The flowers and trees were popping with color.
The cows rested in green pastures.
In the middle of Paradise, I found Laura Bru, aka the Pie Lady, mixing up an order of apple and raspberry pies.
Laura believes in finding the freshest ingredients. Some of the key ingredients are right outside her back door.
The eggs for her pies, rolls, breads, muffin and cookies come from her beautiful backyard flock.
While Laura won't give away her secret pie crust recipe, she will share that in addition to the freshest eggs possible she uses real lard......
Some of which comes from her children's 4-H show pigs. This is the second year for the pig project for Lilly, 11 and Jay, almost 10.
|Laura Bru, The Pie Lady|
To supplement the lard from her own pigs, she purchases lard from local lockers. "Everything that comes out of my kitchen is baked fresh and from scratch and as fresh as it can be," Laura says.
The secret to her crust, Laura says, is the local lard.
She's experimented with store bought lard, but she says it's full of preservatives. "You know it's good (lard) if it goes bad. If it goes bad, it's fresh!"
Fresh and locally sourced are the guiding philosophy for the Pie Lady. The fruit for most of her pies comes from local farms and apple orchards.
|Jay Bru, Photo: Pie Lady|
The Pie Lady's top seller is strawberry-rhubarb, son Jay's favorite too.
|Lilly and Jay Bru, Photo: Pie Lady|
Daughter, Lilly prefers the raspberry, and husband Ryan favors the coconut cream.
Laura is generous with tips on making pies. She showed me how to use a knife to get perfectly fluted edges. The secret to her smooth pie crust?
Rolling the dough out on waxed paper.
This project is bigger than providing the best, freshest baked goods and ice cream (more on that in a minute) to her customers at the farmer's markets in Cedar Falls on College Hill on Thursdays and at Overman Park on Saturdays, it's a way to teach Lilly and Jay about business, people skills and incorporate them into the life and business of farming.
|Photo: Pie Lady|
"The biggest thing I wanted them to get out of it is the people skills. I want them to learn to talk with people and remember their manners."
|Pie Lady's Jay and Lilly at work, Photo: Pie Lady|
|Photo: Pie Lady, market day|
Lilly is following in her mother's footsteps in the pie making business. Last year, her first in 4-H, she won the top award for her age category. This year, she's got her sights set on making it to the state fair.
|Photo: Pie Lady|
You'll find the Pie Lady at the farmers markets by listening for the sound of her motorized churner making home made ice cream which she sells to go with the pies, breads, rolls and cookies.
"It's not just a business. It's a way to raise a family," Laura says. The Pie Lady will also take custom orders and deliver for free within a 30-mile radius (including the Cedar Valley) of her farm. Fruit pies sell for $11, pecan for $13 and cream pies for $15. She bakes the day before market, or the day the order is due to get the freshest product to her customers.
You can reach Laura by calling 641.473.2429 or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org. It's the best tasting, freshest pie I've tasted in ages.
Know someone with a passion for growing or making the freshest, best local food? Drop me a line at email@example.com.