Friday, July 29, 2011

Harvesting Cherries and making a Pie!

I have a sour cherry tree which is about 8 years old.  This is the first time, that we've had a lot of cherries and that we've actually harvested them.  Usually the birds get them.  The tree is very easy to care for.  We never spray them.  The downside to this is, the cherries do have worms (:  During the pitting process, we simply discard the wormy cherries.  Also, the cherries have a very short shelf life, so quick processing is essential.

Lots of cherries!

Time consuming process to pick this pile !

I decided to try my hand at making a cherry pie along with "from the scratch" crust.  I found one on and modified it to suit my needs.

Sour Cherry Pie

Yields 1 - double crusted 9 inch pie

  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie [see recipe below]
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 cups fresh pitted sour cherries
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter(forgot to use)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine corn starch, salt, sugar, cherries and extracts. Let stand 15 minutes. Turn out into bottom crust [and dot with butter - forgot to add]. Cover with top crust, flute edges and cut vents in top. Place pie on a foil lined cookie sheet --- in case of drips!
  3. This is how I baked it,
  4. Bake for 400F - for 10 min,
    Lower to 350F - bake for 34 min,
    Increase to 375F - bake for 20 min until golden brown.

1. Use whole pitted cherries, rather than cut into halves while pitting. 
2. The easiest way to remove pits without making too much mess is to use a fast food restaurant straw and gently pushing through the top, until the seed pops out.

Pie Crust
2.5 cups flour
1 cup(2 sticks of salted butter) cut in half inch cubes kept in freezer for an hour before using.
1 tsp sugar
6 -8 Tbsp ice water(keep the water in freezer for a little while until chilled)
Method:1. Combine flour, salt, sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix.
2. Add butter and pulse until mixture is coarse meal with pea size pieces of butter.
3. Then add ice water 1 Tbsp at a time, pulsing until mixture begins to clump together.  If you pinch some of the dough and it holds together, it is ready. 
4. Shape this into 2 discs.  Knead dough just enough to shape, do not over-knead.  You should be able to see little bits of butter in the dough. These small chunks of butter are what will allow the resulting crust to be flaky. Sprinkle a little flour around the discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap(large enough to use it to roll on) and refrigerate at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days.
5. Remove one crust disk from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes in order to soften just enough to make rolling out a bit easier. Roll out on the plastic and cover with another plastic to avoid sticking to the pin.  [Optionally - Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch circle; about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, check if the dough is sticking to the surface below. If necessary, add a few sprinkles of flour under the dough to keep the dough from sticking.] Carefully place onto a 9-inch pie plate. Gently press the pie dough down so that it lines the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim the dough to within 1/2 inch of the edge of the pie dish.
6. Refrigerate for an hour atleast.  Keep the entire pie dish covered with plastic.  This refrigerating the crust helps avoid sogginess on the bottom crust.
7. Brush some egg white(lightly beaten) on the bottom and top crust.  [Optional - I've read that this helps avoid sogginess on the bottom crust as well]
Mix all the ingredients - Pitted cherries, corn starch, salt, sugar, extracts

Add ingredients to the bottom crust

The top crust

Brushing with egg white

Finished Pie, ready to be baked....

Cherry Pie!!!!

Yumm!  It was absolutely delicious. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Harvest Monday - July 25, 2011

An update on the duck that I blogged previously.  Yesterday evening, the duck was fluffing and spreading wings quite often and during this process, we could see some movement underneath its wings.  Ducklings!!!  Eggs are finally hatched.  Kids were glued to the windows to see some glimpses of the little ducklings and to count how many there were.  We were expecting them to be gone this morning, but the mama duck is sitting on the eggs/chicks with a couple of ducklings' faces visible around her body.  I could see a few, but there were about 8 eggs in there.  Not sure when she'll leave with the ducklings. Perhaps there are some more eggs to be hatched....

Can you see the duckling underneath the wing?

