To mark the end of the school year, I told the boys we’d watch a movie. It was a subversive effort to keep the little one off his electronics and to spend some quality time with the big one, who’s off to college in a mere two months and who I know I’ll miss dreadfully, plus I like to introduce the kids to classic horror movies, so I decided to show them “The Haunting” (the original, not the 1999 remake with Liam Neeson and Lili Taylor), but once we scrolled through On Demand, we realized “The Haunting” wasn’t available, so we started debating what to watch and decided on “Deadpool,” which I knew had gotten good reviews and was rated R but how bad could that be since the movie is about an action hero, so I said yes, and we began to watch, and the violence and the blood spatter were pretty graphic but in a cartoonish way, so it didn’t bother me too much to be watching it with my 18- and 15-year-old sons when all of a sudden there was an oh …

… my …

… gawd.

A really graphic sex scene. So I grabbed a blanket and covered the television screen while the boys hooted and hollered and told me what a bad mom I was but also kind of cool because none of their friends’ mothers would watch sex and violence with their kids and kind of laugh at the violence because the movie is really subversively funny that way and who knew Ryan Reynolds could pull off that kind of humor since he seems so serious and maudlin on red carpets, but I could just imagine my mother’s reaction to this really bad parenting decision, which made the fact that I fed the boys cherry pie for breakfast this morning not that big of a deal.


cherry pieYou’ve got your fruit. Some citrus and spice. And yes, a healthy dose of sugar and fat, but if you eat it first thing in the morning, you have all day to work off the calories, and a slice of cherry pie at 8 a.m. just doesn’t get my maternal guilt roiling like the fact that I let my kids watch blood and sex to celebrate the last day of school.

And watched with them.

And kind of laughed.

I have no excuse for myself, except to say …

Have another slice of pie.


Guilt-Free Cherry Pie (Adapted from “The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book”)

Don’t let the ingredient list or prebaking of this dessert deter you: It’s worth every bit of effort you put into it!

For the crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 egg white whisked with 1 teaspoon of water

For the filling:

  • 2-3 pounds sweet cherries, halved and pitted (you want 5 cups total)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

For the topping:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice and warmed to room temperature

Make the crust:

tart dough kneadedWhisk together the flour, salt and sugar.

Cut the butter into 1/2-inch dice. Cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or your hands.

Combine the water and vinegar. Pour it over the flour and butter and work it into a dough. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it for 30 minutes to an hour. (Now would be a good time to pit all your cherries.)

Place your oven racks at the lowest and the middle positions. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

pie shellRoll your dough out on a floured surface until about 1/8-inch thick. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Crimp the edges, then put the pie plate in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Prick the dough all over with a fork. Line it with foil and place rice, beans or pasta shells in the foil to weigh it down.

Place the pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet and put it on the lowest oven rack. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the pie and its baking sheet from the oven. Discard the foil and pie weights. Brush the crust lightly with the egg white/water mixture (you won’t use all of it), then place the pie and baking sheet on your oven’s middle rack. Bake an additional 3 minutes.

Remove the crust and let it cool completely.

Make the filling:

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Stir well.

Set aside while you make the topping:

Whisk together the flour, sugars and salt.

Mix in the butter with your fingers until it’s well-incorporated. Refrigerate the topping for 15 minutes.

Assemble the pie:

Pour the cherry mixture into your cooled, prebaked crust.

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit.

Place the pie plate back on the baking sheet. Put the sheet on the lowest rack of your oven (still at 425 degrees), and bake for 20 minutes.

Reduce the oven’s heat to 375 degrees. Move the baking sheet to the oven’s middle position and bake an additional 35 minutes, until the pie is golden and the cherry juices are bubbling thickly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for an hour or two before cutting.