften. She beat the cream cheese until smooth and then added a can of sweetened condensed milk slowly while scraping the sides. Then Megan squeezed one lemon and mixed the fresh juice into her filling along with one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
She poured the cheese cake filling into the pie crust that was formed.
We put it into the freezer to chill for about 30 minutes which was not long enough. I would recommend chilling it in the refrigerator for about 3-4 hours, that way it would have a chance to set up properly. We could not wait that long so this is the result...
I would give it a C for the presentation, but an A for flavor! It was the best cherry cheesecake I have ever had. My grandmother always made cherry cheesecake for my dad on his birthday. When I took the first bite, I was transported to my childhood when my dad had a birthday. It would never fail...that clink of my dad's teeth on a pit. He was always the one that ended up getting the lone pit that snuck in there. It became tradition. And I ate my piece for him this time because I wished he would have been there, he would have just about fell over with delight to have a fresh cherry cheesecake from our fresh picked sour cherries.
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