I was walking through the produce section of the grocery store when I heard the cranberries beckon me. They had dulcet voices in an alto range, you see, and sounded like some forlorn Greek chorus. Thanksgiving is over, but the tart joy of cranberries lives on, they seemed to say.
It’s not often that food calls me like that. OK, ice cream calls me all the time, but that’s another matter.
What would I do with those little beads? I could string them for the Christmas tree. But I already have strands of red beads made of wood that look like cranberries. I didn’t need the fruit on top of it.
Then it hit me: Cherry-Cranberry Pie.
My mom had mentioned last week that she made a cherry pie for Thanksgiving, and the mere thought of it had me drooling, though we had enjoyed a blueberry-blackberry pie and her pumpkin pie. But nothing has quite the hold of cherry pie, no matter the time of year. So, why not combine the two into a sweet-tart treat, I told myself.
But how should it be seasoned?
I decided simplest would be best and that I would take my cue from cherry pie, not a cranberry relish. Yes to almond extract and lemon juice. No to cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and even my favorite, ginger. I also went with the frozen sweet cherries at the market instead of the canned sour cherries because of the tartness of the cranberries. (If I were back in Louisville, I’m sure I’d use some of the sour cherries that my parents grow in their backyard and freeze until needed.)
I used the base common to many of the fruit pies I make: tapioca pearls for thickening, brown sugar, salt and a little butter in addition to the almond and lemon.
With a plan in mind, I was ready to go. I started playing a favorite CD, “Christmas with Maureen McGovern,” and started to work with no thoughts of deadlines or obligations, just the image of happy faces eating pie. Before I knew it, the stress of the day was gone, the strips of lattice had been woven on top and the pie was in the oven. And yes, it came out exactly as planned.
I hope the rest of all of our holiday baking goes by as dreamily.