Best of Show Raspberry Cherry Pie

In 1983, I had won our big County Fair Pie Contest (Hamilton County/Cincinnati) and really didn’t want to push my luck by entering the following year, but my oldest daughter insisted it was my duty to defend my title.  So, I looked around my country kitchen, crowded with fresh produce, and decided to make a Raspberry Cherry Pie, using our home-grown black raspberries and tart red cherries.  I baked it on a hot Saturday morning, took it to the fairgrounds and when the contest was over, was told I was the first one in the history of the contest to win two years in a row.  I got a blue ribbon, best of show rosette, an engraved silver bowl and a half-bushel of apples.

The years went by and I was always baking something new for our Sunday dinner – never got around to making the prize-winning pie again.  Then, my husband was ill with Alzheimer’s and we had to leave our country home and the raspberry bushes and the cherry trees, so it has been over 25 years since I first made this pie.

A month or so ago, my online friend, Darlene, blogged about a dessert she had made using frozen tart cherries from Meijer.  I hurried to the store, picked up a bag of cherries and some red raspberries, and came home to bake an old favorite.  It was just as good as I remembered it.

BEST OF SHOW RASPBERRY CHERRY PIE

  • Pastry for double crust 9″ pie (click here for my favorite recipe)
  • 1 cup tart red cherries (I used frozen)
  • 3 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 Tblsp. fast-acting tapioca
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 Tblsp. butter
  • 1 Tblsp. milk

Preheat oven @ 375 degrees F

Measure one cup of cherries into a large bowl.  If cherries are frozen, they will thaw by the time the pie is completed.

To the cherries, add the raspberries, sugar, salt, tapioca and vanilla.  Toss to mix well and let stand for 10-15 minutes.

Stir fruit to distribute sugar and turn into a pastry-lined 9″ pie pan.  Dot with butter, add top crust and crimp to seal.  Cut vents and brush with milk.

Place on a flat pan to catch spills and bake @ 375 degrees F for 45-50 minutes until top crust is golden brown.

Cool on a wire rack. 

I probably took a little more care in preparing a fair entry, but not much.  To me, the idea was that it should be one of my normal Sunday pies – with all its little rough spots and bubbling over.

In 1987, when we went to the fair, my daughter told me that one of her entries was going to be my birthday present.  When we got to the Hobbies & Crafts Department, I found she had made a miniature model of the Hamilton County Fair Pie Contest, correct down to the tiniest detail with ribbons, trophies, a table full of pies and baskets of apples.  It won a Best of Show Rosette for her.

Every year, I display the model during the county fair season and remember all the good – and hectic – times we had at the pie contests.

A Good Sunday Lunch

I offered to fix lunch for my two daughters and two grandchildren before they headed for the large pool at Coney Island in Cincinnati.  One daughter suggested an oriental style pasta salad would be good and I found one on Allrecipes.  This is my edited version with a few changes.

SESAME PASTA CHICKEN SALAD

  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 8 oz bow tie pasta (Barilla Piccolini)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup Teriyaki sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 Tblsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • few gratings of black pepper
  • 2 chicken breast halves, baked and shredded
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

Heat a small skillet over medium high heat.  Add sesame seeds and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted.   Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook for 7 minutes.  Drain pasta and rinse under cold water.  Transfer pasta to a large bowl.

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine canola oil, Teriyaki sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, sesame seeds, ginger and pepper.  Shake well.  Pour dressing over pasta and toss to coat evenly.  Gently mix in chicken, cilantro and toasted almonds.

The three adults loved this salad – it was exactly what I was looking for in flavor and I would suggest that you not omit the fresh cilantro.  It just adds so much to the salad.

For dessert, I pulled out a recipe for a pie that myoldest daughter had made for a pie contest at the Hamilton County Fair (Cincinnati) in 1985.  She won an award and as soon as we tasted it, we could see why.  It’s incredibly rich, so plan on at least 8 servings.

NANCY'S CHOCOLATE LIME PIE

  • 16 chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed (Oreo)
  • 2 Tblsp. butter, melted
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
  • 2 envelopes of Nestle Choco-Bake pre-melted chocolate
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 3 egg whites
  • 7 oz. jar of marshmallow creme

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Crust:

In a 9″ pie pan, combine crumbs with melted butter.  Press onto bottom and up sides of pie plate.  Bake @ 375 degrees  F for about 8 minutes.  Cool while preparing filling.

Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F.

