Italian Cherry Pie with Graham and Ginger & Recovering from Tragedy

Nov 22, 2011

So, I tried not to think about it.  But, like all emotional baggage, tragedy does not fit into the overhead compartment nor under the seat in front of me.

Today is year anniversary of the worst day of my life.  The night before, I’d gone out when everyone was asleep and bought a super soft blanket.  I went to the toy store and found a soft dog.  I wandered around town in a zombie state, dreading the following day.

People say all sorts of things when you have a sick or injured child – and yes, we can choose to look at this day as the day recovery started.  But the truth is, checking your child into the hospital when you don’t have any idea what’s to come or how long the stay will be, is a nightmare.  There is so much hurt and sadness and fear and as a parent, you feel it for your offspring, for their siblings, and in your own body.

Where does pie fit into all of this?

Well, we’re a year later.  And while we’re not totally out of the woods, we’re closer.

And the pie?  Well, this is how you get six kinds of pie made for Thanksgiving.  Set up a playdate, print out recipes, make stations for each kid and rotate, cleaning between sessions.  See photos of before and after.

Italy has been a place of refuge for me and for my family.  Dad’s house is in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by blackberry bushes.  The cherries there are plump and traditionally canned with ample amounts of sugar and vanilla which then ferment.  The smell of this pie makes me remember peaceful and happy times instead of stale hospital air.  My daughter made this pie today with little idea of what it represents.

This cherry pie is not overly sweet – as with many Italian desserts, there are hints of lemon and vanilla and wine.  The ginger adds a nice bit of heat and the very American graham cracker top gives a great crumb.

May your holidays be healthy and happy and may each bite of pie bring you sweetness and yet also make you remember what has happened in your own year.

I’m posting photos of our family thankful wall also.  We’ve been adding leaves daily – from large items such as heat and a home and food and family and small ones that are just as important – Star Wars or the very softest blanket at the worst of moments.

Italian Cherry Pie with Graham & Ginger

2 1/2 cups pitted cherries (fresh or frozen and thawed)

1 cup red wine

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon zes

1/2 cup sugar

zest of one orange

1 egg

crust of your choice (see Italian crostata for one delicious option)

¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger (optional but yummy)

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

3 tbsp butter

Soak cherries overnight or longer in wine, vanilla, and lemon zest. In the morning, pit the cherries (soaking them overnight makes them looser and easier to pit). Drain cherries, reserving liquid. Place cherries in bowl and sprinkle with sugar, zest, and 2 tbsp reserved liquid. Mix in egg and combine well. Place the cherries in the pie crust (if you are using premade frozen, do not prebake). Sprinkle ginger on top. Combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar until well mixed and sprinkle on top. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes or until bubbling and just browning on top.


  1. Julie Ross
    November 22, 2011

    Have a wonderful, peaceful holiday…xoxo

  2. Marni
    November 22, 2011

    Love this.

  3. Debbie
    November 23, 2011

    This pie sounds so good! Have to try it soon. I’m new to your this blog so I didn’t know you had a child who is ill. What is wrong? Keeping you and your child in my prayers….

    • EmilyFranklin
      November 23, 2011

      Thanks, Debbie! Glad you found the blog. Getting better every day so thanks for the thoughts…

  4. Celia
    November 23, 2011

    Blessings to you and your lovely family, Emily! I’m grateful for Star Wars too. And pie! 🙂