We are just back from a lovely trip to see my mother in Osage, Iowa, where I grew up. It is always great to get back there and see neighbors and friends, many of whom have been around since I was a boy.
Like most visits, this one was filled with great food. In the summer we often time our visits to coincide with the North Star cherry harvest from the tree in Mom’s back yard. This year there was a bumper crop, which the birds didn’t destroy for some reason, despite the fact that Mom didn’t put up much netting, which she usually has done. We picked for several days and made cherry jam, cherry sauce, and a couple of delicious cherry pies, picking enough to freeze the fillings for several more!
North Stars are a deep, dark red, very tart cherry that is hard to beat in a sauce over chocolate (or vanilla) ice cream or in a pie. I’ve never seen them in a store, and they wouldn’t be as fresh and delicious if you hadn’t picked them yourself, so I’m afraid if you don’t have a tree in your or a neighbor’s back yard, you’re out of luck.
In case you’re wondering, we use a lattice-top for the cherry pie crusts and made homemade pie dough. I made the first crust, and Mom helped with the second so I could take Aidan swimming in the new Cedar River Complex one afternoon. Of course, I learned to make pies from Mom, so she should get all the credit anyway. We use Crisco, rather than lard, but other than that, it is the same old-fashioned recipe… 2 cups of flour and 2/3 cups (plus two tablespoons) Crisco cut together with a pastry cutter (and a little salt), then mix in 5-7 tablespoons (or more as needed) ice water and mix with a fork after each spoonful of water. Don’t handle the dough much and refrigerate before rolling out into two crusts.