Heavenly Blueberry Pie & a Tribute to my Father


“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.

My Dad

Larry Lloyd Nelson came from two generations of Swedish farmers. Farming was simply in his blood.

Larry Lloyd Nelson | | She Paused 4 Thought

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.

Larry and Carolyn Nelson | | She Paused 4 Thought

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.

Larry & Carolyn Nelson in Paris| She Paused 4 Thought

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.

Larry Nelson and kids | | She Paused 4 Thought

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.

Iowa Farm Life | She Paused 4 Thought

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.

Cathy on Pidge | She Paused 4 Thought

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.

Carolyn Cathy & Larry Nelson | She Paused 4 Thought

My first trip with my parents was to San Antonio, TX when I was five.

Machu Picchu | She Paused 4 Thought

Later in life, we became more adventurous and traversed Machu Picchu in Peru. Read about our adventures in Peru here.

Parents in Cario Egypt | She Paused 4 Thought

The Pyramids in Egypt captivated us, as did the river boat cruise down the Nile.

Parents in Russia | She Paused 4 Thought

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.

Parents in Angkor Wat Cambodia | She Paused 4 Thought

We enjoyed the sites and food of Angkor Wat from our Cambodia – Laos – Vietnam trip. You can read about how to eat a tarantula in Cambodia here, or about a cooking class in Laos here.

Parents in Rio | She Paused 4 Thought

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.

Guatape | She Paused 4 Thought

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.

Larry & Cathy Nelson | | She Paused 4 Thought

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.

Today’s Recipe:

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.

Heavenly Blueberry Pie & a Tribute to my Father
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 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
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. 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.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, and spices. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the mixture over the crust.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Remove the pie from the oven, and let it cool slightly before serving.
One 9-inch pie (6 to 8 servings)

Dad loved spending time with all his family. Meals were always focal point with dessert being the main event.

The Nelson Family | She Paused 4 Thought(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.

Larry & Cathy Nelson | | She Paused 4 Thought

“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.” ~ Author Unknown
…and then, she paused for thought.


48 thoughts on “Heavenly Blueberry Pie & a Tribute to my Father

  1. Nancy Buchanan

    Oh, Cathy I am so very sorry to hear about your father’s passing. What a beautiful tribute and testament to the loving relationship you shared with him. Wishing you peace and comfort my friend!!

  2. shockinglydelicious

    Simply beautiful. I am so sorry for your loss, but wow, what a life he had, and you had with him. He LIVED his life! Hope your mom is doing OK; I’m sure it is quite hard on her.

  3. Adair Seldon

    I’m so sorry to hear the news. You’ve given your father a wonderful tribute that shows what a great job he did of raising such a caring, generous, talented, adventurous daughter. To dad!

  4. Nancy Riley

    What a beautiful tribute to your dad! I enjoyed reading about the bonds you shared with him. With sincere condolences, Nancy

  5. CC

    Your post has made me cry, Cathy. How many wonderful memories you have of, and with, your amazing father (I read his obituary.) You have been a brilliant daughter. Sincerest sympathy to you and your family. xx

  6. Ray Peterson

    What a wonderful tribute, I had no idea your parents traveled so much. You have create such beautiful memories.

  7. Charles Purgett

    Love it Cathy, you were so blessed to have traveled so much with your parents. I know those wonderful memories will last your life time. God Bless.

    1. Cathy Arkle Post author

      Thanks Charles, I am very blessed to have so many wonderful memories with my parents. I have loved traveling with them and will continue to do so with my mom.

  8. JoAnne Burns

    Wow, this brought me to tears. I am so sorry for the loss of your dad. I can not imagine your pain. I know how much you love him and your mom. You are so lucky to have so many memories with them! Love you Cathy! I would love to see more. Hugs to you.

  9. Glenn Adamo

    Cathy…what a loving tribute through memory lane…while your passion for all things family shines through, I am sure you were also the “blueberry” of your dad’s eyes. So sorry for your loss but what a wonderful life you and your family have experienced through a loving and dedicated father. My love to you and your family as you continue to make more memories with your Dad as a guide from above.

  10. Kelly Page (@TastingPage)

    Your dad rocks. How wonderful that you were able to share so many wonderful memories with him. I love his spirit and I’m pretty sure I’d love your blueberry pie as well. I’m so sorry for your loss. xxx, Kelly

  11. Fresh Food in a Flash

    Now I know where you get your sense of adventure from Cathy! I’m in tears now. What a beautiful tribute to your father and to his wonderful life. How lucky for you that you shared your love for travelling and photography with your parents and have these invaluable experiences that will continue to shape your zest for life. Blessings to your family as you chart these new waters without your loving father, Larry Nelson. Peace to you all.

