Food & Swine

$3,000 Pie


My pear pie brought $3,000 at an auction. Read on.

Last night I had the privilege of attending the Corndog Kickoff with my husband, Mom, Dad, cousin Erin and her husband Ryan.  We met up with more friends at this fundraising auction for the Blue Ribbon Foundation at the Iowa State Fair.  Let me start off by saying, what an event! There are many food vendors offering the Fair’s finest eats and treats and there is plenty of beer and wine.  The bonus for me was the endless number of people I ran into from every part of my life.  I got to see and visit with so many nice people, some of my great friends from my childhood, 4-H days, high school and college.  I didn’t feel like I had an adequate amount of time with any of them, most of the time I was running around like a spring chicken, checking on silent auction items and delivering the final pieces (cookbooks) of my donations.


Early in the night I snapped this photo of my donation of dinner rolls.  Congrats to my friends (and new Grandparents), and great supporters of the Fair, Brad and Robin A and thank you for buying my rolls!  I was the lucky bidder in the auction item their daughter Ashly provided… I’ll have great hair, and a nice lunch at Baru 66 with my “Fresh Look” package.  I love silent auctions, ask anyone!

I had another donation of a private class for State Fair entry, along with entry tags donated by the Iowa State Fair and cookware donated by another business.  I missed seeing what that one brought.  Can you believe the people that attended!


They raised over $140,000 in the live auction alone and I’m pleased to say, the Harvest Pear Pie (*recipe below) I had entered in the auction brought $3,000. Holy Smokes. The whole scenario was unreal. All of the sudden, it was time for my lot. Al Conover, the Dad of one of my good friends back in my 4-H days was the auctioneer.  He asked me to stand up. My cousin Erin came to sit with me and then the madness began, thanks to the generosity of the bidders in the crowd.  People were bidding very quickly at the beginning, then the pie toppled over the $1,500 mark and there were still about 5 people involved, then it dwindled to 2-3 interested parties at the end.  My friends Robb and Tiffany M. were one of the main bidding parties, didn’t they know that I’d make them 5 pies for free?! (This is a good cause though, you know?) I had a feeling they’d be involved in the bidding, they are great friends and Robb had mentioned “Lot #27”.  They were sitting directly behind me and I couldn’t even look at them because I didn’t want them to think I wanted them to bid MORE!  They did… at $2,000 I finally turned around and said, “I’ll make you whatever pie you want!”.  They hung in until $3,000 when the winning bidder (who always wins the ‘last pie of the auction’) took home the pie and ‘The Pie and Pastry Bible’ cookbook that I donated.


I hastily went over and thanked them for purchasing my pie.  They were enjoying the evening and I gave them some of my cards, 3 to be exact.  I promised another pie (when pears are in better shape than they are now), dinner rolls and cinnamon rolls.  I will be in touch with them to get them more goodies, after all, $3,000 for one pie is insane.  However, it is totally worth it because the money goes to the Blue Ribbon Foundation to aid in the restoration and revitalization efforts of the Fair.


If you know me well, you know we love the Fair. Our family have been regular Fair-goers since I can remember. I’ve worked as an Intern at the Fair, I’ve spent countless hours on the Little Hands on the Farm exhibit that was begun 10 years ago during my internship. In the past years I have come to enter quite a few baking and cooking competitions in the Food Department at the Fair.  We haven’t missed a day.  I enter my contests early, then take the kids around and check out one of the many activities and sights to see.  (There are so many, it is hard to get done, even when we go every day!) This year we’ll be showing more pigs and my daughter will be gearing up for kindergarten, RIGHT after the Fair concludes.  I won’t be entering as many items in food related contests so we can spend more time at the Fair enjoying ourselves.  Win-win.

Next year, I encourage you to attend The Corndog Kickoff.  You can read about the Blue Ribbon Foundation and all of their great efforts, here.

I plan on seeing you (in less than 25 days) at this years Iowa State Fair where “Nothing Compares”.  That is the truth.  If you haven’t been, you need to go.  There are so many things to do and see.  I’ll be posting more in the near future about our lovely Fair.  Just make plans to attend!  Would you comment below to help me in a little research?

What is your favorite thing to do at the Iowa State Fair?  (Includes exhibits, midway rides, livestock barns etc.)  We’ll talk food in my next post!

