It is a foolproof pie crust. It came from a farmer’s wife, and maybe the saddest woman I’d ever met.

Barbara was the manager of a small office where I took a temp job.

It was customary to bring in home-baked treats on Friday.

Her specialty was strawberry rhubarb pie, with fruits fresh from her farm, and a crust that was exceptional.

She was proud of her pies, but the smiles that came with the many compliments were covering something else. Something darker. Something painful.

It was almost 20 years before. She was backing her car out on a summer afternoon when her toddler ran onto the driveway.

He did not survive.

slice of pie


It was an unimaginable pain that overshadowed all her success; at home, as a farmer, as a businesswoman.

I was proud to know her for those few months, in awe of her strength of spirit.

And for many years since, I’ve shared her simple recipe for a perfect pie crust.

Blend 1 cup lard (or shortening) into 2 cups flour. Add a pinch of salt, 1 TBS apple cider vinegar,  1/3 cup milk. Blend well, divide in half.  Roll into 2 crusts.



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47 Responses to Pie

  1. George says:

    Such unimaginable pain that remains with you always. Thank you for sharing her story and her gift.

  2. Van, I can only dare to say that I have a faint idea of what she must have been through. Some years back I had a road accident and it was a horrible, horrible point in my life. It never leaves the persons mind.

    • I can’t imagine. I had a mechanical failure on the family car when I was 16. No one was injured, but I wanted to tear up my newly acquired driver’s license. They are all memorable, but this…something else again. Thanks, J. 💔

  3. Oh, that poor woman! I can’t even imagine…

  4. Nurse Kelly says:

    What a tragedy – but such a nice remembrance of her here. Thank you for sharing her recipe. 🙂

  5. What an awful tragedy. I can only imagine the pain in accidentally running over and killing your own child. I don’t think I would even have survived something like that.

    Now whenever I eat pie, I will also think of Barbara and her sad story. But her recipe sounds interesting. I have a reputation for making the best pie crusts, but maybe Barbara’s recipe will be even better.

    • There is something about that hint of vinegar that gives it a tang. And of course, it is even flakier with lard than with shortening, but I don’t keep that around much. ☺ Thanks, CM, not sure I’d have survived that loss, either. But, we never really can forecast our reaction, can we ?

  6. Can’t even imagine her pain. I went to school with a girl whose dad, alas, did the same thing to her brother. She was a small child when it happened and in her 20s when I met her. She was still reeling from the tragedy and the toll it took on her family. So sad. I hope those back up cameras they now put on cars end that sadness for the future.

    • I know, Deb, when that back up camera surfaced, she is the first one I thought of…it would have made all the difference. This family seemed to make it through the storm, marriage intact. Thanks for sharing. ❤️

  7. Heartbreaking, Van. I can’t imagine a more unbearable pain. I reminds me how much I have to be thankful for. ❤

  8. Thumbup says:

    Geez! Sorry to hear about the child, sadly it happens far too often.

  9. Such a tragic tale. I think it is lovely that you think of your friend every time you make pie. You are right that fleeting relationships can leave a lasting impression. I am no great shakes as a baker so my experience is somewhat limited but I do not believe I have ever added vinegar to a pie crust. I will need to give that a go. I do love strawberry rhubarb pie. Anything with rhubarb actually.

    • It grew well in Michigan, for some reason. It’s the first time I’d ever had rhubarb, in a pie or elsewhere. The growing season is quite short, so I ate a lot of it while I could. I also kept the recipe in her handwriting. Lots of memories in that recipe box, Laura.

      • Yorkshire has a rhubarb triangle where they grow the best rhubarb ever. I grew up with it growing in our garden and we would just pick it and eat it raw. Even the thought of that makes my husband wince.

  10. Erika Kind says:

    The story you told was my nightmare! I even dreamed once of running over my kid with the car. Horror!!! Inconceivable when it really happens! I get the feeling of those dreams again! I don’t know if there is anything that can ever make you happy anymore. Even I cannot imagine…

  11. Such a horrible tragedy! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  12. TanGental says:

    Blimey how do you enjoy a gorgeous pie with that ringing around in your head? I suppose that makes it non fattening as I don’t have any appetite. Stunning in many ways you can understand that word.

  13. Tragic tale, but gorgeous pie to remember her by

  14. Laura says:

    What a tribute — your words paint a beautiful picture of a very special woman.

  15. Oh! A pain she will never be able to get rid of! 😦 What a tragedy…

    Thanks for sharing the recipe….

  16. joey says:

    Unfathomable is right. I cannot fathom the depths of her grief…
    I like the contrast of this post, the light and sweet vs the shadowy darkness.

  17. lbeth1950 says:

    Heartbreaking. How do you live again?

  18. nimi naren says:

    What pain, to live with it all the time and having no escape…

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