FOOD: Nature’s harvest awaits Lee’s plate |

FOOD: Nature’s harvest awaits Lee’s plate

Lee Mathis
Free Press Food Columnist
Lee Mathis
Staff Photo |


This week’s website is by our local friends at Z’s Orchards in Palisade and they have some great recipes utilizing the fruit offerings of the Grand Valley! Our recipe of the week comes from the site: Stephanie’s Cherry Meringue Pie, and it’s a tasty one!

In opening up our Virginia operation over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to work many farmers’ markets and festivals in late April and May.

But as nice as Virginia is, I cannot wait for the farms and orchards of Mesa County and the surrounding areas to start surrendering their bounties for all of us to enjoy! Yes, I know it is a little early in the season for some of our favorites to be available (hello Palisade Peaches!), but do not underestimate the early releases.

Our farmers’ markets will soon be opening as well as many of the fruit and produce stands that dot the highways that cross our little valley of heaven.

The Downtown Grand Junction Farmers’ Market starts on Thursday, June 13; the Palisade Sunday Market starts on Sunday, June 16; the Fruita Farmers’ Market starts Saturday, June 30; and the Glenwood Springs Downtown Farmers’ Market starts Tuesday, June 11. I am sure that I am missing some, so keep your eyes and ears open!

Stephanie’s Cherry Meringue Pie

Basic pie crust dough

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup shortening

Pie ingredients

4 cup fresh pie cherries

1-1/3 cup sugar

3 Tbsp. quick-cooking tapioca

1 tsp. almond extract

2 Tbsp. butter


4 egg whites

1-1/2 tsp. vanilla

3/4 tsp. cream of tartar

1/2 cup sugar

Wash, drain and pit your pie cherries. Combine cherries, tapioca, sugar and almond extract. Mix gently. Allow mixture to sit for 10 to 15 minutes. While waiting, make the pie crust by sifting together the flour and salt. Using a dough hook on mixer, mix in shortening (or you may cut in the butter until it is well mixed and crumbly-looking). Roll out dough to fit a 9-inch pie tin. Line tin with dough and finish edge any way you like. Do not prick the bottom.

After 10-15 minutes, pour cherry mixture into pie shell, being careful not to drip onto your crust edge. Dot top with butter. Bake in 450 degrees F oven for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 F and bake for 35 more minutes.

While that’s baking, make the meringue topping. In your mixer bowl, add the egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar and sugar. Whisk with mixer on high until stiff peaks form.

When the pie has baked for 35 minutes, remove from oven and top with meringue. Make sure meringue goes all the way to the edge of the pie, right up to the crust, but not covering the crust. You may spoon on the meringue or pipe it on with a fancy tip. Place back in oven for another 15 minutes or until meringue is golden. Cool on a wire rack. Store in the refrigerator because of the meringue.

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