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In the Kitchen with... Pies & Pastries by Lana
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by JJ Grinvalds
IN THE KITCHEN WITH... APRIL/MAY 2016
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Pies & Pastries by Lana

From left: Lana Shope and Julie Fleming.

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Check out these recipes from Pies & Pastries by Lana:

Apple Praline Pie

Pucker Up and Kiss Me Lemon Raspberry Pie

 
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Indianola baker starts a twist on the popular CSA concept. No veggies, for sure! It’s all about the pies.

Likely you have heard about CSAs (community-supported agriculture). For a fee or a share, gardeners and farmers distribute their vegetables or fruits in season. Subscribers receive a bag, basket, or box of various produce items every week or two.

Baker Lana Shope of rural Indianola, a veteran blue ribbon winner at the Iowa State Fair, started a slightly different type of CSA last July. It’s devoted to pie.

Why? “Pie creates a memory for so many people,” says Lana, a lobbyist in her day job. “Often when people talk about pies, it’s emotional. You can see tears in their eyes as they remember special treats from their mothers, grandmothers, and aunts. Plus, pies represent hard work. They take a while from start to finish.”

Lana learned to bake from her mother and grandmother. And, when she was only 20, she bought a restaurant in the Tama-Toledo area, where she grew up. She and her mother made everything from scratch, from the desserts to the rolls. She ultimately left the restaurant to work with nonprofit groups that support low-income families. Even there, she knows that presentations and negotiations go better over a piece of pie. Plus, she can recite the favorite pie flavors of many state and national politicians.

Iowa State Fair

In 1999 Lana began her passion for the Iowa State Fair. Over time, she has entered more than 1,000 items, from cinnamon rolls, pies, and dinner rolls to soups. Yes, she won $3,500 for her cinnamon rolls in the Tone’s Spices contest and best apple pie at the National Pie Council’s annual contest.

After a decade of encouragement from pie fans to start a business, it all fell into place when Lana and Julie Fleming of Des Moines, who works in public policy, sat together at a fund-raising event. Julie, who is working on her master’s degree in strategic communications, approached Lana about exploring the idea of developing market research and business plans for a pie business.

At the time, Lana was in the middle of a kitchen remodel to have four ovens and built-in bins for flour and sugar. Oh, and she and Bill Brand were planning their outdoor wedding at home.

Lucky Bill. “Yes, he gets more pie than anyone he knows,” Lana says. “We run it off about four times a week.”

Research

Lana and Julie did an area search of pies, pie boxes, pie labels, and home licenses and also assembled a focus group to get feedback on flavors, prices, frequency, and pick-up locations. Many focus group members became the core of the pie cooperative and its “pie-lot” program “They’re also our best advertisers,” Julie explains.

Lana often chooses fresh berries and apples, for example, from spots such as the Berry Patch in Nevada. As Julie says, “Our goal is to use seasonal ingredients, combined with Lana’s expertise. People know the pie was made the day before, and cooperative members have a great one-on-one relationship with the pie baker. There are incredibly high standards.”

CSA members pay $48 for two deliveries each month (full membership) or $24 for one pie per month (half membership). Pick-ups take place at the Mickle Center in Sherman Hill. At that time, Lana and Julie provide treats and sometimes even champagne. There’s a waiting list. Members get a choice of pies, which they order by email. There’s also a newsletter that tells of each pie and ingredients. Lana’s proud that these are not “anonymous pies.”

Flavors galore

Since beginning the co-op, Lana has offered a variety of pies—Cherry, Peach, Peach and Blueberry, Summer Citrus Cream, Pear Raspberry, Harvest Apple, Coconut Cream, Banana Cream, Apple Crumb, Pecan, Chocolate Pecan, Pumpkin with Oatmeal Topping, Pucker Up and Kiss Me (Lemon Raspberry), Sour Cream Raisin, along with Cherry Tart and Lemon Basil Tart.

For sustainability, Lana sends out pies in glass or ceramic pie dishes. CSA members return them for use next time.

Lana and Julie have hosted member appreciation luncheons with savory pot pies and a post-Iowa State Fair pie extravaganza. Big news for this year: Lana will switch to become a fair judge. She also teaches occasionally at Kitchen Collage in the East Village of Des Moines.

“Pick-up days are so fun,” Julie says. “People talk about politics and music and everything in between. It’s wonderful.”

Jennifer Vermeer of Des Moines agrees. “The pies speak for themselves. Pick-up day provides a sense of community for our family. It’s such a social treat. Our family—husband, Aaron, and children 14, 9, and 8—have gone to Lana’s house to help with pie making. I grew up in small-town Iowa, and that’s what this feels like. It’s very special.”

Lana’s always experimenting with new flavors. Yes, there’s a Templeton Rye pie. And, yes, she’s working on a bacon-flavored pie. When CSA members took a vote about the favorite pie offering, the winner was Pear-Raspberry, hands down. Lana’s own favorites to eat are Wild Black Raspberry and Old-Fashioned Butterscotch Cream.


Lard in Piecrust?

Lana says people ask if she uses lard in her piecrusts. “No, the lard today is different than the product our mothers and grandmothers used because hogs are raised differently today. Besides, I have some vegetarian clients, so they couldn’t eat lard,” she says.

Instead, for some crusts, she uses a mix of water and vinegar or water and vodka. The liquor evaporates in baking but leaves a nice flaky crust.


sign up! Follow Lana's pies on social media: PiesandPastriesbyLana.com | Facebook: Pies and Pastries by Lana

share! Everyone has a story, and we hope you will help us tell the tales of a variety of Des Moines cooks. Please send us your ideas. Tell us the names, contact information, and a little about your cooking friends. Send to Recipes@WelcomeHomeDesMoines.com.

 

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