Today would have been my father’s 92nd birthday. Unfortunately, he didn’t live to see his 60th birthday. My father died of a completely preventable cancer of the colon. If you have history of this in your family, start getting regular tests. I do one every three years. If you don’t and you are of a certain age, start getting one every 5 years. Figure it out. It’s not hard and it’s worth it.
My father was a man of few words. When he chose to speak, the phrases were gems. He worked in cliché like other artists work in clay. But, unlike most who dabble in the well worn, his usage was always superior, and more importantly, meaningful. He was like a mechanic; he knew that, with the correct tool, any job could be accomplished.
I could spend days writing about his colorful language, or his ability to make anyone feel uncomfortable just with a look, and the thought of what he might say. Usually, he refrained from saying anything. His favorite: “It’s better to remain silent and thought a fool, then to speak and remove all doubt.” Clearly that gene was not passed on.
My dad was unique in many ways, often priding himself on being different. His dress was always up-to-date, his hair short under Johnson and long under Nixon. Most men wanted various types of cake for birthday celebrations. His birthday wish every year was for a cherry pie. And with it would come the refrain: “Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy boy, Billy boy…”
- 2 1/2 Cups Flour, sifted
- 1/3 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Cold Butter
- 1/3 Cup Crisco (also cold)
- 5-6 Tablespoons Ice Cold Water
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- 1 Cup + 2 Teaspoon Sugar
- 5-6 Cups Sour Cherries, pitted
- Lemon or Orange
- 2 Mixing Bowls
- Rolling Pin
- Pastry Knife (optional)
- Large non-stick Surface
- 9″ Pie Pan
- Mix together 2 cups flour, salt, and 2 teaspoons sugar in a bowl.
- Cut in 1/3 cup butter and 1/3 cup crisco with pastry knife or two regular dinner knifes.
- Slowly drip in the water, mixing with your hands. just enough so the mix turns to a flaky dough.
- On a floured surface, cut the dough in half and form two discs.
- Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 425.
- In another bowl, combine the cherries, remaining sugar, 1/2 cup of flour and a squeeze of lemon or orange. You can use canned cherries if fresh are not available. For my father’s birthday in February they were always canned. Careful of the sugar if you are using canned.
- Roll out both dough discs to about 2 inches larger than the pie pan.
- Tuck the first one carefully into the pan. I have had some success by loosely rolling the flattened dough back onto the rolling pin and rolling it back out over the pie pan. This takes some practice. Don’t get frustrated. It’s just a pie.
- Pour the filling into the pie pan.
- Cut little chunks of the remaining butter evenly over the cherry mixture.
- Cover with other half of dough using the same technique.
- Cut slits evenly on top.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown. Some people cover the pie with foil for the first half of baking but I don’t usually bother.
- Let cool on a rack for a couple of hours. I never found cherry pie very good hot anyway.
Miss you, dad. Happy Birthday!