Text from October 2013
I forgot they were in my freezer. Door County cherries, tucked underneath bags and bags of raspberries the kids and I had gathered every summer afternoon from our backyard bushes. I had to dig through those berries and move them around and curse slightly to get to the bottom of that freezer drawer. But there they were, still glittering and ruby red and perfect.
It seemed the cherries were calling me. They were a memory, a lovely one, and it had been a week filled with bad news from the outside; articles and TV anchors whispering deadly affairs again and again: 92 people who died of thirst and Man kills family and then himself and Funeral workers steals gold teeth from bodies and 5 stabbed to death by relative and You are not safe. You are not safe. You are not safe.
I tend to turn to puff pastry when I’m anxious. The rolling, the turns, the soft dough on my hands helps me focus for a moment. And this batch would be filled with those memorable cherries. They were picked this summer, one short weekend when [A] and I got to steal away by ourselves. We made an impromptu stop at a cherry orchard, grabbed an old tin bucket and filled it high.
And now they are here, still, in my hands. Their juices stain my fingertips and my white sweater I shouldn’t be wearing in the kitchen. My thoughts turn to blood: dark red blood running over the earth right now, and all the broken people weeping over that river. But I spent a summer day picking cherries; laughing and stealing kisses under tree branches.
I liked my cherries on the tart side for the turnovers – all the butter and richness of the puff pastry balanced things out nicely. However, you can add more sugar if you’d like. Store bought puff pastry is fine, but look for one that is made with real butter verses palm or soybean oil.
Maybe taking up a whole morning to make puff pastry is a waste of time. But when my daughter walks through our backdoor, her hands clapping at the smell of turnovers, I don’t regret the minutes spent. When she bites into the flaky layers and sour cherries, letting the red juice freely trickle down the side of her mouth, I am thankful for the quiet minutes spent turning and rolling.
And when I tell her about the afternoon Daddy and I picked cherries together in Door County, her eyes bright as she connects our memory with the treat in her hand, I somehow feel secure, if only for a moment.
‘I’m all over the place, up and down, scattered, withdrawing, trying to find some elusive sense of serenity.’
‘The world can’t give that serenity. The world can’t give us peace. We can only find it in our hearts.’
‘I hate that.’
‘I know. But the good news is that by the same token, the world can’t take it away.’
–Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
Flaky Sour Cherry Turnovers
- 1 pound sour cherries pitted
- ½ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling (see note)
- 1 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Good pinch of salt
- 1 pound puff pastry, store bought or homemade
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, with the oven rack in the middle position. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Put the pitted cherries, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl, and toss to combine. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes, and then put it into a strainer set over a bowl. Let the cherry juice drain, and set the juice aside for later. Put the strained cherries back in their original bowl.
- Gently flour your work surface, and roll each piece of the pastry dough into a 10-inch square. Cut each square into four 5-inch squares, for a total of 8 squares.
- Place 2 tablespoons of the cherry mixture into the center of each square of dough, and then brush the edges of each square with some of the reserved juice. Fold each square of dough to make a triangle, and crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Move the triangles to the prepared baking sheets, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Brush the tops of the turnovers with more of the cherry juice and generously sprinkle the tops with sugar. Bake the turnovers until golden brown (20-25 minutes), rotating the pan halfway through. Move the turnovers off the baking sheet to a wire rack and cool slightly. Serve warm.