The little things that make me happy here on Bliss Road~~Emily Keaton

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy Presidents' Day

Today is Presidents' Day in the United States. It has a long and somewhat convoluted history (which you may read up on here, if you are so inclined), but ostensibly commemorates the birthday of George Washington, first president of the United States of America.

In memories of the Februaries of my youth, visions of arrow-pierced frilly hearts, paper busts of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington (both of whom were born in February), cupids, and cherry pies will be forever entwined. Yes, I included cherry pie in that list. Remember the myth that when George Washington chopped down a cherry tree as a youngster, he responsibly fessed up, "Father, I cannot tell a lie; I chopped down the cherry tree"? Over the years, February became the time for baking cherry pies to honor Washington's birthday--and it was no different in my house. My mom often baked a cherry pie (or two) in February to celebrate--whether it was Washington or the incomparable goodness of the tart red cherry we were celebrating, I'm not sure we knew. But cherries and February go together like a horse and carriage in my mind.

And somehow cherries migrated to an association with Valentine's Day for me, as well. I remember going to our town's Ben Franklin five-and-dime store in the 1970s and 1980s to buy cherry sours candy by the pound from the candy counter. They were only available in February, so that became a Valentine's Day treat. When I started to learn how to bake as a teen, I made my share of cherry cobblers (so much easier to master than pie!) as a special Valentine's Day dessert for my family--those February cherries always fit the "red" theme of the meal I planned for that night.

So now my Valentine/February cherries live on. Recently it has become my tradition to bake my sweet hubby a cherry pie for Valentine's Day. Conveniently, his favorite dessert is cherry pie, and since he is as sweet as cherry pie, it fits into my vision of a cherry-laced February--and all is right with the world. :) I took time last Thursday morning to bake his traditional cherry pie and couldn't have been more pleased with the results!! Probably the best cherry pie I've ever made, so I couldn't resist taking a few photos--just in case my pies never again turn our quite this perfect ;).

Presidents' Day doesn't seem to be such a big deal any more. Elementary schools (or at least my kids' schools) aren't decorated with a profusion of cupids and presidents' heads in February, and Presidents' Day seems to be more about big auto sales than cherry pies these days. But in case you'd like to revisit the Presidents' Day cherry pie tradition, I'm sharing my recipe here. And don't forget--there's no statute of limitations on cherry pies. You can make one any time it tickles your fancy!!

Tart Cherry Pie

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 Tbsp. corn starch

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

2 cans (14.5 oz. each) red tart cherries in water

1/4 tsp. almond extract

1/3 Tbsp. butter

2 crusts for a 9-inch pie (I use Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts)

Red decorating sugar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Drain the cherries and reserve the juice from only one can. In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Stir in reserved cherry juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat. Add the almond extract and gently stir in drained cherries, being careful not to mix in extra cherry juice--I recommend lifting the cherries from their drainer by the spoonful, rather than dumping in the entire mass at once. Pour filling (it may be slightly runny at this point, but will thicken perfectly while baking) into pastry-lined glass pie pan. Dot with butter. Use heart-shaped cookie cutters to cut vent holes (four work perfectly!) in the top crust, place across top of pie, tuck excess top crust under the edges of the bottom crust, press together to form thick crust edge, and flute. Sprinkle pie with decorative red sugar. Bake 15 minutes, then cover edges with aluminum foil (or use a silicone pie crust shield like this one as I do), and return to oven to bake for an additional 15 minutes. Cool pie for several hours to allow filling to thicken before slicing. Serves 8.


Now, remember how I said last week (in this post) that I wasn't exactly sure how much snow we had gotten here in the big Blizzard of 2013? Well, we got the official scoop in our hometown weekly newspaper last Thursday: we received a total of 28 inches!!! How about that?? I guess an awful lot of snow had been blown away from the areas I'd measured by the time I got outside to take my measurements. And here I'd been feeling cheated that our snowfall total hadn't fallen within the "advertised" totals of 24" to 30" in the weather advisories leading up to the storm. I guess I needn't have worried!! ;)

Sorry I don't have a papercrafted project to share today, but I'm hoping that a little cherry pie eye candy will make up for it. My kids are on vacation from school this week for February break, so I'm not sure how much I'll be around the ol' blog this week. But I hope to catch up with you all again soon!

Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing a little slice of {cherry pie} bliss with me today!



Pam said...

Your cherry pie looks absolutely wonderful! Thanks for sharing your recipe and your bit of history! Have a great week!

Lisa Elton said...

What a fun post Emily and your pie looks delish! Enjoy your time with the kiddos ;)

Benzi said...

I loved reading your post today, Emily, and thanks so much for that cherry pie recipe. Oh, you do try to put the pounds on me. LOL

Have a fun week with your children.

Stacy said...

Your cherry pie looks great! Both of my kids have been coming home with the story of George Washington and the cherry tree. Great post!!

Marisa said...

That pie is beautiful!! Love the heart cut outs. My mom makes a killer cherry pie (sour cherries as you) and it is one of the few pies I will eat.

As for the snow - WOW!!!

Maria said...

Wow! Your cherry pie looks so so delicious! Love those heart cut out shapes and the sugar sprinkles! My husband loves cherry pie, too! He always wants a baked pie for his birthday instead of cake! Thanks so much for the wonderful inspiration!

Jessi Fogan said...

Your pie...almost as amazing as you :) I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Bonnie said...

I love cherry pie and I think we'll have one before the month is out! Thanks for the recipe. I haven't made one in years. Yours is beautiful! I love the heart cutouts. I'll bet it was delicious! Happy President's Day, Emily! I remember when it was a special day.

MS said...

What a fun memory and tradition! My favorite pie is cherry and I *tried* to make time...yuck! I'll drool over your picture instead. Love how you cut little hearts out of the crust.

And YIKES for the snow! What a mess! Have fun this week with the kiddos!

nwilliams6 said...

Emzi - this pie is absolutely gorgeous! Makes my mouth water. You are a master at decorative baking and knowing you, this probably tastes like heaven.

28 inches is amazing. I hope you like snow.

Thanks for the fun history lesson too.

Hugz to you sweet girl!

yyam said...

Oh my. That pie looks delish Emily. Yum!

Jocelyn Olson said...

What great memories of cherries (I have the same association with George Washington). Your pie is making me hungry. The crust looks perfect! Yummy!

Annette Allen said...

Happy Presidents Day to you too Emily... your pie looks so yummy..thanks for the recipe.. :)

Marlena M. said...

It's so generous of you to share your yummy recipe, Emily. Enjoy your vacation and your kids!!!

Unknown said...

I do love cherry pie. And yours looks extra yummy..

WOW that sounds like a lot of snow to me. I am happy if we get rain. But every once in awhile we do get snow. But only a couple of inches. And I just love it. Even though it shuts the whole town down cause they don't know what to do when it snows.


Darnell said...

Mmm-mmm, what a lucky hubster you have, Emily! You are not only a fantastic cardmaker, but a wonderful baker, as well! That is a beautiful pie! Thank you for sharing the recipe!!

Dana said...

Cherry ANYTHING is my favorite. Your pie looks so delicious Emily.What a sweet tribute to your childhood and your husband.
We go cherry picking here every summer so I make lots of cherry pies (mini ones, hand pies, and full size)to stock our freezer. After pitting 30 + pounds of cherries I don't want to do it agian for another year, so I make full use of them!

Colleen Dietrich said...

Gorgeous pie! Looks like it came from a magazine. Bet your hubby was SO grateful!

Auntie Em said...

Emily, your cherry pie is as pretty as any work of art! I love how you did the pretty cutouts on the top.
DH gets President's day off since the company he works for was once owned by a US company and they gave all the workers the day off. It is nice to have a day off in the middle of February but only a few provinces do it now. It's called Family Day in Canada and people are encouraged to spend the day doing things together.
It's nice February is almost over and we will soon be staring spring in the face. Hopefully no more 28"snowfalls this year! :)