The Giving Tree

Our friends’ cherry tree stands as their perfect metaphor.

Bright, strong, resilient, exceedingly generous and firmly rooted, the tree invites visitors and provides them with a hearty snack. It shades and supports them, and offers year-round entertainment.

Its bumper crop of cherries might sag a lesser tree, but Pete and Mary Abraham’s tree maintains perfect posture. With good cheer, its branches wind-whisper confidence, “It’s a lot. We know. We’ve got this.”

Parents to three equally warm and adventurous people, host parents to a slew of lucky exchange students, and volunteers to several lucky, lucky organizations, Pete and Mary know everyone, can do anything, and would be intimidating if they weren’t so nice.

This weekend they texted me, assuring me that they weren’t kidding when they said they’d love for me to come pick some cherries off their amazing tree.

So, Saturday morning I jumped out of bed, shoved a baseball cap on and headed over. I thought it would be cool to pick enough cherries for a pie.

They helped and I left with enough cherries for three pies, a batch of chocolate cherry scones, cherry vinaigrette, and a few more cherries we’re thinking we might spoon into our morning yogurt.

We’re very grateful in this house, for its lasting bounty of tart cherries and sweet friendship.

Here’s how I made the pie (I mostly used a recipe from

Good ole Wisconsin tart cherry pie

4 heaping cups of pitted cherries

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup flour

2 pie crusts

Put the flour, sugar, almond extract, cinnamon, and flour in a zip loc bag. Add the pitted cherries. Zip it closed and shake it until each cherry is covered. (I really loved this tip and I intend to use it on my blueberry pies as well.)

Lay a single pie crust into the pan and pour the filling over it. Lattice cut the second crust and weave it over the cherries. (I used a pizza cutter and cut them fairly wide because I have no patience.) Flute the crusts.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes and 350 for another 45 minutes. Cool completely. Top with fresh whipped cream and serve.

The cherry Tree
The Giving Tree, like the people who planted it 11 years ago, stands as a testament to neighborly generosity.
The Cherries
A bountiful harvest of tart cherries and sweet friends.
Pete and Mary
They even helped me pick ’em!
Me Cherry Picking
Me in action.
A bucket full
This is so many more cherries than it looks!
Tart cherries are the prettiest. Molly and I pitted them in no time. Pete and Mary suggest using a large paper clip, folded open, to snare the stone. We couldn’t find any paper clips in the house, so we used our fingers, which also worked pretty well.
Cherry Salad
This was our tart cherry salad, with cherry vinaigrette. Vinnie whipped up the salad dressing with 1/2 cup pitted cherries, a tablespoon of dijon mustard, a clove a garlic, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar. He blended all of that in a food processor and then stirred in a 1/4 cup olive oil.
The Cherry Pie
Here’s the pie with the impatient baker’s lattice crust. It’s not the prettiest pie I’ve ever baked, but it is tasty.
The Cherry Pie ala mode
Especially when you add a scoop of fresh whipped cream, which Molly flavored with powdered sugar and almond extract.

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