Friday, November 11, 2016

Cherry Pie Cookies

Cherry pie has always been one of my favorite summer or holiday desserts. If it's also one of yours, you will LOVE my Cherry Pie Cookies!

While cooking or baking, it's always important to follow proper food handling and food safety procedures. For example, don't use the same cutting board for vegetables as raw meat, ensuring meat is cooked to the proper temperature and of course, washing your hands often.

The kitchen is not the only place food safety is important. It's also an important part of keeping our milk supply safe.

A lot has changed on dairy farms since my Grandpa was milking cows by hand before and after school in the 1920s with his dad. These days, most dairies have a milk pipeline that carries the milk from the milking machines (where it leaves the cow) to the refrigerated bulk tank. Milk is never touched by human hands. It used to be more work, though. When my grandparents dairied in town before moving to our current location in the mid 1950s, they sold milk in cans to the local creamery. Since there were so many dairies, the milk cans each had numbers representing the dairy farm it came from.
These were the cans milk was sold in a long time ago. 

Today, not many dairies milk in a flat barn parlor like we used to. A flat barn parlor requires the person milking the cows to bend down to put the milking machine on the cows. This is a very good way to get kicked. Just ask Grandpa. Most dairies now have milking parlors where the people milking the cows stand in the pit, which is below the area where the cows stand. This means the cows udders are at the proper level to apply the milking machines while standing up. Many also have monitors that measure the amount of milk each cow produced and the deviation from their average production.

 Cows' udders are at eye level, which makes it much easier to milk them. 

This is what it looks like when milking machines are attached to the cow. They are generally attached for less than 10 minutes at a time. 

This is one example of a modern milking parlor. There are lots of different types and set ups, but most dairies have a pit where the people milking the cows stand, which is below where the cows are.

Since moving to our current location, we haven't used cans, but didn't use a pipeline in the '50s either. the milking machines themselves looked pretty similar to those used today, except they were attached to these small cans (see below) and then into larger buckets, which were dumped into our flat-top bulk tank. Farming has always been a good workout.

These were the milking machines we used in the '50s, '60s and '70s. 

The part of the milking machine that attaches to the cow was very similar to what is used today. This is a picture of a modern milking machine. 

After the cow was done being milked, milk was poured from the can attached to the machine into this pail, which was then dumped into the bulk tank. 

Milk was poured into a strainer (see below) placed in the opening of the tank and strained through a coffee-filter type material before it went into the bulk tank. Today, we still use filters, but not in the same location. They are located inside the pipeline. It helps to ensure that nothing besides the milk ends up in the bulk tank.

This is the strainer that the filter was placed in. This was in the opening of the bulk tank where milk was stored and milk was poured from the pails into this strainer. 

Milk was picked up every two days, similar to today's standards. Did you know that each state has regulations on how often milk must be picked up? In Indiana it's 48 hours. Most states are very similar to this. Milk is a perishable food, so we want to make sure it's as fresh as possible when it reaches the end consumer.

Similar to today, inspectors would show up unannounced and score the farm on various sanitation standards. Everything needs to be clean and in good working order. Rubber parts need to be changed regularly. Stuff like that. Not passing an inspection or two can lead to problems, such as suspension of the permit to ship milk. This is not good, so every dairy farmer takes these inspections seriously. It's good to treat each day like the inspector may show up, so when they do it's not a big deal since everything is on point.

This is how milk truck drivers take a sample of milk. The milk is placed on ice in a cooler to keep it cold since usually there are a few stops to pick up more milk before going to the milk plant. This sample is tested at the plant for antibiotics and also tested further at the lab for milk quality.  

Also similar to today, the milk truck driver took a sample and recorded the temperature of the milk before milk was pumped onto the truck. Most farms had around 50 cows. Today, averages vary by state and range from about 500 in Washington to 150 in Indiana to 2,000 in New Mexico. All sizes of dairies can do a great job; taking good care of the animals has nothing to do with size.

For more about how milk quality standards has become more strict, click here.

A lot of people ask me if milk is less safe today because we use so much more technology. It's MUCH safer today. The way we milk cows has changed and we are held to stiffer required standards, but every dairy farmer I know is in this business because they love their cows and this way of life. We also care about producing a quality nutritious product for consumers.

Let's get back to these amazing cookies! Contrary to the name, there isn't any cookie dough, just pie crust.

Cherry Pie Cookies


  • Pie crust from the store (or make your own)
  • Cherry pie filling (I recommend the regular pie filling, not the sugar free unless you like tart food)
  • White sugar

1. Unroll the pie crust and use a rolling pin to roll it out to your desired thickness (I leave it as is; I recommend using some flour to keep the crust from sticking to your hands or the counter or anything else)
2. Use a regular drinking glass to create circles with the pie crust
3. Take the remaining pie crust and roll it out with the rolling pin; cut in strips
4. Create a lattice with the strips of pie crust
5. Open the can of cherry pie filling and add a table spoon or two to each circle pie crust
6. Use the same glass to create circles in the lattice
7. Place the lattice circles on top of the cherry pie filling
8. Pinch the edges
9. Sprinkle sugar on top of each cookie
10. Place on a baking sheet (sprayed with non-stick cooking spray) and cook for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. The top should be slightly brown, but cook to your desired done-ness
11, Enjoy!

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