Friday, March 8, 2013

Mommy's Little Helpers...

     One of my favorite books as a kid was "We Help Mommy" and to a lesser extent, "We Help Daddy" by Jean Cushman, as illustrated by Eloise Wilkin (the best illustrator Little Golden Books ever had, in my opinion).

     "We Help Mommy" was probably my favorite because my Mom did most of the stuff in the Mommy book, but Dad didn't do much of the stuff in the Daddy book. 

    Washing the dog and trimming hedges just wasn't something people did in rural North Carolina.  My Daddy was busy digging the foundation to our addition by himself with a shovel, not smoking his pipe and painting fences! 

     But anyway... I loved the part of the We Help Mommy book where the little girl makes her Daddy a pie.  Even as a child it seemed so domestically delicious and 1950's perfect that she would know how to make pie and use the cherries to make a face. 

     I bought my kids a copy off Amazon just so I could read them this book for Reading Week.  There is a large portion of the book that I don't do.  Nobody in my house uses place mats, for starters.  But it is an encouragement to kids, I think, to see what they are capable of and a reminder for parents, too (or at least me) of all the little ways kids can help out around the house.  "We Help Daddy" is on its way too, but there isn't much in there about playing iPad and breaking down boxes in the garage... 

     Fortunately, in our rough approximation of 2013 perfection, there is lots of room for pie.

We Help Mommy Individual Cherry Pies
Pie Crust Recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, pg. 866.  Method, mine.

1C plus 2 Tbs all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
8 Tbs (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into about 8 pieces
3 Tbs ice water, plus more if necessary
1 can pitted cherries in syrup

Place dry ingredients into a bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade, if you have one.  Pulse four or five times to combine.  Add the butter one piece at a time, pulsing in between.  Once all butter has been introduced, run the processor until crumbs begin to form.  Add ice water one tablespoon at a time and run the processor until a ball forms (about 2 minutes).  Add more water if necessary to form a cohesive ball that's not too wet.

Roll dough on a well floured surface to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut to desired shapes.  Place dough into floured press, fill, and close to seal edges.  Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet at 350° for 25-35 minutes.

You can refrigerate the dough for an hour if you have time, I just went ahead and let the boys roll these out.  The Pie Mold is made by Tovolo, but for the life of me, I can't remember where I got it.  I think I found it on sale somewhere.  It's a great little press that works well for savory as well as sweet pies with good crust/filling ratios.  Wilton, Progressive, and Norpro also make similar molds.  The pie crust recipe made exactly enough for four personal pies with just a tiny bit left over.

I was going to use cherries I'd canned myself a couple of years ago in these pies, but it seems two year old cherries smell a bit fermented.  I didn't want to take a chance at any rate, so I used these cherries by Oregon brand.  I like that brand for storebought fruit if I must use it because there's really nothing in it except fruit and sugar water.  This can filled these pies just right.  I didn't add anything else to the filling, but a little cinnamon would be a nice touch if you like.

I made the boys wait until after dinner to have these and they nearly died waiting.  The good news is it was totally worth the wait! 


  1. Love your sweet pics! And oh, does that little pie look good. My younger son and I are baking a pie this week for pi day on Thursday - a little get extra credit in math!

  2. He could make pie pops for the entire class! Super extra credit score!

  3. Your son makes such a good cooking model! He's adorable. I love the one where he's taking the cherry out of the can with care. Really made me feel like I was there in your kitchen.

    1. They are pretty cute, huh? =) This week was actually the first time he actually let me photograph him willingly. Usually I have to sneak up on him.


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