Gather 'Round the Cherry Tree

Birthday season is going full blast. Last Sunday, my family celebrated three birthday boys ranging from a wee 2 to wiry 8 to a wise 74. It was also a day for honoring the fathers in our lives, which is best done with food: pulled chicken sandwiches, quinoa salad, deviled eggs and pear cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream. Simply yum.

As afternoon drifted into evening, my mom suggested that we pick some cherries from a little row of trees near her garden. The tangy, plump, wonderfully red berries were begging to be plucked by human or bird. We said, “sorry birds,” and headed to the trees.

At first, it was just the ladies picking cherries within our reach. Then the kids dropped their Frisbee game and headed over. Then the men-folk wandered our direction, the ladders came out, and we had a full-blown family harvest. By the time dusk arrived, we had four full bowls of cherries, ready to be made into some sort of desserty deliciousness.

Once the cherries were harvested, our next step was to pit them. My mom lent me a handy contraption for the job that looked like something straight out of Little House on the Prairie. It was so freakishly simple to use that I let the kids do all the pitting themselves, which suited them just fine. “Don’t worry, Mom. We’ve got this.”

Finally, with all the cherries pitted, I had no choice but to make a tasty dessert…immediately! It simply had to be done. Here’s my very easy recipe:

1 cup fresh pitted cherries
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 T. butter
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup almond meal
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
Vanilla ice cream (homemade is best if you can swing it)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Spray a 9x9 glass baking dish with coconut spray, then layer in the cherries and blueberries.

  3. Melt the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir in the rolled oats, almond meal, cinnamon and nutmeg to make a crumble topping.

  4. Sprinkle the topping over the cherries and blueberries.

  5. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and fragrant.

  6. Serve warm with a little bit of vanilla ice cream. The cherry-blueberry dessert is very tart, and the ice cream cuts the tartness nicely.

This dessert disappeared quickly, as you might imagine. There were no leftovers. No evidence whatsoever of all the effort we put into picking, pitting and preparation. Nothing left but the sweet memory of my family gathered together under the cherry trees, harvesting, chatting, laughing and feeling so thankful for that precious moment in time.

— Sarah