“Farming is simply gambling with dirt”, or so says Mark Twain and most farmers. So to hear a bet placed in my childhood farming household was common. The conversation went like this; Dad: “If I’m right, you have to bake me a home-made blueberry pie”. Mom: “If I am right, you have to take me on a trip around the world”.
Unfortunately, dad would end up with a blueberry crisp (a crime for a pie-lover) and mom would end up with a trip somewhere in the world, not around it. The job of making blueberry pie fell to me; I happily obliged, and through making pies I grew to love them. Thanks, Dad.
A few weeks ago I went back to Iowa to celebrate my father’s 81st birthday and ended up staying for his funeral. He lost his 7-month battle with cancer. You can read the full obituary here.
Larry Lloyd Nelson came from two generations of Swedish farmers. Farming was simply in his blood.
He worked on the farm up until a few months ago when he became unable to. My brother Steve continues to farm the land with his son-in-law Chris.
Dad met my mother while on Christmas break from college at a roller-skating rink in Sioux City, IA.
Shortly after they were married, he was drafted into the Army, where he served in Munich, Germany in the same platoon as Elvis Presley. On weekends he and mom loved to travel through Germany, France, Austria & Belgium.
From the Eiffel Tower to the 1958 World Fair in Brussels, my parents were on an adventure every free moment dad had, stopping only for roadside picnics.
After returning from the service, dad continued farming with his father. Before to long, three children came along, each of whom adored him.
Dad taught us many things. He made sure we knew what hard work was and how to do it, something I still value learning at an early age.
Equally important, I learned from my mother the fine art of “negotiation”.
One of my favorite childhood memories was the day my Dad purchased my horse Pidge.
Even though I was a bit confused about which end was what, he taught me how to saddle and care for my new best friend. He said it was to fill the void between dolls and boys, and when I started dating, true to his words, I lost interest in my horse for “other” side attractions.
My favorite memories with my dad and mom come from our numerous travels together.
My first trip with my parents was to San Antonio, TX when I was five.
Later in life, we became more adventurous and traversed Machu Picchu in Peru. Read about our adventures in Peru here.
The Pyramids in Egypt captivated us, as did the river boat cruise down the Nile.
Russia was one of our favorite trips as we traveled on riverboat from St. Petersburg to Moscow. Read about one of our stop to Kizhi Island here.
We enjoyed all the beauty on our most recent trip to Chile, Argentina & Brazil last year. Read my post about the favalas in Rio de Janiero here, and find a recipe for Brazilian Brigadeiros (Bon-Bons) here, or about the vibrant street art in Valparaíso, Chile.
Visiting Colombia was the country we were most pleasantly surprised how much we loved it. I look forward to returning there someday. Read about eating ants and the interesting markets in Colombia here, or the colorful town of Guatape, and see the dogs in Colombia here.
I developed my love of photography through my father. We loved viewing the world through our lens.
We also shared a love of home-made pies. He loved eating them and I loved making them. So dad, this pie is for you.
I have made many blueberry pie recipes over the years and this is my go-to recipe. It comes from Susan Herrmann Loomis‘ Farm House Cookbook (printed with permission). For the heart crust, I used this recipe from Joy of Baking.
- Pastry for a two-crust pie
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon tapioca (optional - I like it thicker)
- 5 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 1 tablespoon milk
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Roll out half the pastry to fit a 9-inch pie plate, and line the plate leaving an inch of pastry hanging over the edge.
- In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, and spices. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the mixture over the crust.
- Pour half the berries into the crust, sprinkle them with about 4 tablespoons of the sugar mixture, 1 tablespoon of tapioca and top with the remaining berries and sugar mixture. Dot with the butter.
- Roll out the left over pastry and cut into heart shapes with a cookie cutter and place each heart slightly overlapping the next heart on the pie.Make sure the hearts touch the outside edge of the pie, pressing them together gently. Brush the pastry lightly but thoroughly with the milk.
- Bake in the bottom third of the oven until the crust is golden and the berries are bubbling up through the slits, about 50 minutes.
- Remove the pie from the oven, and let it cool slightly before serving.
Dad loved spending time with all his family. Meals were always focal point with dessert being the main event.
(from left to right: Carolyn, Pam, Chris, Brenda, Larry, Chris, Steve, Halle, Liz, Malakai)
Eating blueberry pie will always bring up fond memories of my dad.
“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.” ~ Author Unknown
…and then, she paused for thought.