Here’s the $3,000 pie recipe.  (The pie I made for the auction had a butter crust, though I make it with lard when we are at home.)  Don’t rush off and make this now, the pears are not ready.  The pie will be decent, but nothing like it will be this fall.  Trust me.

$3,000 Harvest Pear Pie

by Cristen

Makes one 9” standard sized pie

Lard Pie Crust:  (Double this recipe if you desire a 2-crust pie instead of a crumble topped pie)

1 1/4 C All Purpose Flour or King Arthur Perfect Pastry Blend Flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp granulated sugar

1/2 C lard, frozen or well chilled, cubed into half inch cubes (You may sub unsalted butter here as well.)

1 egg yolk

2 tsp vinegar (apple cider or white)

3-4 TBSP ice water

Combine dry ingredients, whisk well.  Cut butter into flour until coarse crumbs form.  Combine wet ingredients, add them to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.  This mixture is ready when you can grab a portion of it in your palm, squeeze and it sticks together.  Turn mixture out onto plastic wrap, shape into a disk.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.  When ready to roll crust.  Remove from refrigerator, remove plastic.  Generously flour workspace, roll crust out to 13-14” disk.  Place in pie pan. Do not stretch.  Patch any imperfections (holes, etc.)  Roll excess crust under, crimp decoratively.  Return to refrigerator or prepare pie immediately.

*At this time after crust preparation, preheat your oven to 400 so it has time to get to temperature.


6 Bartlett Pears (firm yet ripe), peeled and sliced ¼” thickness

1/4 C flour

Pinch of salt

1 C granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cardamom (optional-lends a fruity note, people always ask ‘what’s that?’)

2 tsp lemon juice (if fruit is browning quickly)

1 tsp lemon zest (optional)

Combine all ingredients, mix well.  Pour into pastry lined pie plate.  Cover evenly with crumble. (Recipe follows).

Crumble Topping:

1/2 C room temperature butter

1/2 C sugar

1 C All Purpose flour

1/4 C rolled oats (oatmeal, not instant)

Cut all ingredients together until homogenous consistency.  Evenly distribute on top of pie.

BAKE:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. (Make sure you wait for 10 minutes after your oven preheat beeps to say it is at temperature.)

Cover outside of pie with foil ring**.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 and bake for 40-45 minutes until slow bubbles form in the juices around the edge of the pie.  Remove from oven, let cool 4 hours.

**Here’s the foil ring trick, this will protect the outer crust of your pie from overcooking.



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  • Reply lisakeys64 July 13, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    love this story

  • Reply Jennifer Flaa (@JeniEats) July 14, 2014 at 12:50 am

    This is so exciting! I really want to make this pie and get to the IA State Fair this year.

    • Reply Cristen July 16, 2014 at 1:06 am

      I hope you get to the Iowa State Fair! If you do we have to meet. I’d love to see you in person! PS: If you want to make the pie… wait until the pears are firm but ripe. :) This recipe is best in the fall. Pears are my preference to apples in a pie. More consistent and I love the texture!

  • Reply Sally Emery July 14, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Go to the fair every year. Do one day with grandsons ages 7 and 11 this year. We do all we can except the midway. Never go there.

    • Reply Cristen July 14, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      I hope you enjoy the Fair this year! Thanks Sally!

  • Reply LindaWhite July 15, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    enjoyed you on WHO this noon-you did great! Also know we are gearing up-me to put ribbons on your goods and my guy to put the winners in the NEW showcases-see you in a few days–p.s.-the gals at the end table loved your onion rolls last year-judges did a super job!!!!

    • Reply Cristen July 16, 2014 at 1:04 am

      Can’t wait to see you Miss Linda! I won’t be entering as much this year but plan on doing a few things that I really like of course. My daughter will be heading to kindergarten after being home with me for 5 years so I’ll be squeezing the last part of our fun time at home together during the Fair. See you soon!

  • Reply Carol Pedersen July 16, 2014 at 1:10 am

    I am looking forward to seeing your baking entries in the fair this year, Cristen! I will be doing my volunteer job as an Iowa State Fair ‘Information Volunteer’ again this year….working in the information booths, helping in the one room school house, being a credential ambassador, etc. I enjoy so many things at the fair…..but I think my favorite is all the wonderful people you meet! “NOTHING COMPARES” to the Iowa State Fair! The best state fair in the land!

    • Reply Cristen July 16, 2014 at 1:37 am

      I can’t wait to see you there Carol! They’re lucky to have wonderful volunteers like you!

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