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Something From Nothing ~ Week 18

Sorry for the delay in this post. Life in Pixie-land has been rather busy. However, I must go straight to THE CORN REPORT! (Always in all capitals, and always followed by an exclamation point, in my mind now). Let us see....

The tomatoes are booming....

The "Rainbow" Swiss chard is living up to it's name...

The corn has finally taken a stand, and decided to grow...

The broccoli is a brockin' (hahaha)....

And this giant, mutant vine that is taking over my fence is a type of squash called "buttercup". Now, truth be told....I bought these seedlings accidentally, as some helpful consumer placed them on the "cucumber" shelf. This may be one of those "happy accidents" as it is large, healthy, and as you can see toward the middle left of the photo, already producing these amazing-looking squash!

The yellow squash is a squashin'.......

The bell peppers are a-ringing (why no, I don't get carried away with this)....

The Petunias....well, I don't know is 15 BLOSSOMS on one plant a GOOD thing? Teehee.....

And the peas, well they are a-um, well, you get the drift! I'm really happy with the Pixie-patch this year, and it is the culmination of the dreams I had as a sixteen-year old girl, reading my organic gardening magazines, and dreaming of an actual vegetable garden of my own! It was a long time to wait.....but boy, is it worth it! On to the fruits of summer.....

During our latest trip to the produce stand, I found these!

Ah, life is just a bowl of...well, you get it. The problem is this; Whenever I get a load of cherries, I want to make cherry pie...however, Dear Husband and I cannot finish it all, before it turns into a watery, less-than-appealing mixture of crust and fruit....in less than a week. The solution? Cherry "hand pies". Go here for the recipe I used...First, as always, get your ingredients together. Clockwise from bottom left, confectioners' sugar, salt, flour (all-purpose), sugar, baking powder, vegetable oil and butter. Not shown: cinnamon and a lemon.

Then, the hard part...pitting all those cherries! I tried the method (you can use a straw for this I'm told), of pushing a chopstick through the cherry to pit it, and it worked. Truth be told, though, it just took too long, and my tendancy to stab myself in the other hand with the chopstick necessitated me just resorting to my usual method. Which is to say, grabbing my small paring knife, and cutting the cherries in half to pit them.

I had to let that project go for the moment, because we must get our dough together...it has to chill. Put your flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into your food processor (or in a large bowl with a whisk), and buzz or mix until combined...

Have your ice water, butter, and vegetable shortening or oil ready to go. Keep all as cold as possible, this is pastry making 101....

Add your butter and vegetable shortnening to the flour mixture, and buzz, combining gradually with the ice water until the mixture begins to hold together in the processor...if you can smash the sides of it with your hands (like in the next photo - look at right side of dough), and it holds together, it is ready.

Now, dump it out onto a sheet of plastic wrap....it will not look like a dough yet....don't panic...

Gather up all four sides of the plastic wrap, and form the dough into a disk....it will NOW look like a dough ;)

Place in the fridge, and go pit those cherries! After your fingers, countertops and shirt are purple, and you are cursing the day you were born, you will have....this!

You can, however, relax now....the hard part is over. Place the fruit in a sauce pan with the cinnamon and the sugar, and bring up to a simmer...

Mix the cinnamon and sugar in until the sugar is dissolved, and the cherries are warming, and starting to produce some juice...

Mix the juice with the cornstarch in a small bowl...

Pour this back into the saucepan with the cherries...and bring back to a simmer for 6 to 8 minutes, until thickened and juicy...

When thickened, empty into a bowl to cool (with the lemon juice), and get your dough out. Score your dough like a pie, to make four equal sections, like so....

Then, score it again to make eight seperate pieces....roll those eight pieces into balls...(make your own joke)...

Then, working quickly, roll each one out into an approximately 6-inch diameter circle. I did not happen to have any parchment paper handy, so I placed each one between sheets of plastic wrap to chill again...it works just as well.

Continue on until all eight are basically small-scale pie crusts!

Wrap this all up, and refrigerate for another 30 minutes. I used this time to de-purple my kitchen. Um, yeah....on to the (finally) fun part!

When they have chilled again, take two Tablespoons of your cherry filling, and place in the center of each little crust, like so...

Then, fold them in half...

Fold the bottom part of the crust over the top like so...

Then, take a fork and crimp the edges. This not only looks attractive, but it helps keep the cherry filling from blowing out all over your cookie sheet/oven/etc.

Poke holes in the top to let the steam escape...

And place on a well-greased baking sheet. Beat an egg with some milk, and paint the tops, so that they get a nice, golden brown...

And bake in a 350 degree oven for about a half an hour - or until golden brown. This is where I deviated from the recipe, by not frying the hand pies. The result is not as sweet as regular pie, so that choice is yours to make. My results?

Cherry-licious! AND they freeze well, too! So instead of having a whole pie that turns into a watery mess, we have our individual pies that can be warmed (microwave, hot oil, or in oven), and eaten individually. I'm going to freeze the rest of them so that we can have this little taste of summer for dessert, whenever we like! Note: yes, this is "project level" cooking, and takes the better part of a day (broken up, of course) to accomplish. This is not a recipe you want when you have errands to run, or a busy day. I will say this though.....worth it!

Stay tuned for another Something From Nothing post, and what Summer hijinks the Kitchen Angels are up to!

Love and kindness to all,

Pixie

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