Onto Daphne's Dandelions for Harvest Mondays.  This week was when I finally dug out the Yukon Gold potatoes.  Kids were excited to dig and find some.  I have them in the container, so it is easy to dump the contents onto a tarp and go through the dirt.  It is hard to miss any potatoes that way!  Also, cherry harvest continued.  Will be making a pie today :)
Yukon gold potatoes

Sour cherries

Beans and cherries

Yellow raspberries

Yellow squash

Beans and some peas

Green Bell Peppers and Red onions

Yellow squash, 2 tomatoes, sweet banana peppers

Green beans



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What the ....$@#%^&*#@#$%^?

I was out last evening checking up on my plants and found this...

Hunh, does this look like Yard long beans to you? 

Now this is the packet that got planted and some dried asparagus bean pods(dried from last year), so why am I picking regular beans(or is it pole beans)?  I'm so confused. I went out again this morning to see if I could spot any yard long beans, but I saw this....
   and this....

and plants vining on the trellis.....

and upclose................

But no signs of yard long beans.   Quite a few of them have started to run up the trellis, can someone ID if they're pole bean plants?  I've always grown bush beans.  It was a terrible let down not to have any yard long beans(so far atleast!!).  I'm absolutely certain that I planted asparagus beans packet in that space, since this is not the first time that I've planted them.  I also plant regular beans but in a different location.  They're both planted at different times - bush beans in early spring and asparagus beans later in June. 

I decided to call Burpee and complain.  The customer service rep talked nicely to me and said it could be human error and offered to replace or refund.  I chose replacement seeds.....but they won't be planted until next season(:

Now, this is something interesting. We found a Spiderman among our cherries.  Yes, you read right, it's a SPIDERMAN!!!  Not sure what he was upto, with all those sour cherries :)
Spiderman, spiderman, the friendly neighborhood spiderman....

Shouldn't he be listed on ebay??????

Monday, July 18, 2011

Harvest Monday - July 18, 2011

Cherry trees are loaded with cherries this year!  They're sour cherries, but look really delicious.  We picked a container full yesterday.  I think I will juice them and what else?  Do you have a favorite recipe for sour cherries? 

This is also the week I pulled out my garlic.  Since this is my first year growing garlic, it was very exciting to the garlic bulbs as I pulled out the plants one by one, all twelve of them :)  Some were really large, most medium size.  I've to cure them for 2-3 weeks before I can use them.  Also, not pictured were  zucchini, beans and basil.  I used them right away and forgot to get their pictures.  All in all, it was a good week.  For other harvests check out Daphne's Dandelions.

Sour cherries


Garlic (upclose)
Red onions, basil and first tomato!


Oregano for drying

Golden raspberries and a red one!

Zucchini and two tomatoes

Green beans

Green Peas

Monday, July 11, 2011

Harvest Monday - July 11, 2011

I've had a great week in my yard, inspite of the deer eating some cucumber plant tops.  Some new harvests, some - same harvests in larger quantities!  Garden is doing great.  Heat is picking up and I can see the plants respond to it and grow every day.  I will pick my first tomato anyday now :) 

Kids are enthralled by a duck that is sitting in between a rose and a peony plant, in the front yard.  It's right in front of our window, by the walking path, so they have the first row seats to everything that she is upto.  She probably has some eggs laid and sits there all day long except for couple hours in the evening.   We haven't been up close, but tried to peek through the window to see if we could spot any eggs(when mama duck takes off), but couldn't see anything except her feathers all around.  It must be underneath them.  Kids are now, not allowed to go out the front door as I'm worried they'll disturb her.  Finally I got around to read up on ducks' egg laying habits online and it seems that it takes about 28 days for the eggs to hatch.  That is a long time for the kids to be watching her and for us not to be able to go out the front door :) 

Duck sitting on its eggs!

Ok, I deviate, but I had to show you the duck!  Here are my harvest pictures for the week -

Strawberries(possibly last big harvest)

Yellow raspberries(similar quantity picked every other day)

Fenugreek(methi) leaves

Shelling Peas

Green beans harvest#1

Green beans #2

Green beans #3

Golden beets

This is how beautiful the golden beets looked - shredded.

Green cabbages

First harvest of zucchini

Beet Greens (to be steamed)

Also, not pictured potato leaves.  What can I say, it's been a wonderful week in the yard!  For other harvests, head on over to Daphne's Dandelions.....