Filling:

In mixer bowl beat egg yolks at high speed about 4 minutes.  Add condensed milk, pre-melted chocolate and lime juice, mixing well.  Pour into prepared crust.

Meringue:

Beat egg whites to soft peaks, gradually adding marshmallow creme, incorporating well and beating to stiff peaks.  Spread over filling.

Bake @ 350 degrees F for 12 minutes until meringue is golden brown.

Chill for 2-3 hours.

Note: It’s important to chill the pie well and to chill any leftovers to make the pie easier to serve.

The Pie Contest

I didn’t want to enter the county fair pie contest at all.  My experience with pie baking consisted of old-fashioned pies for Sundays and holidays – nothing that was worthy of a contest.  But my oldest daughter insisted and so I got up early on a hot August morning in 1983 to bake a pie for the Hamilton County Fair (Cincinnati, Ohio).  I had a lot of fresh blackberries we had picked in the wild bramble area behind the house and some green apples from the trees in the front yard.  It sounded like a good combination and I baked the pie.  I felt a little dismayed when I saw the juices had bubbled out of the top crust as usual, but cooled the pie, wrapped it in foil and started out for the fairgrounds.

Contest entries were flowing in by the time we got there.  It was an open class contest so there was every conceivable kind of pie – apple, strawberry rhubarb, blueberry, lemon meringue, chocolate cream, a fancy strawberry pie with mint leaf garnish – I was starting to get a little worried.  I didn’t want to embarrass myself with such a low-key entry.  I was only hoping for one of the runner-up baskets of apples with no thought of winning a ribbon.  The pies were being arranged on large tables set end-to-end and at one point I almost went over and removed my entry but my daughter insisted on going through with the ordeal.

It was an interesting experience watching the entrants and their supporters, the judges, the passers by – all in intense heat in an antique building with windows open and an occasional swishing electric fan.  There were 34 entries in all, each one lovely and surrounding my very ordinary-looking pie.  Finally, after about an hour and a half, the winners were announced, beginning with the runners-up – no basket of apples for me.  Then the third place was announced and the second – I was almost relieved that it was finally over – when I heard the blue-ribbon, Best of Show winner called – BLACKBERRY APPLE PIE!  I was astounded and went to the contest director to ask if there could be a mistake.  I couldn’t believe that a Sunday dinner pie had won this contest.

I had my picture taken for the newspaper holding my pie and blue ribbon in one hand and the Best of Show rosette and an engraved brass tray in the other.

Then, my daughter and I got to carry all this plus a half-bushel of apples through a very crowded Saturday afternoon fairgrounds midway to the parking lot.

I entered this pie in a lot of other contests after that and it always won for me, but I never again had the thrill that I had that hot August day when I WON THE PIE CONTEST!

BLACKBERRY APPLE PIE

  • Pastry for two-crust 9″ pie (See recipe here)
  • 3 cups blackberries
  • 1 cup peeled & thinly sliced green apple
  • 3 Tblsp. quick-cooking tapioca
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tblsp. butter
  • 1 Tblsp. milk
  • 1 Tblsp. sugar mixed with 1/8 tsp. cinnamon for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

In large bowl combine berries, apples, tapioca, 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.  Mix well and allow to set while preparing pastry.

Turn berry mixture in a pastry-lined 9″ pan.  Dot with butter, adjust top crust, cut vents and flute edges.  Brush top with milk and lightly sprinkle with sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Set pie pan on a larger flat pan to catch spills.

Bake @ 375 degrees F for 45-50 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack. 

A remake of the pie some years later with the coveted rosette.

Christmas Card for 2007

xmas2007f.jpg

Each year, I try to come up with an original card to send to select friends and family members.  This year, my inspiration was a vintage card that we had found in an antique store. The original had a 1930-40s era graphic of county fair scenes and I remembered some pen & ink sketches I had made from photographs taken at the 1992 Hamilton County Fair (Ohio).  I scanned my sketches of some kids with sheep and a ferris wheel, the Agricultural Building, some ponies, and a horse barn that my father had used for his harness horses dating back to the early 1950s.

I found some beige card stock that closely matched the original and ordered blue ribbons with the imprint, Have a Blue Ribbon Year.  I filled in the name of the recipient in the “Awarded to” section and on the left inside of the card there was room for a personal holiday greeting.  Since I only needed cards for 11 special people, I printed them out on my home printer. 

xmas2007i.jpg

My passion for county fairs is well known among friends and family, so I felt this was an appropriate card for me to send.