  12. Rhonda Muzljakovich

    Loved this tribute and so fitting for your father! I remember Pidge well and it was actually my first horse to ride!!!! I’ll never forget her running off with me over to Reitan’s (headed home) until I finally was able to get hrt to stop so I could jump down! I ended up walking Pidge all the way back to my house because I couldn’t get back on!

  13. Valentina

    I have been thinking about you and your family, Cathy. What a lovely, lovely tribute this is. I absolutely love the picture of your dad with the baseball cap. What a smile! And what a blessed life he had, filled with so much love. Sending big hugs to you and your family. So sorry for your loss. xoxo

  14. cheri Newell

    You are in my heart, Cath!!! It’s so hard losing a parent… there is a lifetime of memories to give you peace!!! It takes a lot of tears to get through it… but you will get there and you have your mom to help you through… as she has you!!! Just know that your dad is out of pain and soaring with the angels!!! There is a party in heaven for him!!! We will be invited to the party soon enough!!! Love you!!!

  15. Nan

    “When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.” ~ Author Unknown
    This quote is so true! Amazing, thanks.
    Huge hugs!

  16. Leslie Macchiarella

    Oh Cathy, my dear. I am so very sorry to hear of this sad news. To celebrate your father’s birthday and end up staying for his funeral, that just grips me in the heart but your loving tribute to your handsome dad is so very touching. Your collection of family photographs (and your amazing travel and food blogs) document the story of a loving and adventurous family. Leave it to you to transform your loss into a charming and heartfelt tribute. You know I’m not a pie maker but I’m going to make this one for your dad topped with hearts! Leslie

    1. Cathy Arkle Post author

      Leslie, I know you understand. Thank you so much for your heartfelt words and support. I am so grateful of all of the times I have been able to spend and travel with my parents. I was not ready or prepared for it to end, but I guess we never are.

  17. Julie Grose

    …..as tears well up it becomes difficult to read this beautiful tribute to your sweet father! I’m not sure which are more blue in these photos – the berries or his piercing blue eyes! That was always one of his most striking features for sure! Those eyes of his got even bluer when he was teasing……which was OFTEN! Are you allowed to tease in heaven? If you are the folks up there are not getting as much time strumming harps as they are used to! I remember the Summer day you and I tried to stay on Pidge all day and set a “world record” – your Mom even handed lunch up to us while we were on her bareback in our swimsuits…..for a snack we made Pidge stand under your Grandma’s apple trees while we reached up and helped ourselves – and shared some with that good horse too of course! Thank you for sharing these awesome memories and photos with us….. by just being who he was, your father set a standard for us all to try and live by and I hope to be more like him in so many ways! I know you will never stop missing him but he is an extremely proud Daddy looking down from above on his special girl.

  18. Linda

    Precious Cathy! You so honored your father during his life on this earth and now in his graduation. I am so happy that you were able to be with him when he could still farm … even riding with him on his tractor. You loved, encouraged and served him when he became very sick, supporting him to the very end … sometimes sitting quietly with him, holding his hand.
    Your love for your mother has been equally honoring in being there to support her while the love of her life was struggling physically, encouraging her along the way, helping her to organize the funeral, and standing with her now as she processes such a significant loss in her life … and yours as well as your brothers too. The obituary and this beautiful tribute to your father were so touching to read, along with photos, fun stories and adventures with your parents! What treasured memories you have made together! May the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, be to you and your family ALL that you need now and in the days to come!! Praying for you! Linda

    1. Cathy Arkle Post author

      Thank you so much Linda, your prayers and support have been so important to me during this very tough time. I appreciate you more than words will ever be able to express. Love you.

  19. Pamela

    What a fabulous tribute to your father, Larry! So touching and moving! All of your trips with your parents look like such lovely memory making experiences with the exclusion of……TX! 🙂 I thought I knew everything about you, but then there is Pidge! How cool is that! Your own horse. What a great dad to get you your own horse. Such a special gift from your dad. As quoted by Euripides “To a father growing old nothing is dearer than a daughter”.

  20. Julie Meylor

    Awesome memories. I don’t remember you having a horse. You have so much talent. Thank you for sharing your adventures and the special memories. Remember that there is something about being on the back of a horse the is good for the inside of the man/woman. It is good for the soul. Remember to take a ride sometime. God always teaches me through the horse. God is Good. We are all so Blessed. Sending you and you family Hugs & Prayers!!!!


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