Door County Cherry Pie, A Family Obsession
I don’t remember when I had my first bite of cherry pie, but I’m going to guess that I was pretty darn young. That’s because my parents were self-proclaimed cherry pie aficionados, an affliction that struck whenever we were on vacation in Door County, Wisconsin. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Door County was our summertime mecca, a paradise of quaint towns, sandy beaches, picturesque bluffs, and, yes, cherry orchards. My parents never missed a year or an opportunity to pack us kids in the car and drive the five hours up the Lake Michigan shoreline to their favorite getaway.
The moment we’d unpack the hunt began, driven by my dad and his near obsessive need for cherry pie. Although my mom was a great cook and an even better baker, my dad, for some odd reason, was convinced nothing was better than an authentic, homemade Door County cherry pie. They were the best, he would tell us, then proceed to visit every bakery and restaurant that had cherry pie on the menu.
Oh, sure, he’d disguise his obsession by taking us on long hikes through Peninsula State Park, vigorous tennis outings, or a bike ride around Washington Island. The exercise was plentiful, and intense. Dad knew just how long to push us. It wasn’t until my brothers and I were in danger of passing out from hunger that he would suggest a visit to a bakery for lunch, or a little restaurant the locals all flocked to. We never complained, mostly because at the end of every meal there was always the promise of a slice of cherry pie.
The competition was stiff, and the pace grueling. There were days when the entire family was forced to have a bite of cherry pie with both lunch and dinner. My dad was even famous for having dinner and pie at one restaurant, then, not quite sure he was tasting the best pie, would drive to a different restaurant for another slice. The most depressing part of this gluttonous pie parade was that my dad never gained an ounce!
However, for all his pie-sampling, Dad was onto something. Cherry pie did taste better in Door County. Maybe it was the air, the beautiful setting, or the fact that Mom was on vacation and didn’t have to bake her own pie. Maybe it was the crust, perfected by the old baker at such-and-such restaurant, or the quality of the cherries grown on whatchamacallits’ orchard. Whatever the secret, there’s no denying that for me a bite of cherry pie invokes memories of my childhood, all those careless, pie-feasting days in Door County, Wisconsin. Is it any wonder that I set my first cozy mystery series in that magical place?
My parents are now stuck at home--like the rest of us--dreaming of the day when they'll get the go ahead to return to Door County. Wish I could take them a cherry pie, but for now, my little video will just have to do--that and the recipe for Grandma Jenn’s Classic Door County Cherry Pie, so you can make your own pie at home!
The recipe can be found at the back of my book, Cherry Pies & Deadly Lies.
If you don't have the book yet you can download a copy of the recipe here...
or you can visit my recipe page and download it there.
Either way, everyone can now enjoy a little slice of Door County cherry pie heaven. Of course, if you can score some authentic Door County cherries, you’re half-way there.